Officer’s logs: Hour 14, Day 176 of service, Year 1
The meeting went well, better than expected, and though it was nerve-wracking to be in front of the Planetary government as a not entirely wanted observer to a private meeting, things quickly went far better than expected. It appeared as if our chief counselor wanted to be rid of the dinosaurs, and saw me as a convenient way to make that happen, and it was clear that Dr. Stamatoyannopoulos, seeing that there was no way of obtaining sufficient greenhouse space on a planet, wanted to investigate a tip that someone had given him. I’m honestly not sure who had given him the tip about the possibility of the gate. I know that I had heard of it from some of the older scouts who were investigating what appeared to be alien space dust that came from the Alpha Centauri system, but I had not told anything of that nature to the professor and he seemed to be aware of it. Perhaps there is a leak somewhere that we are not aware of. I thought that I would be blamed for the leak in the council meeting, but the look of surprise on my face must have indicated that I did not tell the Professor, and so at least that unpleasant conversation did not need to happen. Still, it was an eventful morning, to be sure, full of discussion of logistics.
I’m not sure what possessed me to volunteer for the ten or so most boring years of my life, though. It is all well and good to explore the deep ranges of space, but given that we are unable to travel at light speed even with all the tricks we have used to race through our local neighborhood over the past few decades, it will take at least five years to get to Alpha Centauri to investigate the possibility that there may be some sort of device there that allows for passage into a safer area, hopefully a place where the troubles and oppression of Earth will not bother us. Given that I am planning a round trip, this will obviously take some time, and it was a flash of inspiration to seek that time for massive education, as I will have a lot of time to fill as I am passing through nearly featureless space. Amazingly enough, this was approved by the council, as well as the suggestion that a wife be found for me upon my return, which they did not think would be a very difficult proposition for someone who had made a heroic journey of exploration into deep space. After that the conversation mostly involved logistics, and led me to think about what I needed to do next.
After the meeting was adjourned I immediately went to discuss matters with some of the senior scouts, to discuss with them how one handled long periods of time of extreme boredom, and how the logistics would be handled. They said that I was going to be fed during my trip, but that it would be pretty monotonous, which is something I had experienced already in my early efforts, mostly flying scout missions around our bases, trips of a few weeks at the most. It is obviously a matter of orders of magnitude greater to explore the areas to the next sun, but some of the people who had come the closest did give me some advice that I will follow to keep in good health and spirits over the next few years of my life. They all seemed pretty proud that I was going to join them as part of the club of people who had spent years on individual missions, and it appeared to be a pretty small and elite group of people who had found considerable resources of contentment and peace of mind to be able to handle the depths of space. They seemed to think I had the right stuff, so I was encouraged by my conversation and hurried to see how the scout ship was being stocked, as well as the cargo vessels of the professor.
It appeared as if the ships would be ready by the evening, so I went back to my barracks and let everyone know what was going on. Some of the people there seemed a bit jealous that I had a mission of such obvious interest as exploring the path to the next star, while others teased me about not leaving room for me when I returned, if I returned. I recognized the teasing as being the good-natured way that people deal with matters without feeling jealous about someone’s opportunities as well as pointing out the obvious drawbacks of having such a long mission in having to keep one’s mind sharp in the face of years and years of tedious repetition of the same tasks over and over again. How does one keep enough reading and studying material for that long? That would be my task and my task alone to manage, so I went back to the ship and made sure that it was well stocked with good literature and spiritual and educational readings so that I would at least be able to stay well-read even if my social development would be hindered. It might be good as a mystical journey into the wilderness where one has to face the abyss of one’s mind and be able to cope with being alone with one’s own thoughts and feelings for company. It will be an adventure, and I hope I’m up for it. With this entry I am saving a copy of my officer’s log on the planet so that it will be able to be read by other explorers who are thinking about what needs to be done before a long trip, and I will continue the log on my ship, to be archived upon my return.
