Author : Tanmaya Dabral

The Earth was dying. And all the genius of human beings couldn’t do anything about it. They had terraformed even the most uninhabitable regions of Earth: the Antarctic enjoyed lush green forests and loam covered the entire Sahara. And yet, it was not enough for a population of 38 billion. More Earths were needed.

Shay looked to the heavens for the millionth time that morning: clouds, birds, planes, drones, the Sun, and of course, the Arc. And for the millionth time that morning, the sight filled her with motherly pride. It still seemed a bit unreal to her. It had taken an immeasurable amount of human genius distilled over seven centuries and several generations to birth that colossal structure.

In 1994, when Miguel Alcubierre had first suggested the possibility of faster-than-light travel without violating General Relativity, the world had laughed at him. The absurdity of the proposal aside, the logistics had made it utterly unthinkable. A dozen solar masses worth of energy was required to set up the warp. But the humans found a way, like they always do. Seven centuries of tweaking the shape of the warp bubble had finally brought the required energy down to a few thousand kilograms. Compared to her predecessors, Shay herself had played a relatively minor role in it. And yet, it was under her leadership that the physical construction of the Arc took place. It was her secret guilt. But she knew that it couldn’t have happened at a better time. Terraforming of Kepler-186f and Tau ceti B had to be started now, if the human race was to have any chance of survival. She cursed the fragile human body when she realized that she would be dead millennia before the terraforming completes.

Hearing her name called out from the numerous floating loudspeakers broke her out of her reverie: “… only be fair to welcome the director of RAM, Dr. Shay Snow, to say a few words on this momentous occasion and initiate the launch sequence…” She sighed inwardly as uncountable cameras targeted her. This is not what she signed up for. She stole a glance at the Arc for the million and first time that morning, then shifted her gaze to the terra-pods, ready for launch, before finally settling it on the biggest camera she could find. “Thank you, Dr. Greyjoy”, she started. “My fellow humans, as we all know…”

From the other side of the event horizon of V404 Cygni, the Watchers observed their favorite universe. Their countenance twisted into what a mortal could only decipher as lament. The cancer had metastasized.

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