THE FINAL HOPE FOR KEPLER – 186F -NGUYỄN ĐOÀN AN DI (DAISY)

Lớp – Trường: Lớp 10 – Vietnam Australia International School

Preface – An author’s note

Hi everyone,

<The final hope for Kepler-186f> is a short story revolved around the main character’s life, Ethan, on the generation ship and the difficulties he met during his adventure to the planet Kepler-186f, also known as Earth’s cousin.

Hope you guys will enjoy it

Daisy.

Chapter I

“From billions and billions of years ago, a miracle had befallen on an unknown, marginalized planet named Earth. Since then, life began to flourish, ushered an eon of species evolution. The world was fulfilled of idyllic and what we categorized: Nature.” Dad looked at me with his sentimental eyes, as mom’s warm palm gently patted the back of my head.

Then the story continued.

“Until Homo sapiens was evolved. They are pride but humility. Greed but generosity. Lust but morality. Gluttony but sharing. Wrath but love. And Sloth but diligence. There are many kinds of people and each of them has wisdom and ability of self-control, they are the ones who decide the humanity themselves.”

“And so are you. We are humans. My dear Ethan, no matter whatever you do or whoever you are, never forget where you came from.” Mom suddenly interrupted.

At the point, no one knew these lines had implanted a hassle seed deeply in my subconscious afterward.

Or maybe that’s what they wanted. A connection.

“Though through millennia, humans had come up with advanced technologies, where non-nature things were then considered. When we nearly reached Type I civilization on the Kardashev scale, a crisis of environmental rose, threatened all life on the Earth. It was because of us, humans and we all had the responsibility to fix it.  After all endeavors but ineffective, in the end with their last hope, our ancestors had designed a generation ship along with 500 volunteers heading towards Kepler-186f, despite the fact that they will never reach the distant exoplanet, and must rely on their descendants. Today, we have no choice but to complete what our predecessors had left.”

— 

Chapter II

Everyone at the same age as me utterly believed the ambiguous myth from far-off, unseen strangers. And so the faith grew with them through their adolescence. Mom and dad also wanted me to remember the root of my genesis. Every night they told the same story with the same words and the same exhilaration on their faces.

Yet, unfair was the first thing I thought of every time the story finished.

Even if the myth was true, and my ancestors were the brave heroes who carried the last hope of all humans, still, why do I have to take responsibility for the mistakes people had made in the past? Why me?

Why them? They deserved better than this ending.

The endless sound of mourning brought together, pulled my mind back to the inescapable reality. I looked at the two pictures in front of me. They were smiling, cheerfully and proudly: as if this was an achievement, a right moment they had waited to dedicate their whole life for.  

The aromatic fragrance of a few Iris flowers spread gradually through the narrow room. Tenderness like mother, but brought in a nostalgia feeling. Memories ran down heavily, drowned my heart suffocated to death.

*

I engrossed peering dad worked on with his small garden in the broad farming room.

“Ethan, come here my boy.” He quickly realized the stalker was there.

I slowly walked out from the giant metallic door like a thief just got caught right in the jewelry store, but his warm voice calmed me down. Dad paced towards and carried me on his wide shoulders again, it seemed his favorite hobby.

“Your mom always loves Iris flowers. You know why?”

I slightly shook my head.

“It’s because Iris symbolizes hope. We never give up on hoping and dreaming. And you too, no matter how many times you fall or how much you hurt, it will all be worth it when tomorrow comes.”

*

“It’s time,” Oliver said.

The two bodies were placed in the crematorium.

“Wait!” I shouted then put the flowers on them.

“At least these would behalf me to stay by your side.”

The fire burnt. Drastically.

With tears, Iris, and people.

 —

Chapter III

Spirits were guided by the eternal path of comets and stars.

Their destiny was the only heaven:

The Earth.

Chapter IV

“Et, ya’ want to stay there forever?” a voice shouted out with the continuous sound of door-knocking, shattered the absolute silence.

Replied nothing.

The door was knocked even harder.

“Just leave me alone!” I yelled back to Oliver.

“I can tell you the whole truth about your parent and everything.”

“It’s not a thing you can make jokes of.” I opened the door and glared at the brawny man in front, but the refulgent gleam of light shone straighten into my eyes, as a reflex, I instantly covered with my hand.

“Life doesn’t always follow as we wish. Sometimes you simply just need to accept it and move forwards.” Oliver lowered his voice, gazed back at me, read through the deepest misery hidden inside.

