Friday, 4 December 2015

#whimword - Relative

It is a well documented fact that time slows down as you approach the speed of light. It was one of the things complicating off-world travel. The other, of course, being that you can't go faster than the speed of light, at least not without breaking physics in some new and exciting way.

Fortunately, at the speeds humanity was currently capable of, travel within the solar system wasn't too much of a problem. The most anyone had ever lost due to time dilation was a few days.

But for travel outside the solar system there was the potential to lose years. Which was why Cassie had said goodbye to her family and friends before she embarked on this mission.

It was high risk, what she was planning to do. And even if it worked she might never see her loved ones ever again. But for the chance to be the first human to travel outside the solar system. It was worth it.

Cassie's nerves increased as the countdown began. She was strapped into a ship that was little more than the most powerful engine humanity could make and a navigation array.

She felt the orbital launcher's docking clamps release as the countdown hit 5...

4...

3...

2...

1...

The engines fired up and Cassie was pinned to her seat by incredible amounts of G-force. Accelerating from stationary to almost the speed of light sure took it out of a person. But Cassie had trained for this and she managed not to pass out.

The tiny craft roared towards it's initial destination; the Sun. The plan was to slingshot around the largest body in the solar system, skirting as close to the Sun's surface as the ship's hull plating could handle. With a bit of luck the extra velocity generated during this manoeuvre would push the craft even closer to the speed of light and throw Cassie out of the solar system on a trajectory to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri.

Assuming Cassie wasn't turned into a red paste at some point during this manoeuvre, she'd signal home and they'd work out how the hell to get her back. Even if everything went to plan and she made it back to Earth, everyone there would have aged sixty years while she stayed the same.

That was the best case scenario. Cassie wasn't entirely convinced their little trip around the sun wouldn't send her back in time searching for whales.

It was crunch time.

Cassie steered the craft into the pre-agreed trajectory, hoping against hope she wouldn't burn up.

The hull plating held. She didn't crash into the sun.

The next thing Cassie knew she was in an unfamiliar system, orbiting an unfamiliar star.

It had worked!

Cassie's heart thundered in her chest as she did the post-flight checks. There was a little singing on the outer hull but no major damage. Everything had gone according to plan.

Now to radio home, find out if anyone was listening.


"Hello, is anyone there?"

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