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Chapter 1: Flight of the Seraphim

The morning had an odd feeling for Gideon Plock, an alien emotion had been steadily growing inside of him for the last week. The feeling consisted of a constantly fluctuating mixture of excitement, fear, sorrow, elation, pride, anger and several other powerful emotions. All of these emotions swirled and bubbled inside of him, today was an important day for him, a big day for his family, and a mark in history for the rest of human kind. This was akin to the events of 1969, humans were taking another significant step into the heavens, large groups of them were preparing to leave the only home the human species had ever known, and it was largely thanks to his work. All he had really done was combine several existing technologies to resolve a problem that had been plaguing humans for a millenia.

Pride swelled inside of him, choking back all his other emotions. He was at the fulcrum point of a huge shift in human history. Soon, hundreds of colony class ships, all sharing a single design, his design, would ferry humans out and into the stars, a new breed of sailor. Their ships safely carrying them across the starry ocean, for ports that no human had ever set foot on. Some of these journeys would last in excess of several centuries. Time was no issue though, every passenger who boarded the ship would leave the ship, just as youthful and vibrant as the day they entered. Many would actually leave the ships better off, wise beyond their years with more knowledge and experience than a single lifetime could offer. He could possibly be, in time, the savior of the whole human race.

Fear bit at prides heels, dragging it down and replacing it with a horrible monstrous feeling and Gideon was forced to recall the last time humanity had tried something like this. It was on a much much smaller scale, fractions of the size of the current operation, and that attempt had failed miserably and resulted in a massive loss of human life. If this operation failed, the blame for a tragedy that dwarfed every tragedy before it could fall squarely on his shoulders. He felt tremors shake his body nervously, the potential consequences for failure were huge. Too big for just one man. He could possibly be responsible for the wholesale murder of a larger portion of the human race.

Reaching into his pocket he pulled out a small cylindrical object and pressed it to his wrist. There was a small hiss of air and a barely noticeable pinch against his wrist, mere fractions of a second later prescribed relaxation was surging through his veins. His fear subsided and he told himself that there would be no issues related to any of the systems he was responsible for. They had run hundreds, no thousands of short term tests on his systems. He had wanted more long term testing, but new information had forced a revision of the projects time tables, effectively making the decision for him and forcing his hand. As the chemicals continued to quell Gideons rampant emotions he told himself that the technologies would work, they had to work.

A loud bang behind him caused him to jerk, allowing the smooth cylinder to slip from his finger tips and tumble to the floor. Gideon looked down to see the dull silver hypo-injector laying between his feet, cradled by the carpet and looking quite comfortable. Nervousness and tension cut through the veil of synthetic sedation like a hot knife, why did he have to drop the injector.

“Daddy, mommy wants to know how much longer your slow butt is gonna be.”

A wave of natural relief followed by a warm chemical glow washed back over him, he desperately did not want his wife to know he was on anti anxiety meds. His son would not know what the injector was even if he did notice it, so he was in the clear. Smiling at the thought of how lucky he was, even if everything could potentially go to hell, he spun and picked up his eight year old son. Hoisting his son high into the air he pressed his face against his boys stomach and gave him a raspberry. His son giggled and pleaded for him to stop.

“Sorry I was being such a slow poke, I was just packing the last of the things I was going to bring. Run on down and tell your mother I’ll be down in just a few minutes.” He dropped his son to the floor and tousled his hair, giving him a gentle push towards the door. His son looked back at him smiling “Ok Dad!”. Gideon Jr. took off down the short hallway yelling “Mommy! Daddy says he’ll be down in a few minutes, he had some last minute packing to do!”

Gideon Sr. finished packing the small rectangular holding case every passenger was allowed to bring. Whatever personal effects they could fit in the small box could be brought along. Passengers were told they could bring clothing but clothing would be provided for them, and were encouraged to bring items related to hobbies, things they could use to entertain themselves or to help them relax during their off hours. Gideon closed the lid on his box and made for the door, saying goodbye to his bedroom, it was the last time he would ever see it.

Making his way down the steps and to the living room he looked over the living room one last time as well. He had not spent much time at home the last few years, far too much work to do, but he still had many fond memories of time spent in this room with family and friends. He turned away bitterly he would leave these things behind, trade them in for a new life like so many other people were doing, had done already.

He heard the telltale thud thud thud of his sons approach, then moments later he felt small hands tugging urgently at his own, “Mommy says hurry it up! She’s ready to leave already. I think I made her sad dad.” Gideon jr. looked up at his father, his face full of uncertainty. “I was telling her how excited I am to go into space and go on an adventure with you guys!, and she just started crying. She told me to come get you. I feel really bad for making mom cry.”

Gideon hoisted his son up, sitting him on his forearm while  he picked up the box of his personal effects with the other, “Don’t worry bud, mom’s upset with me and what we’re doing. You didn’t do anything wrong, and I personally am very happy you’re so excited about this. She’s just going to miss all this stuff that we have to leave here.”

“Well if it will make mom happy, why don’t we bring some of this stuff?” Gideon Jr. motioned to the pictures and trinkets around him.

“No room buddy. There’s lots more important stuff to take with us like food, water, and medicine.”

“Oh…Well, I’m gonna go tell mom that she can use my personal stuff box so she can bring more of this stuff. Do you think that would make her happier?” Gideon Squirmed a bit on his arm, and his father leaned against him slightly, hugging him as best he could.

“Thats very nice of you buddy and you should tell mommy that, it would make her happy. But she doesn’t have any time, we’re already gonna be late.” He set Gideon Jr. down, then handed his son his box of things, “Here, you can carry this out to the car for me while I lock the front door, big tough guy that you are”. He flexed playfully at his son.

“Ok dad!” Gideon jr. took his fathers box and ran out the front door, dragging his father’s personal things behind him. Taking one last look around his living room Gideon Sr. stepped out the front door pulling it shut behind him. Driving the key home he secured the deadbolt in place and thought of how futile and silly this ritual was, he nor any member of his family would ever come back to this house again. Still, knowing the door would be locked made him feel better.

He arrived at the car expecting to find his wife an emotional mess, a happy surprise greeted him though, his wife sat in the front seat of the car holding their son. She gently stroked her his hair, her eyes and face were still tear stained, but the features of her face spoke of a calm acceptance. He opened the car door, “Honey..are you alright? Gideon told me you were upset but you seem fine now.”

His wife hugged their son tight and looked over at him “The wisdom of children.” His wife said, a radiant smiling spreading across her face, helping to put him at ease. That smile was one of the reasons he’d married her. “Our son just reminded me that even though I have to leave all this behind, I’m lucky enough that I get to bring what’s really important along.”

Reaching across the car seat he gave his wife’s shoulder and affectionate squeeze, then slid into his seat. A slight push of a button and the cars electric engine whirred to life, powering up the various different data streams and information windows across the cars holographic dashboard. It was 4:31 PM, the next elevator cycle, the one he and his family were supposed to be on, was at 4:45 PM. That did not leave much time, Gideon was glad he lived near work. He backed out of his driveway, swinging his car around so it faced the exit of their street. He could see their destination looming ahead of them, that did not mean much though. Everyone in a several hundred mile radius could see his destination. Pressing his foot against the accelerator the car quietly rolled down the street, accelerating towards the huge black pillar that rose far into the sky.

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