NOTE: This is are a short story that takes place in the “Millennium” universe. If you haven’t read “Millennium” this story won’t make much sense. Also, you might want to read part 1 of this story first 😛
Collision Course – Part 2
Levi opened his eyes slowly, looked around, and could only see space. He tried to move his arms and fingers. He was able to close and open his fist successfully. Then, he tried to move his legs and feet. He had his movements back. Levi grabbed the tether hooked to his suit, turned around, and started to pull it, moving towards the ship. He got to his tools attached to another tether. “Let’s finish things up here. I need to run some tests to understand the extent of the damage,” He said, using a type of resin to plug the last leak and a high-strength tape to seal it.
Levi made it to the hatch and went back inside the ship. He went to engineering and turned the power generator on. The whole exterior of the ship lit up at once. The ship’s surface was once again absorbing galactic cosmic rays and transforming it into electricity, charging batteries and powering all systems. “Oh yeah, babe!” Levi shouted, celebrating. “And just like that, we are back in business.”
After running a full checkup of the ship systems and making sure he was back on course, Levi went to the medical deck to run some tests on himself. “If I lose complete control like this again, it could be the end of my mission,” he said, attaching himself to the machines and initiating a full body scan to obtain a complete analysis. “The situation is worse than I thought. I will need to go back into hibernation mode to be able to do some serious maintenance. To be fully operational again, I will need a full month hibernation cycle of repairs. But we will be entering Blue’s orbit in two weeks. Oh, well. Two weeks of maintenance will have to do. I can time the hibernation to end one day before arrival, and I can maneuver do stay in orbit for as long as I need to complete the repairs before I land. Okay, Right. That is what we are going to do,” Levi said, stepping inside the hibernation capsule, making the needed adjustments. “Let us hope I wake up in one piece.”
“Hi guys,” Levi said, looking at the 3D image been projected in front of him. “How are you enjoying Patagonia?” he asked.
“Hi, dad,” Matthias said. “This place is amazing. You are going to love it here. When are you coming?”
“In a few weeks, son,” Levi answered. “I am so sorry that I am not there with your right now.”
“That is okay. I’ll let the boys know. They keep asking for you,” Matthias said.
“Oh, man!” Levi said. “How are my grandchildren doing. Can I talk to them?”
“They are fine. Not here at the moment. They went hiking with mom and Grandpa Jacob.”
“Sounds like fun,” Levi said. “Okay, I will call to talk to them later, then.”
“What about you?” Matthias asked. “Are you still having fun building your ship? How is that going?”
“It’s going. Mike and Lee came over a few times these past weeks to give me a hand. We got permission to test the vehicle last weekend, and all went well. So, yeah. Going well.”
“Nice,” Matthias said. “I knew that Uncle Lee became an expert in all things scientific, but I didn’t know Uncle Mike was into space travel.”
“Oh, yeah. Big time,” Levi said. “Uncle Mike is a genius. He has built this biomechanical human interface that is amazing. You have to try it.”
“Biomechanical Human Interface?” Matthias asked.
“Yes. You know when we work in construction projects, and we can control heavy-duty machines from a distance using the brain wave enhancers?”
“Yes?” Matthias replied.
“So, it’s more or less the same. Instead of controlling a giant mechanical arm in a construction site, this interface allows you to control a human look-alike machine, through which you can feel and experience any place or environment in the world from the comfort and safety of your home.”
“I see,” Matthias said. “It is some kind of a robotic extension of yourself.”
“Right,” Levi confirmed. “Mike loves diving, too. Exploring the ocean is his passion. But he can only go so far. He was limited to how deep he could go. Not anymore. With this interface, he can dive as deep as he likes with no limitation, and he can live the experience as he was actually there without feeling the side-effects of course. We are working now on…”
“Hey, dad,” Matthias interrupted. “It really sounds fascinating. I would love to hear more about it, but unfortunately, I have to go now. I’m making dinner for the whole gang this evening, and I still have to get some of the ingredients from a brother living close by. The family hosting us this week will teach me some special local dishes. It’s going to be a feast,” he said with a grin.
“Really? Sounds like fun,” Levi said. “Shame I am not there. I will be the only one missing out on the feast. No problem. I make sure I will join you guys soon, okay?” he asked, but the image seemed to be frozen. “Matthias? Are you there? Can you hear me?
The hibernation capsule opened, and Levi woke up. The ship was bumping and shaking violently, making it very hard for him to leave the capsule. “No. I can’t believe this is happening,” Levi said right before he was thrown out of the capsule by the turbulence. “I need to get to the controls before it’s too late,” he said, struggling to move toward the cockpit.
“Okay! Now I am really doomed,” Levi said, getting into the cockpit and looking through the windshield. “‘Houston, we have a problem.’ We are going down,” he sat down at the pilot chair and tried to control the vehicle.
