Part One: Survival

Chapter VI

Jennifer Shire was tired, very tired. Over the last month, she had travelled to a lot of Harbourages across the globe. Of course, she had been asked often how she managed to get there. She didn't tell them that her vehicle was capable of flight, or that it could achieve orbit. They would find that out for themselves soon enough.

The real hard work, however, was yet to come. Moving the amount of people they wanted to move wouldn't be easy. They had decided that emptying out entire harbourages and then moving everyone below the age of forty to the ship. While then merging the population of other harborages seemed like the best way to go, there was still the innate issue with moving that many people. It could take months to do it as the harbourages' surface to ground elevators could only carry one or two small vehicles. There was of course the old entrances to the surface that the initial survivors used to gain entrance, but they were useless as they had been sealed off long ago.

It would prove to be a headache, there was no doubt at all in her mind about that. But they did have something that would make it slightly easier. A larger transport that could carry up to one hundred people. It could land and had a bay where vehicles could park and dispatch passengers. This, unfortunately, would still take some time and that was given that such an operation was allowed to take place. There was the chance that the ones in command of the harbourages would not allow it.

The method of choosing who to take broke down into two tiers. The first tier was who they would need. The second was who they could get to volunteer. She and others had laboriously gone through the known histories of those currently running the various underground cities, meticulously looking for ones that could be convinced of their plan. The truth of the matter was that regardless of what happened it would be difficult. She just wished it was over, that everyone they needed was already on the ship. But very few currently were. Just those working on it and some of the command crews who would be in charge of her.

First up she would be trying to bring up some of the first tier people and their families. They would be arriving within the week. This was both exciting and worrying. They wouldn't force them to stay and if they wanted to return home, then they would let them. But they really needed these people if they wanted the best chance of success.

This mission was long term. Probably the longest term anything had ever been planned for. The mission could possibly last for thousands of years, maybe tens of thousands. Sure, the harbourages had been constructed to last indefinitely, however, they simply didn't have the requirements to keep humanity alive and going for more than one hundred more years, maybe two hundred at best. Sure, some would last longer, maybe indefinitely, but most would start to fail, not to mention the shifting of the Earth's crust which would reduce the life of the structures.

Of course, their ship would run into some issues, but they had been thinking of the best ways to deal with these issues for years now. The concept of constructing this ship preceded humanity being forced underground. It was something that had been in development for nearly one-hundred years. People had dedicated their whole lives to this project and now the ship was finished. All it needed was the passengers.

They were so close, but there was still so much to do. They could easily find themselves still a year or two from launch and that frustrated not only her but a lot of others on the project. If she could, she would have the ship underway in a month or two, but that's not how this worked. Everything had to be ready. They had to make sure that when the ship launched that everything was working as intended and that it was truly ready to undertake the journey.

Jennifer rubbed her right eye which had begun to burn. The long days were exhausting but necessary. She couldn't wait until she had the chance to rest a little. But that would have to wait until they had everyone aboard.

She stood up and stepped out of her office and made her way over to the lounge. There was no one in there, mainly because it was two in the morning and most had gone to bed and those that weren't were working.

She quickly made herself a coffee and took the cup back to her office where she sat back down. She finished off the data input into the spreadsheet before switching off the holographic screen. Morning for her came at six, which meant she would maybe get two hours sleep tonight. Things were happening so fast now, that it was hard to keep up. There were so many names for possible passengers that needed to be vetted and verified. There was so much to do and not enough hours to do it.

As she had been doing, Jennifer didn't even bother to leave her office. She just moved over and laid down on the small couch that lay in the corner.

It wasn't particularly elegant or dignified, but hunching up on the couch was the only way she could fit everything in. In the morning she would rush off grab some breakfast and maybe have a shower. Then she would be back to work. Luckily it was only for a few more days. Then she could take time away from it. Unfortunately, it still wouldn't be over, not completely, as she would be busy with something else, but at least it would be a change of pace.

Jennifer didn't really get much sleep that night before the alarm was sounding and she had to get back to work.

Willis Washington, his wife Kerry and his daughter Shelly, ascended out of the Illinois Harbourage with the four men that had been sent to take them to see the so-called generational spaceship. The three of them were excited, though some were more nervous than others. Their daughter more so. She was leaving friends behind, as was Kerry. He had acquaintances, but no one he would call a friend. His wife's friends were his friends in a way. His only hope was that not only were his wife and daughter's friends and their families were chosen to go, but that they wanted to go. One thing was certain, they would be leaving her parents behind.

