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. My blonde hair, looking light brown. I note the line of my strong jaw, medium sized nose, and evenly space eyes. Not even in this poor reflection, do I have any real cheekbones.
“Maybe implants,” I remark, not for the first time, knowing I have lived thirty-three years without cheekbones, why start now.
I tap the tablets screen to wake it up, it having gone into sleep mode as I was day dreaming. As the screen brightens, I am shown the news that has been sweeping those corners of the galaxy inhabited by humans. The latest iteration of the Acquiros Space Works FTL 37 has been banned from another systems 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, many systems are forbidding those ships entry into their space.
I do a quick search for FTL 37 accidents on my tablet, and it 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 thirteen light years away. The system, called the Diana system loaded up an FTL 37 with thirteen hundred passengers and sent it off to a new colony in the Reo system. The ship, Chappic, engaged its FTL drive, and vanished.
The FTL drive is not supposed to make the ship vanish. It is not some form of hyperspace, or cross dimensional travel. It wraps the ship in an envelope that is completely transparent to outside viewers. Anyone observing the acceleration of a ship engaging its FTL drive will tell you, its acceleration increases dramatically, then it speeds away leaving a trail of dissipating light and energy. Never does it just vanish.
The Chappic just vanished. Repeated reviews of any recordings of it leaving the Dianna system confirmed that one second it was there, then the next second, it was gone.
The Chappic disappeared seven months ago, and though all systems have been alerted to keep an eye out for it, or its wreckage, there has been no signs of her, or her passengers.
Now the Vertran has been missing for a month. Another FTL 37, this one fresh from the orbital shipyards of Mars. The Vertran was loaded with eighteen hundred souls, all heading to Earth, many for the first time. It was 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 with the Sol systems ban shortly after receiving news of a second FTL 37’s disappearance and Earths subsequent ban.
I am skeptical that the ships are the problem. Ships are lost all the time. Space travel is dangerous business. Granted, catastrophic failures, and total losses are becoming fewer by the year. And the Acquiros Space Works has a stellar safety record with more light years traveled between mishaps than any of the other ship builders. Including that government back consortium of Space Bus Ship Yards.
My guess is, since the crews of these lost ships are from backwards planets, the loss of their ships was more of a training issue. There are hundreds of 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 galaxy is banning them.
I don’t see it. Maybe I am just too much of an Acquiros cheerleader. I have always been a fan of their work. The ships they built for the old Earth Federation during the Sol System War of 3056. The fact that they were the first to develop an FTL drive that didn’t scramble the organic material carried 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 upper hand 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 in any human system I chose. Once the war was over, my choice was easy. I boarded an FTL 36 for the Libertarian System, wanting nothing but absolute freedom after my years under the oppressive rule of the Ashwitz military.
Yet, now I find myself in a first-class cabin aboard one of Acquiros 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 government to thumb its nose at Sol.
Personally, I have never been to Earth, and look forward to arriving in an FTL 37 and seeing the blue marble from the viewport of a forbidden first-class cabin. Maybe, if I am really lucky, I can tour one of the Acquiros 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 the body crushing G’s of the acceleration, but it will be fun to watch the system I have called home for so many years vanish in a flash.