The Threads Of Destiny
The distant rumble of the ship’s engines were all that filled his ears as he slowly worked his way to the control room. This was it; this was the moment they’d all waited for, the moment that a life time had been building towards. They’d finally left the Sun’s gravity well and could fire up the inter-stellar engines. They would be the first people to venture out of our solar system, cross the vast, empty blackness of space, and visit another star system.
The door to the control room opened with a loud thunk, and he simply acknowledged his crew mates with a nod as he took his place in the forward control chair.
“This is an auspicious day,” he said quietly and calmy. “This project united the people of Earth in our darkest hour. The human race finally set aside their differences and came together to make this happen, to achieve this dream. It was for this very moment that world peace was created.”
He powered down the in-system engines and a deathly silence fell within the control room. The only sound was the collective steady breathing of the six members of the crew.
“Ramirez, fire up the inter-stellar drive and take us to the stars,” he said.
The man known as Ramirez flicked several switches in a sequence he’d rehearsed many times over the last decade. Then, pausing only to draw a deep breath, he pulled a large and solid looking lever.
Not a thing.
They exchanged worried glances, each hoping that the other would think of some obvious reason why nothing had happened yet. Each hoping that someone else would reassure them that this was quite normal, that this was what was supposed to happen.
Finally, he spoke, “Well…something’s wrong…”
“We should send a message back to Earth, ask for help…guidance…” suggested Ramirez.
“It would take six months for the message to get there, and another six months for the reply to get back, if we’re going to fix this, we’ll have to do it now, by ourselves. I’ll go and take a look at the drive…”
“But…but that is forbidden…” stammered O’Reilly.
“Yes, I understand that, but what choice do we really have?” he replied. “We either try to fix this ourselves, or we die, here, floating at the edge of the solar system. The in-system drives have been shut down, they can’t be restarted and if we can’t get the inter-stellar drive working then we’ll just stay here forever.”
With that he stormed out of the control room, through the labyrinthine corridors of the star ship. Through doors he’d never been through before, with increasingly ominous warnings about what would happen to the crew if they ever passed through them.
Eventually he reached the access hatch for the inter-stellar drive. A small door that housed the control panel that would tell him what had gone wrong. He only hoped that he’d be able to fix it. He prayed it was something simple. A loose connection. A switch that needed flipping. A fuse that needed replacing.
He opened the hatch and in front of him saw a small piece of twine hanging from a hook, and below it a small note which read:
“We’re so sorry, we sincerely thought that we could build an inter-stellar drive, but in the end it simply proved to be beyond science. No engine could take you to the nearest star before you were long dead. Building what we had designed would have bankrupted the newly formed world government, and the resulting economic turmoil would have fractured the fragile peace amongst all humankind that had been achieved while working on this project. The people needed hope, and cancelling the launch would have robbed them of it. Thank you so much, on behalf of the entire human race, for what you have done for us. We are not heartless, however, you have a choice to make. On the wall behind you is a hidden panel, open it and you will find a switch that will restart the in-system drives, and you can return home, if you wish. Again, thank you so much.”
He quietly closed the hatch and turned around. He found the hidden panel, opened it, restarted the in-system drives and began the long walk back to the control room.
He smiled as he walked through the door, and nodded to his fellow travellers.
“Point the ship to the stars,” he said. “We have a long journey ahead of us.”