Inaccessible

“Declan, the colony is just about finished how goes placing the platform?”

Declan looked up from the platform’s glowing red center with dread pouring visibly from his face. “Brielle, we have a problem.”

Brielle looked from the worried platform technician to the glowing red crystal next to his knees, and she began to take on his concern. “Declan, these platforms don’t have issues.”

Swallowing the lump that formed in his throat Declan looked up and explained, “There’s only a single reason why the crystal glows red, and we all know what it is.”

“Stay here Declan,” Brielle commanded as she nodded her head. She abruptly spun away from Declan and raced off towards the captain of the colonization ship.

She raced through the corridors as fast as she could, and she just managed to avoid all of the tight corners and the occasional colonist roaming the halls. She ran until she eventually came to the new colony’s civic center. The captain always worked from there while they established a new world for the Federation.

Once she found the right doors, she paused outside so she could catch her breath. When she was able to breathe naturally, she opened the door, and her eyes immediately found the captain. She walked up to him and reported her dire news. “Captain Quinn, something has happened to the homeworld.”

Confusion settled into the captain’s face with her words prompting him to ask, “Brielle, what are you going on about?”

“The platform’s crystal is glowing red, sir.”

The captain’s face went white as he began to process those words. He looked at Brielle and with great hesitation sought confirmation. “Red, you’re sure?”

“Yes, sir,” Brielle answered as she forced a lump down her throat.

Quinn lifted a hand and snapped a finger as he cried out, “Connor!”

A man poked his head into the room saying, “Yes, sir?”

Quinn looked at the young man and commanded, “Get my portable communication pack, we need to raise homeworld.”

“Yes, sir.” the disembodied head replied.

“Connor, I wanted it here an hour ago understood?”

“Yes, sir.” The man responded as his head disappeared letting the door fall closed behind him.

Quinn looked at Brielle and tapped his fingers on his desk. She hesitantly watched his fingers as they continued their dance upon the wooden surface but she slowly averted her gaze to his solemn and scared eyes. “Sir, has anything like this ever happened before?”

Quinn looked up and stared into her eyes as he answered, “No, no one has, but we all know what it means.” He saw the unease behind her eyes so he offered her what little comfort he could. “This could be a glitch on homeworld’s platform. All we know is we cannot connect to this platform’s twin back home. They could have taken it offline.”

Before Brielle could say anything, the door flew open and Connor came in with the portable communication device placing it on the desk and stepping away allowing Quinn access to the device. Quinn quickly configured the device to communicate with the homeworld and tried to connect. When the first attempt failed he made other attempts, but each failed. Faltering Quinn attempted to connect to other worlds in the Federation. And with each failed attempt to contact other colonized planets, the fear behind Quinn’s eyes grew.

Quinn looked between Connor and Brielle and spoke at them both, “Go fetch Caitlin and the other senior colonists. We’ll need to come to a decision.”

“Yes, sir.” They both replied before they left the office.

After a few minutes, the senior colonists begin to file into the room, but Quinn kept them silent wanting to wait until they all arrived before addressing them. Caitlin was the last to come, and when she did Quinn spoke to them all, “We have a major issue.”

“What could be the reason why you gathered all of us together?” Caitlin asked with trepidation in her voice.

“The platform’s crystal is glowing red.” Quinn had to raise his hands to bring the gathered colonists back to silence. “It isn’t isolated, I tried to contact homeworld and a few of the last planets that we colonized. Based upon both the lack of communication and the glowing red crystal we know what that means.”

“The Federation has been destroyed,” Caitlin said as her eyes impersonated those of a statue.

“Caitlin is right,” Quinn said as she turned her head away from the staring eyes. We will have to choose to either go forward colonizing new worlds that have no connection to each other, or we settle this planet and make it our new home.”

“We have a third option, we go to one of the closest worlds and see for ourselves.” One of the senior colonists objected.

“No we cannot do that,” Caitlin responded. She lifted her hands and the murmuring that had started after her words died away. “Quinn is mostly correct, we all know the platforms are difficult to damage. So anything that would leave one inaccessible would destroy the atmosphere of a planet connected by those platforms.”

“Where am I wrong?” Quinn asked.

“We have to stay here and colonize this world. Once we have seen to the survival of this planet, we can look back to the rest of the galaxy to colonize new worlds. But we will need to design new platforms that are capable of interconnecting and are dormant when not in use.”

Quinn nodded at Caitlin’s words, “We will vote by a show of hands. All those in favor of colonizing this world raise your hands.” Quinn waited until there were no more signs of motion before he began the count. When he saw that there was already a vast majority, he stopped counting and said, “We will colonize this world, but what shall we call it?”

Caitlin looked around the room and answered the question. “We’ll call it Aurora after the ship that kept us safe from whatever devastation has wiped out the Federation.”