It was the consistent buzz that woke me up. Disoriented and having no clue where I was. The headache was mild and I ignored it. Slowly my eyes adjusted to the surroundings. I punched in a few buttons and got out of my sleeping pod.
My body was feeling different but that was natural. I am used to deep space travel now. Loneliness and gravity can do a lot of things to your body including your mind. But not with my mind. I have a very rational and strong one and I am proud of it.
I mean, here I am – Stan Rubik, the best space explorer of Earth and holder of the maximum successful missions, Commander of my ship “Aventura IV”. My vital stats recorded when I left Earth was:
Height: 6”4. I am easily over 6”8 now (your bones tends to increase in space).
Weight: 170 lbs. I am feeling a little light weight but weightlessness is something I am used to.
Age: just a number, Honestly I do not even care. As per Earth records, I am close to 90 years’ now, but in space-time continuum I am still and feel 23 years.
The only thing that is keeping me sane all these lonely years in my travel is my wonderful brain.
Space was being explored like never before. When there was nothing left to salvage on Earth, we started exploiting space. We have mined planets, blasted asteroids, harnessed a star’s energy but never have we found a single living organism outside Earth. All efforts to colonise outside Earth were discontinued ages ago. The best that we did was to have space outposts. Like the ISS which the ancients had with their primitive technology.
What I do now for a living was more profitable. I am a travelling space miner and explorer.
The buzz from the control panel stirred me back to the present and I checked the co-ordinates with the ship’s Computer which responded that I am on track. Mission control had relayed a message of a probable habitable “Earth” and I jumped to the opportunity to be the first to accept, explore and send back the report.
I got out of my life support suit. My head was still buzzing. Ignoring it I sat back and ran a customary system check. The computer responded with an all green for all parameters and then I noticed the blinking orange tab. I pulled my chair and expanded the system.
The heading on the blinking Orange tab was “life Presence” and the message read “Error”. “Ugggg”, I grunted and using all my experience and education closed my fist and gently banged on the tab. The tab turned green and message read “1 life form detected”. There… problem solved.
Still, I told the computer to run a full body scan on myself and got an “All normal” reply.
“Do you need me to print the report, commander” – the computer spoke. (I do not like naming AI and treating them as someone equal)
“Negative”, I replied.
“Commander, we are approaching the orbit of the planet. The landing shuttle is ready and you should suit up”
“Thanks computer, any precautions to be taken? What are the readings from the planet?”
“Negative, commander, no carbon-based life forms detected. I have already classified, compiled and prepared the report of the elements which can used. Current readings suggest conditions similar to the planet Nostrum but all standard safety precautions to be followed as per protocol”
“Thanks computer and I am on my way to the shuttle”
I suited up, checked all systems and opened the shuttle hatch. “hello Shuttle, how’s life treating you today?”
“Voice Activation recognised, welcome aboard, commander” the shuttle greeted me. “All systems o.k and we shall launch in T minus 20 minutes. Taking over command for landing procedure, standing by for confirmation, commander”
“Thank you commander and initiating launching systems”.
I sat back and relaxed. The headache still niggled me. I ignored it. I enjoy these few minutes before the launch. This was the time I just shut myself off and start preparing for the adventure. I have come a long way and I have still a long way to go.
“Launching codes initiated to launch in T minus 60 secs”. I took a deep breath and braced myself for the initial rush.
“Commander”, the shuttle spoke. “Mission wise, this is again a statistical waste, but on a personal level this is an important mission for you”
“And how so?” I did not like to be disturbed in the few seconds before launch. This is already filled into the programme and I did not know why it was malfunctioning. I was curious and hence naturally opened my eyes.
“With this, you shall overtake commander Stan’s long standing record of successful missions. So, congratulations, commander Julia”
“WHAT!!! I screamed. It cannot be. My head was throbbing now and I was suddenly disoriented. I checked the mirror on the forearm of my suit and noticed the face of a complete panicking stranger screaming back at me, hysterically.
“NO..it’s not possible. I am Stan. Shuttle Abort mission..abort!! full systems abort!!
“Negative commander, launch codes initiated in T minus 30 seconds. Vital systems reaching danger levels. Please stay calm”
“No..no..no, this is not possible. What is happening. I cannot continue the mission like this. Abort..
“Negative commander Julia, launching shuttle in T minus 10 ….9…….8…”
“No..no..no..I am Stan Rubik, the best space explorer of Earth and holder of the maximum successful missions, Commander of my ship “Aventura IV”
“I shall not allow my record to be broken. I am Stan. Stan Rubik”
Sector 4862. Space outpost – “We have just received a distress call from the Estrella IX. There has been an explosion during the launch of its shuttle. While we are awaiting further details, we lost commander Julia. Too tragic. This mission would have made her the best…”