A shadow of my features looks back at me from my tablet.Colors are vague, my eyes showing more as a light gray, than their sky blue. Myblonde hair, looking light brown. I note the line of my strong jaw, mediumsized nose, and evenly space eyes. Not even in this poor reflection, do I have anyreal cheekbones.
“Maybe implants,” I remark, not for the first time, knowing Ihave lived thirty-three years without cheekbones, why start now.
I tap the tablets screen to wake it up, it having gone intosleep mode as I was day dreaming. As the screen brightens, I am shown the newsthat has been sweeping those corners of the galaxy inhabited by humans. Thelatest iteration of the Acquiros Space Works FTL 37 has been banned from anothersystems space.
The FTL 3 (Faster Than Light) was Acquiros third generation faster than light passenger ships. For the last one hundred and ten years, the FTL 3 series of ships have been the backbone of humanities space exploration and colonization. Most every deep space charter service flies the FTL 3 series.
But now, with the second accident of the new FTL 37, manysystems are forbidding those ships entry into their space.
I do a quick search for FTL 37 accidents on my tablet, andit doesn’t take but typing in FTL 3 before dozens of hits pop up for the FTL 37.
The first accident was on a distant system some thirteenlight years away. The system, called the Diana system loaded up an FTL 37 with thirteenhundred passengers and sent it off to a new colony in the Reo system. The ship,Chappic, engaged its FTL drive, andvanished.
The FTL drive is not supposed to make the ship vanish. It isnot some form of hyperspace, or cross dimensional travel. It wraps the ship inan envelope that is completely transparent to outside viewers. Anyone observingthe acceleration of a ship engaging its FTL drive will tell you, its accelerationincreases dramatically, then it speeds away leaving a trail of dissipatinglight and energy. Never does it just vanish.
The Chappic justvanished. Repeated reviews of any recordings of it leaving the Dianna system confirmedthat one second it was there, then the next second, it was gone.
The Chappic disappearedseven months ago, and though all systems have been alerted to keep an eye outfor it, or its wreckage, there has been no signs of her, or her passengers.
Now the Vertranhas been missing for a month. Another FTL 37, this one fresh from the orbital shipyards of Mars. The Vertran was loadedwith eighteen hundred souls, all heading to Earth, many for the first time. Itwas only the Vertran’s second voyage.It’s first being a short hop of three light years to the Denard system.
Earth and the Sol system was the first system to ban the FTL37 into or out of the system. The rest of the systems cascaded into line withthe Sol systems ban shortly after receiving news of a second FTL 37’sdisappearance and Earths subsequent ban.
I am skeptical that the ships are the problem. Ships arelost all the time. Space travel is dangerous business. Granted, catastrophic failures,and total losses are becoming fewer by the year. And the Acquiros Space Workshas a stellar safety record with more light years traveled between mishaps thanany of the other ship builders. Including that government back consortium of SpaceBusShip Yards.
My guess is, since the crews of these lost ships are from backwardsplanets, the loss of their ships was more of a training issue. There are hundredsfor the FTL 3 series of ships zipping about he galaxy at any time. But now,with only two missing ships, the governments of most every system in the galaxyis banning them.
I don’t see it. Maybe I am just too much of an Acquiroscheerleader. I have always been a fan of their work. The ships they built forthe old Earth Federation during the Sol System War of 3056. The fact that theywere the first to develop an FTL drive that didn’t scramble the organic materialcarried within a ships hull. Most of all, I loved the fighter aircraft they built,and I piloted in the Ashwitz War. Those nimble ships sure gave us the upperhand against those pesky lizards.
Rah, rah, Acquiros,I think as I catch the screen of my tablet once again going dark.
Fighting in that war and surviving allowed me to settle inany human system I chose. Once the war was over, my choice was easy. I boarded anFTL 36 for the Libertarian System, wanting nothing but absolute freedom aftermy years under the oppressive rule of the Ashwitz military.
Yet, now I find myself in a first-class cabin aboard one ofAcquiros now infamous FTL 37s, the Avast.Libertarian is the only system allowing the FTL 37 to enter or leave its system.Our destination is the Sol system. It is not uncommon for the Libertarian governmentto thumb its nose at Sol.
Personally, I have never been to Earth, and look forward toarriving in an FTL 37 and seeing the blue marble from the viewport of aforbidden first-class cabin. Maybe, if I am really lucky, I can tour one of theAcquiros orbiting ship yards before heading planet side.
The countdown for the engagement of the FTL drive begins.Confined within the comfort of the stasis field, I will not feel any of thebody crushing Gs of the acceleration, but it will be fun to watch the system Ihave called home for so many years vanish in a flash.