So, this is something I’d earlier published in KDP, but decided to rewrite because it seemed like I could do better with the whole storyline. Despite many people praising it, I was always not fully satisfied with it. So now I’ve unpublished it from all platforms and am going to rewrite it. I decided to post the first few chapters here as I’m rewriting.
The stars which shone on the vast emptiness seemed to be mocking him. Mark had no idea where they were. The constellations that he could make out were completely unfamiliar.
A fine leader I turned out to be. I’ve just got everyone lost and I have no idea even about the galaxy.
He might not be the only one in the ship with experience, but he was the one who had gotten them into this. Standing here, watching the strange sky, he was beginning to think he had been a fool to think this could work. All their technology and advanced weaponry had only gotten them to the brink of extinction, and did he really think he would be able to save humanity?
Bile rose to his mouth and he swallowed hard.
He turned around to see Andrea, a hesitant look on her face, which was so unlike her. But probably she had been able to sense his discombobulation.
“What’s it, Andy?” He attempted a smile.
“Are we lost?” No mincing words. Straight to the point. It was one of the many things he loved about her. He hesitated for a moment, before answering her. Andy deserved his honesty, and he had never been a fan of prevarication anyway.
“I think so. I don’t know where we are, so technically yea.”
“Technically?” her brows rose.
“It’s not like we had any specific destination in mind,” he shrugged.
“If we don’t find a habitable planet soon, we may all die here.” She said, her eyes shadowed. For all her capacity for reading him, he had never been able to read her. She spoke the words so matter-of-factly.
“I know,” he said, not sure if she wanted confirmation or comfort. “We may find a planet in this new galaxy.” He could always hope.
“Or we can return to earth.” She avoided his eyes, but he caught the wistful note in her voice. So that was it. Mark shook his head, but she continued still without looking at him, “I know it’s a long way off, but it’ll ensure at least some of us will survive, and-“
“Andy” he interrupted her, “By the time we reach, earth will no longer be habitable.”
If it was even there. But he did not say those words aloud. If earth was destroyed, it was likely that the entire solar system could be thrown out of balance. A planet that had formed over millions of years and had survived so long and all it took humanity was a few thousand years to ensure its destruction. He swallowed again. He was the one averting his eyes now, because he didn’t want her to see the devastation on his face.
“You don’t know that,” she said, but her voice shook. He could see in her eyes that she knew he was right, but it was a hard truth to accept, and so she would fight it.
“Isn’t that why we left?” He asked, his voice low and it felt as if his entire being was being wrung out by the words he spoke. “To ensure that the human race would survive?”
Perhaps they shouldn’t have left. After all, why did they deserve to survive when their planet and the millions of life forms on it didn’t? Especially since it was their own fault.
“But we’re going to die here anyway,” she whispered, her voice dull.
Perhaps that was what they deserved. Perhaps it was only fitting that they die here amongst these strange stars, drifting in space forever, the relic of a race which had destroyed their own planet.
Mark sighed. He was the one who had talked everyone on the ship into leaving earth, convinced them it was their only hope for survival. And now they were all going to die anyway, slowly, from lack of food, water, and air. At least on earth it would have been a quick death.
“Am I interrupting?” Jake didn’t look too worried. “Cheer up. I bring good tidings. We have spotted a planet. Scanners indicate presence of life, and it looks like it may be habitable. Shall we make for it?”
Life!! Habitable! Mark could not believe his ears. He could have hugged Jake. Make for it? Need he even ask? He was about to say “Yes” when it crossed his mind that perhaps he was allowing desperation to overcome his reason.
“How many know of this?”
“Just Ben and I; he was the one who did the scanning.” Jake spoke as if he understood the reason for Mark’s question. Was he that transparent?
“Don’t spread the word.” Mark said. “We’d better send a small party ahead to know if the planet will support human life. We also need to make sure there are no hostile aliens there. If everything’s good, we’ll make for it.”
“It’s a large planet, larger than earth,” Jake said. “I’m sure any aliens there might be happy to share the planet with us.”
“Besides,” Andrea said. “It’s not as if we have a choice, Mark. Whatever we find down there, if this planet does support human life, then it is our only option.”
Mark had never felt so harried in his life. “All right,” he said. “But I still say we send in a party to scout out the planet.”
“I want to be in the party” Andrea said.
“Me too,” Jake said.
“All right,” Mark said. “We’ll take Dr. Harvey as well. Also Sam and Ron, they’ve had military experience. For all we know, there could be a bunch of hostile aliens tracking us from down there – or even wild animals. Jake, get the team assembled and tell Boris to get the shuttle ready.”
“Aye aye captain,” Jake winked at him before sauntering off.
“I better get ready,” Andrea looked happy, almost. Hope. This was what hope looked and felt like. Mark tried to tamp it down, but was aware of a lightness in his chest and of his lips stretching in a grin. He didn’t know what awaited them on the planet’s surface, but he felt as if he could deal with anything. After all, nothing could be worse than dying out here, could it?
He looked at the stars again. They no longer looked mocking or cold.