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‘Welcome to the Starship Avalon- guaranteed fail-safe interstellar spacecraft designed to bring you to your new home: Homestead II. We at Homestead Corporations are delighted to have you journey with us for our fifth planetary expedition and bid you the warmest welcome. Homestead Corporations is the leading scientific and colonizing organization with four successful settlements with no records of accidents or fatalities to both spacecraft and passengers.

Starship Avalon is your deluxe luxury cruise, outfitted with state-of-the-art life-support technology, spatial navigation and engineering, and an incorruptible recovery system designed to guarantee your comfort and safety. Made from metals and elements mined from asteroids in space, the Avalon also boasts of an impregnable plasma shield that is meteor and asteroid proof. 

Travelling at half the speed of light, the Starship Avalon consists of 3 separate outer Hulls that orbit the main Central Hull which contains the propulsion unit. We are proud to be the largest spacecraft at exactly 1 kilometer in length with a one-of-a-kind anti-matter fueled main engine. Our gravity is self-produced; the three separate Hulls orbit and generate the Avalon’s gravity and is supported by 8 separate nuclear fission powered engines.

With 5500 living suites, 100 recreational zones, and over 2000 Service Bots, Starship Avalon will cater to your every need for the next 4 months of your galactic transit before arrival date.

So sit back and relax, and let us take you to a new beginning, a new start, and a whole new world.’

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

STARSHIP AVALON AUTOPILOT LOG:

[REPORT]: ASTEROID FIELD DETECTED. TRAJECTORY REROUTE INITIATE.

[ERROR]: TRAJECTORY REROUTE FAILED. ASTEROID FIELD EXTENDS BEYOND CENTRIPETAL ACCELERATION. CANNOT EQUATE.

[REPORT]: REDIRECT EMERGENCY ENERGY CELL SUPPLE TO PLASMA SHIELD.

[REPORT]: ASTEROID FIELD APPROACHING.

[REPORT]: REDIRECTING EMERGENCY ENERGY CELL SUPPLY TO PLASMA SHIELD.

[REPORT]: REDIRECTING EMERGENCY ENERGY CELL SUPPLY SUCCESS

[REPORT]: SHIELD IMPACT. SHIELD HOLDING.

[REPORT]: SHIELD IMPACT. SHIELD HOLDING.

[REPORT]: SHIELD IMPACT. SHIELD HOLDING.

[REPORT]: SHIELD IMPACT. SHIELD HOLDING.

[REPORT]: SHIELD IMPACT. SHIELD HOLDING.

[ERROR]: SHIELD FAILING. REDIRECT ALL ENERGY CELL SUPPLY.

[REPORT]: REDIRECTING ALL ENERGY CELL SUPPLY TO PLASMA SHIELD: CARGO HOLD POWER CELL. REACTOR HULL POWER CELL. VENTILATION SYSTEM POWER CELL. GRAVITY SYSTEM POWER CELL. CONCOURSE POWER CELL. HIBERNATION POD POWER CELL.

[REPORT]: REDIRECTING ALL ENERGY CELL SUPPLY TO PLASMA SHIELD: CARGO HOLD POWER CELL. REACTOR HULL POWER CELL. VENTILATION SYSTEM POWER CELL. GRAVITY SYSTEM POWER CELL. CONCOURSE POWER CELL. HIBERNATION POD POWER CELL.

[REPORT]: REDIRECTING ALL ENERGY CELL SUPPLY TO PLASMA SHIELD: CARGO HOLD POWER CELL. REACTOR HULL POWER CELL. VENTILATION SYSTEM POWER CELL. GRAVITY SYSTEM POWER CELL. CONCOURSE POWER CELL. HIBERNATION POD POWER CELL.

 

 

 

[REPORT]: ASTEROID FIELD CLEARED. CONDUCTING SYSTEM ANALYSIS.

[SCANNING]: CARGO HOLD POWER CELL. CLEAR.

[SCANNING]: REACTOR HULL POWER CELL. CLEAR.

[SCANNING]: VENTILATION SYSTEM POWER CELL. CLEAR.

[SCANNING]: GRAVITY SYSTEM POWER CELL. CLEAR.

[SCANNING]: CONCOURSE POWER CELL. CLEAR.

[SCANNING]: HIBERNATION POD POWER CELL.

[SCANNING]: HIBERNATION POD POWER CELL.

[SCANNING]: HIBERNATION POD POWER CELL.

[ERROR]: HIBERNATION POD 0903 POWER CELL FAIL.

[REPORT]: INITIATE RELEASE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They lied.

Clearly.

They said that waking up from hibernation wouldn’t be any different from waking up after a nap. That they might experience a little bit of nausea or disorientation, depending on their body type, metabolic rate, and level of fitness.

But this.

This wasn’t “a little bit” – Yoongi feels like he’s consumed his weight in alcohol . Not the good kind of alcohol either,- but the really cheap kind that you can buy from convenience stores that aren’t supposed to have any alcohol in the first place. His vision is swimming and he’s seeing in more than just doubles. Yoongi would be able to count them, if he was capable of counting in the first place. A static like sound fills his ears; sharp and harsh and it does nothing to relieve him of his disorientation. His lungs feel like they’re on fire- like he was holding his breath for too long, and now the fire spreads from his lungs to the rest of his body in pulsing jolts.

‘Good evening passenger, and welcome to the Starship Avalon, you are perfectly safe,’ a pleasant female voice informs him in what Yoongi guesses is supposed to be a reassuring tone. He only feels more disturbed.

‘What-‘ Yoongi croaks out, his throat seizing up and his tongue refusing to cooperate. There’s a face floating in front of him- a doctor? A nurse? With fumbling movement, Yoongi raises his arm but his hand meets nothing- instead his vision swims temporarily. 

