Colonia-10 is a UC (United Commonwealth) colony ship that was sent on a mission in the year 2305 to an unknown destination - presumably a habitable world outside the sol's SOI. Whether it ever reached its destination is debatable. The ship itself was a Class-B colony ship: it had two main fusion thrusters, a Class-B fusion generator and two Class-A storage units. The internals of the ship consisted of one main terminal in the central hub, terraforming equipment, essential supplies and 1,000,010 capsules.
Out of nowhere, the systems came back online. Computers blew the ancient air out of their systems. Algorithms from past times executed their perpetual loops. The ship had been out there for a long time, its fusion engines barely sustaining themselves as they went deeper into the eternal untold.
Promises were made back on that old rock we call Earth: promises of countless worlds filled with life and a better future. Colonia-10 was its name; the ship was most certainly not the only one making the journey. Its creators had already planned other trips in advance. The ship carried an estimated amount of 1 million souls, ready to sacrifice them all, if needed, for the greater good, the big picture of humanity.
The first stages shredded within minutes after launch. The ship had hardly enough fuel to get past the Karman line - sad isn't it? All this work, for what? To barely survive a trip to a strange alien world that some of us might not even get to see? This all happened roughly 33,400 days ago. The last remaining essential crew had prepared their capsules 33,350 days ago.
Who am I, you ask? I was one of them, the essential crew that is. Now, what do I mean with "was?" Let me clarify: the 50th day began as a normal day on a massive interstellar ship - yes, after a while you get used to working on this metal tomb. I was awakened by the automated systems. They were always active, always listening for some long lost frequencies - as if the Earth would ever care about us, after barely fueling us properly. I got out of my capsule and did my daily routine: checking the colonists; they were to become the main workforce after we arrive... If we ever get there...
I walked past the silent halls and automated doors. I greeted my fellow crew members - although I never knew their names; just a simple handshake or looking into their direction was enough for me and probably for them as well. There it was, "Port 1043": the place where most of our colonists were stored. I inspected every single capsule with my multi-threaded display - as if they'd ever bother if one of them was to be dead or missing. But... I did what was expected of me, a good loyal soldier I guess, that had to be me right? After all, I would get to go back home after we dropped the colonists off. I was brought back to reality by my display; it was making this god-awful noise.
A message appeared: "Unit-30599 is missing from capsule B-1944."
Missing? How could that be? Probably some shitty code that didn't break out of its loop. I walked over to the capsule where the so-called missing colonist had been stored. It was, as I expected, filled with a man. He was in his 30s if I'm unmistaken. The system must've made a mistake: a bug of some sorts. It reminded me of all the countless programming slaves back home, poor bastards. Well, I hope they didn't skip an essential line in their algorithm...
I walked back to the main hub; the others were already there, drinking and eating as usual. I never know when to eat or should I say my body never tells me when it's time to eat. The unrelenting darkness never reveals its true nature; it only grants us a few blimps, to prove that there's more out there, more than silence. My display produced another sound, at least it was a calmer sound. The capsule icon appeared on the top left of it, time to get back into our capsules. We don't want to be outside our capsules when the ship's shields reset, all the nasty radiation and darkness is unadvisable to anyone.
I grabbed the glass door and shut it; the blue smoke engulfed me, entered my entire being and made me want to sleep. Remember laying down on a hospital bed? The doctor probably told you to inhale deeper and asks you to count down from ten to zero or vice versa. This is what it feels like, to be frozen, to be lost in thought for an obscure amount of time. The absolute silence, the pure nothingness of it always gives me the chills. There's always a "what if" scenario luring or preying on you. Who would save us if the power went down? What if something hit the ship whilst the shield was resetting? Why do they send us on these barely functional colony ships if we might not even reach our destination? Darkness engulfed me again, my final thoughts about countless scenarios fading into oblivion.
The ship went silent; androids roaming the transcendent silent halls, constantly looping and constantly aware of what might happen. They had no soul, no will; only a desire to serve the ship. The androids were never programmed to follow the crew's orders. The capitalists back home wouldn't have allowed that. As they filled their pockets with credits whilst turning the colonizing meat grinder. They never showed any of the crew the statistics: one out of ten ships had ever made it.
Colonia-1 was an exceptional ship, the best gear and crew out there. The wealthiest were granted this dream journey to a world filled with wonders.
As days passed, weeks passed; as weeks passed, so did months pass. Years went by without notice. The crew was never aware of the fact that the ship never got the chance to reset its shield. The old ship got hit by a wandering piece of rock - a small asteroid. As the ship got damaged, all the remaining energy was sent to keep the crew and most of the colonist population alive.
The androids died, at least they had their peace. The population got smaller and the fusion core had melted so no energy got produced. The system used its last remaining energy to determine a path; a path that would choose which colonists and crew members were worth it. Privacy was an unfamiliar term in this reality. All information about the ship's crew and colonists had been stored decades ago, even before it ever left the barren poisoned grounds of the earth.