I stepped backward.

The little craven was trying to evade.

Intending to close the bay door.

He failed as no doors were left.

“C’mon.”

Chapter V

After passing through some biometric verifications, we entered a plain corridor leading to a dead end.

“Password verified.” A synthetic voice announced.

“Welcome”. The wall ahead descended gradually.

A new world appeared.

Not an everyday silence, neither the solitary. But was a bustling, dynamic atmosphere!

Along both sides of the incredible room, a variety of complex equipment and mechanics were sorted out orderly; totally contrasted the mess of paper on the steel table at the left corner. In the middle, a group was sitting around an O-shaped table, discussing something with another group of people through the big screen in the center (they seemed unlike us, erhm…freer…erhm…more fulfilling). Behind them was the main control deck and…

I hastily ran forwards, looking beyond the giant tempered glass, bewildered by the basketball with some paint on it (of course it was emerged to billions time bigger).

Though we were still quite far away, yet I could not be mistook, it definitely a planet! Not a huge poster glued on the glass, not a random asteroid glided past, not a blaze of some outlying stars, not a comet, not a meteoroid.

A real planet!

“We came?” I asked Oliver with full of expectation.

He nodded.

Kepler-186f.

Unlike the illustrations, if inside the textbook it was described as the Earth’s twin, then in factuality it more looked like Earth’s cousin. Within a thicker atmosphere encapsulated the massive celestial sphere, once in the few while, diverse shades of fawn would dispersed tiny speckles of sacramento along its odyssey across the azure ocean again, created distinctive topographies on the planet’s surface.

Where there is water, there is life.

Efforts, sacrifice, and hope of millions of years,

It will all be worth it when tomorrow comes.

Blues fused with euphoria streamed down the flushed cheeks, lighten up a glint of hope.

— 

Chapter VI

“We still have one more thing.” Oliver put his hand on my shoulder then turned around. People follow one another stood up, even those on the screen. I saw many acquaintances, also unseen strangers, all of their eyes were focusing on me, showing a sincere apology, but none held the wanted answer.

In my bewilderment, a prominent woman stepped up from the unknown foreigners. Her long silver-haired was an entrance without exit; her charisma was an enticement, fascinated any passers she came across – an absolute charisma from the solemn aura.

“You… are Ethan?” She asked in suspicion and gave out a few more private questions.

I affirmed.

“I’m sorry, you just looked so different since the last time. I mean…you’ve grown.” The strange woman smiled mildly, divulged wrinkles on her face. Tension was broken and somehow evoked vague memories with a familiar sense.

“You have been loved staying here all day, watching your parent worked. A passionate and innocent child. I had thought you would grow up with us within the beautiful days, however, after knowing Kepler-186f was not that simple, we all believed it’d be better to keep you stay away. Even though I had tried not to see your pictures, but I could not resist the happiness from Allan and Vanessa every time they told about you.”

“Mom and dad?” My voice quivered as a sharp stabbing pain tripped in my heart, she had poked in the right injury.

“Ye-“

Oliver sudden cut in,

“You have the right to know the truth, or else it’s no different as we’re allowing you to walk around a cliff in blindfolds.”

“Shall we get back to the main point, ma’am?

The woman’s face turned emotionless, earnest like a winter queen.

“Let me introduce: I’m Isabella, the leader of project <Kepler-186f> from the Earth. We are here to assist you with investments in technology.”

Wut? Did she just say Earth?

Haven’t we lost all communication lines with people on the Earth?

They lied?

I was even more astonished than before. Tons of questions with a mixture of jubilant, anger, and tangle danced inside me.

My mind was magically read, Isabella continued.

“Through years and generations, cooperation is always crucial. People on the Earth and the generation ship never stop searching for possible methods to create a teleportation gate, as this is our prior. If it’s successful, we won’t need to worry about human resources or technical issues and can together build our new home. Basically, everything has gone well so far except one but harsh: Kepler-186f’s nature is extremely wild, its weather is unpredictable and much more drastic than the Earth. Your parents’ death…they had protected the gate till the end.”

“So it’s not because of the extremophiles?” I raised my voice, as my eyes brimmed with tears. The glint was soon burnt fiercely, spread out to the placid jubilant’s land, dethroned the jubilant’s king, and praised an impassive ruler: wrath.

I let the emotion thoroughly took over inside me, non-stop yelling and interrogating. Regardless of the sassy attitude, everyone even Oliver and Isabella still bowed to me, unexpectedly.