‘It is perfectly normal to experience some nausea and disorientation – do not be alarmed!’ the voice tells him serenely as he tries to recover. ‘After all you have been in hibernation for 120 years!’

Oh right- that.

‘Oh shit,’ Yoongi manages to rasp out.

‘You are perfectly safe,’ the voice reassures Yoongi and honestly, he feels anything but. Yoongi’s vision clears up- or sort of clears up. Instead of the blurred kaleidoscopic vision he had going, he now only sees 2 of the holographic AI systems projecting out from the interactive screen attached to the ring that reinforced the lid of his Pod. 

‘Please state your name and we will embark on your tour of Starship Avalon,’ the hologram(‘s) smiles at him and it’s only a little bizarre as two sets of perfectly even white teeth gleam at him.

‘Min Yoongi,’ Yoongi groans out, blinking rapidly in hopes of regaining visual focus. Great, his tongue felt weirdly numb.

‘Min Yoongi, born in Neo-Korea, Level 2 Mechanical Engineer.’

‘That’s me.’

And as though waiting for confirmation from Yoongi and he was now being rewarded, a tumbler of clear liquid in a sort of pinkish hue emerges from the side of his pod and Yoongi nearly punches it away in his desperation to quench his thirst. His imbalanced eye-to-hand coordination makes him lunge a little too forward and the drink spills around his hand a little bit. The liquid is cool and soothing down Yoongi’s throat. It’s very faintly sweet and smells like something Yoongi can’t exactly place.

‘Please relax and allow the medication to bring your body up to full health.’ The hologram(‘s) smiles gently.

Once the disorientation started to abate a little, Yoongi realizes he’s moving. Not that he’s falling over- far from it. His Pod is moving and the motion is smooth and stops gently in front of a pair of glass doors that open smoothly into a wide well-lit hallway. His Pod tilts just a little and with a rapidity that was frankly alarming, Yoongi finds that his disorientation and nausea were receding quite quickly. So maybe they really weren’t lying after all, Yoongi thinks to himself as he steps off his Pod, the concave lid lifting as though it could sense Yoongi’s purpose.

The floor is pleasantly cool and Yoongi is slightly surprised to find that his toenails haven’t really grown out. He reaches for his face and hair; everything was…the same. His hair was the same length he had cut it before signing up for the colonization program, his face was clean too, though he doesn’t think he’s the type to grow out facial hair in the first place. He flexes his hands a little, curling his toes against the cool floors.

‘Yoongi, if would follow me,’ the holographic AI system stands near the corner of the hallway down Yoongi’s right.

Holographic technology had improved to the point where, from a distance, it was hard to tell if it was corporeal or not. But Yoongi’s always been able to tell the difference. Yoongi called it his 2.5D radar. Because though these holographic projections did indeed occupy 3D space and could reflect the natural light from their environment, there was always a lack of substance in their mass. Which is why Yoongi refers to them as 2.5D.

This hologram is in the form of a slender woman of Asian descent. Was that on purpose because he was Asian? If so: that’s kinda racist, Yoongi thinks to himself. She’s wearing the standard Homestead AI System uniform in deep red, her holographic hair perfectly tied away with a colourful scarf and a brooch in the shape of the Homestead logo pinned to the left of her blazer.

‘There is no need to rush Yoongi, please follow me as I guide you to your room where you can rest until you are ready to explore the rest of Avalon,’ the hologram smiles graciously at him. Yoongi awkwardly grimaces back.

He’s not entirely sure how to really address holograms and their annoyingly realistic social interface – he’s been glared at one too many times back on Earth because he didn’t smile or bow back to a hologram. And when he does interact, he feels like he goes a little overboard and people sometimes assumed that he was part of one of those cults that professed holograms were spiritual entities. Though humanity evolved and developed to, literally, cosmic levels, there were still a few who missed out on the evolutionary progress.

‘You just exited the Hibernation Pod Deck,’ the hologram informs him, turning slightly and waving her hand to her left. ‘You will now enter the Living Deck, where you will find your designated suite. The door will light up for you.’

‘A suite? Sweet,’ Yoongi mumbles out loud, allowing himself a short chuckle before he trudges along the main hallway. To his surprise, the interior of the Avalon didn’t really look like a spacecraft. The walls were seemingly made out of polished marble as were the floors, the smoothness of it disrupted by wall displays of modern art, light fixtures, and decorative racks. There were a few alcoves that housed comfortable looking sofa couches and Yoongi fights the urge to go sit on one of them. The hallway is straightforward and long with smaller sub-hallways branching out. Should he go through each sub-hallway? The sub-hallways are dimmer. And the hologram did say his door would light up. So that meant he would be able to spot it at once. If his eyes don’t give out on him.

At least they were functional enough to roll at himself. 

Yoongi has to take a break for a few seconds, as his limbs try to recover from 120 years of doing nothing. Asleep for 120 years; he definitely beat his own record. Though safe to say there were 5256 humans who now shared the same record with him. He turns to look around the hallways; they were startlingly empty. Shouldn’t other people be waking up as well? Or was it done systematically? That probably made more sense- otherwise it would be panic attacks galore- maybe even puking. And Yoongi shudders at the very notion of it. Asleep for 120 years and the first thing you hear is someone retching. It doesn’t make a good morning call.

A door gleams in one of the sub-hallways and Yoongi was right- it was easy to spot.

Taking a deep breath, Yoongi turns and makes his way until he’s at the front of the still glowing door.

‘Please scan your ID badge onto the door scanner,’ the hologram reappears right next to Yoongi, making him jump a little in surprise. ‘Your ID badge is on your wrist.’

Looking down at his left hand, Yoongi finally notices the simple silicone-based white device on his wrist. It’s flat and soft with no visible latch or lock and Yoongi wonders if it ever come off.