Time flew by again, year after year, second after second. The ship had not even reached a single lightyear since its departure. The engines were long dead; there was no way of accelerating or decelerating. Even if the ship reached its destination, after an enormous amount of time had passed, it could never stop.
I woke up, an alarming noise had disturbed my eternal slumber. A symbol that looked like a battery had emptied out. A message had appeared into my main display before I even had the chance to lift the heavy glass door.
"Remaining colonists: one, Remaining crew members: one"
What did this mean? Another bug? I got out of my capsule; a great unknown welcomed me as I did so. I tried checking my display, but it had been dried up; no energy could even get it online again, it was dead. I ran to the main hub, trying to get this all out of my head. I fell on the cold floor - it's kinda hard to run with no lights, I should've known better.
The main hub was, as I expected, engulfed in darkness; not a single light could find a place in this metal tomb as if the ship itself sucked all the light that remained into its dead cold metal walls. I went up to the terminal; the main hub was the only place with luxury like this. The terminal was the most advanced display that we had; Colonia-1 must've been filled with it. I looked up the ID of the surviving colonist; my hearth fell silent as I saw the ID: "Unit-30599, capsule B-1944." I activated the fusion core; I had no idea why it wasn't functioning before. It had everything that it needed, fuel and activation energy. The knob to activate the main igniter had been pulled down; someone must've deactivated it...
I went back to that same port, the port where I found my anomaly, that guy. Maybe he had all the answers? Who knows? He was my only chance right now, and I was taking it. I went to the capsule, and it had no one inside of it. I must've been looking for hours, that guy, he was... nowhere to be found. Another bug? No... This was something else, maybe there was an overwrite on the system, maybe that's how the system got confused about whether there was someone inside of it. I checked the date - no idea why I didn't do this before, I guess that I was too focused on finding him.
The dusted screen displayed "Day 33400" in red; how could this be? We should've landed on that damned planet decades ago...
Our ship was old and badly equipped, but its fusion engines were the most advanced out there. "Sublight Engines," they called them, the big bosses of 001. Engines that would suck the hydrogen from stars to fuel their greed. I heard a noise, some forgotten metal piece must've fallen. I traced my steps back to my port. Then I saw it; an escape pod had been used; I went back to the main terminal, the halls laughing at me. I could hear their makers giggling like little demons. I looked up the departure date of this capsule: 33,350 days ago.
This couldn't be real, how could the system not see the capsule was empty and why didn't it alert anyone when the pod got launched? As these thoughts fought in my head, a red coloured text appeared on the terminal: "Power restored, fusion generator running, allocating nearest star. Days left 'til arrival at Colony-10: 50,000 years."The ship had taken its own route, passing by unknown stars, it had missed the main route to Colony-10. Another message appeared on the terminal's display: "Remaining colonists: zero, Remaining crew: one."
I was awoken by the HEN-protocol, also known as the High Energy Necessity protocol. The capsule forced me out of its cold waters, I saw the remains of what appeared to be fellow colonists from my port; they had fought with each other; the skull of the female looking colonist had been crushed with a wrench. I couldn't bear looking at them any longer, so I decided to get rid of them; I dumped them out of a nearby airlock.
The power was out, only the capsules' light gave me guidance, I could barely navigate to the terminal. I tried reading the manuals but barely understood what they really meant. Some kind of asteroid had disturbed the field today, just before the reset, after all the crew had already entered cryosleep. I tried opening one of the crew's capsules but failed in doing so; they had some kind of bio-lock attached to them. I tried resetting the fusion core but melted it in doing so. I made sure to keep the ignitor off. I wasn't trained to replace the core, so I went to the nearest escape pod and launched the escape grid.
I saw the old ship flying by whilst I prepared my pod's capsule. I extended the fragile solar panel to generate electricity for my capsule. I left this as my note inside of this prison of mine. If a rescue team ever finds this, then my god, if he ever existed, forgive me for what I caused. I hope someone will get the fusion generator working, to keep up the shields.
- Adam Brown, Unit-30599, day 50
The ship roamed the great unknown, experiencing nothing but silence. A lonely crew member, stuck inside his capsule, hoping to be released from his prison one day, was contained within the dead walls of the ship. The androids were looping their never-ending algorithms, checking for problems that would never occur. The ship went by each statement as swiftly as the previous one, executing line by line. Until it broke out of its loop, a message appeared on its horrifying terminal: "Critical stops: two: caused by line 10005 in runProg.cpp, please comment this line out for further instructions."
001 is an engineering section in the physics branch of the UC Science Department. They were assembled around the year 2080, after the great fall. 001 consists of ten members; each of them had a certain assignment within the branch. 001 is responsible for the Fusion drive and is wildly known for the engineering behind Colonia-1.
Written by MikeWe21