I’ve spent the entire of my adult life aboard the Actaeon. I was twenty years old when we departed from Earth, and I spent the morning of my twenty first birthday waving goodbye to the moon as we hurtled by at 40,000 kilometres per second. I knew I would never see Earth or her moon ever again – at least not without the assistance of a telescope – and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t live to see our destination either.
I’m certainly glad to be wrong.
This year I celebrated another milestone birthday. Six months ago I turned ninety five. That was also the day my great-granddaughter Eliza was born, and it was the day the Actaeon began its deceleration. I was coming to the end of my life, and we were coming to the end of our journey.
I can see her now, Artemis, in the same window through which I said goodbye to the Earth – a window that has for seven decades remained dark and empty. She’s as beautiful as I always thought she would be.
I feel fortunate to have made it this far. To have such a large and loving family around me, and to have shared my life aboard the Actaeon with so many treasured friends. While it still sadens me to think of all the friends I’ve lost along the way, I also consider myself fortunate in being able to welcome some of their children into my own family, through the marriage of my sons and daughters to theirs. Now, to see with my own eyes the world on which they will build new lives, that is the greatest fortune of all.
But for all the reasons I have to feel fortunate, these past few weeks have also given me reason for concern. As we draw closer, we are able to learn more about our Artemian neighbours.
I’ve spent my life studying the Artemians, but until now the only data available to us has been that gathered and returned to Earth by the Columbus Probe. That data is now two hundred years out of date. I hadn’t expected them to have advanced so quickly.
How would you continue this story? What level of technology has the Artemian civilization advanced to? How will they react when a human spaceship arrives above their planet?
Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
Written by Mark Ball.
Art by Chase Stone.