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The Far Star Mission (Audiobook)

by Apotheus

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    The captivating debut volume of an epic sci-fi saga, brought to life in a mesmerizing combination of text and audio narration. Dive into the depths of the cosmos with this hardcover book featuring a riveting tale of survival, expertly narrated by the talented Miguel Andrade. Immerse yourself in a world where breathtaking adventures unfold against the backdrop of the majestic universe.

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Prelude 00:59
The Far Star Mission Written by Apotheus Read by Miguel Andrade This is the untold story of our ancestry. A painful journey of survival in the majesty of cosmos, but also a delicate introspective about the human nature. When these two worlds collide, something new emerges. Hope, a mission and a destination: The Far Star.
Chapter 1 Caves of Steel The year was 6538 UTS when the global power break down happened. These blackouts were becoming usual by that time, but never before at this scale. Suddenly, for the first time in many years, the social status ceased to matter: everyone, whether it being the rich and lunatic upper class or the poor and delusional lower class, lived for two days without energy. Population number was at its height even though the mean standard of living was at its lowest. On one side there were the few educated members that tried to sustain the planet’s resource productions. “The gifted”, as they were called. However, there were also the useless and unintelligent citizens in massive numbers. A global power breakdown was inevitable, at least in the minds of the most gifted members of the planet. There were just too many individuals consuming resources. The rich wasted them. The poor didn’t, but their numbers were so massive that they totally eclipsed the consumptions of the rich. Perhaps living in the dark triggered something very special in the minds of the planet’s inhabitants. As they say “an idle mind is the devil's workshop”. Questions and thoughts began to arise among every citizen from every class from all over the planet. Perhaps this meant the dawn of a new era.
Redshift 03:50
Chapter 2 Redshift Members of “the gifted” increased in numbers very slowly over time, consequence of a poorly designed education system. Even though the overall picture wasn’t very bright, they still looked up to the golden years of the past. A time when society valued science. Ancient tales of when inquisitive minds were seen as heroes. They knew they were the elite in the present, but they also knew very well that they couldn’t compete with their ancestry, if such a thing was even reasonable to compare. Solving this crisis wasn’t an easy task. In fact, a minority of “the gifted” were even in favor of not trying to solve it. But even this minority couldn’t ignore their most optimistic and curious side. After spending long years studying their society and trying to merge maths and sociology, they decided to look at the skies instead. After all, it was the only place left to look. Of course, they knew very well the intricacies of space and their place in the cosmos, but maybe, just maybe, they didn’t look deep enough. Perhaps their ancestors were up there all this time, trying to guide their children from the darkness of deep space. And so they did. They looked unceasingly at the skies and developed new and superior tools. They were looking for planets, planetoids, asteroids or even rocks. Anything that met the necessary conditions for life. A drastic change. A complete reboot of civilization in another place. It was only on 6645 UTS in one morning, that a very faint and redshifted light hit the lenses of one of their detectors. This light has travelled for approximately 320 years and that meant this planet was 320 light-years away from them. The data was fuzzy, but it seemed like it had the ideal pressure, temperature and distance from its host star. It was a reasonable possibility. The first glimpse of hope. This was the year when the project codenamed “The Far Star” began. It was ambitious. 320 years might seem like a long time, but this would be an instant compared to the time it would take to travel that same distance by spaceship with current technology. Also, “the gifted” simply didn’t have the resources and money for such a large scale project. They would need support from the biggest landlords in the planet. In the end, they were left with just another difficult task. But “difficult” was good enough for them, since they’ve only been dealing with the impossible until now.
Chapter 3 Resolve to Remake Politics were also in a bad state, as expected, but this was the only game they could play. The natural economic laws were practically nonexistent since every important market was a coercive monopoly by the state. Any politician in power was also making huge profit margins from an imposed monopoly on society, enforced by law. They dictated the prices and traded misery for money. Any political opposition to the main political parties was irrelevant. They all ended up being either poisoned by the major parties persistent bribing or being silently annihilated by the use of force. “The gifted” realized that they needed to play by their rules if they wanted to get the funding and resources they needed for the mission. They had to get their hands dirty. And so they started by founding their own political party, without compromising their clan’s secrecy, of course. They started conversations with the major coalition. This was a coalition established between the three richest, filthiest and more powerful parties. The “gifted” knew they had to start conversations with these people, and they weren’t particularly happy about it. The coalition wasn’t just going to give them what they needed, so they had to be prepared for giving something that they wanted. It was very hard for the new party to even start negotiating with the coalition. They