The flame was soothed down.

Ashes remained, with melancholic sadness at the bottom of my heart.

Chapter VII

___

The violent giant column of air insanely attacked the intricate gate placed on the stone base. No matter how hard the two tiny people were trying to stop, the bloodthirsty homicidal still kept rotating forwards.

I stood on the spaceship, streamed, and shouted. No matter how hard I smashed, the glass still not broke. No matter how many times I asked for help, they still bowed to me.

A ferocious blanket of sand and dust covered the scene beyond.

In the end, only a vacant ground was left.

***

Ignoring the infinite sound of the whimpering surround, I sat beside the tiny botanical garden, quietly observed the Iris murmuring with each other. But a strong current of wind whooshed through, demolished the sacred sanctuary.

They were all groaning.

Louder and nosier.

Louder and nosier.

Louder and nosier.

Then stopped.

Soulless eyes were staring at me.

___

I gasped, abruptly sat up in a sweat and looked around. The terror from nightmares was still clinging, haunted me. Yet only the tranquil garden was there with some water droplets dewing on the navy thin petals. I relieved then lied down on the soft grass again.

– How could they conceal everything from me all these years and now want to apologize?

Here we came, the monotonous debate, one more time.

– They want to protect you.

– BY LYING!?

– They already apologized.

– Just it?

– What you want?

Silence.

– Because you got deceived once so you give up your hope that easily? Abandon all hopes on Earth? Never give up on hoping and dreaming. Never forget where you came from. Ya’ all forgot?

Silence.

The endless debate had reached its ending. It was right. Despite the string was fragile, but there was still a connection between us. Despite the string was fragile, we still not gave up holding it. Nobody’s hopes were cheap.

Chapter VIII

“Are you there?” I directly opened the door and walked inside.

The room stayed the same, always embraced by the impenetrable darkness. I went straight to the dim light hovering above the curved table; remembered how shuddered I had been whenever Oliver frightened me with his silly tricks, then had to do everything to stop me from crying. I chuckled.  

“What’s wrong?”

“Tell me more about the teleportation gate.” I hesitated a while but finally asked.

The light on both sides turned on, revealed the usual battle of black and white strands of hair fighting for their own territory, which should belonged to the man. Oliver put his round glasses down as he closed the leather-bound book, recalled all sweat and musky scent fluttered in the air.

“We aimed to innovate a teleportation gate in large scale that can teleport about thousands of people and colossal machines at once.”

“But a larger scale complicates everything and makes it more risky. How could we analyze the information precisely?”

“Good question.” Oliver nodded his head.

“This is where our ancestors had struggled the most: small one would take forever to teleport such a huge amount of people, also hamper us to reach the maximize speed of constructing on Kepler-186f, larger would be so fantastical at the moment. However, with our latest coordinate detector technology and a faster resolution algorithm devices, IMPOSSIBLE BECOMES POSSIBLE. As a result, we need a vast, convenient space to build the gate, Kepler-186f is the most suitable… If we knew-”

“Do you want to go to the control room?” I cut in after already caught a rough grasp of the current situation.

“Don’t you dare do something crazy.” He frowned his brows then went out with me.

Chapter IX

“I want to give a hand in the project.” I bowed and announced loudly, made sure everyone heard.

“What ya-“

Without wavering, I straightened to his widen navy eyes, then to the other. In a moment, Oliver took a short breath through his lips but quickly returned.

“Well, who could stop a boy full of determination?” Isabella sudden spoke up.

No disagreement. The short note began.

“As everyone all here today, I will proclaim partly about our new strategy: placing giant mirrors in the thermosphere to control Kepler-186f’s weather. For now, the teleportation gate is still protected by the electrical shield (thanks to Allan and Vanessa), however, we couldn’t know how long it could last under the extreme condition. I will send each of you a more specific document about this.”

“Yes ma’am.” Everyone uttered simultaneously.

“Goodbyeee.” She glanced at Oliver then smirked slightly.

Wait, what?

I might have misunderstood, perhaps it was a smile…perhaps. I appeased myself.

“Stay away from that woman. Do not trust.” Oliver whispered in my ear and lost in the stream of people.

Chapter X

“AAAAAAARHHH!” I screamed.

Another common nightmare.

I yawned, a big one, then went out the unlit corridor, heading towards the garden.

Those sentences, their meaning, Oliver and Isabella’s attitudes in the afternoon meeting were still wandering inside me, like a bunch of tangled threads.