‘You ID badge is your key to Avalon,’ the hologram chimes cheerily at him, as though able to read his mind. ‘It is the most important item you will possess during your stay in the Avalon. It is water-proof, fire-proof, and extremely durable but made out of 100% nonallergenic material. It also sends regular feedback of your health tabs to our database so that we may record and predict any potential health issues you might face. Without your ID badge, you cannot access the facilities and functions of the Avalon. Which is why it will only be removed when we land in Homestead II, four months from now.’

Yoongi sort of remembers being told that.

‘Ah…ok,’ Yoongi replies somewhat lamely as he lifts his wrist to the scanner panel to the left of his door. The Homestead logo appears over the interactive screen, glowing a faint green. If he remembers right, you weren’t allowed to access other suites. Instead you could alert the occupant inside by scanning your ID badge and the AI system would then alert the person inside. Yoongi wonders if it will glow orange like traffic light signs until the occupant inside opens the door for you.

The door slides open quietly and lies- this is not a suite.

But it’s not a bad room per se.

There was a comfortable looking single bed in one corner of the room, a desk equipped a fully functional entertainment system, a comfortable looking chair, and a small but fully equipped bathroom to the side.

It wasn’t a bad room, but it definitely wasn’t a suite.

Yoongi jumps again when the wall next to his door slides open as well to reveal his single suitcase.

‘Please scan your ID into your suite’s scanner to claim and register your baggage,’ the hologram appears from the wall behind Yoongi, only her head and bust appearing as a small panel pushing out of the wall. Yoongi steps up to it and swipes his wrist over the panel again.

‘Thank you Yoongi,’ the hologram smiles. ‘This panel, like many other around the Avalon, can be accessed at any time by simple voice activation. This one however, is uniquely programmed for your personal use. Think of it as a mobile laptop. To release it from its casing, repeat after me: “Scanner panel activate”!’

Yoongi looks up at the hologram who gives him an encouraging smile, then back down at the panel that has returned to the wall, and then back at the hologram, and then around the room.

‘Yoongi?’ she smiles pleasantly at him.

Clearing his throat ostentatiously, Yoongi mumbles out, ‘Panel-Screen activate’.

The Panel-Screen pushes out of the wall again and this time his ID number, the exact same as his Pod number, his information, and his suite’s control menu is on display towards the left of the screen while the Homestead logo occupies the other half.

‘Excellent job!’ The hologram even claps. Yoongi wonders if other people ever felt like holographic AI systems were condescending or if it was just him.

‘There will be much more to explore and discover after you have rested,’ the hologram continues as Yoongi scrolls around the menu interface. ‘Rest well Yoongi, and when you wake up, you will find that there are new friends to be made and all of Avalon at your disposal. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call.’

And with a gracious smile and short bow, the hologram disappears. Yoongi doesn’t feel too guilty not bowing this time around.

There’s a small tab that reads “dismount” at the bottom of the menu interface and Yoongi taps it. The Panel-Screen gently pops out of its casing and Yoongi picks it up. Sighing deeply, he glances around his room one more time then falls backwards into bed.

It’s extremely comfortable.

With mushy feeling arms, Yoongi lifts the Panel-Screen and manages to find the light function.

The lights dim and Yoongi falls asleep almost as quickly.

 

 


 

 

 

Yoongi wakes up with his mouth dryer than a desert and an urgent desire to shower.

Switching his Panel-Screen back on again, Yoongi wonders if it’s possible to get water sent to him or delivered into his room. He’s sure he’s been briefed on all of this before but he’s been asleep 120 years in Hibernation. He’s bound to forget a few smaller details.

‘Oh, thank fuck,’ Yoongi mumbles out loud when he finds that water and small refreshments and snacks were already available in his room. Tapping the ‘Mini-Fridge’ tab, a wide drawer pushes out from the side of his desk. Throwing his blankets off, Yoongi more or less staggers towards the “mini-fridge” and finds it neatly lined with bottles of water and energy drinks as well as a few energy bars.

Either they were trying to enforce a strict diet amongst the passengers or drive them out of solitude by forcing them to go look for food. After quenching his thirst with nearly all the bottles of water (labeled with the Homestead logo) inside the mini-fridge, Yoongi stumbles into his shower (first briefly grieving that there was no bathtub) and washes away (he cringes at the thought) 120 years’ worth of accumulated dead skin cells (every piece of toiletry was labeled with the Homestead logo as well). He makes sure to scrub himself down twice.

His clothes were still in his luggage and upon inspection don’t look aged, don’t smell bad, and still fit him the same.

He stops in front of his bathroom mirror, appraising his reflection. Should he wear the jacket? Should he not wear the jacket? It’s a vintage (even more vintage now that it’s been 120 years) leather jacket with just the right amount of silver buttons and zipper. His hair is still a little damp but it looked presentable. It was neither sloppy or too done up- just somewhere in the middle. It was low-key. And Yoongi liked low-key. Yes, he can work with low-key. It’s unassuming but respectable at the same time and I should stop stalling the inevitable and just get this over with.

The jacket stays.

Yoongi is surprised to find himself slightly nervous as he clutches the slim and smooth Panel-Screen in his pocket and steps out of his room. He’s never been much of a people person- one of the main reasons why he chose to partake in the colonization of Homestead II was because it meant lesser people. 5000 people spread out on a planet that’s roughly the same size as Earth. Yoongi would get all the pleasant silence that followed a blissful solitary state of living. But these 5000 people on board the Avalon were going to be his fellow colonists whether he liked it or not, and they would all have to work together as one large functioning colony to survive. And they would all be living in relatively close proximity to each other for the next 4 months.

It’s quiet in the hallways.

Very quiet.

‘Hello?’ Yoongi calls out as he stands in the intersection of his room’s hallway and the main hallway. To his right lay the Hibernation Pod Deck- that much he remembered. Down left seemed to go on for quite a bit before stopping in front of large reinforced glass doors.