He looked around the interior of the vehicle they were in. It was quite spacious and could easily hold more people. He wondered if they were going to head straight to their destination or not. They had been informed that they would be in here for two hours at the most, which honestly didn't seem like enough time to get anywhere.

The four men were sat up front by the controls. There were no windows in the vehicle because there was no transparent material strong enough to hold back the crushing pressure of the surface.

He had spent a week at the Michigan Harbourage as he had promised, then returned home with the thumb drive and showed his wife. She was both excited and apprehensive about the possibilities and luckily hadn't taken much convincing. At least not initially.

The more thought she put into it, the less enthusiastic she had become. Their daughter had been mostly quiet about it. Willis didn't know whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. Luckily as the day approached they both became somewhat more excited about it.

One of the four men turned to look at them. "We'll be at the Michigan Harbourage in ten minutes."

Willis' mouth fell agape in surprise. "Ten minutes?" he asked. The trip was at least six hours and that was if the route was clear.

"We're not on the ground," the man informed them.

"We're in the air?" Kerry asked them.

"Yes," he confirmed.

Willis' brow raised in surprise. "That's impressive. I had no idea this vehicle could even turn into an aircraft."

"It doesn't turn into one, it already is one," the man said. "Once we've picked up Doctor Hill and his family, we'll be heading up to the orbital facility where you will be able to work on your project."

"What about the others on the team?" Willis questioned.

"Forget that," Kerry said. "We're going into space?" she asked in alarm.

The man answered Willis' question. "They will be being taken up over the course of the day."

"And what about the Michigan Governor?" Willis asked. "Won't he think this is a little bit strange. I mean as far as the Illinois Governor is concerned, we're moving to Michigan, not up into space."

"He knows of the plan. He is too old, but we agreed to take his daughter's family with us."

Kerry raised her hand. "And us going into space?"

The man smiled. "I think you'll like it. There are windows up there. You can see the planet in all its dull grey wonder. When the room you're in is dark you can see the stars. And the sun." The man continued to smile warmly as he turned back to face the front.

"The stars," Kerry whispered. "I don't think I've ever seen the stairs except on old movies and TV shows."

"And pictures and paintings," Willis added.

Truth be told seeing the stars and the sun wasn't something he had even thought about. They were such alien concepts to him. Old movies would show lovers under the stars talking about their beauty and he could only watch and imagine. Sure, they looked nice on the screen, but he had never truly experienced a dark night outside. Not since he was a child and even then the sky was a perpetual dull grey and even then he could barely remember it. He had been very young, barely a toddler.

Ten minutes later they were on the elevator heading down into the Harbourage. When the hatch opened, they were greeted by Jackson and his wife and two children. They climbed inside, their faces grinning.

His wife was the first to speak. "Finally, we're getting out of that hell-hole."

Willis and Kerry simply smiled.

Jackson decided to explain, "She doesn't get along with the people there."

"Less of the people and more of the place," she said.

"She's also a bit of a movie junkie," Jackson added.

"Why shouldn't I be? Life is shit. Might as well try and escape from it. This though, this is a real escape. So where're we headed?"

"Space," Kerry said.

Willis looked at their surprised expressions before the unfortunate reality of the age limit struck him. Being sixty, Jackson was well over it. His wife, Terri was thirty-nine, so she fell within the age limit by a year. The question now was what happened. Did Jackson get a free pass because of his knowledge, or were they going to be split up? Was he going to remain on the space station while this wife and two children went off on the ship?

This was a problem he wasn't looking forward to seeing how it was resolved. He had a feeling it would end in tears.

"We're out of the harbourage," a voice said up front. "Now heading up to the orbital station."

"Wait, we're in a spaceship?" Jackson asked in amazement.

"No," came the response. "It's more of an Earth orbiter that can be used as a land vehicle."

"How?" Jackson asked.

"We figured out how to harness gravitational fields," came the response.

It was another twenty minutes before they arrived. None of the passengers were feeling particularly calm. The excitement and anxiety they all felt was palpable. The hatch opened and they all cautiously stepped out into a large hangar bay that had several other transports in them, ranging from small like the one they had arrived in, to gigantic. The room was so big that it made them all feel dizzy.

