Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Return

Beyond the Frontier

A space plane shot through the clouds and headed towards the unknown.

After the ascent, when the sky darkened and the horizon curved, the plane drifted in orbit and charged its engines. Space folded and the far edge of the star system fell behind and vanished.

Beyond the distance light could timely travel was the star on the galaxy's fringe. Around it, a small gathering of planets orbited the ecliptic plane. Where the star was only a speck, the nearing planet was the start of new beginnings. Drawing a massive hexagon of scattered lights on the planet's nightside shadow was the foundation of the mother city.

As the plane braced for atmospheric entry and planetfall, the dark sphere expanded in view. The thin ring of the planet widened as the plane aimed towards the northern hemisphere. Behind the veil of air, the planet slowly rotated to face the star. The gleaming city lights, hidden behind the smokey clouds, came into view. The small blocks of buildings expanded into prisms then towers. Ahead, the runway and airport awaited, and the plane deployed its landing gear.

The airport, a few stories from the ground and everything short of reaching the atmosphere, was unimpressive. Conventionally, such buildings reached high altitudes to minimize the fuel spent fighting the pull of the planet. However, low traffic and no departures, it seemed not so much that the modern marvel of engineering was outside of the city's means, but that the planet had no business in outbound travel.

He came only with luggage and a vision. The passenger disembarked and was greeted by an aged man in a lab coat.

"Welcome to Arechi, good sir," the old man smiled and shook his hand. "Your accomplishments spread far even to this quadrant of the galaxy. You were very passionate in the defense of your dissertation. I admire that. Many of us do."

Travel fatigued, the passenger couldn't quite reciprocate the courtesy.

"Yes," he sighed. "There were many barriers to obtaining clearance for proper testing. So I fear even a hypothesis aligning well with theory remains in limbo."

"Once you're settled in, I'm sure you'll find many kindred spirits and like-minds who share your passion in the advancement of the sciences.

"Again, welcome to Arechi, Doctor Renatus Amn."

These were words René would never forget.

Standing on the autowalk, René passed by structurally ornate interiors decorated plainly by shadows and starlight. To the side, a segmented panorama window conveyed a view of the distant cityscape. It was marked by one colossal tower with a large perimeter. The large megalith led his eyes upward. Where the sky darkened and the pale band of the planet arched, the faint frameworks of the upper floors could be seen.

"No limits where the mind may tread," he thought to himself. "Where passion will find no restraint."

René expected a world that was young with ambition but with an untamed terrain and undeveloped infrastructure characteristic to that of a frontier world. However, the accommodations, provided by the androids, defied.

The process of confirming his citizenship was quick. After he arranged his residence, a metal man in service uniform was ready and waiting to drive him to his new home. It opened and closed the door for him, carried his luggage, and drove the car, relegating the passenger nothing more than to enjoy the view. René looked out the window.

On a lot of cleared land and bare soil, android laborers worked along the bare foundation and framework of a building. As the car approached the inner city and passed by a restaurant, an android waiter catered to a man and a woman. Pedestrians populated the streets, both young and old, and machine.

The residential tower that René owned a suite in was a tall building dwarfing the rest. At his new home, an already present house android prepared a warm meal from which steam rose from the plate. He looked through the windows and saw the remarkable cityscape transition from starset to night.

The shadow of the rings arched over the horizon, cast fron the star tracing the path in the sky. The alternating bands of darkness and fading starlight washed over the city. The descending star became only a brim of light above the rooftops and settled beneath the horizon. Shattered reflections of the closing day mirrored across the bends and curves of unweathered metal.

Despite the progress of development, the history of society was brief. It started with ample funding from an autonomous research institute. Predominantly scientists and engineers composed the founding populace. The early world was a blank canvas of opportunity. With what society built and accomplished in a brief time, the far future seemed beyond imagination.

Perhaps the last the galaxy would ever hear of my name is a dissertation and nothing more.