‘Hello Yoongi,’ the hologram appears to his right from the wall. Yoongi doesn’t jump this time, seeing as he was sort of expecting it. It’s not the same hologram from yesterday (yesterday? How long did he sleep?). This one looked distinctly Polynesian. ‘You are almost at optimal health levels- very good!’

‘Yeah, um thanks- where is everyone?’ Yoongi asks bluntly, looking up and down the hallways again.

‘After recovery, all passengers are encouraged to take the Avalon Tour to familiarize themselves to the ship and other passengers,’ the hologram informs him pleasantly. ‘You are currently on the 3rd floor of the 2nd Hull.’

‘Oh…ok, then- can you show me?’ Yoongi asks uncomfortably.

‘Of course! Please follow me,’ the hologram graciously gestures towards the left and Yoongi follows her.

He guesses the lines of light that trail across the walls were not only for lighting purposes but were also responsible for projecting full-bodied holographic AI’s across the ship. On closer inspection, Yoongi notes how the walls are lightly patterned with the Homestead logo and he grimaces a little. As if they needed constant reminding that this ship belonged to Homestead Corporations.

‘The 2nd Hull houses 5 floors, each with their own Hibernation Pod Deck, Living Deck, and recreational zones- after our tour, feel free to explore to your heart’s content- just remember that your ID Badge will take you anywhere you need to go!’

All of the holograms sound incredibly happy and eager. It’s a little off-putting. They arrive at a wide space that extends downward on both of Yoongi’s side. He guesses they’re elevator doors.

‘The doors you see to your left and right are all elevators that will take you up and down the different floors of the Hull. However, this door will take you to Orientation Room, through which you will find the Hull Lift.’ The hologram explains with another dazzling smile.

‘The Hull Lift will take you to the Central Hull of the Avalon. The Central Hull houses the Concourse, the mess hall, Communication and Information Office, the Postal Offices, the Observation Decks, and most importantly the Bridge where the crew work and live.’

‘Where is the crew anyways?’ Yoongi asks, he had been looking into every sub-hallway when they had walked past them. There was no sign of anyone else.

‘The crew work primarily at the Bridge but can be called for assistance or emergency issues,’ the hologram informs him.

‘…so, where are we going now?’ Yoongi asks, glancing back behind him in hopes of finding other equally confused people. Group confusion was somehow more tolerable than a solitary one. It meant that you weren’t the only one tasked to make a decision or come up with explanations.

‘The first step to our Avalon Guide starts in the Orientation Room for you and your Pod Unit,’ the hologram turns to face Yoongi in front of the glass doors. ‘You will find the Hull Lift beyond the Orientation Room.’

Yoongi looks around him again, just to make sure that he was indeed alone.

‘But I’m alone?’ Yoongi deadpans.

‘We’re all in this together Yoongi,’ the hologram says with heartfelt surety and a disposition so cheerful Yoongi has to take a step back.

‘Ok?’

‘That’s the spirit! Just remember, you’re not alone!’

She turns to face the door (the Homestead logo etched onto its smooth metallic surface) and Yoongi takes a deep breath, fidgeting with his jacket cuffs. He was starting to feel a little warm, maybe he shouldn’t have worn the jacket after all?

‘Welcome to the Orientation Room, please find a seat and we will be with you shortly,’ she says as the doors open after Yoongi realizes he has to scan his ID badge (he stood there a solid 15 seconds before the hologram turned to him and told him what to do).

It’s a large but cozy space with benches that are slightly curved to accommodate the oval shaped room. It reminds Yoongi of a cross section diagram of an animal cell. Here, the room is the cell, the benches the Golgi apparatus, and the center podium upon which a holographic woman (this one looked Middle-Eastern this time) already stood, was the nucleus.

Yoongi likens himself to a ribosome.

‘Welcome everyone to the Orientation Room,’ she gestures welcomingly with her hands, spreading wide as though not allowing anyone to feel left out. Except only Yoongi sat there- a lone ribosome floating adrift.

No endoplasmic reticulum bonding here.

‘Some of you must still feel disoriented- that is perfectly normal – it will take approximately 2 days until you are in full optimal health and are able to freely explore and enjoy the Avalon to your heart’s content,’ she looks so happy for all of them Yoongi almost feels bad for being the only one in the room.

‘As you all know, the Avalon left Earth 120 years ago with the intention of taking you to a new home-‘

‘Excuse me?’ Yoongi raises his hand, feeling a little awkward. Why did he raise his hand? It’s not like there was anyone else around- who else was going to ask questions if not the only person in the room.

‘I will take questions at the end of the presentation,’ she smiles admonishingly at Yoongi who drops his hand at once, huffing in confusion and now a mild sense of frustrated panic. He glances out of the glass doors again, hoping to find some people headed his way. But the hallway is entirely void of life. Yoongi looks away and tries to distract himself. This was probably all a part of the procedures you were required to undergo before being allowed to meet other people? Maybe it was a precaution because some people might be really unstable after waking up? But Yoongi has never heard of outbreaks of insanity from people who wake up after Hibernation. He diverts his attention back to the hologram. She’s waving her hand and there’s a video reel of the different geological features and lands of Homestead II. It looked every bit like Earth- just without all the humans and cityscapes that occupied almost every horizon. There’s a slight pause over the reel, and a forest blooms around Yoongi. It’s impressive holographic technology- that too in this scale.

Forests weren’t rare back on Earth- but they were heavily protected and guarded and going inside one just for a walk was practically unheard of. Unless you were very rich. But substitutes in the form of holographic projections were available and many shopping malls, waiting rooms/atriums inside important government related buildings were installed with this technology. But not to this scale or detail.

Then the hologram recedes and the AI starts speaking again. It’s basically everything Yoongi already knows- information about the spacecraft, about Homestead Corporation, about Homestead II- Yoongi swears he’s going to break something if he hears “Homestead II” one more time. His right leg starts shaking as he tries to contain his steadily increasing frustration and sense of panic. He can’t control him and keeps glancing out past the doors, as though willing more people to appear.

