Jim paused for a moment and let out a brief sigh. He was early to the control room and would have to wait for the two monkeys under him to get here before he could get his status update.
Years of academia and research to help them and this is what I get, he thought as he gazed upon the large hologram of the planet. Little green and gold dots were dispersed throughout the light blue outlines of the projection. They blinked at him, silently and obediently, as if they were trying to say, it’s alright, you still have us.
His two subordinates walked in and saluted him. “Morning, commander,” they greeted. Ugh, commander, he thought as he saluted back. What a deceptive title. He grunted a little under his breath.
“All systems look like they’re in good shape. We do have one pod that seems to have jammed though,” Brady, the younger one, beamed at him as he performed his daily updates.
“Can you or Jeff get to it?” Jim was tired. Or maybe it was laziness. He did not want to step onto a hovercraft for at least another forty-eight hours.
“No, sir,” Jeff said, almost mumbling. Jim really wanted to tell him that he was an old man, and could not hear when he spoke at a mouse’s volume. “It’s one of the big ones. Only you’re qualified to fix it.” Jim stirred in his seat.
Forty-two years in the engineering department and now I have to travel across the world to fix a fucking recycling machine, Jim protested inaudibly. “Which one is it?” He inquired.
“Here.” Brady moved the hologram and highlighted the yellow dot that had a flashing red border. “This one, in Hong Kong.”
Jim said nothing as he collected his tools and his keys to his hovercraft.
The Library of Intergalactic Congress: History Division.
News Article: Top Space Program Engineer to Become Commander to Oversee Earth
Date: Old Earth Date. 2044.5.17.
Author: Richard Li
After a long period of deliberation, the International Space Association (ISA) has nominated Director of Engineering, Jim Patrick, to become Earth’s next Commander in Chief.
The President of the ISA, George Whitehall, commended Patrick earlier today in a statement, saying, “Jim is one of our finest. He has served us with his excellence in engineering and development, and has helped us, humankind, reach for the stars with his research in long-distance space travel and his development of the first ever actual warp drive. We are honored to nominate him to oversee Earth as humankind reaches for the stars.”
Director Patrick could not be reached for comment. His statement, put our earlier, said, “I humbly accept your nomination.”
Director Jim Patrick was born in San Francisco, California, United States, North America Region, UN. At age 18, he was drafted into the UN special forces unit in the Pacification of the Middle East of 2025, but never actually participated in the conflict. After the Treaty of Istanbul was signed in March of 2025, he attended University of California, Berkeley to obtain his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics.
Patrick then went on to become an Engineer at the North American Division of the ISA (then still known as NASA), and was part of the North American team of scientists that participated in the ice-breaking session with the science departments of Russia and China and the development of the International Space Association. He was later promoted to Director of Engineering at the ISA.
Key milestones of his career include: receiving the Nobel Prize for Science in the development of light-speed travel, receiving an honorary ISA award for longest serving engineer in the department, one of the team members to be first in contact with extraterrestrial life forms, being temporarily suspended for the public disapproval of using military intervention in the rogue state of North Korea, honorary Ph.D. degrees from…
He looked out into the expanse of the developed yet uninhabited land as he set his hovercraft to autopilot.
Old buildings stood, crumbling to the ground. The skies were a blur of blue and gray, blue from the natural refraction of sunlight hitting the atmosphere, and a dull gray from all the dust and rubble that the recycling machines were punting into the air. The large monsters swallowed skyscrapers, ancient buildings, debris and other trash left behind from their makers, with the creators’ intent being the full rebuilding and transformation of their abandoned world.
The trip from Paris to the Southeast Chinese coast lasted fifty minutes. Before landing, he took a look at the giant, 50-story, nuclear-powered and broken-down terraforming giant that loomed in front of him. It had a dozen half-swallowed skyscrapers in what resembled the monster’s mouth.”What happened to you this time,” he said with the voice akin to a caring zookeeper.