Officer’s Log: Day 0 of Alpha Centauri Expedition
Given that the timing convention of this long exploration mission will be different in that it will lack the temporal markers of Pluto’s days/months/weeks (which are all the same at six days and fourteen hours of earth time, which is somewhat convenient for those of us who keep the Sabbath, I have on the advice of some of the senior scouts I spoke to decided to keep this particular log according to the daily patterns of space. I will rest on every seventh day, a day being determined by the daily patterns of the rituals of space travel, the ship being on autopilot most of the time unless some sort of emergency happens. I have instructed the professor to do the same with his ship, and it appears as if he is a religious sort of person who will rest on the first day of the week while I rest on the seventh and as our various religious festivals mostly differ, we will be able to observe, after our own fashion, our various holy days in the solitude of space, communing with the One who is above all space and time. On those occasions where we have festivals that overlap, we have decided that we will keep our comm lines open to commune with each other during those times in common worship.
Aside from matters of faith, it is important to have a daily ritual in space that keeps one sane. I have decided to do some creative writing, or dictating as it were, and I will keep that separate from this log. Likewise, I will also keep a daily log of all the activities that need to be done, including eating, bathing in the recycled water of the ship, and running through all of the sensors, as a way of making sure that these things are done continually, as well as engaging in reading and self-education during the free hours that remain. I will not put these routine logs in this officer’s log as I plan for this to be only for those special events that require more attention and musing, including recording insights about this mission for the sake of posterity. I do not think that my thoughts will necessarily be profound, but perhaps they may be of use to those who face a long period of isolation and solitude in space and who want to be able to reflect upon what has been said by others in that situation before. It is for that reason, at least, that I have included a great deal of thinking and writing by those who have sought the isolation of the cloistered life, seeing as the solitude of space and that of the wilderness being cut off from the world are about as similar as one might imagine. One should as well seek such a connection with kindred souls in the same position as one can, seeing as I will be out of contact with Pluto base for a decade or more. I found that this ship could hold twelve years worth of supplies without hindering its speed, and so I urged that this be done for both this ship and the cargo ships of the professor to give us all the most time to find a safe harbor, if such a thing exists in this galaxy.
In the meantime, though, we are running over the final checklists of supplies that are needed, including a large supply of small beacons to mark the path taken for the trip out and the trip in, which will be different to test the possible best route to Alpha Centauri among a couple of speculated options, and some probes to test the theory that Alpha Centauri is allowing some sort of exotic space dust from far away in the galaxy as has been indicated by some initial probes. While this work is likely to be exciting to scientists, the collection of the work is fairly routine and thus offers little of excitement to people who may be reading this in the future if this mission has success in providing a new understanding of our part of the galaxy, as some of the people obviously hope by their enthusiasm in approving this particular mission. It is to be wondered why more ships were not sent as scouts in order to verify what we see, but it is possible that the recent troubles coming from earth that led the professor to escape and seek shelter for his lovely creatures is also forcing our planetary confederation to devote most of its ships to defense against threats coming from earth. It would at any rate make sense to devote most of our limited resources in ships to defense of our homeland while investigating the possibility of refuge and escape at the same time. Such matters, of course, are far above my paygrade.
Shortly before providing this log I had one last decent dinner planetside with the professor as well as a few members of the planetary government, who were all very pleased that a quick-thinking scout like myself was going on this mission and that they had big hopes for what I would be able to find out on the long mission. I told them that I regretted missing out on the action but that I would do what was best for those of us who were in opposition to the tyrannical behavior of earth government, which everyone agreed to with assent. It does appear as if this particular trip will take me out of the combat path, as there is likely to be some fighting between those of us in exile in the solar system and the government on earth which wants to gain control over us and possibly wipe out the particularist and minority peoples who have sought refuge and freedom beyond the confines of an earth that has become increasingly under the control of a totalitarian regime who does not wish for anyone to exist outside of its domination. This does not bode well, and I wonder what Pluto will look like when I return, knowing how violently the regime on earth wishes to dominate anywhere that people can live. Any chance of being able to escape from the control of the people who govern the earth is to be fully taken advantage of. The people here on Pluto and Eris and the other minor planets of the Belt, whether we were born here or are survivors of the trouble on earth, know that freedom sometimes requires the painful experience of being uprooted from one’s home and cast off into the distant wilderness to seek a better life, and we have chosen to be free rather than to remain where we were. It is quite possible that our journeys have not ended. And it is with this thought that we have resolved to explore whether there is indeed a place we can go to be far away from the earth from which we came.