this is the last message of captain ronan caswell, chief engineer of the terran alliance battle cruiser triumph. local cruiser time is 1504, 3rd of may, 2816. dilated time is roughly 6,000 years in the future, so i hope someone’s alive back home.
i am currently floating alone in space. everything is pitch black; there is a nebula behind me but i no longer have any propulsion gel left in the tank, and i don’t want to have to use more oxygen to try and turn myself around. i’m at eight percent and falling. the rebreather is wheezing it’s been working so hard, trying to extract some semblance of oxygen from my exhaling. it’s getting harder to breathe.
i want to warn you. i want you all to know about what’s coming, but the truth is, you’ll never get this message in time, even if i could send it through subspace channels. but whatever tore the triumph apart is coming for us. for you. hell it probably already has you. and no matter what i do, i can’t get to you. i’m dying out here in space. so who gives a shit, really.
of all the things i really want in this world, right at the top is i want to talk to my wife and kids one last time. you know, if i could go back, if i could go back and choose whether or not to leave, i wouldn’t. i don’t know what i was thinking. on the frontier of the galaxy and for what. a few tense situations with colonists and then this, whatever it was, destroying my ship. i tried to fix it but it wasn’t worth fixing.
it’s so … peaceful out here. a level of peace beyond any i’d ever seen. the wheeze, i should turn that off. i’m going to turn that off. [does] oh man. it’s just me and my breathing now. and my heartbeat. christ i can feel it in my ears, the surge of blood. my life. i can feel my life coursing through me. god. i’m going to die out here. i can’t fucking believe it.
martha you’re never going to hear this but i love you and i miss you, and xander, and kristina, hell even that shitty little dog you love so much. i made a huge mistake coming out here, i thought outer space would fun and exciting but they don’t really talk about the time dilation that much, mostly because when you’re a grunt they all think you’re an idiot. i had to prove to them that i’m not and by the time that happened, it was too late, we were already crossing into the orion arm and earth had aged 2,000 years, give or take. it’s hard when they tell you that. not only is your family dead, but their descendants are dead, and my name there dissolved. no one even knew i made captain.
and now here i float…
there are billions of stars in front of me. billions of stars to the left and right. billions of stars behind me. and yet, here, nothing. for the last fifteen days, nothing. nothing but me and a flimsy space suit hooked up to a personal thruster which no longer works. everyone wants you to think that space is this big mystery, and maybe it is, but you’ll never know because you’ll never get to where the mystery is. you won’t, your children won’t, nobody will. we keep trying, we’ve been trying for centuries, but every forward progression is just a tiny speck in the size of the universe. and we’re just a tiny speck living on a slightly bigger speck, orbiting larger specks. even the biggest thing in the universe is tiny in the grand scheme of things. isn’t that amazing?
in school we learned about the hercules-corona borealis great wall, a giant galactic filament that is supposedly the largest object in the observable universe. ten billion light years in length. that’s big. and yet, it is tiny compared to the vastness of the universe, which maybe infinite in size. ten billion light years, and my descendants, none of our descendants, will ever come close to it.
astrophysics is an exercise in futility. that’s why i hated it so much. give me a ship and a place to go, i much prefer that.
now i have no ship, and no place to go. funny how that works.
ah. two percent. i talk too much. i am going to suffocate soon. to whomever receives this: my name is captain ronan caswell, captain of the terran alliance battle cruiser triumph. i am dead. you are dead too. everything is dead.