‘-Homestead II is a fresh start, a new beginning, and a whole new world,’ the hologram ends the presentation (complete with HD 3D videos, projections, and sound effects) and looks around the room and asks, ‘Does anyone have any questions.’

‘Yes,’ Yoongi states loudly. ‘Where the fuck is everyone?’

‘We are all on board the Starship Avalon Mr. Min,’ the hologram smiles brightly. ‘On our way to Homestead-‘

‘Yes- I got that part,’ Yoongi interrupts quickly. ‘Where is everyone else? Why am I the only one here?’

The hologram smiles 2 seconds too long at Yoongi, as though computing Yoongi’s question and it does nothing to placate the mess that was in his head.

‘It is normal to feel alone Mr. Min, but remember, we are all in this together!’

Yoongi is flashed with perfectly even white teeth again.

‘Are there any more questions?’ she asks the empty room.

Yoongi has a lot. He’s starting to sweat inside his jacket and he really shouldn’t have worn it.

‘Perfect!’ the hologram claps one time before waving towards another door behind her and continues: ‘Now if you will all follow me, we will be taking you to the lifts that connect the Hulls to the Center Hull. While there are other lifts that will take you through the 5 stories of each Hull, this lift will take you directly to the Center Hull.’

Right,- the Central Hull- if Yoongi remembers correctly that’s where the Concourse, Bridge, and other potential areas where people would congregate. He’s definitely bound to find someone there- the crew had to be up too right? They were supposed to wake up a month before the rest of the passengers. Yoongi is sure of it.

The elevator is oval in shape with seats the lined the curve of its walls. At the very center a small light blinks and another hologram pops up. This time the hologram is designed to look like a female of Scandinavian ancestry and is at least 4 inches taller than Yoongi. He sits down immediately.

‘Welcome to Hull Lift 03,’ she greets them, and once again it’s like she’s addressing 20-25 people and not only Yoongi. The gnawing, nagging worrying feeling of something being wrong creeps up again but Yoongi ignores it in favour of listening to the hologram. His leg starts twitching again.

‘Hull Lift 03 will take you directly to the Concourse where you will find restaurants, bars, shopping outlets, the mess hall, recreational zones, as well as the Observation Deck that allows passengers a breathtaking view of space!’

That’s great and all but Yoongi would really like to get moving now.

He can’t exactly sit still as the lift “waits” for all the “people” to walk in. Yoongi looks around the lift in lieu of freaking out. The hexagonal frames that were mounted on the walls and concave ceiling were in fact, not just decorative additions to the lift, but actual windows. Twisting his neck to look behind him, Yoongi peers outs of the small hexagonal opening and fuck I really am in space. From what he can just make out from his narrow view, it’s entirely dark outside and what he first thought was dust trapped between the many layers of alumino-silicate reinforced glass were stars. So many stars.

It was funny how it was a fact that stars were innumerable and yet, even with that information etched into Yoongi’s mind, he’s still overwhelmed by the sheer eternal expanse of space and how a star – a solar system, a galaxy, occupied every possible inch of it.

And for a moment, he forgets his nervousness and anxiety, shifting to his knees to access the larger hexagonal window to his side and he’s able to look out. Also, long live non-reflective glass technology! Yoongi can see hints of colour glowing in the dark of space- hints of blue and purple and Yoongi wonders if they’re near a nebula or at least passing through one. It never fails to amaze Yoongi.

‘Please hold onto any belongings you may have and fasten your seatbelts, the Hull Lift will experience 0-gravity as we traverse towards the Central Hull.’

Whipping his head around in alarm, Yoongi scrambles to sit back down but his limbs don’t obey him and he’s a little slow. Before he can grab the seat belt straps, Yoongi feels the familiar lurch in the pit of his stomach as gravity fades away and he’s floating up.

‘Don’t fight it. You might injure yourself or others if you do so!  Just latch on to something steady and strong. If you find that you’re floating too far away and you are carrying an object of sizeable weight and mass, throw it the opposite direction of where you wish to go. The force from this movement will propel you in the right direction once more.’

But he’s not sure how long he has until they reach the Central Hull during which gravity would very much indeed, be in effect again and Yoongi does not want to fall flat on his face. Floating close to the ceiling, Yoongi turns over, angling himself so that he faced the floor. Then fumbling for purchase, Yoongi manages to plant his feet on the frame of one the larger hexagonal windows and kicks off to propel himself from the ceiling down to the seats. He winces when he floats through the hologram, mumbling an apology that is ignored. He manages to fasten himself onto his seat, his hair, legs, and arms floating up.

Yoongi finds himself grinning.

0-gravity was always fun somehow.

There’s a slight curve, or at least the lift sort of turns and space is replaced by a tight-shot of the Avalon.

It had taken almost an entire century to build- that too in space. It’s the epitome of functional art and though Yoongi has seen it before, it’s normally always been via satellite video (heavily doctored- there was no way all those solar flares were remotely possible), holographic projection, or pictures. But seeing it like this, (with one of the Hulls rotating far below him, no doubt the other was on the opposite side, blocked by the Central Hull) it really solidified the fact that Yoongi was indeed, a passenger in a galactic quest, headed for new settlement. The old thrill of discovering a new place, or traversing to a new, unknown location- in this case a planet- fills Yoongi again, allowing him to temporarily forget his predicament.

The Homestead logo gleams at him from the end of the spacecraft and Yoongi rolls his eyes. 

‘Gravity will return in 10 seconds, please hold on for your own safety,’ the hologram chimes pleasantly.