What had happened between ‘em? I knew Oliver my whole life, there must be a reason for him to say so, but why Isabella? People could lie by using many different ways but they never could hide the emotion shown on their face. A bad person could not have such a blissful, sincere face.

“Haven’t you read the document master sent us this afternoon?” I stopped as a disembodied voice uttered.

“Hah?” Another voice asked.

“The details about the structure of the space mirrors.”

“Oh yah, find a way to control the program. I got some ideas actually. Can I go to sleep now?”

“Report to master first.”

Sighed.

“Alrite, ‘Mr. Stern’.”  

The conversation ended as the voices traveled further and hushed within the darkness.

I stood there, could not believe what I just heard.

— 

Chapter XI

From that night, everything had gone surprisingly well. Isabella still focused on the project but everyone understood her kindness, Oliver also reacted normally like nothing really happened; so I soon forgot the conflict between them and some sort of organization want to monopolize the space mirrors I drawn out. We all infatuated with building the space mirrors process.

“And here our product is completed.” I euphorically cheered out, wavered the wrench in my hand after making sure the final bolt was screwed tightly.

A group of technicians came and checked the last time, then we surrounded the small window on the main gate, huddled each other to watch our first child step by step leaving the airlock, the spaceship, and leaving its own family to walk into a whole new world of unknown and discoveries.

“Et! Et!” Oliver continuously shook my shoulder.

“What’s wrong?” I took my eyes off the magic mirrors floating outside amongst the black sea with countless brightening stars.

“You looked so pale. Did you have enough sleep?”

“You only forty Oliver, but you will soon become an eighty years old man with that frown face all the time.” I laughed.

“Cause who, eh?”

“I’m fine. Just wondered what’s on Kepler-186f specifically? How do people on Earth look like in real life? What about their personalities? What should I say when I first meet them?”

“Tomorrow will know.” He gently put his large palm on my head then straightened the glistening eyes through the infinite space. Seeking for the negligible Earth.

— 

Chapter XII

BLAMMMMM. The siren repeatedly clanged out, resonated across the whole generation ship.

A continuous blast of flame burst from one body part to another, created a tremendous, dazzling reddish sphere with an appalling whining of torment, suffering for salvation; then all collapsed within a split of a second.

Every effort, every attempt we spent regardless of days and nights to enhance and build the perfect mirrors. We were so close: the reunion day, the new life on Kepler-186f, together. The faster I was trying to run towards it, the further distance appeared between us, even if the finish line was in front of us.

I jumped out of the two-seat shuttle, groped through the similar corridors in haste, as the only image I could see right then was the debris of remnant scattering across the boundless universe.

“Password verified.” Still the same synthetic voice announced.

“Welcome”. The wall ahead descended gradually.

But beyond me was not the common bustle command room. Either the entire room or people in it were occupied by the heavy, gloomy atmosphere.

 “The mistake we ma-“Isabella finally broke the deathly silence that no one even dared to be the first person to speak up, though her line was abruptly irrupted as Oliver entered.

“We did not make any mistake. I just checked, some of the codes had changed, warily.” He heady proclaimed to everyone.

“Don’t you mean there’s a betrayer amongst us?”

“You’re not wrong.” Oliver sneered, retorted the cold glare Isabella gave towards.

“Still doesn’t prove anything. It could because accidents.”

“There could be a possibility of bad intention. Oliver reminded me, I had also heard a conservation between-“

“Enough.”

“But-“I tried to narrate about the dubious talk of the two enigmatic men.

“ENOUGH. Why would I need to trust some words without evidences?” Isabella shouted, shown out an obvious grimace and reddish glittering eyes on her face, leaving a tangled feeling on every onlooker bypassed.

“I’m sorry…Everything just happened so sudden…Please tell me if you have any new evidences.” Seemed like she had noticed her unconscious action, Isabella adjusted her voice then continued.

“Intentional or unintentional. What had happened today is still irreversible, yet it doesn’t mean this is our end. We knew the design and how to build the space mirror, what we have to do now is find where the problem at, revive it once more, and even better than the original.”

The short speech had marvelously dispel the dilemma and lighten the gleam of hope inside us again. At some points, Isabella was right, this was not time for negative thoughts.

I elated myself up then ran forwards the finishing line.

Dear Ethan,

Never give up on hoping and dreaming,

Mom and Dad.

