Personal Journal, Associate 90;
Day 1 Arrival on Elysium
The launch of the Comet was unremarkable, apart from being a nervewracking experience. I remember the history classes on the first two space-rocket launches very vividly, but my teachers only mentioned these in passing. It was the moon rocket Gallei that is the real star after all. The Comet-rockets were just a necessary step towards the first moon landing. But that is easy to say when you weren’t one of those on board those vessels.
The Comet cosmonauts were intended to be the first people in space. Now, they are just conceived as a necessary sacrifice. Their deaths were pointless into themselves but lead to greater things down the road. Events they will never be a part of, and they can count themselves fortunate if they get a brief mention in some ‘heroes’ award ceremony. But that is life. And now this mission is benefiting of their sacrifice.
The question is- No, I will never be awarded. Nobody knows we are here. I just have to focus on getting back home.
When I was summoned by the Chairman, who is also the coordinator for Special Committee Icarus, I was both surprised and honoured. But when I learned I was the only person on this ragtag assembly of Associates with any zero-gravity experience, I started to lose my enthusiasm. But it shouldn’t have been a problem. All the requirements mentioned were, having a functioning brain with common sense and not being overweight. I didn’t feel that honoured anymore. However, some of my reservations were taken away when I heard we were being transported by ███████████████████████ ████████████ to the Babylon Platform. I heard stories about it but never seen it in person.
During our journey across the Pacific Ocean, I got to learn the other two Associates and the Chairman a little better. 111 and 205 are young. I find it hard to be a judge of the feminine character, but 205’s bashful behaviour is all too familiar to me. 111's presence doesn’t help in that regard. 205 is clearly trying too hard to impress the young lady. The chairman on the other hand. Well, he is a man with his best years behind him. Unlike the youngsters who are clearly looking for some adventure, he is doing this out of a sense of duty if anything. Not the most proficient of crews. I hope the Babylonian pilots are better prepared.
The neglected state of the Babylon Launch Platform didn’t improve my expectations for my own survivability. There was but a skeleton crew working on the old Comet III rocketship, attempting to get it in working order after so many years of neglect. It was almost a spitting image of its predecessors. But as soon the ship was prepared, we got in. There were scratches all over the interior wall as they had to polish away the flaking paint and rust. Weak spots were bolted over with heavy plates, just to name a few points of concern.
‘Don’t worry about,’ had the Chairman said, but he probably thought the same as we did.
I asked him what our mission was and why it couldn’t wait.
“Recognisance for the landing spot on Elysium for a future boarding party,” was his answer. and clearly didn't want to speak any more of it
“Are we merely paving the way?” I asked him.
“Indeed,” was his evasive response. “No different from all the other Comet missions. She is designed for it.”
Our mission was simple. Achieve what the previous Comets had attempted. Get close to Elysium, take photos of the surface and especially anything that looked remotely like a suitable landing spot for future missions. Indeed this is a true reenactment of the Cosmonauts that came before. But we have something they didn’t ██ ████ ██ ██████ ██ ███ █████ ███ give us all the force we need to break through the Von Straub barrier. At least that is what we were told.
I hold on to that thought as the engine ignited and we propelled toward the heavens. I recall being more terrified but haven’t been this nervous since the time I entered a Rift for the first time. It kinda felt like that, not knowing what to expect or rather you live or die. But ten minutes after we launched and the first solid-fuel canisters detached I knew we would make it. Now it was a matter of counting down to hitting that illustrious barrier and see █████ actually worked. Still not sure if it did or not.
We just left the earth’s atmosphere when we hit the von Straub boundary and everything went array. The alarm wailed and the ship trembled as if it hit the gravel. The pilot nearly panicked as the cabin was fully illuminated. Gone was the blackness of space and our eyes were blinded by the bronze surface of Elysium that was coming toward us at great velocity. From being in weightlessness we had been pulled within it gravity like the flip of a switch. All of a sudden the cabin had turned upside done and I could feel the straps that held my to the chair cut into my shoulders as I hang from the ceiling. There was a lot of screaming as we were at the mercy of forces to which we had yet to adept. I wasn't sure I participated in the dreadful choir, as I was too distracted by looking at the front viewport. Stars appeared in the glass as all matter of the debris came our way, scraping and tearing off the Hull of the Comet. I don’t think the pilots made any efforts to avoid the assorted junk as the ship was out of control. I closed my eyes comforting myself that we would pass through the debris eventually, or if, when I opened them again I would wake up anywhere but here. Instead, it seemed to last forever as I could feel every scratch and dent in the ship vibrating through my body.
I have had nightmares about the horrors I have seen and made peace with the eventuality one of these creatures would be the end of me. But there I sat, strapped to my chair, reciting the prayers from my childhood and counting my blessings as we raced to our likely demise.
The crew was silent except for the pilots who were trying to keep up with all the failing controls. They had over forty years to build this blasted ship. Sure they would have made it more resilient.
‘Got it!’ I heard one of the pilots cry and I could feel the craft slowing down. I opened my eyes and saw the horizon of the, what seemed like a bronze, planet. We passed the debris field and achieved something that could resemble a landing trajectory. Overhead the debris flew by at such speed it felt we were travelling beneath a ceiling composed of scrap. Meanwhile, while the world below started to take shape. The ‘landscape’ below reminded me more of the Grand Canyon than it did my childhood imaginations of Elysium. It was like a monstrous machine in the shape of a Faberge egg, covered with an of industrial patchwork with sections missing, the size of meadows. Gaseous fumes escaped the depths of the crevasses which ran like river rapid trough the alien factory grounds, interconnected by an intricate network of tubes and roads that stretched across the surface like the strands of a spiders web.
The only thing the pilot said was, ‘Please, prepare yourselves for impact.’