Sunday, 7 February 2010

System fall

Fifteen years out. The array of sensors poking out from the shield send an electrical pulse to the core which takes the decision to begin the rotation, turning the engines to start the deceleration of the starship so that it will be slow enough to be caught by the gravity of the growing, pinprick yellow sun. As the engines cycle through their tests before they dare to reignite, the rows of tanks buried deep within the protective shell of the ship are filled with gelatinous growth mixtures while three thousand zygotes are checked for flaws that would cause them to be discarded. Eggs that pass the test, that have not been damaged by cosmic rays, radiation or age, are injected into the gel along with the alchemical mix of fluids that will prompt the growth of the cells into humans.

The core, meanwhile, starts its slow communications with the chaperones leading the way. Over the course of months evidence is checked and rechecked, compared with the observations taken at the start of the journey, two hundred years distant, and corrected. Aboard the pathfinder vessels robots are readied and prepared; on arrival, five years before the starship, they will fall into orbit around the largest gas giant in the system and begin to dismantle several of its moons for raw materials. These will be used to construct the station habitat and the mining equipment required to extract the brief flickers of anti-matter generated by the collision of the sun’s rays with the power of the gas giant’s magnetosphere.

By the time the humans are fully grown, and the neuronal and chemical components of their brains encouraged into the configuration of the memories of their original bodies, their new home will have been constructed, their starship gently nudging itself into a local parking orbit, ready for them to disembark to their new lives.

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