— 

Chapter XIII

Everyone began to construct the space mirrors, ardently, as the first failure made us even more excited for the reunion day in next month, which could occur sooner due to our progress. However, if my and Oliver’s conspiracy theory was right, then we must find out the instigator behind or else the day we wish would never come. Hence I started to suspect the conservation between the two mysterious men I had heard that night, though still could not conclude anything when there was no certainty. So this was night one I was trying to catch them again.

Seemed not today, I sighed and got back to my room after a few hours of staring at the completely black screen.

*

Night two

They still not appeared.

*

Night three

Nope.

*

Night five

Oh mah dear friends, just released the inmates.

*

Night seven

Helloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo? Anybody there?

*

Today was night ten and the completely black screen and absolute silence were still what I was staring at.

Did they realize there was someone stalking them and changed the meeting place?

Or maybe it was just a normal talk of two normal people.

I tried to analyze like a real Sherlock but the detective game soon became tedious, as my only clue led to a dead end.

Seemed not today, again.

I rolled my eyes, intended to leave.

“That boy and his uncle are so annoying, especially the uncle. How did he even realized we modified the codes?” A familiar voice grumbled.

I instantly lurked behind the corner.

“A wise and acute enemy.”

“Urgh, you mean a massive rock blocked in the middle way?”

“Nah, we just need to focus on the new mission he gave.”

“I know, I know. You think I want to hear master admonish? One had enough to terrorize my whole life.”

“Ha, agree.” The other voice slightly lowered then continued.

“But whoever had hacked into the system and caused the mirrors to explode had messed with the wrong person. Master will handle Oliver and the little boy…something…oh-“

THUD.

Oh dear…

Sound of footsteps hurried walking towards me.

I hastily picked up the phone on the ground and rushed straight back to my room, hoping my fellows had hidden me away.

Close!

I relieved behind the locked door, as there was no signs of people outside the corridor. The palpitating heart continued dancing with its breathless pace, ignoring the shiver was transported to every single cell.

But all worth it:

The hard evidence.

— 

Chapter XIV

“Oliver! Oliver! Wake up! I have a super super important news.” I constantly knocked on the door.

“It’s only 6 A.M.!” The door slid past as Oliver stood behind: one hand kept rubbing his drowsy eyes, the other kept scratching the muddle bird nest above.

What a rare moment! This would stop him complain for a few days, I giggled and quickly took a picture.

“Ehem… I got the hard evidence.” I looked around then whispered after realizing he was staring at me.

“What did you say?” He frowned.

“I got the hard evidence.” Still looked around then whispered.

Oliver poked his head out, scrutinized from left to right, made sure no one eavesdropped.

“Get in.”

I gave him my phone to show what I had heard last night.

*

The video ended, brought away the only sound in the room.

“You recorded this?” Oliver asked after a while of remaining silent.

“Yep!” I buoyantly affirmed, leaving some complacent in the words with full of expectation to receive a commendation, but giving me was a tough punch in the middle of my head.

“OUCH, WHAT YA-“

“Don’t. Do. That. Again.” He accentuated each word, conveyed a readable expression on his face like an opened book: Anxious.

“Hehe.”

“At least we knew there’s a third party.”

“According to what they said. Anyway, they are not a hazard for us right now, they even could be our allies. We must expose whoever destroyed the space mirrors.”

“Leave it to me, I will investigate. And don’t show anyone about this video, we could not know who the imposter among us is.” Oliver touched his fingertips and fell into an abyssal contemplation.

I nodded then stepped out of the room.

“Oh, I almost forgot, my parents’ death was an arrangement from before right?” I turned back.

“Who told you that?” Oliver convulsed in a sudden jolt then sat straight up again.

“Just heard from the two men the other night.”

“After the funeral, I made a deeper probe and noticed the weathering forecast device was hacked, some of the codes had changed, the same way as how the space mirrors were. Their death might because-“

“I got where the problem at, perhaps.”

Chapter XV

I hunkered beside the Iris, enjoyably observing each pack of water droplets on after another from the spray bottle then befallen one the awaiting hands. How likely humans and Iris were. We all needed a little stimulation to dispel the fears away and let our hopes bloom vibrantly. Without it, we would wither aside the road, but excess would rather drown us till death.

TING.

My phone’s screen brightened, cut off the thread of introspection.

Sender: Incognito.

I opened and downloaded the file attached with the message.

Chapter XVI

I stood beside the round table in the center of the command room, straightened my eyes towards the marvel machine being examined by a group of technicians and programmers once over and over before the launching time came.

