ESD December 29th, 2628
IRIS San Jacinto
Destiny Colony, Jupiter
This is it. Zero hour. I can almost hear the conductor ringing the bell and yelling “all aboard for the end of the universe”. Everything’s packed, my resources and materials are squared away, and we’ll be leaving in a few hours for the Ryosh system. I may as well take some time to tell you about the ship I’ll be spending the next four months on. The Interplanetary Resources Incorporated Ship San Jacinto began its life as a fairly standard resource survey ship until our gracious multi-planetary donors came along and outfitted it with a complete biochemistry lab and at least two of the comforts of home. Quarters for the rest of us are, shall we say, a little cramped. How fitting that social sciences would get left with the remaining twenty-five percent of the cargo hold’s habitable area after physical sciences, a near-perfect if slightly generous analog to our budget allocations at just about any university in human space. I kid (but not really).
There are thirty of us in here between the two research teams and the crew, so you’d think that 186 meters would be plenty of room. Actually, it’s pretty cozy in here between supplies for twenty-four additional passengers and two—or should I say one and a half?—labs full of everything we can’t reasonably expect to replace once we arrive to Ryosh c. Other than our equipment, there isn’t much about the San Jacinto to set it apart from anything else in the resource industry. I’m fairly certain the only qualification the University of Genei was looking for in a ship besides “nothing else on the agenda for the next year or so” was a functioning Alcubierre Drive , because that’s all they got. Amenities are reminiscent of my four years spent in a dumpy student-housing apartment in Destiny: a grungy kitchen about two square meters too small, spotty lighting, and a video screen just big enough for you to know that you’re seeing people on there and just small enough to make you lean forward to make out their faces.
Of course, the biochemistry lab is nothing like this, what with all its bright lights and single pieces of equipment that cost more than my three degrees put together. I’m not jealous at all. No way.
Oh boy… I don’t think it’s really hit me yet just what I’ll be doing for the next nine months of my life. Four to get there, then five to figure out just where I fit into the grand scheme of things after having confirmed the answer to humanity’s oldest question. I don’t even want to think about the four months it’ll take me to come home after that. It’s too far out to worry about what I’ll do on the ride home when we haven’t even left the Sol system yet.
How many times do I have to ask myself if I’m the right person for this project? When do I get to stop asking myself? When it’s over? When I’m dead? Who knows. It’s just a feeling I can’t shake, that there had to have been someone else out there who knew what they were doing. I wonder if this is how Darwin felt putting his notes together for the Linnaean Society. I shouldn’t even be asking what he felt like; I should know. After all, Garren  made sure I brought along a copy of Darwin’s collected works “just in case”. Maybe I’ll get around to reading them somewhere between here and the ass-end of the universe.
It’s not like I won’t have time.
3. Named after the Mexican theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre Moya (1964-2057), the Alcubierre Drive has been the standard means of interstellar propulsion for the last eighty-three years.
4. Garren Kolt, a Jovian biologist (2574-2663).