were much like a very distant lair of wolves, looking at everyone else from the top. Eventually, they managed to get in touch with them and, as they expected, their demands were unscrupulous and wicked. The coalition didn’t want more money because they had plenty. They wanted to make sure that their supremacy would remain forever. For that purpose, they demanded a new global organization decision system, also known as GODS. This system was able to immediately detect any kind of rebellion or opposition through the usage of advanced artificial intelligence. This would increase the efficiency of the coalition’s illicit methods for silencing opposing forces. The scale of this project was so massive that no citizen could escape it. The clan began questioning the whole mission: Are any means acceptable to reach an end? Is an hypothetical preservation of the species worth a certain condemnation of the whole population on the planet? A serious crisis emerged among their clan. After long weeks of several discussions, the main representatives of the gifted voted. The decision was made, they decided to accept the coalition’s terms. However, with a small surprise left behind: the system was programmed to self destruct in the future. Only a few select members of the project knew about this, to avoid any accidental or purposeful information leaks. It would take 400 years to destroy GODS, a time period when the coalition could no longer retaliate. In 400 years, “the gifted” should have already completed preparations for “The Far Star” mission and be some light-years away from their home planet.
Chapter 4 The Darkest Sun The whole mission was planned with an excruciating detail. Each member of the crew was carefully selected and they all had passed the most demanding tests one can think of. “The gifted” knew that their physical strength alone, even if it was an important thing, was not going to take the mission very far just by itself. A very delicate balance of psychological and physical skills was needed if they wanted to succeed. Leadership and intelligence were crucial, but things such as agreeableness and parenthood were also extensively tested. The journey was going to last at least three generations, so having the best in the first wouldn’t mean anything if the third wasn’t going to be equally good. Every birth was planned. Every male and female knew with whom they were going to mate. The first, second and third generations’ education were different, according to the different necessities of each phase of the mission. The crew had procedures for virtually any problem they could foresee happening and exhaustive training in improvisation for unknown situations. They were the best of the best. But even for the best, the uneasiness was clearly reflected in their faces as day zero was approaching. This journey meant something different for each generation. For the first it meant abandoning their loved ones for something yet unknown. For the second it meant living their whole lives without ever setting foot on a soil. For the third it meant carrying the burden of all the effort of the past generations. Day zero was a cloudy day, just as if the sky was painted with each member’s gloomy feelings. After boarding the two new shiny spaceships, loaded with the latest pieces of technology, the crew cast one last look at their home planet. The uneasiness grew inversely proportional to the countdown numbers. The engines started and suddenly their feelings completely vanished and gave way to the dizzying speed of their heartbeats. That was all they could feel in that small fragment of eternity. Six minutes was the time to leave the planet’s exosphere. And for six minutes the crew endured the deafening noise of the engines. And then it stopped. Silence replaced the unbearable sounds. The apparent zero-gravity calmness replaced the tremendous fuselage shaking due to the g-force. A new clean and almost divine space view replaced what once was a dark and cloudy sky. They saw their host star like they have never seen. It shone proudly, yet faintly. Casting the same look at the window now contained everything. All their loved ones. All their memories. Everything that they were leaving behind. There, on that moment, the crew realized one important thing that they would carry with them and pass on to their children and to their children’s children: the more you withstand the worst and the cloudiest days, the brighter and more hopeful tomorrow will be.
Chapter 5 The Pull of Plexeus The mission went very smoothly. There weren’t any slowdowns since they entered cruise speed back in their home planet’s solar system. Eight decades had passed and everything happened according to the plan. The first generation was now old and all the members of the second generation had been born. From the first 740 members, only 17 members had died, also roughly according to plan. Raising children in the deep space wasn’t an easy task and was very time and resource demanding. So the mission started with as many members as possible, since population was expected to decrease on each generation. The second generation would have only 370 members and the third around 185. All of this was, of course, distributed between the two spaceships, named Al-phae and Ome-gae. Somewhere in the eighth decade, the first unexpected event happened. After travelling years in empty space without seeing much, pretty much anything is unexpected. But this was too much, even for their comrades that were left on their home planet. An unidentified object appeared on the spaceship radars. It was Plexeus, a massive black hole, and one of the largest known types. While many would consider this event a threat to the whole mission, the spaceship pilots saw a huge opportunity. They were heavily trained and were among the best physicists in the whole crew. The plan was clear. The trajectory needed to be carefully adjusted in such a way that Plexeus’ gravity would create a “slingshot effect”. This technique is called gravity