12 Feb, 2014
Neutrinos blasted past the ship’s sensors twenty minutes ago.
The star was ripping itself apart in a cataclysmic explosion, a nova.
Since then, we had been piling on as much velocity as the computers would allow trying to escape. Two habitat ring support arms were already bending under the stress.
There are things that can go wrong with a new starship when it’s the first, the only one, of her kind. Of course, ours couldn’t be anything small, like elevator doors that only opened half way or panels that popped off the walls.
We had the first gravity drive that bent space-time around the ship. It didn’t allow for true faster than light travel. It was a cheat, a trick of math and physics, of energy and matter allowing us to barely out run photons. But it felt that way to us inside. Weeks or months of effective time for us, while one light year of travel was only one year of time passing outside. We could, if we wanted, go home in our own lifetimes.
In our case the whole ship was wrong.
Twenty minutes was enough time for the crew and ship’s computers to figure out why our target star had gone nova. It shouldn’t have for another 6 or 7 billion years. We had planned to settle on the only habitable planet. But our arrival had cut that time down.
The field from our drive was much larger than expected, and the ship was pointed directly at the star when we decelerated into the system. The only habitable planet was just on the other side, a handful of light minutes away. We were never going to see it.
The gravity drive was what had started the reaction which caused the nova. Even as our speed increased, the telescopes where searching for Sol.
You see, we could go home, if we wanted.
But, as we slowed down here, we had accelerated out of the solar system. We realized, with our drive pointed almost directly at the Sun.
If there was anything left to go home to.
The telescopes should be picking up the light from Sol soon enough.