Deep Space, ~80000 ly from Earth

The human body doesn't really appreciate being vitrified and cryopreserved. At least, that was the impression I got after being woken up from my first cryonic sleep. During the 50 hour warm up period, it almost made me regret embarking on the insane journey that I was on. Almost. There were headaches, the nausea, the dizziness, more nausea and not a small amount of hallucination. Finally though, the monitoring systems decided I was ready to step out of my pod. So, as the heavily insulated cryopod door swung open, I stepped out, or rather, fell out, twitching like a newly birthed foal. The coolness of the air shivered through my skin as my rebooted brain tried to re-orient itself to moving muscles again. I pushed off the floor with shaky legs, gasping as I floated towards a computer terminal in the dry air. On some level, I was surprised and impressed that the ship was intact and I was alive, given its 117 000 year unmanned flight outwards from Earth; we hadn't ended up hitting a star, or been crashed into by any errant comets. The air recycling systems still worked, and the blinking green light on the display in one corner of the cryo-room told me that the ship's autopilot would be patting itself on the back for a job well done, if it were capable of doing such things.

I shook my head, trying to clear the last few cobwebs of fogginess. We had arrived. Against all odds, we had arrived. I grabbed the chair as I drifted by, with a hand that seemed like it had never grabbed anything before in it's existence, and with effort settled myself into the seat. Goosebumps prickled my skin in the cold, but comfort and modesty could wait a little while longer; the enormity of the moment had already dawned on me, and I immediately ordered the computer to complete diagnostics on the Harbing instrumentation. If that didn't work, then the whole trip would be a waste.

With the command sent, I allowed myself to float out of the seat before pushing myself through the hatch into the cockpit of the vessel. The area was not large; two seats and control panels blanketed the space that wasn't taken up by the windows. Fans whirred quietly, betraying the silence. Behind the large bucket seats was just enough space for two men to stand. To the right was our "kitchen"; which was really just a microwave and a freezer full of pre-prepared food. I used the back of the seat to re-direct myself to the left, floating through another cylindrical hatch into our bathroom. I opened a locker with fumbling fingers and pulled out some clothes. Dressing in zero gravity was not easy at the best of times, however, it was especially difficult after waking up from being frozen at -200 degrees centigrade. My fingers felt like they had all the dexterity of an elephant's foot, and I was as stiff as a plank, and so it was only with much struggling, cursing and floating about banging into things that I managed to clothe myself, covering skin that was still slightly blue with a warm jumpsuit.

I floated back to the cockpit and settled into the pilots seat. The computer was still engrossed in the diagnostics, and there was nothing to be done until they were finished, so I sat back and waited, gazing out of the window into the empty space beyond. The cockpit lights were bright, drowning out the countless numbers of stars that I knew were out there. Instead, all I could see was a black expanse; an infinite void. It made me feel very small. We were just over 80 000 light years away from Earth, drifting somewhere in deep space between the Milky Way and the Large Magellanic Cloud, possibly at this moment in time the furthest human beings away from Earth. An exultant feeling rose in my chest. We had made it against universal expectations to the contrary. Well, not that they would still be alive to see themselves proved wrong. But still, we had performed a feat, a feat that perhaps would pave humanity's way to the truth, if we found what Professor Harbing suspected existed here. A smile curved across my lips. Perhaps our names would go down in the annals of human history as pioneers; founders of a new age. The smile wavered as the much more likely scenario reared it's head; we would most likely not find anything, and would most likely die in deep space, alone and forgotten. And so a meaningless life shall be consumated with a meaningless death...seems somehow fitting... I shook my head to clear the depressing thought. This journey would bring meaning to my life; it had to.

Cryo-sleep was not like ordinary sleep; my body had no sense that any time had passed. In fact, the day I left Earth, over a thousand lifetimes ago, felt nearly like yesterday. And yet, a fog in my brain clouded all of the memories I had, like viewing a scene through an out of focus camera. All except one, that is. The memory of that day when I chose to embark on this quest of truth...