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New Frontier

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Still groggy from her hibernation chamber, Stacey checked the readings once again on the ship's control panel. She had read them right.

"Tom! Something's wrong."

"What is it?" Tom emerged from the back where he had been checking on the twelve hundred sleeping passengers. His hair was tussled and he still wore his hibernation uniform.

"We aren't where we're supposed to be."

"What are you talking about?" He looked out the window. They were orbiting a blue and green planet with wisps of white clouds that hovered above the surface. "Are we back at Earth?" He thought Earth would be obliterated by now.

"No. It looks like we completely overshot the Plethora galaxy. This planet isn't even in our database." She sat in silence while he checked the computer readings himself. “How are the other passengers?” she finally asked.

"Sleeping, still.”

“There's another problem. Look.” She pointed to the date reading on the centre control screen. “The year is 2390. We slept fifty years longer than we were supposed to. The ship doesn’t have enough reserve power to keep all of us alive much longer. That must be why it finally woke me up."

He looked at the control readings and nodded. "This planet, whatever it is, has an atmosphere and climate similar to Earth’s. Any signs of life?"

She tapped a few buttons and quickly scanned the data that appeared in front of her. "Vegetation and microbial fauna. Fish and mammalian type creatures the size of rodents, but no sentient species."

He thought for a moment, letting his mind drift back to the day they had left Earth. When the alien attack started, he had been tasked with relocating the last remaining humans to a thriving planet where they could survive and repopulate. This wasn’t the planet they had been aiming for, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him from finding a safe home for all of them.

"Land the ship,” he said. “Keep them asleep for now. You and I will check it out." He looked at her and winked. "Try to land us in a spot similar to Cuba. I could use an afternoon on the beach."

#

The door slowly opened and Stacey and Tom stepped exited the ship. The two suns directly above them shon bright in their eyes, causing them to squint. Stacey reached up and closed the solar visor on her helmet. Tom reached up, but instead, removed his helmet completely.

"What the hell are you doing?" Stacey yelled.

"What?" He closed his eyes and looked up to the sky, savouring a deep breath. "We’ve been sleeping for a hundred years. Don’t tell me you’re not at least a little excited to be here." He took another breath and then removed his gloves, unzipped his protective suit and removed a pair of sunglasses from his inside pocket. Stacey stood and stared at him. "Look, Stace, if this is going to be our new home, we need to show the rest of the passengers that we're comfortable here. You saw the readings. Twenty-five percent oxygen, pure water, and nothing dangerous."

She sighed. Tom watched her, waiting for her to make a decision. She remembered the day the aliens had come to conquer Earth. She had been outside, enjoying a sunny day similar to this. Quickly, before she could change her mind, she removed her helmet and protective suit. The warmth felt delightful on her skin and she breathed in the dry, musty scent of the surrounding vegetation.

"I think we lucked out with our wrong turn," he said as they resumed walking.

Stacey had landed the ship on a meadow of green grass and white flowers, similar to the daisies that used to grow on Earth. A hundred metres ahead of them was the edge of what appeared to be an overgrown forest, with pink and purple flowers blooming up the entire length of each tree trunk. To their right was the edge of a pond, and to the left, the meadow continued several kilometers. A thin film of sweat formed on her forehead and she looked at her handheld sensor. 27 degrees Celcius.

"You don't find this a little odd?” she asked. “I mean, we overshoot our target planet by fifty years, and land in a system we've never studied before, at a planet that just happens to be perfect for us, at the exact time when our ship’s life support systems start failing. Don't you think this was just a little too lucky?"

"I think we deserve a little luck, Stace. Besides, it's better than the alternative. Would you rather turn around and go home?"

"No."

“Didn’t think so. You check out the pond over there, and I’ll explore the edge of the forest. Meet back here in ten minutes.”

“Fine.” She turned right and approached the pond. It was small, roughly a hundred square metres, covered in green lily pads and flowers. The light wind made faint ripples on the surface. She wanted to dip her hand in and feel the cool water on her skin, but instead peered over the edge and looked at her reflection in the water. Her long hair was tied back in a messy bun. She tried to look at the details of her face, to see if any wrinkles had appeared during her hundred year slumber, but her eyes instead focused on the reflection of large, fluorescent green eyes peering over her shoulder.

She gasped and turned around. There was nothing behind her, but she felt as if someone had just placed icy cold fingers on her shoulder. It caused her to shiver visibly, despite the outdoor heat. She had seen fluorescent green eyes only once before.

"Tom!” she called. Her heart pounded. “We have to leave. Now!" She ran back towards the ship. “Tom! It's them. They lured us here!" She stopped at the same location they had parted ways only a few minutes earlier. There was no sign of her crew member at the edge of the tree line.

Hoping he was already on board, she turned towards the ship, and froze. The ship’s twelve hundred passengers stood motionless outside the ship, facing her. Their eyes were closed.

“What do you want?” she asked them.

In response, each passenger opened their eyes to reveal twelve hundred pairs of fluorescent green eyes staring back at her.

 

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