Departure

I hope she’s proud of me, I thought to myself, sitting in the cockpit of my brand new PSS2105 (Personal Starship 2150) ready to depart Earth, for what will likely be my first and last time.  I’ve done so much work to reach this moment.  Instead of feeling fear, sadness or anxiety, I finally feel at peace.  It’s like a weight’s been lifted off my shoulders, a relief from all the sorrow that’s been my constant companion since she passed.

My wife and I had been married 15 years when she died.  When someone you love that much leaves you for good, things, painfully, remind you of them. Places like eating at a restaurant that you both enjoyed, or a song that reminds you of them.  My reason for leaving earth is mainly because she was my world.  

I always used to joke around that I would never marry again if anything bad were to happen and she would call me silly, saying she’d want me to be happy, but I always knew I wouldn’t.  We married young and loved with such an intensity that I’d feel selfish somehow, if I wished for that same experience a second time in one life.  I feel lucky we had the time we did, she was my one and only love. 

Just like a sailor’s love of the sea, my new love will be the glittering vastness of space, alone, for the most part.  Since the advancements in AI systems, renewable nuclear energy/oxygen cells and Hyper (FTL) Drives over three decades ago, space travel is finally “affordable” to a regular Joe like me.  After she died, I got life insurance, sold my home, as well as most of my possessions and depleted my life savings to purchase this PSS2105 Ship.  Calling the ship “affordable” might not be the best word to use. 

With mining vessels, expeditionary teams, 142 planetary bases, 2000 plus floating merchant depots and new discoveries occurring each day, there will be plenty to keep me busy out there.  Jobs on earth have become so scarce that seemingly everyone is itching for a chance to become a “Space Entrepreneur” of some kind, though most can’t afford it. 

Being estranged from my relatives and never having children due to medical complications I wasn’t tied to this rock, and didn’t feel guilty for leaving it behind.  I stopped hanging out with my friends some time after she passed, my friends were her friends and vice versa, so being with them just hurt me too much.   

After making the decision to leave earth, I’ve found comfort in planning this adventure obsessively night after night.  Pouring over star maps, plotting my course, researching space industry possibilities to earn at least enough credits to keep my adventures going and acquiring the right modules to upgrade my ship.  This constant work kept some of the sorrow out of my mind. 

Measuring almost 60m long, 20 meters wide & 7m tall, my shiny copper colored PSS2105, which I christened “Babygirl” (my “pet name” for my wife), is moments away from its maiden voyage.  I’ve rehearsed pre-launch many times during my licensing training that I spent nearly 5 months attending.  The training is imperative, just like anything you’d fly or drive, but the license becomes nearly pointless once you leave earth’s airspace as it’s nearly as lawless as international waters would be on earth. 

Knowing the dangers I’ll likely face, I’ve outfitted Babygirl with a couple modules to ensure I maintain my independent freedom floating through the cosmos.  I installed an energy shield (for protection), towing beam (for salvaging, mining and whatever else I might wanna grab while I’m out there), EMP pulse (to knock out any threats systems long enough for me to hyper out of there), and two pulse cannons (for when I have no other choice but to shoot).  I’ve also brought my grandpa’s antique carbine rifle that he used nearly 100 years ago when he was in the military, just in case. 

While Babygirl runs through her diagnostic pre-launch checks, I look at the loading time and see that I have nearly 3 minutes before it’s launch ready.  I try and think of any last minute things I might need or that I might forget, but I’ve been basically living out of this ship for the past month and all my things are already here with me.

I have a decent sized living quarters for this size of ship but I mostly packed light as all my music, movies, books and entertainment are digitally stored on the massively powerful AI Drive that runs all of the functions on the ship.  I brought some normal earth clothes with me, but I also splurged a little on a ridiculous space suit that resembles something like a superhero outfit that will let me assume this new identity of the “space adventurer” that I’m about to become. 

I get an alert from the spaceport tower that I need to respond with my Ship ID and inform them when I’m 5 minutes out from launch.  I respond, “SpacePort Command, this is PSS Babygirl, I am now 5 minutes from launch OVER.”  SpacePort Tower respons, “5 minutes out confirmed, will confirm final count 30 seconds out. OVER”   

Going through this sequence countless times during training, I automatically check to ensure items in the fuselage are secured and that my seals and sensors are nominal.  To be honest, I’ve been obsessively going over pre-launch items to the point I doubt many other ships have been as launch ready as mine.  

Taking one last look out of the port window before strapping in, I look nostalgically at the earth.  It’s hard to describe the feeling of leaving earth for the first time to someone who isn’t faced with the reality of possibly never seeing it again, but to keep it simple, it’s bitter sweet.  Even with all the bad and evil that exists in the world, earth is still a beautiful thing to behold. 

Before becoming too emotional, I snap my attention back to what needs to be done and the adventure that lay before me, my feelings turn back to excitement.  I scan the ship one last time before securing myself down in the bucket style seat and putting my helmet on.  “I’m finally doing it..” I said to myself, not realizing I was broadcasting my words to the tower.  “Yes you are” chuckled the man in the tower, “You’re 30 seconds out now, start the final launch sequence. Good luck and Godspeed, OVER”.  Chills of excitement cover me when I hear these words.  I haven’t felt this alive in years. 

Selecting the launch icon on the interface wasn’t as familiar to me as I’ve never done so in real life, only in the simulators.  As I press it, the ship starts to hum loudly.  I glance at my exterior camera screen to see a small crowd of people watching me about to take off.  They were only there to see the launch itself, not because they knew or cared about me.  Personal space travel still isn’t extremely common, sort of like a super expensive luxury car that you mostly only see in video or pictures. 

I rest my head back into the seat after checking the ship’s readings one last time. I close my eyes as the AI starts the countdown “10, 9, 8, 7..” the countdown seems to take forever as my life on earth flashes before my eyes like the life of someone who’s moments away from dying.  I see my parents, who have long since passed, my family, friends, co-workers, but I mostly just see my wife.  The laughs we had, the time spent together on this floating rock, and the love we both felt, this reminds me of the cold truth, that nothing lasts forever.  Appreciating that it even happened is all I can really hold on to. 

The AI continues reading, “6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1..Launching”.   My body sinks back into the seat as I feel the tremendous power of the tri-booster rockets coming to life.  Everything is vibrating.  I’m finally doing it.   

My ship rises upward towards the heavens, faster and faster with each second that passes.  I soar through the white, downy ceiling of clouds, leaving water droplets streaking down the glass of my cockpit windshield.  The sky starts turning a darker shade of blue and I get another wave of excitement knowing this is actually happening. 

The sky before me is nearly black now, but I guess, it’s not a sky any longer, it’s now.. space.  Making this realization I feel my stomach turn nauseous, not from fear, but from weightlessness.   A smile overcomes my face.  “I’m a spaceman now” I said to myself, unbuckling from my seat as the AI reads aloud that systems are nominal.  I float immediately to the window, look back towards earth and think to myself  “Babygirl, we did it!  Where to now?”

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