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Artemis 7: To Boldly Go (#1)

April 13, 2018

   The day was perfect, her coffee was hot, she felt the most rested she'd been in weeks, and today was the biggest day of her career. Launch Day.  They'd trained for weeks, practicing every scenario the science team had considered mathematically possible. She knew what to do if life support failed, if they found themselves trapped outside of the ship,  if they temporarily forgot how to breath, if they went blind, and most surprisingly what to do if they ended up in a completely different location or universe.

    Today she was going to be a part of humanity's first attempt at using warp technology. It was the kind of thing she'd dreamed of since she first gazed upon the blackness of space and admired the distant stars. If they got this right, exploration would have no limits. They could sprint towards the edge of the universe or encounter new forms of life. The thoughts set her buzzing with anticipation as she walked towards the locker room of their space station.  The rest of her crew were already getting ready, they were each bouncing with excitement.

     She walked towards her locker, flicked open the latch, and began to change into her evo-suit. It was dusty grey, with a well-polished, golden visor that allowed for full peripheral vision. On the left sleeve was the patch for their program, on the right was her name.                                  J. Hargrove.

       A wide grin stretched across her face as she looked at it, soaking the moment in. She reverently stepped into the suit. It was tight fit, but comfortable she stretched her arms just to be sure. Then she noticed the silence. The anticipatory buzz had stopped, she turned around uncertainly. All six remaining crew members stood at attention, dressed in the same embroidered outfit. 

        "At ease," she stated with a smile. They all had the same dumb grin on their faces, she had it too. She looked at them all. A ragtag bunch of misfits. She approached each of them. First up was Keller, he looked like a greyhound, but could drink any of them under the table. Then there was Stavos, she was the smartest one in the room but she rarely made that known unless you truly messed up. Brooks, was good-natured and even tempered, with a goose tattoo on his left arm. She hoped one day to learn the story behind it. Drake, was gorgeous, as if she walked straight out of a magazine cover despite the fact Hargrove had never seen her put on any kind of make-up. Wilson was broad-shouldered, and probably in the best shape of all of them. He was a real Captain America-type, but never showed any desire to be in charge. At the end of the line was Reed. He was the quiet one, Hargrove knew very little about him, but he did his role well so she didn't feel the need to pry. Yet here he was, smiling along with the rest of them as they readied to make this great journey.

           "We're with you Captain," he said. 

           Hargrove reciprocated their grin, then the bell tolled, everyone snatched their helmets from their lockers, and raced towards the loading bay.

            They walked through the station's halls with haste. Hargrove's helmet remained tightly clutched in her hand the whole way. The halls were silver and blue. A singular logo representing the allied nations adorned the walls and floors every few meters. A sectioned circle housed each major contributor to the project. When they reached the docking tube, they all stopped and shared one last look of determination before Hargrove opened the shutter. On the other side was a shorter tube connecting them to the vessel that would take them the farthest step away from home anyone  had ever attempted. 

            The interior of the ship was perfectly organized to give them enough room to move, without stumbling over each other. Each member settled into their station and began booting up the systems that would enable the ship to harness its advanced drive. Hargrove approached the pilot's chair. It didn't feel real. She'd dreamed of this moment for years. She was one of the first people recruited into the project when it was just a concept. Now, standing at the helm, she could hardly breathe. Six people sat behind her; three on her left and three on her right. They were heading to uncharted space. They were following her into the dragon's lair. Hargrove's hand reached out to clutch the control stick. Her other one danced across the display console. She pressed three buttons, a light hum came from deep within the vessel. The Artemis rocked slightly as the station's clamps released it. Hargrove grinned with excitement as she angled it towards the testing site. 

          Six voices counted off that their section was prepped. Hargrove's heart thumped in her chest. Now she just needed the go ahead from command. The ship vibrated around her as everything warmed up. Her heart felt as if it was about to burst. 

          "Artemis 7, you are clear. See you on the other side," Command announced over their communication link. 

          Hargrove instantly punched the large green button. The world around her twisted as a hole in the universe opened up before her. She felt like her body and mind were being stretched in various directions. It wasn't painful though. uncomfortable, but nothing hurt. Then, just as quickly as it started it was over. Outside her view-screen was a new star, one as blue as the ocean. 

         "We're not in Kansas anymore," announced Keller.

          "Drake?" Hargrove inquired.

         "I'm picking up distinctly different light frequencies," she replied.

          "Then we've done it, it works," Hargrove mused.

          The ship fell into reverent silence as new worlds passed before their eyes. Then all at once they cheered, as pent up anxiety and fear was released in a fit of joy. They'd just been part of the first successful attempt at warp drive functionality.



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