The Pioneers of Aldebaran

“Simulation successful: Happiness metric at maximum, engaging deep sleep mode in 1 minute.”

My senses were slowly coming back to me as if I had woken up from the deepest sleep.

Happiness metric at maximum? I stared blankly at the warning message wondering what this simulation had in particular that made me feel seemingly so happy. I knew this was real because I could sense the capsule liquid around me again and started feeling something I hadn’t felt in a while — discomfort.

It was almost unbearable, all my senses were so alert and the discomfort was progressively turning into pain. The capsule was so warm and humid, if If it wasn’t for the slime surrounding me my skin would probably been dripping in sweat. Everywhere I tried looking the message was right in front of me, stuck fading back and forth, as if someone had burnt it into my retina. It was so bright, too bright.

The echo of the capsule chamber was merging into a loud humming sound and every bit of my movements launched ripples throughout the chamber, vastly intensifying the dripping sound into an ever dizzying buzz.

Something in the back of my neck was restraining me to move my head even sightly, I felt trapped. There was a painful pressure on the tip of my finger but the warning message was covering my entire sight. I think it was the simulation ports — they had shown us how the capsules operate during the Interstellar Colonizer Training.

How many times did I wake up and felt this discomfort since starting the simulation program? Everything just seemed like one big blur.

Of course I knew what that message meant. The next time I would wake up, I would be discovering a whole new world. My heart was pounding so fast just thinking about seeing Aldebaran for the first time and finally becoming one of them, the Pioneers. I would soon be an iconic figure in the history of the Aldebaran system and on Earth! Daddy had told me on my first day at ICT camp that the Pioneers were very highly regarded and held A-2 privileges back here on Earth. He would be so proud today.

“Loading L.I.F.E. parameters for Mara…”

My pride vanished and made way for something else I hadn’t felt in a long time — sorrow. My heart was pounding but in such a painful way, as if it was losing pieces at every beat. Soon I would be joining millions of Pioneers making intergalactic history, yet I had never felt so alone — something would be missing in my journey.

This was my last minute on Earth, the last minute that Kiro and I would be on the same planet. Soon, we would even be in different galaxies. I tried comforting myself that in some miraculous way we would be seeing each other again but the warning message flashing by my eyes kept bringing me back to reason. This was a one way trip.

I knew that I didn’t have much time left for my last thought so I tried hard focusing on a happy moment with Kiro. Somehow, the only thing that kept coming back to my mind was the argument we had last month about our plans to visit the Sea of Tranquility during my time off from training. I knew deep down he didn’t care we couldn’t go, he was just torn that I had been chosen for this mission and never really talked about it. I wish I had apologized, I wish we had hugged and make up, I wish I could just have his arms around me right now.

“Parameters successfully loaded. Switching off consciousness in 3..2…1.”

My pain was gone, and all my thoughts were dissipating into a blur.

“Engaging L.I.F.E.”

“Is this seat taken?”

Mara looked up from her Cosmopolitan hyper-vision device to see a tall man in a long and elegant coat standing on the corridor next to the aisle seat. He was so tall that his head was almost hidden by the overhead compartments of the Express Way shuttle.

“Uh. Yes. I mean, no. It’s free.” Mara’s dimples carved as she tried to conceal her smile. Her freckles almost vanished from the red taint covering her face.

The tall man smiled and sat next to her, Mara’s blush intensified. Even though they were hidden by his scruff, Mara could see his traits were slim and well defined.

“I’m Kiro.” He declared and opened up his hand waiting for a handshake.