assist maneuver, and the pilots were quite acquainted with it. It's a smart way to harness the gravity of a celestial body to save fuel and increase speed. And so they did. Every member that wasn’t strictly needed retreated to their quarters for safety. As they were approaching Plexeus the spaceship’s alarms sounded louder. According to the pilots the trajectory was correctly calculated, but it was still a situation of high stress for the ship's fuselage due to the massive tidal forces. Plexeus was colossal and there was a faint cloud of asteroids surrounding it. Their trajectory passed so close that the black hole couldn’t fit in the spaceship’s biggest windows. The tremendous shaking could be felt to the bones. Looking at it directly became impossible due to the striking brightness of its rings. Almost like an angel that came to their rescue. The chaos has passed and the crew rejoices in joy. According to the calculations, the travel time was reduced in 30 years. This meant that the second generation could have a slim chance of seeing the destination planet. From that day, Plexeus became a cherished symbol of hope and protection that would last as many generations as the mission could allow.
Chapter 6 Save Our Ship The once small children of the second generation were now grown adults and very few members of the first generation were left. There were members that specialized in teaching and that was how the second generation learned everything they knew. They were very skilled, partly due to the inherited virtues but also due to the extraordinary work of the first generation tutors. Even though they were just as skilled as their predecessors, there was something different about the relationship with the spaceship they grew on. Those cold lumps of metal were what they called home. The spaceships weren't just a tool to reach a destination. They were literally their homes and they were taught to worship and respect it. They were going to spend all of their lives inside it, something that has never happened before in that species history. One day, around 200 years after departure, the second big unexpected event happened. They still had memories of the great Plexeus, or for the third generation children that weren't yet born at the time, they at least heard about the tales and songs written about it. However, this new event was different. They needed to travel through the great Oort cloud, a cloud of predominantly icy planetesimals that orbited very far around the destination planet's host star. This was when the crew had to face one of their hardest dilemmas. The cloud was very dense and high risk maneuvers were required if they kept traveling at their current speed. Slowing down would let them pass the cloud with minimal risk, but that also meant that they would take much longer to reach their destination, probably ending up not living long enough to reach it. They didn't have enough resources to raise one or two generations more. Another problem of slowing down would be the energy required to restore full speed afterwards. It would completely deplete their fuel reserves. The only choice was to keep full speed and waste the minimum amount of energy in the high risk maneuvers to avoid a fatal crash. The stakes were high, but still better than certain death by starvation that would happen to the future generations. Of course, it was also too late to look back. They have traveled a long distance and the host star was already faintly visible in their radars. To the second generation, the radar was like their second collective eyes and fingers that extended into space. They could almost grasp the taste of success. For the mission’s sake, they decided to not slow down. The Oort cloud was about 0.85 light years thick, which meant it would take both spaceships around a year to travel through it. It contained more than a trillion icy bodies, some even had atmospheres on their own. It was a massive shell between them and the planet in which all of their hopes lived on. And so, for a whole year they lived in constant agony. Sometimes waking up with the violent maneuvers. Auto-pilot was never turned on and that meant a huge stress on the pilots since the radars weren’t sophisticated enough to detect all of the asteroids. With such a high speed, changing trajectory was hard and that meant the necessary measures had to be taken in advance. Half a year deep in the cloud, the largest asteroid they have ever encountered popped up on the radars. According to their calculations they could barely avoid it, depending on the asteroid’s chaotic trajectory. Flying both spaceships in the same way could mean getting both of them destroyed, so they decided to circumvent the asteroid in opposite directions, hoping that they would reunite afterwards. At a certain point Al-phae and O-megae ceased to have visual contact with each other because the massive asteroid was between them. That was the last time one of the ships was seen. O-megae made it to the other side, but was never able to reunite with Al-phae. All communication attempts failed. They waited patiently, but it didn’t seem like it was returning. Eventually they assumed it didn’t avoid the asteroid and was destroyed. All the tremendous effort that was put into that spaceship since their ancestors in the home planet, raising an entire new generation, all of their lives, dreams and hopes. All of that was now vanished. The survivors had one more heavy burden on their shoulders, pushing them to complete the mission even more vigorously.