“Psst. Ethan, Ethan.” Isabella waved her hand up down as she called me from the screen.

I removed my eyes from the scene ahead then looked at her with both raised eyebrows.

“How’s the investigation going?”

“I have no ideas. Oliver still going with it.”

“Oh. Anyways, sorry about the last time.” Her voice lowered then returned back to normal – the modulated one.

“You still worried about that? It’s fine. Moreover, look at the incredible innovation, we’re going to see each other, like in real person!” I grinned, pointed at the space mirrors.

A bronze bell chimed melodiously across the vast command room in sudden.

Isabella emerged a gracious smile with a soft look on her face, mentioned me to go. She was somehow an actual mother, a second mother; maybe for this reason she always gave a familiar sense, even since the first time we met each other.

I ran to the main gate, leaked through the small gaps between the commotion crowd huddled each other to get a spot for the hollowed inauguration. Then just in a trice, everything fell up into silence as the charming girl stepped on the black carpet with her best status. From now on, the airlock would be the first place where our second child started off her own journey to a whole new world of unknown and discoveries – the same way as her brother had done, but this time I swear to God I will protect her no matter what price it would cost.

“A tiny life amongst the boundless universe but carried billions of hopes. So prodigious, isn’t it?” I left and finally found Oliver quietly standing far off from everyone.

No replied.

“Hey, Oliver…”

“Hm?” The navy pupil shifted to me.

“I know it’s weird…Pat my head.”

He guffawed out, a pure laugh with no contaminated burdens while still pat my head gently.

“What special day is this?” Continued guffawed.

“Stop laughing!” I ashamedly shouted out.

“If every day you honest with me like this then now I would not become an old grumpy man.”

I guffawed, as loud as I could, enjoying the last conservation with one of the most precious people in my life.

— 

Chapter XVII

The door screeched as a single footstep repeatedly walked towards within the somber darkness.

The most unwanted nightmare had come.

“So it’s you, from the beginning?” The man glimpsed through the spot of light from my hand then straightened an unswerving look into my eyes.

“The truth is in front of you.” Replied a frigid answer.

Facing the complete stranger pointing a sharpened ice spear at me, I gradually stepped backward until preceded a bottomless cliff.

“Et, look how shallow, how tiny they are; look how they trample their own kind and the others; look how they threw all the responsibilities for the ‘heroes’ they auto entitled after screwed up the Earth. Those humans only think for what benefits them. Even though deep inside their mind, they are lenient, innocent, and wiser than anything else. Humans are GOD! Ya’ think they deserve a new world? In the end, they will destroy it again: An infinite loop.”

I was like a straight metal bar being bent by the simply indignant in front. He, his words, his ideas were plausible.

“No matter whatever you do or whoever you are, never forget where you came from.” I turned around, seeking for the tender voice called from the abyss.

Ah…

“You’re not wrong. Humans are pride, greed, lust, gluttony, wrath, and sloth; but also generosity, morality, sharing, love, and diligence. There are many kinds of people and each of them has wisdom and ability of self-control, they are the ones who decide the humanity themselves. So are we: we are humans, we are the ones who decide the humanity ourselves. And I choose not to abandon all hopes.”

He remained silence, yet ultimately gave out a small sigh.

“Well, whatever I do right now you will just intervene in my plan. I already lost, Et, since my identity had exposed.”

“Yes. You had lost. So please let it go. We can live together on Kepler-186f, with everyone. Isn’t it always our dream?”

The unlit navy eyes brightened up but soon returned darkened. He shook his head.

“Oliver… Please.”

“I had done many immoral and unforgivable things to make my ideal came true, but I do not regret. You have to understand, right now there’s no turning back, Ethan.”

“An eye for an eye.” Oliver suddenly pushed me out of the room and pressed the self-protection button. The steel door shut down, then was covered by another layer of bulletproof armor.

“Oliver, Open the door!! Don’t you try doing anything.” I ran forwards, smacked the rigid wall ahead till my hand full of reddened blotches and my nerves no longer felt the numb feeling, but there was no sign of any movement.”

The loud noise started to awaken many people from nearby. A few people deputized the group of inquisitive gathered outside the narrow corridor, walked up to my side.

“What’s wron-” A hand touched on my left shoulder then swiftly slid off as we all toppled forwards. A deafening blast shrieked out from the command room along with a vigorous tremor, agitated the whole spaceship to clamor aloud and mobilized everyone to leave, even if the price was a lonely death.

