The Arrow of Time
It took almost two years to decelerate to orbital speed. But now they were there, coming within scanner range of New Eden, with hope to start again.
The crew of the E.U.S Arrow were getting excited. They had spent 23 long years on the voyage to the planet orbiting the star 40 Eridani. Now the real adventure would begin.
In 2067, new discoveries in Dark Energy had allowed increases in propulsion tech to near 99.99% light speed. When in 2072, advances in astronomical spectroscopy had show that the fourth planet orbiting a star only 20 light years aw
ay had abundant oxygen in it’s atmosphere, and was 77% the mass of Earth, humanity knew it had discovered a new home.
And seemingly just in time, the complete failure of the world’s governments to halt or reverse global warming had had devastating results on our home world. CO2 output had actually accelerated, and the resulting sea level rise combined with both massive droughts and catastrophic floods had devastated the Earth. Now there was new hope, humanity could start again, and this time not repeat the mistakes of the past.
So the world began building a colony ship. Within 15 years, they finished it, and named it “The Arrow” in the hopes it would fly true to its destination. A small crew had shepherded 20,000 human embryo “colonists” across the almost unimaginable void of space to a new destiny. Now that trip was almost complete.
“I’m confused”, said Captain Brenner to his Environmental Engineer, “What do you mean radiation?”
“I’m confused too, these reading do not match what was measured from earth!” replied Lt. Novosad, “I’ve been trying to make sense of it since we came within scanner range. The atmosphere is mostly nitrous oxides and carbon monoxide. And massive radiation.”
“I don’t understand, is this the right planet? Is this New Eden?” Brenner asked, already knowing answer. Beads of sweat started appearing on his brow. How could this be happening?
“It’s the planet alright, and now we’re getting visuals from the surface. Almost all land it covered by ruins. Nearly no plant life detectable.”
“This is impossible!” , Brenner’s voice cracked. He could feel panic creeping into him now, “all our reading on Earth showed a pristine world only 20 years ago!”
Lt. Fields, the Astrophysicist now spoke up, “Actually at the relativistic speeds we were traveling, 1098 years have passed outside our ship. Dilation of time”
“But how did this happen?”
Chief Engineer Beaulieu, came running to the flight deck. “They were human!” she almost yelled.
“Human?” Brenner gasped, “Not possible. How could humans possibly be here?”
Madeline shook her head, “You don’t understand”, she said, “They were from Earth. They left a message addressed to this ship.” She was trying to keep her voice steady. “Shortly after we left, Earth discovered how to create a Warp Field. They were able to send colonists here faster than light. No dilation. They arrived over 1000 years ago.”
“After a few hundred years, the situation on Earth become desperate,” she continued, “ Environmental damage was causing devastation on a massive scale, a mass exodus began to New Eden. Soon Eden’s resources were taxed to an unsustainable level.”
“In final desperation, New Eden launched an attack on Earth to stop the new arrivals. Earth responded, massively. They bombed this planet with nukes until there was nothing left. This system was rendered uninhabitable over 150 years ago.”
In the silence that followed, Lt. Novosad suddenly pounded his desk, “I can’t believe it! I can’t believe we destroyed Eden a second time!”