Chapter 7 Under a New Cloudy Sky Around 212 years have passed aboard the spaceship. Of course, that meant that 384 years have passed on their home planet due to the relativistic time dilation. GODS should be about to cease operations if everything happened as planned. That also meant that their loved ones had all died a long time ago. Perhaps the disappearance of GODS would bring a new hope the home planet inhabitants. If they were even still alive, that is. In any case, the third generation survivors were about to face their own glimpse of hope as well. The destination planet was now visible with their own eyes and not just in the radars. Only their grandfathers have stepped on a living planet. For two entire generations, the feeling of setting foot on a solid ground was unknown. For them, the idea of leaving the spaceship was terrifying. Having a home as big as a planet was something very foreign for them. Since the first eye contact, 60 days were left for landing. Each day was spent staring through the windows, unlike the previous centuries in the deep and cold space. As the days passed, the arid terrain and dense clouds in yellowish tones were becoming more evident. It wasn’t exactly what they imagined, but perhaps that was expected since they never before saw a planet this close. The planet’s features seemed like what the mission expected, though: ideal distance from its host star and an atmosphere with the ideal density and pressure - even though its composition was yet unknown. Further measurements had to be taken, but nothing was wrong at this stage. A very peculiar blend of feelings emerged. The countdown for the landing seemed to be directly connected to their fear. Nonetheless, the feeling of hope and responsibility seemed to always trump that. The burden was too heavy. They had their ancestors, 3 generations and the loss of one ship to carry on their shoulders. It was like a heavenly blessing that was constantly fighting against their inner fear. It all culminated on the 60th day when the landing took place. Such pressure has never before been felt on the ship since the distant days of Plexeus. The deafening noise intensified as they descended through the atmosphere. A few kilometers from the surface, the landing thrusters engaged, spending a considerable amount of precious fuel. The spaceship slowly approached the ground eventually touching it. The engines shut down for the first time in almost 300 years. No sound could be heard, apart from the crew’s galloping heartbeat. The gates opened. Tears of joy streamed down their faces. A new beautiful sun was shining through a new cloudy sky. And there, silent, they stayed for as long as they could.
Chapter 8 The Brightest Sun The days that followed their landing felt like an eternity. They were now settlers of a new planet and not just the crew of a spaceship. Every day they had something new to learn or to experience. The planet had a slightly stronger gravity, enough to force them to relearn walking. Wind was something very new and discomfortable to them as well, which didn’t help with their walking task. That same wind also carried various new substances, making their nostrils suddenly overwhelmed with a variety of smells. The spaceship they called home was obviously temperature controlled. Apparently random climate changes was not something they were particularly fond of. Walking on the planet’s surface got them constantly dirty. The planet felt very imperfect and not a place one wishes to spend a lot of time in. And yet, there they were, fighting for life on such a planet. Over the 3 generations, almost like in a bedtime story fashion, the children were told what the new planet would be like. Every tale was pictured with green fields below a golden sun, or with dense forests filled with tall trees. The trees would bear juicy lumps of organic matter called “fruit”. And then the trees would die and their remnants would be used to raise new trees. These stories were certainly a contrasting picture when compared with the bright white and inert walls of their spaceship. Perhaps that was exactly why the stories were so appealing to them. This planet was certainly very different. There was still a lot of work to do. Trading the comfort of their spaceship with the imperfection of a raw and arid planet didn’t happen without raising some questions. Would all of this be worth it? Would they want to live in such conditions? Was the rest of the mission even plausible? In the end, their motivation remained unshaken. First and foremost, they couldn’t just throw away all the gigantic effort of the past generations. Also, the reasons for the mission were still valid. Their home planet was doomed and this was still their only hope, even if it didn’t look like it at the moment. They gradually learned to see beauty in the planet’s imperfections. Despite all of their discomfort, this was what they had to work with. There was no choice but to succeed. They were going to unceasingly fight to bring life to this planet and make it look just like they imagined it in the old stories.
Chapter 9 Staring the Abyss The planet had several problems that needed to be fixed. Equipped with their ancestors' knowledge, the settlers knew how to turn the planet they were standing on into a habitable one. This was the most reliable source of information they had, since they have never been on a planet before, and therefore could not examine it with the precision and tools their ancestors had. Even so, every generation had plenty of time to be educated on these matters. Each day brought a new and different struggle for the settlers. It was time to bring out all the machinery that the spaceship held for so long. First, they established their base of operations near the spaceship’s landsite. Among many things, they had to set up their vehicles, monitoring equipment used to monitor thousands of sensors on the planet’s surface, communications equipment and biology labs where they held microbial and plant life samples. The specimens were brought from their home planet and they conducted experiments on them. The planet contained all the necessary chemicals for making the atmosphere breathable. A meticulous process was required to transform those chemicals, and that was precisely where the difficulty of the operation was. Introducing plants would be the first big milestone of the operation. But that never happened. What they once perceived as beautiful golden clouds were in fact deadly