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.
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