Posted By: Ian Michael Bayne<email@example.com>
Date: 10 July 2000, 6:08 am
"I keep. I keep having this dream.
"I think I know what fear is now. Not that I know what it is, that I can define it and put it into words -- what's the use of that? -- but that I can comprehend it. You see, I'm living with it now. Every second, it's with me, in the back of my mind, pounding against my skull and displacing rational thought. I can feel it's fingers around my throat, relentless pressure. Sometimes I struggle just to breathe, to form words and sentences. I knew what fear was before, but now that's all I know. Do you see the difference? Fear isn't just weighing your life in the balance; fear isn't just almost dying! Fear is waking, bleeding sweat and trembling. Not just once, but every night and every morning for as long as I can remember. Fear is the look stamped on the faces and hearts of each and every last one of us. Fear fatigues the mind and seconds become minutes, minutes become hours as time dilutes and telescopes so that each day lasts years. And every second, each and every instant that makes up those years, I am afraid. I am so afraid.
"Because, you see, the human race is dying.
"When I was a boy I used to love to sit out on our dome and star-gaze.Sometimes even I'd speed my flyer past the woods and spend the whole night beneath the canopy of stars, far enough away from the city so that none of the stars' brilliance was diminished. Often was the time when my parents would come along; miracle of genetics, all three of us were born with a great love for the stars. They became astronomers, I traverse the void.I had friends in the city, but this is where I was happiest growing up.That must be why my mind returns me there, keeps bringing me back to them when I dream. I loved my parents. That sounds trite, I know, but words are a shallow medium for expressing emotions. Can you read what's in my heart? If you could, you'd know the depths of my feelings, unfathomed leagues of devotion and love. But in the end, loving them was all I could ever do for them. I couldn't save them.
"In my dream, I am always with them, lying beside them on flora completely our own, unique amongst the Eight. Amongst the colonized worlds that is, hope for the future, a chance for a better life, symbol of everything just and magnificent in the hearts and minds of humanity.'Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...'. I forget the rest. But I digress. The Eight. The Three will have to be our new substitute, but why bother? How long will even that pittance last? We were great once. Better to dwell on that greatness, on a grand and glorious past, then on our own imminent extinction.
"We're losing the war.
"When I dream this... But that is all I ever dream... I am a child again. Small and helpless, and completely dependent on my parents. But I am happy, and I can feel my parents' love. It's something almost tangible, and I think that if only I could reach out and touch this, if only I could seize it, hold it, never let it go, then what is about to happen will pass us by. Will spare them. But it's always the same. And I see my world die right in front of me. My dream gives me front row seats to apocalypse. I can feel the heat and see the flesh burn from my parents' bones as my world is incinerated in a nuclear fireball hotter than our sun. And when nothing is left standing, when no single human brick lies atop another, still they rain down fire upon us. And our oceans boil off. And our plants die. And all that was is no longer.
"I know all this, not just from my dreams, but because I was there. I was there, I tell you, captain of our fair ship the Shared Promise,fleeing Barnard's Star and all its planets, running for our lives. I am a rational man by nature. I knew that one battered and scarred cruiser and its war-wearied crew could do little to save our planet -- hadn't our fleet already been reduced to scrap and expanding clouds of nuclear fire?Hadn't the handful of surviving UESG ships already tucked tail and ran,monstrous and infinite covenant war wagons in hot pursuit? Hadn't our own ship even then been trading and deflecting missiles and particle beams with those that pursued us, while our engines warmed and our crew prayed?And yet, knowing all this, knowing there was no chance for our planet, for my parents, I still ordered my Chief Weapons Officer to restrain me and lock me away in my quarters until the FTL drive powered up and we were safely under way. You see, I was afraid of what I might've done. Of what orders I might've given. I loved my parents. And in my quarters I raged.And my world died behind me."
The man got up from the computer terminal and slowly climbed into his bunk. He had aged badly. He would only continue to do so. The Shared Promise rocketed through space heading for the planet Reach. Heading for humanity's final stand.
And deep inside the ship, the man dreamed. HREF