Despite being pulled into the midst of turmoil running for their own life, I turned my head back, looked through the flickering red corridor. The wall and everything hid behind it just like that vanished out of my world.

I fell.

Chapter XVIII

Sat inside the two-seat shuttle, we were the last one leaving the generation ship. I couldn’t stop looking through the dome glass over my head, but behind was a grieving catastrophe: a titan without ahead. The vast, huge command room or either our second child was no longer can be seen; as devastating fragments and steel pipes of the decomposed cadaver were what only left.

Even so, I kept straining my eyes, searching for a miraculous sign of living. In the end, the answer I found was falling into a bottomless abyss with a flaccid body, the vehement heartbeat also started to diminish.

“Life doesn’t always follow as we wish. Sometimes you simply just need to accept it and move forwards.”

A familiar, solemn voice uttered beside my ears. Constellations of stars united into a glowing path across the absolute black ocean, send-off the souls to the final resting place.

Farewell.

I regarded our lovely home for the last time then turned around.

We started off our journeys to the worlds of unknowns and discoveries.

Our shuttle quickly assembled with the rest, forming an endless flow like a herd of ants crawling towards the giant tangerine in front. Thermosphere, mesosphere, stratosphere, and then troposphere: we passed through each layer of the atmosphere in order, as the sable sky steadily dressed on a light sapphire coat. The blurred auburn, sacramento, and azure hues of topography also became sharp, precise objects: various height of stone blocks ruggedly rose without following any sequences, scattered everywhere on the ground; under a wide ravine separated the two different territories from each other, a few wildflowers germinated on both side of the small creek gliding across the torrid soil.

I widen my eyes, made sure any single detail on the mesmerizing scene beyond not being missed out. We continued flying for a short while then an immense tundra fulfilled with hundreds of spaceships appeared.

Ignoring the whooshing sound still consistently blurted out from the revving engine, I unfasten the seatbelt, plunged straight off the shuttle. I pounded a few times by the right foot then used both of my hands to fondle the scabrous ground, feeling the dust, torrid soils, with gravels rubbing through palms and fingers. A light breath of wind blew past, hovering them in the mid-air then returned to the nearby. I raised my head up, observing the tiny Kepler-186 remarkably illuminated about half of the colossal planet. In momentarily, clusters of clouds glided moderately across the cerulean sky, urging a humid scent spread out the open-space, mollified the muggy draft of the midday.

Pure and nature,

The beginning of everything.

Chapter XIX

The two tenuous balloons inside my chest inflated up, bigger and bigger, I stopped inhaling in the non-human atmosphere as presaged they were going to explode. I went towards the pilot, offered my appreciation to him then silently followed the line of people. We continuously walked to the north, it took us in total thirty minutes to pass through the immense shuttle parking, and another fifteen minutes to climb up the steeply, tedious sand hill, without consisting any living organisms other than us or even any stones.

I reached to the top, unlocked a new majestic viewpoint.

“Where are we?” I randomly asked a stranger in front.

“It’s the teleportation gate!” The woman couldn’t hold back and cheered out loudly, roused up the little infant sleeping obediently inside her arm.

I was speechless by the answer given to me. The ‘teleportation gate’ was neither actually a gate nor some sort of modern technology tube, but was a massive circular stone base decorated with some small cracks plus a layer of sand, symbolized a trophy from the tempest. I rubbed my eyes and gawked at the ‘teleportation gate’ once more: yep, literally a base built up by stone with a diameter should be counted in kilometers and…erhm…approximately ten centimeters height.

I kept squinting my eyes, searching for more clues about the operating structure of the peculiar machine. The dashing heart back there still engrossed on its own rhythm in sudden missed out a beat. I rushed down the hill, went straight towards the circumference on the left side to scrutinize the electrical shield enclosed something inside. Bypassing the calls from some technicians standing close by, I risked on my ‘high-viability’ confidence, and placed one quivering hand on the deadly electric bolt. In a flash moment, everyone included me held our breath, waiting for the result.

One second passed…

Five seconds…

Then ten.

I slowly opened my eyes, we all took relief as the golden layer placidly dissipated. My hypothesis was right, besides mom, dad, only me and…Oliver could open it. I watched in silence till the end.

The final witness could now rest in peace.

Like a chrysalis liberated from its cocoon, a small square stone base emerged, upon it was also a square stone pillar reached to my chest, and totally contrast, a modern rectangular tablet was placed. The teleportation gate’s heart, I bet.