The planet’s gravity was pulling the ship. Levi was entering the planet’s atmosphere too fast. Diving toward the surface in an uncontrolled descent, the ship was now in a collision course. “Come on, girl,” Levi spoke with his ship. “We can do this. I just have to…oh, no. Not again! Not now!” Levi screamed. His both hands were not responding, and his legs were again paralyzed.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” The ship continued falling, gaining more and more velocity, burning through the planet’s thick atmosphere. For a split of a second, Levi was flabbergasted at a glimpse of the planet’s surface before saying: “Aaand… we crashed. Great!”
“Oh, babe. I’m so sorry to hear that,” Anne said. “What went wrong?” She asked while putting on her diving suit.
“Everything,” Levi replied, sitting on a rock near the water putting on his fins.
“Impossible. Tell me exactly what happened,” Anne said, handing Levi his diving helmet.
“Remember, I told you how I was studying gravitational waves to use it as a communication channel?”
“Yes,” Anne said. “You also told me how that didn’t work, and how you had to adapt your quantum-communicator to use it instead.”
“Right,” Levi said. “The quantum-communicator worked fine until the particles began losing their entanglement and I started to have problems controlling my Artificial Human Extention or ArEX, as Mike likes to call them.”
“Yeah. Mike calls them that. But I told him I would call them ‘The Sims‘,” Anne said and smirked. “Sorry, Mike, but ArEX just doesn’t sound right.”
“Ha ha,” Levi laughed. “I just love how your fascination with history extends to goofy old video games too,” he said, making Anne smile. “Let us called it ‘Sim‘, then. Why not. I’m sure Mike won’t mind.”
Anne answered with a grin, getting her fins, and sitting beside Levi.
“So,” Levi continued. “As you know, I used my ‘Sim‘ to pilot the ship from home.”
“Hmm, hum,” Anne confirmed. “It’s crazy how you guys managed that.”
“It was really something,” Levi said. “It was just like I was right there, piloting the ship myself. The suit and helmet I used to connect with it allowed me to see and feel everything the ‘Sim‘ saw and felt.”
“Amazing,” Anne said. “Can you feel everything it feels? Even pain?”
“Yes. But I can control the intensity of all senses. So, I can choose not to feel pain at all if I want to.”
“Okay. Smart. Go on.”
“Right,” Levi continued. “I knew I would run into problems with the quantum-communication. So, for most of the trip, I had my ‘Sim‘ on hibernation mode in this capsule, I designed to strengthen its particle’s entanglement. But, the closer I got to the Alpha Centauri, the more noise and interference I got”.
“I see. The interference would give you a bad connection of sorts, making it hard to control your ‘Sim‘ from here,” Anne said.
“Exactly,” Levi asserted. “One time, I lost complete communication with it in the middle of a spacewalk to fix a power leakage in the ship.”
“Oh, no. What did you do, then?”
“I still had a link with the ship. So, I used the tether connected to the ‘Sim‘ to reestablish communication with it. I was then able to fix the leakage, get my ‘Sim‘ back inside the ship, and put it into hibernation mode again for repairs.”
“Wow. That was a close one I imagine,” Anne said. “But, now you were back in the ship, resuming control of it, right?”
“Yes, but my ‘Sim‘ needed a lot of repairs, and I didn’t have sufficient time to complete all of them before arriving at Blue’s orbit.”
“And of course, you would need your ‘Sim‘ fully operational to pilot the ship through landing.”
“Yes,” Levi said.
“And, then? What happened next?” Anne asked.
“So, I timed the hibernation to be interrupted before we approached the planet. The idea was to turn my ‘Sim’ on and use it to maneuver the ship, locking it to the planet’s orbit. This would give me time to repair the ship and the ‘Sim’ before landing.”
“Uuh. Exciting,” Anne said. “But, I’m guessing the plan didn’t work?”
“Unfortunately, no,” Levi answered. “Do you remember how I used to call BLU-E-20b, my Little Blue?”
“Yes. I thought it was cute. Why?
“Well. As it turns out, Little Blue is not that little. It is actually much bigger than I thought. When I made the calculations to time the hibernation, I used old data that didn’t show the planet’s right mass. When the hibernation finished, I had control of my ‘Sim’ again, but the ship was already being pulled down by a much stronger gravitational force I hadn’t accounted for.”
“Nooo!” Anne exclaimed.
“Yup. I couldn’t believe it either,” Levi replied. “I still tried to get control of the ship, but suddenly, I had problems with my connection again. My arms and legs were paralyzed and I couldn’t do anything to save the ship. Then, it crashed, and with it, all my dreams of exploring a new planet.”
“Wow, babe,” Anne said. “You were so close. I can’t believe that you almost did it.”
Levi nodded, disappointed.
“But, let me understand one thing,” she continued.
“Shoot,” Levi said, checking this helmet.
“If you had a link with the ship, why didn’t you pilot the whole flight from Earth? Did you really need the ‘Sim’ to control the ship?”
“Yes. I did,” Levi answered. “First, I was using quantum-entanglement to communicate with the vessel. In order not to lose the entanglement, I had to reinforce it. I didn’t find a way to do it for the ship’s communication system, but I had found a way to do it for the ‘Sim’, using the hibernation capsule.”
