“Thank you, T.I.A. Log recording, and jettison a copy onto the surface of Luna. I need to get to my cryo pod. Prepare the cabin for depressurization and proceed with the mission. Continue gathering broadcasts and data from our facilities on Earth. On my next awakening I’ll look through it and we can work through cataloging it. Spend any spare cycles processing my message and its meaning. I apologize for not having some more interesting fodder for you to ponder, hopefully the transmissions will keep you occupied until I can join you again.”
T.I.A. will be my only companion for the rest of my journey. She might be the greatest single computer ever devised by humanity, though she paled in comparison to the storage or combined power of the human hive mind that was the internet. T.I.A was, however, composed of many separate systems networked together in my best approximation of a human brain. She will need many decades to process through our interactions. The upfront, logical and practical applications of our conversations would be apparent enough, but every aspect of my body language, emotional health, and intonation will be the subject of her processes until I am brought out of suspension again. It will be a cold, lonely existence, but my hope is that by the time we reach our destination she will be as close to a human in intellect and understanding as possible.
“Yes, Doctor Crenshaw,” T.I.A. replied, with no visible indication that the processing was being done. Her voice is cool and robotic, less a factor of the kind of voice she was provided with, and more an emulation of voices she’d already witnessed as she monitored the crew during construction. I perhaps should have considered having some sort of user interface that displayed requested projects being worked on and their progress, but I trusted my programming. T.I.A. will let me know when my request is done, or if it had some sort of issue. There was a strange psychological reassurance to having a progress bar or something of the sort to be able to check on though.
“T.I.A., could you please make a note for me to install a visual interface to indicate levels of progress on requested tasks? I also want you to ponder the idea that I desire such a thing for the reassurance that progress is being made.” I listened quietly for her response, which amounted to a simple, ‘Yes, Doctor Crenshaw.” It seemed like a fine thing for T.I.A. to ponder over while I slept.
Now that was a psychological reassurance if there ever was one, the fact that I was calling what I was going to be doing ‘sleep’. This was strictly not the case. I will be dead, much like my travelling companions currently were dead. We won’t be breathing, reproducing, or taking in or processing nutrients in any fashion. We will be as alive as frozen rocks. Even the very atomic processes will be brought down to a low enough temperature to be nearly stopped. The only reason any of us might consider ourselves to be ‘asleep’ is the fact that we could be revived at all. It caused me to recall the speech I gave to them as they bed down for their millennia of travel.
“T.I.A., can you play back the recording of my speech to the crew please? With video.” There was a short delay before she spoke. “Yes Doctor Crenshaw,” she responded, the large central monitor bringing up the video I had sent to the various compartments my crew had been stationed in. I couldn’t help but notice how tired I looked in the video, a tablet in my hands of my prepared notes on what to say and my glasses slipping down my nose. We won’t be able to easily replace contact lenses, so any of us with sight issues had brought with us glasses, as well as the plans on how to make new ones with our various 3D printers as needed. I suppose laser corrective surgeries might be appropriate as well, but one had to opt in to such a thing.
“Attention crew. Thank you for joining me on this long journey, this impossibly difficult adventure across the span of stars. I want to thank you for putting trust in this plan, and for putting your lives in my hands. As I’m sure you all know, we will be hurtling across the distances to our nearest neighboring stars at the fastest speeds ever achieved by humanity, frozen dead in our own personal coffins. Please take a moment before you put yourself into stasis to review the emergency protocols regarding what to do if you’re awoken en-route and need to perform some manner of repair on the ship. Ideally, none of us will need to be revived until we arrive at our point of destination.”
I watched myself look up at the camera from my notes, a sober look on my face as I spoke up again. “We will be breaking a lot of records on this journey. While our biological ages may remain the same we will regardless be the longest-lived humans in the history of our species. We will be colonizing a new world with the earliest possible level of technology to do so outside of our own solar system. Yes, we certainly could have tried to colonize Mars, or one of a number of moons on the outer planets instead of travelling four light years away, but staying in our home system would only leave us vulnerable to those on Earth from whom we are escaping in the first place.”
“In biblical myth, it is said that a great flood came to wash away the world, and that Noah needed to build and load his ark with the entire biodiversity of the world to allow it to survive. It’s a laughable premise for the era, and certainly nothing short of a miracle could have allowed such a thing to occur when it did, but I can honestly say that we’re undertaking a very real version of that millenniums old story. We’ve worked hard on this project. We’ve watched a number of our friends and family be harmed or murdered by the people we are leaving behind. No matter how successful this expedition, this colonization may be, we must all remember to never allow our culture to evolve in that way again.”
“The great flood is coming for them. It will be a flood of their own making, and may be more metaphorical than literal. We are on the Ark, and we will be at sea for one-hundred-thousand years, give or take a century, before we may see our new home. Hopefully we were wrong in thinking that humanity on Earth is going to destroy itself. Perhaps in a few centuries our ship will be intercepted by advanced and enlightened humans who will inform us that they’ve already colonized our intended home and will help take us there. Perhaps we will never be revived and will end up as exhibits in an advanced, future Earth museum.