Well, there was no one around- at least for now- so Yoongi sits with his arms and legs spread out. Gravity doesn’t return suddenly, rather it’s gradual and his limbs settle down slowly. 0-Gravity was fun, but coming back to full gravity always made Yoongi feel monstrously heavy. They had all taken up training- exposing themselves to 0-Gravity for extended periods of time. Some people were more adept at it, while some not so much. Yoongi was neither- he didn’t respond very badly to the effects/after effects of 0-Gravity but neither did he particularly enjoy it.

‘Thank you for using the Hull Lift, and welcome to the Concourse.’ The hologram makes a sweeping gesture as she turns and the doors behind her open.

 


 

 

The Concourse is massive.

A massive shopping mall if anything. The Central Hull was also 5 storeys and it extended up these five floors, with the occasional ceiling window that framed space outside. There were neat signboards above each store, restaurant, and from the looks of it, even karaoke rooms. Escalators connected each level from various points around the massive Concourse and a few occasional fountain ponds ringed the smooth floors. There were sitting areas at random, comfortable looking pebble-like chairs, rows of the Golgi-benches, and yet again here too, the walls were filled with glowing displays of art, design, and decorative pieces. Some of which seemed to be interwoven with the walls, creating a rippling texture. That infuriating Homestead logo was glowing at the highest point of the Concourse.  

This was almost just like every other shopping mall back on Earth. And an empty one at that.

‘Hello?’ Yoongi calls out, hoping he doesn’t sound too panicked or something.

His heart starts hammering, nearly loud enough to erase the fact that it was utterly quiet.

Yoongi takes a couple of deep breaths and closes his eyes. Silently counting down to 0, Yoongi opens his eyes again and yeap- still entirely void of humans.

‘Hello? Is anyone out here?’ Yoongi calls out.

There is no sound.

Yoongi breaks out into a brisk jog, eyes wide as he sprints across the wide empty Concourse, yelling on the top of his lungs. His movements seem to trigger the interactive displays as well as the fountains and light-displays and the entire Concourse lights up. Yoongi would have probably appreciated all of this more if he wasn’t having a near mental-breakdown.

His lungs feel tight and strained, his leg muscles were on fire and close to seizing up. He still wasn’t entirely recovered and Yoongi feels like he’s about to throw up. He vaguely registers a small red light blinking on his ID badge- a sign that his health-tab was going off the charts.

Where is everyone?! Where is everyone?! Why is no one here?!

‘HELLO?!’ Yoongi yells as loudly as he can. ‘IS ANYONE HERE?!’

He runs past luxurious looking restaurants. Nearly leaping through the threshold Yoongi finds it entirely void of life. Running out, Yoongi haphazardly enters another establishment- a store of sorts. This was also empty.

A bowling alley or something like it. Empty.

An arcade. Empty.

A bookstore. Empty.

Another restaurant- Japanese, judging by the interior. Empty.

Yoongi runs up the escalators, nearly tripping as the motion sensors get triggered and started moving after Yoongi was already on it. Catching himself quickly, Yoongi sprints up the escalator and runs into the closest shop of sorts.

Clothing store. Empty.

A movie theater. Empty.

‘IS ANYONE HERE!?’ Yoongi screams, his voice echoing back at him.

Hello! How may I help you?’

Yoongi spins, a little dizzy but his eyes focus on the narrow pedestal like protrusion from the ground, an interactive hologram mounted over the top like those directories inside malls.

‘Fuck-‘ Yoongi scrambles over towards it, realizing belatedly that he had run past at least 3 others just like this one in his panicked state.

Please scan your ID to access the directory!’ the male voice tells him cheerily.

Practically shoving his left wrist through the holographic projection, Yoongi forces himself to calm down, to take deep slow breaths. The red light on his ID badge is blinking at an alarming rate. It wouldn’t do anyone (especially himself) good if he passed out right now. His heart hammers as the Homestead logo appears, each hexagonal piece a different colour. It spins until it settles on a lilac coloured hexagon with an animated smiley face on it.

Welcome Min Yoongi! How may I help you-‘

‘Where is everyone?!’ Yoongi practically screams.

We are aboard the Spaceship Avalon-‘

‘No! I didn’t mean that!’ Yoongi nearly screeches. ‘Are the other people awake? Where is the crew?’

Our journey from Earth, the cradle of civilization, to Homestead II will take 120 years. All passengers will be woken up 4 months prior to arrival date! The crew are located in the Bridge- the Bridge Lift will take you there!’

‘Who else is awake?!’ Yoongi demands.

Question not understood. Please rephrase!’

Swallowing down a scream of frustration Yoongi swipes away the lilac hexagon and swipes until he reaches the blue hexagon with the words “map” written on it.

Good afternoon Mr. Min, where would you like to go?’ a pleasant female voice asks him.

‘The Bridge – I want to go to the Bridge,’ Yoongi states as clearly as he can.

The Bridge is located at the front of the Avalon- the Bridge Lift will take you there!’ the voice says as the blue hexagon widens and a map spreads out across the surface, a yellow line gleaming along the direction he should take to get to the Bridge.

‘Right- ok- ok, you can figure this out- you can do this,’ Yoongi mutters as he sprints off towards the direction of the Bridge Lift.

Right towards the end of the Concourse, another pair of doors that look a lot like the Hull Lift doors, appear. Skidding to a stop near the scanner, Yoongi slams his wrist against it and the doors open.

The layout is the same but the hexagons don’t open out to a view of space- rather they frame soft lights that illuminate the lift.

‘Welcome to the Bridge Lift, please take a seat. We will arrive at the Bridge in 30 seconds.’ The same Scandinavian holographic AI appears and smiles at him.

Yoongi throws himself onto the seat.

There has to be an explanation. There has to be one. Why was he alone? Was there some sort of meeting? A party? Some strange gathering he wasn’t aware of or some step in his tour guide that he overlooked? His heart is still hammering and it’s almost as fast as the red blinking on his ID badge. When the lift stops and the doors open he’s running out again.