He stepped off his hovercraft and onto what would have been the toes of this giant recycling machine. He collected his toolkit and walked towards the elevator that would take him to the top of the terraformer.
The Library of Intergalactic Congress: History Division.
News Article: First Astronauts into Alpha Centauri Discover Habitable Planet
Date: Old Earth Date. 2042.12.15.
Author: Richard Li.
Astronauts Ray Johnson and Fiona Chen have returned today with spectacular news of the living environments in the newly discovered surrounding exoplanets of Alpha Centauri. They report back that the two of the five planets are hospitable to human life, with running water and relatively temperate climates. The only adjustments that are necessary to travel and colonize these planets are the adjustment to the length of days on each planet, as well as the adjustment to space travel.
President George Whitehall of the ISA told the 10th Congress of the UN that he and his team would begin the colonization process of said planets, and that he and his team would begin developing and commissioning the first of the human transport vehicles by the end of the year.
President Whitehall added the following comments to his address to Congress, “The future of our species now lies far and beyond our galaxy. All those who wish to be part of this new Space Revolution must now look up and beyond the stars we know…”
For the greater good of humanity, when we return, Jim scoffed to himself as he opened control panel 625. That was, of course, the incentive that they had offered him when they asked him to stay. But as the years went by, Jim began to notice that it was just a way to get rid of deadweight. He had wanted to see the universe, to see what was beyond, but had been forced to stay in a place that nobody looked at or cared for anymore.
Except for the machines, I guess, Jim thought. They care. Unwillingly.
He had pinpointed the location of the malfunction down to some faulty wiring on the 6th floor. Jim sighed as he examined the damage. Just replace and move on, he thought to himself, nobody was going to come back to this shit hole anyway. He seemed to hold this as fact – once the first humans had reported back from beyond the cave that the outside world was vast and beautiful, nobody would return.
Only the cave, in this case, was Terra. And Jim was one of three men left to pick up after their whole race.
As Jim paced back down the ramp from the elevator to his hovercraft, something moved in the corner of his eye. He froze. Jim had not seen any other moving or living thing, save the two monkeys working under him, since the great migration to Alpha Centauri. He slowly took a few more steps toward his hovercraft, where he housed his gun –
A small shape moved quickly behind him across the ramp. Startled, Jim ran towards his hovercraft and pulled his gun toward his aggressor. A small brown head looked up at him, curious. Jim let out a sigh, half in relief and half in amazement. He had not seen a squirrel in twenty years, ever since the Great Holocene Extinction of 2020.
He threw them some biscuits – made from Alpha Centauran grain – hoping the squirrel would take it. It picked it up, took a sniff and rendered it unworthy of its consumption. The squirrel then took off toward the rolling hills beyond the terraformer, joined by 4 others of its kind.
Jim looked toward their destination in the distance, in the wake of the nothingness left by the terraformer.
What he saw he would describe later as the most beautiful scene he had ever laid eyes on.
Betelgeuse Colony Times – The Best News Source from the Farthest Colony in the Universe. Stardate 19.10.12 (Old Earth Date 2072.10.12)
Colonists Bidding for Exotic Pets from Terra
By: Richard Li
As the discovery of more and more animals that inexplicably survived the extinction were made, colonists across all worlds have begun making bids for these animals to be taken as pets in their colonies. As much as a dozen species of previously-considered extinct animals were found on Terra, 5 decades after the Great Holocene Extinction of 2020. The ISA has reportedly begun developing animal transports in human vessels for long distance space travel, to accommodate for colonists’ needs across the universe.
In a hologram interview with the Betel. Times, the first discoverer of these animals, former Director Jim Patrick described his natural encounter with the animals as a “majestic and transcending experience,” adding that no type of domesticated encounter with the animals will ever mount up to the experience of encountering them in the wild.
Such an account should make us all wonder – with all the advancement and discoveries we’ve accomplished in the last few decades, the strides we’ve taken to discovering the new and exciting, how much of ourselves and of our old home have we really left behind?