Clusters of clouds dispersing across the whole sky were now all evaporated, leaving a plain cerulean blanket encapsulated the welkin and a glowing ball glistening at the back of my head. Under it, one person stepped up from the bottom of the hill, then another, creating a line of people surrounded the base. We straightened our eyes into each other, NO REGRET for whatever would happen in the future.

I pressed the confirm button, sent a message to Isabella – “Kepler-186f is ready.”

She quickly affirmed back – “Earth s ready.” as a sheet of data was delivered to the tablet.

“Analyzing data. Please wait for a moment.” A synthetic voice uttered out.

In the circle of hands holding each other tightly, together we beheld a historical moment of either Kepler-186f or the Earth: The Dawn.

Like abstract artistry, a pattern of curved jade hue lightens up amongst the plain base then appeared from nowhere, microscopic blocks materialized into boxes contained full of food, medicines, tents, blankets. The first experiment had succeeded smoothly, we were one more step closer. I swallowed my saliva down, soothed the swoosh feeling dancing inside my belly as if I was skydiving from the generation ship down to Kepler-186f. 

Experiment two: A white mouse, after few seconds, a pack of mice ran out, hiding behind the small den near there.

Experiment three: A glass pond of fish swimming around with pebbles and patches of green moss floating in the transparent water.

Experiment four: A 200 feet steel crane painted in yellow.

More and more strange animals and machines we never seen emerged under our curious eyes. Success followed success, we swiftly came to the last decisive experiment.

Just one more step.

I opened the video call, focusing on the audacity volunteer at another side’s base. Not only my belly was dancing but all organs started to bump into each other, evoked a civil war, forcing sweat droplets to run away through pores for their life. Gradually, her legs, hip, arms, chest, then head in order dematerialized until there was nothing left. I frowned my eyebrow, started to shudder since the tumultuous gossip was getting louder over time.

An appealing woman wearing all in black, prominent up her silver long pony hair. The gossip soon turned to cheer, sob, and relief. Isabella was standing in front of me, for real. In a next while, hundreds of people with intact body parts appeared. This was how the descendants of the two spilled groups met each other again after millions of years. Beginning with an introduction, handshakes, conservations.

“I’m sorry.” Her voice quivered as she ceaselessly wiping away the tears streamed down her face. Why? The reason was no longer matter. Even if it was because of happiness, loss, or guilty.

I slightly shook my head, stepped towards and hugged the fragile woman.

The reunion day,

I had caught.

But history now just began.

Chapter XX

Unveiling one side of the white canvas, I softly sneaked out the dormitory tent, tried not to contaminate the unblended night consisted no snore, no talk, or even a whooshing from the wind. Perfect tranquility. Under the starless sky, everything supposedly should befall into the hand of mystic dark matter; yet in Kepler-186f the simple phenomena thing seemed became infeasible as the whole planet was guarded by the lucid duo, illuminated a mild light to the rugged trail I wandered through.

After made sure I had gone far apart from the campsite, I sought an appropriate place to rest.

‘There it is!” I talked to myself to shatter the discomforting silence, and climbed up a flat surface over hanged from the ground, enjoying the view either from the North or South’s reflection.

I hummed an old French lullaby mom used to sing to me every time the monotonous story ended, but now, no matter how many times I cried or begged, the past still never changed, and the storytellers would never come back. Thus I chose to change the future. The song resounded across the stagnated space, without consciousness, I allowed myself immersed into the flow of reminiscence, though it was not different at all as scratching salt into an open wound.

Dear mom and dad,

I had got all I wanted: Kepler-186f, teleportation gate, successful revenge; even so what I felt was only ashamed, ashamed for not glad as the originator had dead, ashamed for wishing I had never tried to find the truth, ashamed for rather living in faux happiness. Was it normal or was I too unfilially?

I kept waiting, as long as I could.

This time only I was here to answer.

The heavy thud of boots pattered on the stiff ground pulled me back to reality. I opened my eyes and leisurely stood up, flickered off the dust clinging on the back.

“Hack into the space mirror system.” I turned around, looking at the men kneeling beneath. The glint shone, sincerely, divulged out the truth. Six eyes staring at each other, four eyes widen then hastily returned.  

“Yes, master.”

None, the answer was.

Lots of things had happened and soon led to the ending, either good or bad. As time passed, everything will befall into a merry sweet dream.

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