The Bridge was shaped like a ring. A massive one at that, and it curved upwards and out of sight. The Bridge housed the crew’s Living Deck as well as their Hibernation Pod Deck- Yoongi needed to get to the Bridge Control Room- that would be right at the front of the ring if Yoongi remembers the map correctly.

He races up the sloping path but finds that there’s no additional strain to his leg muscles- the gravity technology in the Bridge must be a little different from the rest of the Hulls.

Yoongi runs past doors- each door is shut and dark, their scanner-panels dim.

‘HELLO?’ Yoongi yells as he pants, willing himself not to freak out even more at the disquieting silence that prevailed inside the Bridge- it was worse than the Concourse, or even the Hull. There was no hologram to greet him here or to direct him. He runs until he reaches what he hopes is the doorway to the Bridge Control Room. It’s the largest door by far and just seemed more important based simply on the design. There’s a slot-like window a little above the center of the circular door that stood between Yoongi and the Control Room.

It’s dark inside the Control Room and Yoongi can make out the outlines of pilot-chairs, navigation boards, operation panels, and other dashboards silhouetted against the starry expanse of space. Far up ahead, beyond the windows, Yoongi briefly spots a bright burning light- that must be from where the plasma-shield was generated, cocooning the ship from the many dangers of space.

Yoongi bangs against the window pane.

‘Is anyone in there?!’ he yells, his throat was starting to hurt from all the shouting.

Frantically he looks for the scanner-panel and hastily swipes his wrist against it.

Only crew-members can access the Bridge Control Room.’

‘Are you fucking KIDDING ME?’ Yoongi yells. He swipes his wrist over the scanner-panel again.

Only crew-members can access the Bridge Control Room.’

Only crew-members can access the Bridge Control Room.’

Only crew-members can access the Bridge Control Room.’

Yoongi slams his hands against the smooth curve of the slightly concave rounded metal door before pushing himself off.

The crew-members lived in the Bridge- were they maybe still resting? Yoongi runs up the curved floors again, but this time taking time to look into every door that had a window. They were all dark, glimpses of space, other computer-based dashboards briefly visible against the distant light of stars. Then the doors change. Yoongi’s heart leaps in his chest when he spots faintly illuminated Pod Nests clustered inside a room through the wide glass doors.

But there was no one moving. No one was awake. There were no disoriented people in the process of waking up, no 2.5D holographic projections.

Nothing.

Yoongi slams his wrist against the scanner-panel of one of the Hibernation Pod Decks.

Only crew-members can access the Bridge Hibernation Pod Decks.’

But the lights inside switch on and Yoongi is almost feeling hopeful but then he notices that the Hibernation Pod Decks weren’t empty. They were full. Full of people in Hibernation mode.

Yoongi’s head spins. His legs were starting to get numb at an alarming rate and his vision swims again as his stomach lurches.

‘No-‘ Yoongi whispers out. ‘No- this doesn’t make sense- this doesn’t- no-.’

Yoongi stumbles back, falling onto the floor but he doesn’t feel it.

‘No!’

Yoongi pushes himself off of the floor.

‘NO!’

He’s not entirely sure why he’s screaming but he continues. He slams his wrist against every scanner-panel and all the rooms light up faintly and they all show him the same thing. Every crew member nestled safely inside their Hibernation Pod. Asleep.

‘WAKE UP!’ Yoongi screams. ‘WAKE UP WHY AREN’T YOU AWAKE?’

He slams against the glass, making no impact whatsoever.

‘I’M AWAKE! YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE AWAKE TOO!’

Yoongi pauses- what about the others? The other passengers? Were they still in Hibernation mode too?

His feet take him before his mind can catch up and he’s already inside the Bridge Lift, pacing relentlessly- ignoring the hologram’s worried expression as she tells him he needed to calm down and asks him if he needed to be taken to the Medical Bay. His ID Badge is no longer blinking but the red light is now rather permanently on.

He throws himself out of the Bridge Lift and barrels across the empty Concourse straight towards the Hull Lifts. Which one was the one he had used? Hull Lift 03 wasn’t it? He hurriedly swipes over the panel-screen with the number 03 stamped over it neatly and the doors open for him at once. He remembers to buckle himself in this time and it’s only now that he realizes he’s sweating profusely. Making quick movements, Yoongi removes his jacket and watches it float away from him before being distracted once again by the view of space outside the lift.

It was no longer fascinatingly beautiful, and instead increased the dreadful sense of apprehensive dread threatening to choke him. Though spacious and well lit, Yoongi starts to feel claustrophobic- ironic considering he was currently floating in space where the very notion of cramped space was ridiculous beyond belief.

‘Please calm down, this lift is perfectly fail-safe and designed to cater to your wellbeing,’ the hologram informs and yet again, it does nothing to placate him. ‘Would you like to visit the Medical Bay?’

No,- I would like to know why I’m the only one awake!

The entire trip takes a little less than a minute but it’s already a minute too long for Yoongi who hurtles out of the lift and into the hallway, ignoring the hologram that had appeared to greet him. He runs past the sub-hallway where his room was located and straight down towards the Hibernation Pod Deck.

‘Please please please please please please please.’

Yoongi nearly slams into the clear glass walls that separate the hallway from the Deck but he manages to halt in time.

There’s no movement, no stirring people, no welcoming hologram hovering over the display screen of their pods. Everyone was still in Hibernation Mode.

‘No no no NO NO!’ Yoongi pants out as he enters the Deck. He slams into the closest nest of pods, the people inside sleeping serenely.

‘Why is this happening- what’s happening- why aren’t you awake?’ Yoongi half-gasps, half-whispers frantically, checking on random Pods, even slamming his fists against the smooth transparent surfaces.

‘WHY AREN’T YOU AWAKE!?’ Yoongi shouts, his voice cracking from overuse.