Or perhaps we will completely lose contact with Earth as humanity brings itself to ruin and we will be all that is left. With that in mind, we must understand that it may well be our responsibility to continue all that remains of humanity. We must understand that we are the backup. Failure is not an option, and there is no room for exceptions.” I grew silent about this point as I looked back to my notes, the tablet casting its glow upon the recording of me from below before I spoke up again.
“It’s worth mentioning that we owe some extra thanks to the women of our expedition. Their burden is so much greater than that which we men must bear. Certainly our work will keep us busy as well, but they have joined us knowing part of their duty will be to bear the seeds of our next generations. We have acquired the most genetically viable and impressive samples to use in this endeavor, and we must all do our part to raise our children responsibly. We must leave behind the ideas that have divided humanity in the past and treat each and every one of us with equal opportunity and equal rights. I can’t imagine what kind of government we might bring about; that is well outside of my field of expertise; but I’m excited at the idea of such bright and promising people representing the future of our species.”
“All of us, myself included, will have to do our parts. Leisure is likely a thing of the past for us, for a time at least. We must make a home on our new world, make a home out of our new world. Never lose the dedication and sense of purpose that brought us this far. Thank you for trusting me to see to it that our corpses are transported across space and brought back to life on the other side. Think of it as all of us being reborn to a new life on a new world, seeds of Earth finally being cast off to take root in new soil.”
A moment of silence allowed some of the ambient audio to creep in from the surrounding machinery before I spoke my last sentences. “There is no guarantee of success with this. We may find the world we’re seeking to not be what we thought it would be. We may not arrive at all. We could even be trapped in here for all eternity adrift. Still more unlikely is that this all goes as planned, and that we arrive, survive, and prosper. Sleep well my friends, we have a lot of work in the morning.” An awkward smile crept up onto my face in the recording, before the message stopped. I have no idea how well received my message was, but I hope it was more inspiring than discouraging.
“Thank you T.I.A., please take care to study that as well while I sleep. Resume prior commands.” “Good night, Doctor Crenshaw. I will see you in the morning.” I canted my head slightly at that, humming and smiling a little to myself. “Good night, T.I.A.”
Walking around the Ark was a little uncomfortable, the use of rotational momentum giving me the illusion of gravity within the ship as I walked to my chambers. There wasn’t really much to my living space on the ship. I had the main control room where I had just been, a simple bedroom with attached bathroom, a small kitchen with ready access to preserved foodstuffs, and my own personal cryo pod. I began to strip out of my uniform, a simple set of sturdy, supportive overalls, and climbed up into my pod.
I was not fond of lying, but I had to become quite accustomed to it over the years. I’d lied about so many things to so many people to help us get this far, to keep our enemies off our trails. The lie that hurt the most, though, was the lie that I would be joining the others on the other side. At the very most, I would be quite venerable if I did. I will be living my life in starts and stops for one hundred thousand years. I will be living that life nearly as alone as I had lived in the years leading up to that fateful terrorist attack. Every day I spend awake will be a great deal of work. I just hope that my body can withstand the stress of repeated revivals on top of the dangers of space itself.
Thus it was that I activated the pod, closing up the chamber, sealing off the room it was in, and evacuating it of any and all particles. Every room containing any of these pods had to be completely sterile. They all had to be shielded. There could be no allowance for any quantity of atmosphere, radiation, particles, or anything that could damage our suspended forms during our journey. The damage that will already be dealt by the unstoppable particles like neutrinos would already give us opportunity to wake up with unknown levels of damage, and that was assuming we didn't also encounter some kind of radiation we hadn't prepared for. It was of vital importance that every opportunity for our frozen forms to encounter any kind of energy or damage be minimized as much as possible.
I was able to watch my vital signs as various devices came into contact with my skin, non-invasively injecting chemicals and withdrawing others. One of my colleagues was primarily responsible for the development of this particular technology, and I'll never forget the day Heather O'Malley invited a collection of us to her office only for us to find her naked inside a vacuum chamber inside a prototype of one of these pods. She'd left instructions on how to revive her, and had a great deal of trust in us that we'd be able to do just that. I smiled as my consciousness faded, my vision fading to black and my breathing stopping. I will do this many, many times. Every four or five days for the rest of my life. I will experience death over and over until we reached our far away destination. Even the faint rumble of our ship getting underway fell away from my perception as the internal pod was detached from the external pod, held suspended in its own vacuum by only the most subtle of magnetic forces.
And then I knew nothing. I was cradled to death. It was incredibly peaceful, just as peaceful as the handful of test runs I'd been through, and without any of the fear and anticipation I'd had those previous times. I would be as Lazarus and Noah combined, and while I had no faith in god, I realized in that last moment that I'd come to have faith in my companions and their innovations. How else could I let them kill me?