Beyond Protocol: Back Story

So, you’re the one I hear is fool enough to take the seat? Well, as long as you don’t get us all killed, I guess we’ll be better off than we are today. Look, I’m not saying you can’t do it, but I am saying this isn’t gonna be an easy role to fill. There’ll be so many choices and tough decisions, but remember, if you give up, we’re all doomed. We’re all countin on you now. But there’s one more thing before the ceremony… The elders have requested that you read a collection of journals from our clan’s archives. I know, I know, you learned all about things like Earth, the Galactic Wars, and the founding of the Galactic Senate in, what they pass off as an academy these days, but the elders believe these specific journals give the story a “human touch” and they think a leader needs a personal “connection” with the past. I think they’re all old whack jobs, but they might just have a point. Anyways, here’s the first one, I’ll go dig out the next one while you read that.

The last pages from the journal of Douglas Schaeffer:

April 22nd, 2147
Well it was a pretty dull day. Most of what I did today was to fix some bugs in the decryption algorithm we’re using to communicate with Solaris base. Even though it’s been 4 years in planning, I still can’t believe we managed to put a manned observation satellite in orbit around the sun!

April 23rd, 2147
Yesterday was dull but today was amazing! The Solaris crew was able to pull an enormous amount of data from a series of flares. If the world only knew how close we are to controlled fusion, maybe they’d stop all this infighting. Humanity could be so much more, united and exploring space… There was one odd moment today. When the flare activity died down and Solaris sent us the telemetry, we played it back from the beginning just to sit and watch, and I swear, just moments before the flares start, there’s something tiny impacting the site of the flares. The guys all told me I was crazy and that it’s just interference but I know what I saw. Matt, the guy from spectroscopy, told me they’d run a more detailed analysis once they got done with the “important stuff”. Matt’s a good guy, but when it comes to his job, he’s a pretty stuck up…

April 27th, 2147
I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time for this, but I decided I had to make time to record it. The sun has begun a chain reaction which will cause it to go supernova. We lost Solaris station yesterday, but it’s hard to morn the loss of 20 scientists when 23 billion are probably going to die on Earth, and another billion on Mars base. We’re evacuating as fast as we can, like it’s going to help…

They estimate we only have about a year before the planet becomes unlivable and maybe 5 before the supernova occurs. Even with our fastest shuttles at max capacity we might only be able to get 5% of the population to Pluto base. I talked briefly with one of the scientists doing these calculations, a German who’s been here maybe 4 years, first name Henrich. He’s a short, funny guy who still manages to keep a sense of humor. He says they think anything on the dark side of Pluto will survive, but that what’s left of the already tiny planet will loose its orbit. So those who can get there have a chance, but anything caught in space will almost certainly be obliterated. The other option is Neptune, but there’s no developed base there, and the winds have proved to make colonization troublesome. It would most likely be a haven at best, but some of the bigger, slower shuttles can make it there inside the given envelope.

After all this, there’s no way I can say “I told you so”, but when they reviewed the tape again, and took the new readings, Matt said there was definitely something that hit the site of the flares just prior. It was only there for a single frame before impact, and there was nothing on radar, so either it was traveling almost at the speed of light, or it was cloaked somehow. The only thing that could have caused this type of a reaction is an extremely heavy element. Who would do this, more importantly, who could do this? The nations of Earth may still be at each other’s throats, but no one seems prepared for this, at all, and I doubt they would sacrifice the earth to end this war… Mars is pretty peaceful and populated mostly with pacifists, so I couldn’t believe they would have anything to do with this, they might be closer to Pluto base, but they’re loosing just as much as we are. I’ve also been told that it would take several times our total stockpile of the heaviest man-made element. At the risk of sounding crazy, the thought has crossed my mind… We’ve always thought we were alone in the galaxy, maybe we were wrong…

December 26th, 2153
I haven’t had the heart to touch this book for nearly six years. Every time I look at it, all I feel is sadness for what’s been lost… I’ve decided to make one last entry for posterity. We didn’t make it to Pluto. One of our main thrusters overloaded and had to be jettisoned, so we took refuge on Neptune. It’s cold, windy, and barren, but for a while, it’ll have to be our home. Most of the 700 million survivors that made it here are mostly still getting over the loss of Earth, but those who have moved on are already talking about exploration of other systems. One thing’s for sure, we don’t have the resources we need yet, hopefully our new home can provide us with what we need.

Today we watched in horror as our scopes recorded the Earth burning away, I thought this as good a time as any to finish this journal. The shock wave will hit Neptune and then Pluto soon but what’s left of the old research crew, Matt, Ben, Henrich and myself, have concluded that the intensity will be diminished enough so that both planets will at least survive.

They tell me that yesterday would have been Christmas on Earth, but living through this tragedy for the past few years in space and now on this enormous planet, I just don’t know any more. For that reason, there’s talk of doing away with the old calendar, it’s nostalgic for those of us who survived, but the new generation isn’t going to understand it.

If we live through this, I’m going to need to put the past behind me and be strong for those now in my care. So, this is the final entry of Douglas Schaeffer. If you are reading this, then at least someone survived, good luck to you.

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