This was some mistake- this was clearly a mistake. They were only supposed to wake up after 120 years, 4 months before arriving in Homestead II.

He needs information- he needs to talk to someone who can explain all of this to him- not some AI or hologram. If he hears anymore Homestead propaganda Yoongi feels like he’ll lose his mind. If he hasn’t clearly lost it already.

Talk to someone- wait, there was an Information and Communication Office right? There should be someone or at least an AI System equipped with the information he needed.

Yoongi runs out of the Deck again, flying down the hallway, ignoring the hologram and ignoring the way his ears were now ringing with a continuous high-pitched “ping”. He doesn’t bother looking at his ID badge- he knows he’s pushing himself.

The minute that takes him to reach the Concourse feels like an entire hour, his limbs floating slowly in 0-Gravity, mirroring how slow his mind felt in comparison to how fast his heart was thudding.

Was he missing some information? Did he have some memory lapse? What was happening? Why was no one awake? They were all supposed to wake up together. That’s what he remembers because there had been that one infuriating enthusiastic woman in the debriefing meeting who squealed something about it being a massive slumber party.

Did they change halfway and decide they would wake up individually? But that would mean waking up in chronological order right? Based on their ID number- and though his ID number was rather high up the count, there would be a whole 902 other people who should be awake before him right? Even name-wise, Yoongi is certain he shouldn’t be waking up first.

His mind spinning, he registers that the lift has stopped and he tumbles out, nearly tripping on his own feet as his ears are filled with white-noise. He looks around expectantly for someone- anyone. But the Concourse is as empty as ever.

He needed to get to the Information and Communication Office. He looks around with vision that kept blurring in and out for a Directory. It takes him longer than normal to spot the glowing pedestal that emerges from the ground, a bright yellow (he hadn’t noticed that before) amidst the generally pastel metallic tone of the Concourse.

With legs that felt like jelly, Yoongi makes his way across. He realizes he’s near hyperventilating, gasping instead of breathing. He supports himself over the projection screen of the Directory, trying his best to stay up.

Hello Mr. Min, how may I help you?’ the lilac square pops up again with the animated smiley face.

‘I’m-‘ Yoongi croaks out, his throat parched and sore. ‘I’m looking for-‘ he gasps in a breath. ‘-Communication and Information Office.’ He manages to say completely, gasping an exhale out loudly.

The Information and Communication Office is located on the Fifth Floor of the Concourse- please take escalator 6 for the quickest-‘

Yoongi is already running.

With heavy steps and sweat drenching his shirt, Yoongi makes it to the Fifth Floor and first finds the telltale sign of the Post Office marked by a glowing envelope icon. And beyond it was another gleaming symbol- a lowercase ‘i’ inside a circle.

Balancing himself with one hand on the wall, Yoongi stumbles inside the large room. The room is oval in shape- similar to the Orientation Room but much larger. There are wide steps that descend downwards and at the center of the large oval space stood a long and wide interactive table. There’s a large window  behind it, oval in shape as well, the walls around it expanding out in oval-shaped ripples that seamlessly join the floors and down to the steps again and in a continuous cycle. It makes Yoongi just a little bit dizzy at the moment but he ignores it in favor of hastening down the wide steps with shaking legs to the table.

There’s no need to scan anything here as the table lights up the moment he steps close enough.

Welcome to the Information and Communications Desk. My name is Tina and I will be your guide. How may I aid you today?’ a pleasant female voice asks him. It’s different from the holographic AI voices and Yoongi feels a little hopeful.

‘The Hibernation Pods are designed to only open 120 years after leaving Earth, 4 months before arriving at Homestead II, correct?’ Yoongi gasps out, leaning over the table that’s already filling up with information regarding their galactic odyssey across space.

That is correct.’

‘And everyone is going to wake up at the same time? Not individually or day after day or some shit like that?’ Yoongi knows that the desperation in his voice is lost on the AI system but he can’t control himself.

That is correct. Every Pod is designed to systematically release their inhabitant in exactly 120 years, 6 months, 3 weeks, and 4 days.’

‘Then why am I the only one awake?!’ Yoongi demands.

Question not understood. Please rephrase.’

‘Fuck-‘ Yoongi hisses leaning away, throwing his head back in exasperation. ‘What the fuck is going on?! What’s happening?!’

You are currently aboard the Starship Avalon. Destination, Homestead II, 32 years and counting.’

Yoongi freezes.

‘What…what did you say?’ Yoongi whispers.

There’s no response from the table and Yoongi wonders if he somehow passed out for a few seconds and heard that in his dream. But no- he distinctly heard that.

‘Tina. How…how many years has it been since we left Earth?’ Yoongi asks slowly, closing his eyes.

Yoongi has never been much of a religious person. Of course there had been a few days in a year when he was dragged back home to honour some holiday or attend some religious activity but he never actively pursued or believed in a god or higher power. But Yoongi finds himself praying with a desperation that bordered on mania.

32 years, 6 months, 1 week, and 5 days.’

Yoongi steps back slowly as the table projects a holographic map of the galaxy they were in. The map adjusts until 2 glowing planets, one of them Earth, and the other, Homestead II, float up the opposite ends of the table, connected by a thin glowing line, intersected by small glowing orbs. Then a small holographic version of the Avalon materializes somewhere along the 1/4th quarter mark.

‘No,’ Yoongi whispers.

He stumbles backwards, eyes wide as he takes in the holographic map. ‘No no no no this can’t be happening- this can’t be happening – oh fuck this can’t be happening.’

He stumbles on the step behind him and he falls down. Sharp pain shoots up his back and his fatigue hits him like a sack of bricks.

He falls backwards, now hyperventilating for real. His entire body shakes violently as his body tries to recover from the heavy physical strain it suffered and Yoongi comprehends with startling clarity and dizzying realization that the nagging fear that had been growing in the back of mind was now his reality.

‘I woke up too soon.’