gases and dust expelled from recent volcanic activities. The dust was still spreading over the entire planet and settling on the surface. The settlers didn’t have the necessary resources to fight against such a menace. They studied carefully the dynamics of this dust, how it moved and its composition. In their knowledge base, there was no prescribed process to overcome this. From the 185 total members, many have died from multiple causes. Some from the fierce natural disasters. Others never came back from special field operations and so were declared as deceased for unknown causes. In the end, all members would face the same fate since they would eventually run out of resources. Unlike previous crisis they faced, this one was particularly devastating. Not because of the number of casualties since they were now a small group of settlers. The reason was because they were alive and couldn’t do anything. The feeling of impotence and uselessness was what was driving them mad and keeping them out of focus. Gradually they lost the determination and incitement, precisely when they needed them the most. It was like they were on the right place at the wrong time. A few years later, the toxic dust would settle and the planet would have enough time to absorb that negative impact. Many settlers were already giving up and cherishing their last moments together. They now believed in the success of another fallback operation that was planned since the early “gifted” ancestors. A special procedure to be used exclusively in the case of an extreme emergency.
Chapter 10 A New Beginning Since the early days when the “gifted” were sketching the first drafts of the mission, they always planned with fault tolerance in mind. This was the reason for having, not one, but two spaceships. Each of them with their own pilots, engineers, workers and tutors. Every piece of equipment was duplicated. In fact, this fault tolerance had already saved the mission once when entering the Oort Cloud. When faced with this dead end, they believed that fault tolerance would save the mission again, even if it couldn’t save their own lives. Each of the spaceships contained a seed that should be used in such situations. Once planted, this special device would be responsible for artificially inducing the first abiogenic reaction, the process that would create organic life from non-organic matter. Everybody knew about its existence, but it was rarely mentioned since it was associated with the worst possible outcome. The focus was on the main mission. Even so, the procedure had to be clearly passed down to newer generations, and so it was. This final operation was assigned to the last survivor of the settlers. Resources were scarce, both from the settlers and from the planet. The last survivor was a young settler, the result of the last birth of the third generation. When the situation was sufficiently critical to a point of no return, the lone settler began his journey. The destination was a remote place, carefully calculated by their equipment. Through night and day he walked those infinite plains and valleys. The air wasn’t breathable which was a major obstacle. The sun was shining brighter than ever, or at least so he felt. Walking through this otherworldly hell was no easy task, but there was no other choice. The few remaining rovers didn’t work anymore as there was no fuel. The weight of the seed didn’t help, especially in the new planet’s gravity. Even just his own weight was difficult enough. The settler eventually arrived at the target site and followed the procedure for planting the seed. This was no “seed” and he didn’t “plant” it, but it certainly was how it felt. It was something that would germinate and give rise to new life. All of it. Their home planet should be on the brink of extinction and he was the last settler. The device he held on his hands could very well be the last hope for life in the whole universe. He engaged the device, planted it and then gazed the horizon one last time before returning to the spaceship. A huge burden was taken away from his heart. The return trip was easier since he didn’t have to carry the seed anymore. The mission was almost done. After arriving at the spaceship landing site, he cleaned himself and slept. He was exhausted, as he had never been before. The last part of the procedure was not the hardest, but was perhaps the most painful. He now needed to spend the last remnants of fuel to leave the planet and fly into the unknown deep space. The furthest possible. No traces of their presence could be left on the planet. There was no way to predict the negative impact that those traces could have on the process that the seed would trigger. The ship took off and, while the engines started to prepare for cruise speed, he took the chance to take a last look at the planet he was about to leave. The mission was finally coming to an end, even if not with the ideal outcome. The scenery was breathtaking and moving, just like the story of his people. 4 billion years after, the first single-celled organisms began to appear, followed by multicellular organisms and plants. Terrestrial life followed aquatic life. A splendorous diversity of beings was thriving, the fruits of Ome-gae. Eventually the first species of sentient beings emerged, but they were very different from the ancient settlers. They developed language and civilization. They rose up, dominated the world and named themselves as “humans” and their planet as “Earth”.
Credits 00:18
Copyright Apotheus, 2019 Concept by Apotheus. Scientifically reviewed by António Alvarez de La Paz, Physics PhD candidate at UNAM.


released March 26, 2020


all rights reserved



Apotheus Paços De Ferreira, Portugal

Apotheus is a Portuguese Melodic Metal act from Portugal.

Founded in 2008, the group currently consists of Miguel Andrade (vocals/rythm guitar), Luís "Gold Monkey" (lead guitar), Daniel Rocha (bass) and Albano “von Hammer” (drums). ... more


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