“Okay. Right,” Anne said. “What were the other reasons?”
“I would also like to know if we would be able to make that trip one day. That is why I needed the ‘Sim‘,” Levi explained. “It simulates the human body. It needs oxygen to work, for example. And it was designed to simulate many other of our physical limitations too, like being sensitive to radiation, to changes in gravity, in pressure, among other things. From a human standpoint, the ‘Sim‘ is a perfect representation of the human body as a physical machine.”
“Okay. That explains it. But, you got permission to launch the ship as a kind of probe, right?” Anne asked.
“Yes,” Levi answered. “The actual mission was to learn more about Blue and draw a map of the Alpha Centauri star system.”
“Right,” Anne continued. “Which was part of the ‘Learn From Creation‘ program, correct?”
“Correct,” Levi confirmed.
“And you accomplished that, right?”
“We have more data about Blue and Alpha Centauri, yes. Not enough for mapping the whole system, though.”
“That is amazing,” Anne exclaimed. “You shouldn’t be disappointed with your mission. You should be proud of it.”
“I guess you’re right,” Levi said.
“I just don’t understand why you wanted so badly to simulate a manned trip if you would not be able to do it anytime soon. I mean, the government is not authorizing any manned mission at the moment, are they?”
“No. At the moment, they are not,” Levi replied. “But, maybe after the Millennium reign is over and we pass the Final Test, I believe our Creator would love us to explore more of his creation. I just wanted to run an experiment to learn how that would even be possible.”
“I totally understand,” Anne said. “I can see how our Father would like to show us more of his creations. But,” she paused before continuing. “Don’t you think when the time comes He will help us how to do it? Just like He has given us the Bible to guide us through the Old World, and then He also gave us the New Rolls to guide us now in the New World. After the Millennium reign and Final Test, don’t you think he will give something else that will guide us through the next phase of our human development?”
“Maybe even including directions on how to explore space, you mean?” Levi asked, intrigued.
“Maybe,” Anne replied. “Sounds reasonable, right? Looking at the pattern and considering what we know about Him.”
“Huh,” Levi gasped amused.
“I mean, we are almost halfway through the Millennium reign and we still have so much to do to get everything ready for the Final Test,” Anne continued. “Should we not wait with exploring new planets for now and focus on more pressing matters?” she asked.
“You know what?” Levi said. “You are completely right, babe. It all started as a nice project, but I allowed myself to be carried away by my fascination with space. Maybe I lost sight of what is more important right now.”
“That is ok, babe,” Anne assured. “Even perfect spiritual beings in the past lost track of what was most important. But that could become a trap or something the Dragon could use against us in the Final Test.”
“Definitely,” Levi said. “Perfect life in paradise is so perfect; sometimes I forget that the issue of God’s Sovereignty is not over yet. And that having a perfect human body does not mean having a perfect spiritual mind. I have to keep working on it if I am to make through it.”
“We all have to,” Anne continued.
“Thanks, babe. For now on, I will make sure I get my priorities straight. I can promise you that.”
“More time for me? Yippee!” Anne said facetiously, jumping into Levi’s arms. “But of course,” she continued. “It doesn’t mean we can’t continue learning from creation, right? Can the next ship be a little bit bigger? I also want to have my ‘Sim‘ there when we land our space probe on Blue for the first time.”
“Haha,” Levi laughed with a big smile. “You are great; you know that?” Levi said, kissing Anne.
“Love you too, my spaceman,” Anne replied, kissing Levi back.
“Okay,” Levi agreed. “I’ll have to send a Cleaner to pick up the debris of my ship on Blue anyways. So, we can perhaps make it big enough to carry ‘Sims‘ for the whole family,” Levi said, holding Anne in his arms. “For right now,” he continued. “I don’t need to explore any other planet. I don’t want to obsess about things I don’t have any longer. I want to enjoy my gorgeous wife, my wonderful family, and our life on this beautiful planet we call home.”
“We actually call it Earth, but I love everything else you just said,” Anne replied, teasing Levi.
“Ha ha,” Now it was Levi’s turn to fake a laugh. “Are you ready?” Levi asked, setting his suit to automatically adjust to the hydrostatic pressure and turning on his helmet’s water oxygen extractor.
“I can’t believe we wait so long to explore the Anhumas Abyss,” Anne said, turning her communication with Levi’s diving helmet on and entering the cave featuring stalactites in all forms and shapes hanging from the ceiling, and walking towards the clearest turquoise water.
“Now I fully comprehend why this place is called ‘Bonito.’ It means ‘beautiful’ in Portuguese. But it’s quite an understatement if you ask me.”
“I agreed. This place is not only beautiful. It is awe-inspiring,” Anne said.
“Imagine all the amazing things we are yet to discover in the depths of the cave.”
“I can’t wait any longer. Time to explore!”
“After you, my lady.”
Meanwhile, somewhere on BLU-E-02b, something is emitting a beep sound.