Her eyes bore into me, innocent, searching for why I am crying, when in her mind everything is fine. I cradle her in my arms like I did when I first saw her two years ago, my beautiful daughter Lyra. Named after a constellation because I knew that she would do something far greater than any of us could imagine. Now I am leaving her, my husband and mother too, for this mission. This mission which could either save the world or leave a little girl without her mother forever. My heart cannot bear it, I am tearing apart inside and I know I must go now before I change my mind. Gently placing Lyra on the ground I try to convey my love for her, but it is just too great, and instead I kiss her and hug her and try to make her understand that she must cherish this moment in case I never come back. “I love you my darling with everything I have and one day we will see each other again, whether on earth or in Heaven I do not know.” Then it is time for me to go, and taking one last look at my family, I turn and board the spaceship.
As I press the final button on the switchboard in front of me, I fight the urge to turn back and run to my daughter, to hold her tight and never let go. Keaton, seeing me hesitate, catches my eye and gives me a reassuring smile. I cannot let everybody down. I strap myself into my seat and help the others prepare for take-off. We have done it in training many times before, but the feeling is different this time. The air crackles with tension.
“Five, four, three, two, one, lift off.” My throat tightens, my stomach churns and my heart pounds so loudly I am sure I can hear the reverberations around the spacecraft. Blackness fills my ears and shields my eyes but I try to resist it; I must not falter now. It feels as if I am floating above all human life and I feel strangely separate to them, as if- “Gaia do you read me?” Keaton’s voice jolts me out of my trance and I hasten to reply, “Yes, I am reading you, over.”
“Prepare for light speed, over and out.” I brace myself as the rocket lurches forward; we are now travelling faster than the speed of light.
The three other crew members and I are set to explore ‘Earth 2’ as Earth 1’s resources will eventually run out and people need somewhere to take refuge. Keaton, Daniel, Adam and I are the only ones who have been told the plan. Instead of saving everyone, only 10,000 of the most wealthy and educated people will be sent to ‘Earth 2’ and allowed to live. Our mission is to explore the planet and collect data which we can report back to the lucky survivors so they have the best chance in this new world.
Millions of stars fly past our window, most appear tiny because they are so far away; they look like pin pricks in a never-ending sheet of darkness. However, inside the spaceship time seems to stand still. We have so little to do and so far to go, I wonder whether my brain will shut down due to lack of use. I think of Lyra every day and wish that I could see her.
For five monotonous years we travel on through space until one day an automated voice shatters our hope of reaching ‘Earth 2’, “A star which is set to explode is in the flight path.”
“No!” My cry voices the thoughts of us all. Unless we can re-programme the flight in time, we are all going to be blown apart.
Come back next week to find out what happens to Gaia ...