Icarus – February 5th, 2089

February 5th, 2089

Kate and Jim don’t know if the lasers hit or not. The Chinese vessel went into the Time-Vortex Tunnel twenty minutes ago, just past midnight, Greenwich Time. The other eight of us demanded an explanation. Bree screamed at them both until Alex calmed her down. Jennie was pissed too, but she was asking more pointed questions: How did we miss something like this? Why risk another war?

The answers were simple because the military’s orders were simple. If we were to encounter an Eastern Coalition vessel attempting to enter the Alpha Centauri Tunnel before we did, they were under orders to destroy it. No mean feat considering there have only been two space battles in the history of mankind. This makes three. I’m living history.

I did ask two questions, the easiest ones I could think of. What now? Do we beam a message to Luna and ask for instructions? Kate informed me that there would be no beams leaving the Icarus until we reached Alpha Centauri. In that answer, she answered both of them. We’re going on ahead.

This sparked more argument and I thought Bree was going to cry. She’s a pacifist. During our training I discovered that she helped with the Ecological Fallout Repair Initiative back in ’78. She must have been a college student then. It’s a brave thing, going to that barren, irradiated country, trying to regrow life. I meant to ask her about Siberia and if someone was still there, but I never did. Better that I didn’t.

The fight ended like it began, explosively. Kate restrained her and Jim ordered Kira to dose her. When she hesitated, he did it himself, only he didn’t use an injection gun. I began to wonder if there are hypnotic monitors in our rooms, because we could use them now. Dissent this early doesn’t bode well for our decade-long jaunt.

But we’re going in. Really going in, despite everything. Never mind Bree’s hysterics and our anger, or the Chinese ship that had beaten us there. We were going in anyway.

Jennie explained something to me then. With the Chinese ship jumping nearly an hour before we do, it would reach Alpha Centauri almost six months ahead. It might well be gone by the time we get there. I hope it is. I didn’t sign up for a combat tour.

We’re headed for the Cans again. The Icarus will be at full burn for nearly the whole trip. Jim thinks it will help us overtake them. Evan’s reply didn’t make me feel so confident. He wasn’t sure the ship would react well to burning while in the Tunnel, but there was nothing for it. We’re going in, and we’re going to sleep.

For over four years.

I’ll be glad to wake up after that’s over. Hibernating is better than boredom. Still, if there is a God out there, I sure hope he knows something about biology. I don’t want to come out of hibernation too early and drown in red syrup. If I do, die that is, and this log reaches Earth, please do me a favor.

Find Sarah Boer in the EFRI and tell her I’m sorry.

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Icarus – February 4th, 2089

February 4th, 2089

My fingers are trembling as I write these words. The account of what happened in the past 36 hours will never reach Earth in time to affect the outcome of this mission, and I don’t think Jim is going to let me send it out anyway.

We’ve been lied to. Kept in the dark. Mislead. We aren’t the only nation with Time-Vortex drives. The Eastern Coalition has them too. Jim and Kate both knew it or at least knew that it was a possibility. I had a horrible realization then, a reason for the military’s presence on Luna, a reason for them to be chosen instead of a NASA pilot. They’re not here just to pilot the ship, they’re here because they knew about the damned Chinese.

Our logistics computer identified the craft by its burn wake, but by then our telemetry equipment snatched pieces of an outgoing beam. They were going to beat us to Alpha Centauri and Alliance would be out billions of credits. I didn’t need Jennie to tell me about the political strings this would pull. This kind of space race had blood in it.

What unfolded in the wake of that discovery shook me to my core. Jim and Kate ordered Alex and Bree to their posts in Science. Evan and Rich were sent to Engineering. Jennie and me? We were sent to quarters. I don’t know what happened to Anne and Kira.

For an hour we were locked in our cabins, separately. During that time the ship shook several times and I felt the hair on my arms and neck go stiff while my heart seemed to skip a beat. Later, I learned why. The Icarus is outfitted with several gigawatt laser systems, hidden from the entire crew with the exception of Jim and Kate.

And they were fired at the Chinese ship.

Darkest Hour – Chapter 3

As one, we rose against the coming darkness with blade in hand. One by one we fell, each life like a star snuffed out of the night sky. Those who remained huddled in prayer with eyes closed and hope so frail that one word might shatter us all.

– from The Cycle of Rebirth, Chapter 13, Verse 1

Chapter 3

Jump Zero, Five Years Prior

“What do you mean she’s problematic?”

“Mister Wolfe, I assure you we did everything we could to make it as easy as possible-“

“Again, what do you mean she’s problematic?”

The doctor stood in the doorway, his gray hair perfectly in place, his features flat and unreadable and his clothes unrumpled. I found it unsuitable that a man fresh from two hours of surgery should look so pristine and unworried. They won’t let me see her.

He sighed. “Are you family, Mister Wolfe?”

The question angered me even more. “What? No I’m her friend-“

“Then during visitation hours you will be able to see her all you want. Now I really must get back to work.” He turned to leave but I grabbed his arm. Immediately, two solders pulled me away but my biotics flared to life. I drew it in, felt its power grow in my pores, within my very blood as my adrenaline kicked it into overdrive. I reached out and Pulled. All I managed to do was draw the doctor’s pen from his pocket. It floated uselessly toward me. Continue reading

Darkest Hour – Chapter 2

They say we are the lucky ones, we who survived the first cataclysms. To live a life alone amid so much loss is to die a hundred thousand deaths. Those who perished in the beginning and did not know this suffering, they are the lucky ones.

– from The Cycle of Rebirth, Chapter 1, Verse 8

Chapter 2

Three days ago Leah and I had dinner with Rachel and Elani across the hall. Rachel was a biochemist working for the University of Pennsylvania. She was an amazing cook, blending local custom with off-world traditions in ways I couldn’t begin to understand. We had prime cuts of sirloin marinated with butter and Seguthi sauce from Thessia, Elani’s home world. I could still taste it if I allowed myself.

We found them in the bedroom, Rachel’s hand still grasping Elani’s. Ebony skin intertwined with light blue, coated in dark blood. They’d put up a fight but it was clear they’d been overwhelmed. Several husks lay around the bed, and I could feel the latent residue of eezo in the air. Elani’s biotics weren’t strong by Asari standards and Rachel was only a lab tech. They hadn’t stood a chance.

I finally tore my eyes from the sight when Leah put a hand on my shoulder. A deep sense of loss came over me, not just for losing new friends but that two lives so intertwined would be removed without reason or need. Elani spoke with me just last night about their plans to travel once Rachel had sabbatical. She wanted to take her to Thessia and then to the Citadel. I reached for Leah’s hand, reflexively, but she moved away.

“Come on,” Leah said and we left the room. On the way to the door I found an image recording of the two of them in John Kennedy Park, standing in front of some old piece of art that simply said “Love.” The simple cliché of the image made me smile and I tucked it away into my belt. If there was ever a memorial here in Philadelphia, I’d make sure it was added. Continue reading