Icarus – January 26th, 2089

January 26th, 2089

The Bridge.

When I was a kid there was this TV show where everyone stood around on the Bridge of a starship and pretended to be in constant panic. Somehow I always imagined it would be like that, with a command chair and everyone around it doing a job. The Icarus is nothing like that.

First, it is entirely automated. The room itself is roughly fifteen feet wide and ten feet long and is very cramped with nearly every inch of it filled with computing power. Unlike previous spacecraft, Icaris has no viewports and all the “seeing” is done via computer displays and mathematical wizardry. I was told to think of it more like a submarine than some kind of movie spaceship.

There are two seats on the bridge for Captain [DELETED] and Lieutenant [DELETED], one massive communications computer, one similarly sized logistical computer and a guidance computer to the rear. You enter through the floor via a tunnel from the Science Division. The Bridge and the tunnel are both in free fall, which makes your stomach lurch every time you go into it from artificial gravity, but [DELETED] says we’ll get used to it.

That tunnel splits, one way going up to the Bridge and the other going down to the Cans. They aren’t all in one large room like they were back on Earth. Instead, they are like little holes in the side of the tunnel and we climb into them, still in free fall, and seal them up. I’m also told the Cans act like escape pods should the ship be need to be evacuated.

I asked why the tunnel had no gravity, as I would have preferred ladders to massive vertigo. [DELETED] told me it was to save energy and also for speed. I couldn’t argue with that fact. Once you got the hang of falling, getting to the Bridge or the Cans only took a matter of seconds.

We’ve been ushered back to Recreation and our Quarters for disembarking and I’m typing this last beam from beneath the window-monitor as Luna Station’s lights flicker and go out. Distantly, I now hear air popping and metal connecting. I promised myself I wouldn’t do this but it can’t be helped.

This is to my readers. I’m looking back at you now, watching the Earth over the horizon of the moon as I prepare to leave this solar system behind. Soon we’ll be hard burning for the Mars-Jupitor Time-Vortex Tunnel where we will make a short hop just beyond Neptune. Once there, it’s our longest burn to Charon, the marker that leads us to our next Tunnel and Alpha Centauri.

After this beam, I can’t say when my words will reach you. I’m in a very unique position as I am able to say the words ‘goodbye’ to whomever I wish. There is only one person I would say that to, but she is no longer listening.

Icarus – January 25th, 2089 (Part 3)

January 25th, 2089 (Part 3)

We stowed our gear and made our quarters more like home. They are about the size of a loft apartment, with generous ceilings and monitors built into the walls to simulate windows. I’ve tuned mine to display a constant, but gentle rain storm on a Washington bluff. I once wrote an entire novel in a place like that, and I hope it will inspire me. I set up my personal computer next to it.

The bed is a queen and every inch of the bedroom is built for storage or utility. There’s a computer system built into the wall with touch screens and motion monitoring as well as voice commands. It calls me “your lordship” every time I walk in now. It’s one of the programmable options.

I sat on a park bench for nearly an hour while the rest of the crew made themselves at home. There’s a park to go along with the bench. The artificial trees look and behave so real that the leaves will drop when fall comes around and bud come spring. A breeze blows through from time to time, reflective of the seasons. The Captain can set the Earth-equivalent location for those seasons, though it will never snow. It is very peaceful, and the artificial bird-sounds are a nice touch.

We toured the engine room and I saw for myself the Time-Vortex drive. It’s a cylinder the size of a small house with points of light along its length that reminded me of a music box drum. It rotated like one as well, constantly humming at a frequency just inside human perception. After a few minutes it drove me utterly mad and I was glad we left.

Tomorrow we will go up to the bridge and witness the disembarking of the Icarus from Luna Station. We will broadcast one last beam to Earth before entering the Mars-Jupitor tunnel. I’ve heard our Cans await us just beneath the bridge. My excitement builds, I assure you.

[DELETED] said she would come by tonight. We’d talk about our projects and get to know one another. I agreed but now I find myself unsure about it. The ease of our companionship feels wrong somehow. It was never that easy with her. I chased her for years. That feels like a lifetime ago.

I suppose I ought to change the computer to say something other than “your lordship” anyhow. Perhaps something like “sir” or just Will. She always used to call me Will.

Christ. Tomorrow can’t come soon enough, I need to go.

Icarus – January 5th, 2089

January 5th, 2089

I am going to Alpha Centauri.

In a few days time I will be boarding the Icarus for a ten-year journey into the stars. Before I go further, my name is William Shriver and I am a writer and a journalist. I want that put into record right away before any substantial misunderstandings crop up. I am not an astrophysicist or time-vortex engineer. I am not even a science fiction reader. I am a writer and nothing more.

The Icarus is NASA’s first interstellar exploration vessel and will be traveling beyond Pluto to enter the Gamma Three Time-Vortex Tunnel. This should, theoretically, take us near Alpha Centauri and its surrounding planets. Its mission will be to collect data on the system and analyze it for exploitable resources and possible colonization.

I was chosen for this project because I have no substantial ties to Earth. No wife, no children, not even a dog is waiting for me at home. These are requirements to join the Icarus, not all of them, but they are the fundamental ones. The others are more clinical ones of course, the kind having to do with height and weight and if one will spew up one’s guts in zero-g. We have all been sterilized as well.

Finally, you must be willing to spend a decade on a cramped ship with a perfect group of strangers.

My job is to record our journey from the time the Icarus detaches from Luna Space Station until we come home, a decade later. My first few messages will be sent directly to my Sat-Blog, but once we enter the first Time-Vortex Tunnel near Mars nothing is going to get through until we get back.

I am about to go into a briefing with Commander [DELETED], something to do with an upcoming test. I’ll say more afterward.

This will be all I can say about the business that went on in that room. Experimental is not a strong enough word. Even with all the leaps in science we’ve seen here on Earth (credited far too often with the NAA’s mandatory genetic and IQ-breeding mandates) what I was told today makes me worry. Even the huge pile of credits promised me might not make this trip worthwhile, but I can’t back out now.

I prefer to breathe air, thank you very much.