Monday, August 30, 2021

Microstory 1701: Project Andromeda

When the Ansutahan refugees were successfully transported from the brink of war in their home universe, they were relieved. They could finally stop living in fear of the white monsters who roamed the majority of the continents on their home planet. The Gatewood Collective was their home now, at least for least for most of them. Decades later, a portion of the refugees, but mostly their descendants, would choose to begin a journey to the other side of the galaxy. This was the largest exodus that the Ansutahan humans had experienced so far, and probably the most ambitious, but it was not the most far-fetched. A transgalactic journey was nothing compared to what happened 15 years earlier—or only 10 years, for that matter. One of the last major ventures that the leaders of Gatewood endeavored to complete was Project Andromeda. While reaching the other side of the Milky Way would take a couple hundred years at reframe speeds, Andromeda would take thousands. If they only traveled at relativistic speeds, any observer inside the ship would still only experience a few thousand years, but millions of years would pass them by before they arrived. Unlike Operation Extremus, Project Stargate was designed to spread across the galaxy at such speeds, so that when they began to send data back to the stellar neighborhood, people would understand how it was possible that a ship had made it so far away. That was what they thought the maximum speed was. Faster-than-light travel was relegated to  science fiction for them. For people living 3500 years from now however, surely they would have long been introduced to FTL, and even other forms of time travel. They probably wouldn’t freak out to learn that someone was already exploring Andromeda. In fact, there was a strong chance that humanity would have already reached it even faster.

So Kestral and Ishida came to the decision to make Project Andromeda travel much faster than most people living in 2255 thought possible, under the assumption that the truth would eventually come out, and be fine. They constructed 11 small vessels. One would act as primary, while the others were backups. This would give them a greater chance of succeeding, since so many things could go wrong in transit. The original plan for Project Stargate was for the ships to be entirely automated, with no organic lifeforms on board, except for human DNA samples, which could one day be used to seed life on other planets. One of the team members chose to go against this mandate, and clone himself millions of times, so that a human touch would be available to negotiate any crisis that might come up. Inspired by this, Team Keshida decided to allow volunteers for Andromeda. Anyone who wanted to make this trip, which would potentially be only one-way, could submit an application. They figured that if no one applied, then they would just revert back to the original plans. They received thousands of requests, and had to narrow it down to 24 people. Two would be in each of the backups, while four would be in the primary. They would remain in stasis for the whole trip, and only be awakened if it was absolutely necessary. They all had extensive knowledge that would help them effect repairs, yet they received additional training to ensure that these were undoubtedly the best candidates for the job. Once they were ready, the ships launched, each one a month behind the last, until they were all gone. Again, the ships were still automated, so now the only thing to do was wait, and hope that everything worked out.

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