2680 (Susannah C.)

Ellis sat and watched the planet approach. Was it still a planet, though, he thought? Really? Surely he should start thinking of it as 'home,' as the centre of the universe – indeed, according to humanity's personal compass, this probably did count as the centre – halfway between Earth in one direction and the original Destination in the other. A good compromise, hopefully.

But not the point, really. Ellis shrugged. Philosophical musings were always an unfortunate side effect of staring into space, even for someone as practical as a former Head of Engineering. He made a mental note to discuss the idea with Varian later – she’d probably like it – and got back to what he had come here for. Even after 30 years of slow decay, the Core at the rear of Toroid 6 wasn’t exactly a salubrious location to be standing (well, floating. But in an attached sort of way). But at least it was finally accessible. After decades of repetitive, boring engineering work in the Core helping to decelerate the ship through mass ejection, yesterday the repurposed ITTS had finally fallen silent, with the final calculations announced by Computer and Navigation jointly – deceleration complete. Tangential path achieved. Orbit soon to commence.

And so today, here he was, looking at the planet they’d dedicated most of their lives to reaching. Well, technically looking at a screen showing the planet. But this wasn’t just a Computer projection, or a simulation in one of Harmony’s uplifting videos (“Circling the Future!”). Ellis understood every single physical step of the process bringing the picture to his eyes, and so it just felt more… real. Out there on the drivewards shielding, the original ROB retraced its magnetised steps and took an electronic look ahead, and in here in the Core, Ellis watched. (Through a judicious gift of cookies, Ellis had got Victor to admit that the ROB was still hidden at the back of a cupboard somewhere in the labyrinthine low-G area that Engineering Mission Control had spawned over the years. He’d also managed to wangle his way onto this mission. Sometimes the fact that he’d been Victor's boss for half a year, once upon a time, made life on board considerably easier.)

So here they were, the ROB and he, collecting data. Vital data, of course. Real visual information on the approaching planet would give the Terraforming, Engineering and Recycling Resource Assessment the best chance to plan for their imminent landfall. It was likely, of course, that it would just corroborate what Computer was already showing them – nitrogen-based atmosphere, tricky terrain, and enough original atoms to give Recycling wet dreams – which was why nobody else had really wanted this mission. But, given previous experiences, Ellis felt that a little corroboration of the apparent facts was always worthwhile. And he’d felt a little nostalgic about the idea of coming back here, too, to the place where he’d first really believed he was looking at space, so many years ago.

He sat quietly, watching as the planet turned. Around him, ion drives whirred silently in the dead grey vacuum of the Core. Behind him, humanity (and BOBs, and CROCs, and tentacle monsters) scurried around the toroids, busy with their daily lives. Ahead of him lay the future, shining in the light of their new star. Or should that be 'sun'?

fic/ellis.txt · Last modified: 2013/03/05 17:09 by gm_jonathan
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