Author : Dr. Alexanders
The world did not snap back into focus for Jenna, but rather came in dribbles. The first sensation to return was the feeling of the restraining harness digging into her shoulders and pins and needles running through her extremities as the hibernation state wore off. Sound came next, the gentle hum and hiss of air processors and the array of electronic equipment that had been crammed into the capsule and had probably returned to life only hours before the processes designed to bring her out of deep sleep had begun. Vision was the last to return, the muscles controlling her eyelids would not work at first and several hours must have been spent completely conscious but unable to see or move.
During those hours, fear, excitement, and anxiety battled for dominance. Jenna was a part of a colonization mission; one of ten million colonists tightly packed into a dozen long range barges. They had been placed into hibernation as the trip had been scheduled to take more than 2,000 years traveling across the galaxy at a quarter of the speed of light. A small crew would have been awoken once they arrived at their new home. This crew would have confirmed the suitability of the planetâ€™s chemistry and then sterilized the surface from orbit of any microbes that might have developed.
Once the planet was properly prepped, hundreds of thousands of seed capsules would have been crashed into the planetâ€™s surface containing raw organic material, genetically engineered and programmed to evolve rapidly so that after a few thousand years the surface would be covered in a wide variety of native plants and desired animal species from Jennaâ€™s home world. The evolutionary process would cause some slight differences, but it would also allow the species to modify themselves to be able to cope with the slight chemical differences of the planet. During this process the crew would have returned to hibernation. A handful of scientists would be awoken every hundred years or so to check on the evolutionary process. When the desired state had been reached a series of retroviruses would be introduced in order to slow the evolutionary pace to its normal rate and then the homestead pods containing the hibernating colonists would be launched and guided down to their landing sites.
When Jenna finally opened her eyes, she completed the last step of the initial colonization: the introduction of human life to this new planet. She could see that something was terribly wrong. A haze of old smoke drifted through the capsule, kept from her by the apparently still functioning filter on her hibernation capsule. Only the emergency lighting, which emitted a dim red glow, and occasional sparks from the console on the other side of the room enabled her to see that most of the other twenty hibernation capsules had been cracked open and now contained desiccated corpses.
Not everyone else was dead though. She could see into the capsule next to hers where Kieran was struggling with weakened muscles to operate the emergency release on his capsule, and tears were streaming down his face.
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