I had this idea for a science fiction story, and this is what it became. Work in progress.
|The New Earth
A ship drifts wearily towards its destination - a planet supporting advanced, intelligent life. The vessel was massive, durable, built to last its long journey. It had no means of reaching this distant star system quickly; it only had thrusters to power it through the seas of empty darkness between stars.
Though having been supplied with vast fuel reserves, the engines had long burned through the last of the fuel designated for this part of the journey. The on-board navigation systems, having been programmed for this situation before the ship first left Earth, calculated the direction of its destination with astonishing accuracy. It gave one final burst in that direction, and the engines fell silent.
Through the entire ship the only noise left was the quiet humming of the artificial intelligence at work in the ship, monitoring everything, making sure nothing went amiss. Not all the fuel was gone – only the fuel that had been designated to be used on the journey. The rest of it was left for when the ship arrived at its destination.
For thousands of years, the ship drifted on through empty space. It was dark and cold, the vessel had not been created with lights or life support – these things were not necessary. Though entirely controlled by artificial intelligence, the ship did carry human life - in the form of frozen fetuses.
The ship entered the gravity of the star. Now, it was so close to completing the first stage of its mission. It continued to drift towards the planet, though it was now under the influence of the star’s gravity. This was where careful piloting was required – it would be all too easy to miss the planet entirely and drift of back into space, without enough fuel to turn back.
Thrusters roared into action. The on-board A.I. directed the hulking mass of mechanical construction towards its target planet. The ship soon reached close enough to the planet to be influenced by its gravity. Then the thrusters cut out once again.
The ship again drifted, slowly, gradually spiraling closer and closer to the planet, being sucked in by it’s gravity as if in a whirlpool. Then it entered the planet’s atmosphere and began its descent.
The heat built up, the metal, accustomed now to the cold of space, warped dangerously under the heat. The ship was soon engulfed in flame as it hurled down towards the surface of the planet. It began to take on a diagonal descent.
It flew through thin mists of cloud, passed over great mountains stabbing into the blue skies and deserts of sand and rock and plains of lush green and golden color. The planet looked remarkably like Earth. The fauna of the planet were no doubt amazed by this dramatic entrance – if they had the mental capacity to be amazed.
With a thunderous crash the ship came into contact with the ground, the sheer force of it sending a wave of dirt flying into the air. As the scene calmed and the dirt settled back onto the ground, the ship let out muffled sounds of mechanical workings. It was now initiating the second step in its mission.
The contents of the ship had been completely protected from atmospheric entry – that was how it had been designed. On Earth, they spared no expense on making the hull as durable as they possibly could. The hull had to endure not only entry of the atmosphere, but also years of travelling through space. It could have bumped into anything along the way; none of the void between stars had yet been explored. For everything it may have cost back on Earth, a thousand years ago, it was worth every bit now.
The ship proceeded to open up at the rear. It scanned the surroundings and sent data back to Earth, though it would take centuries to reach humanity. The ship then began bringing the fetuses back to life – unfreezing them, placing them in specialized test tube-like structures made to replicate the mother’s womb. These were to become the first race of sub-human – raised by machines on an alien planet.
When they became old enough to be ‘born’, they would be taken out of the womb-structures and from their very first breath, taught about life on Earth. They would be taught everything they could, and when they were mature enough, they would take their children to the machines to be taught about Earth.
For the first generation, the ship would provide them with a home – rooms had been built into it, and every essential facility modern humans enjoy that could be crammed into it. There would be limited food on the ship – not enough to supply the first generation all their lives, but enough to get them started.
Hopefully, they could adapt to their new environment and gather food for themselves. There would also be medical facilities; however the diseases of that planet would have not been encountered by humans before. For this reason, there is a special A.I. tasked with medically examining each of the colonists and coming up with a cure for any alien diseases it can.
The ship was well equipped, but not ideally equipped. There would most likely be dangers on the alien planet no one on Earth could have predicted, or prepared for. It would be a struggle for survival for these colonists, but perhaps they could survive, and bring the human race one step closer to reaching out towards the stars… and finally being able to grab something.