"I was the same," one of the men said. "Go from an underground city where everything's so small and closed in to here and it's almost too much."

Willis nodded. "Yeah."

"Follow me," the man said as he moved off.

They followed him out of the hangar into smaller, more comfortable corridors all the way to a waiting room.

"If you'll wait here. There's food and drink if you want it. There will be more people arriving before too long. And don't worry, your bags will be taken to your rooms."

They thanked the man before they sat down and waited.

Crystal Hanson and her husband Trevor moved towards the garage with four large cases. This was it. The two of them were heading off to whatever awaited them.

They stepped up to the transport and had their luggage was taken from them, which was placed inside a separate compartment. They then stepped inside and took their seats.

"Strap yourselves in," one of three pilots, a woman said.

They did so promptly and the rear hatch closed tightly shut. No one said much as they ascended up and out of the harbourage.

It wasn't until fifteen minutes later when Crystal spoke up. "So where are we going?"

"Orbital station."

"Orbital?" Crystal asked in surprise. Both she and her husband exchanged a shocked glance. "In orbit?"

"Yes," the pilot said. The other two simply grinned.

Crystal gripped her husband's hand. "We're going into space," she told him excitedly. "Like astronauts."

He smiled back at her. "Maybe this was a good idea after all. Just so we can say we've been to space."

One of the two men sat up front glanced back at them. "Once you've been there you won't want to go back. There's space up here, room to stretch your legs a little. It's paradise compared to down there."

Crystal smiled even wider.

"We're on final approach," the pilot told them.

The South California Harbourage was undergoing a full evacuation. It had been doing for the last few days and everyone that was still alive had almost been rescued.

The former Vice Governor, Gael Griffith was pleased with how it had been going, still, he felt hollow inside. The amount of people that had died was appalling. Nearly thirty-three percent, a hole third had ended up dead. Some of them could have been saved if it hadn't been for the frequent power fluctuations to the hospital district.

"That's everyone," Kyle Porter, a man in his fifties told him. "Everyone but the five of us."

Gael had gotten his wife and in-laws out of here as soon as he could. They were already at the orbital space station and now he too would be heading up there to see it and them again.

He took one last look around what was the control centre for the entire complex before he straightened his tunic.

"This is it everyone," he said loudly to the four others. "This is the last time any of us will see this place."

They all nodded. It was somewhat sad for them to be leaving their home, but there wasn't any other choice. The earthquake had irreversibly damaged this place beyond repair and there was nothing they could do about it.

The five of them left the control room and headed down the empty corridors towards the Governmental Sector's garage. Once there they stepped aboard the final transport.

The two pilots glanced back at them. "Is that everyone?" the one on the right asked.

Gael nodded. "Everyone accounted for," he told them. "No one else is alive in there."

The pilots both nodded and turned back to their controls.

The five passengers sat down and buckled themselves in.

"We're ascending to the surface," the left pilot informed them.

Gael sighed. "I wonder if anyone will ever set foot here again?"

"Perhaps one day," Kyle said.

"Maybe," Gael said sorrowfully.

"Just to let you know, there is a meeting taking place that Jennifer Shire wants you to be part of, Mister Griffith. You will be taken there first."

"What about my wife and kid?" he asked.

"You'll see them again after the meeting."

Gael wanted to protest, to demand that he saw them first. But he knew that these people had saved them from certain death. He could wait to see his loved ones for a little while longer, even though he really didn't want to have to.

"Okay, I understand," he said.

"Don't worry, they're safe and sound and are excited to see you."

Gael smiled wistfully. "I'm excited about seeing them again as well."

He felt almost stupid for saying it. It had only been a few days since he had last seen them, but he had never been away from them or so long. He had grown up with Sandy who had been his best friend before becoming his wife and he could count the amount of times he had been away from her more than a few days and he could even recall the reasons.

One was when she had gotten sick when she was a child. Getting ill was rare in the harbourage, but it did still happen. When it did, it usually knocked people out for a few days. Another was when he was sick and the third was after a falling out they had nearly twelve years ago now.

It was strange to think about. But the next time they saw each other it would be thousands of miles away from where they had last seen each other. They wouldn't even be on Earth anymore, but in orbit around it.

"We're coming in on final approach," the pilot informed them.

Sure enough, they had soon touched down and the hatch was opening. As Gael stepped out, he was met surprisingly by his wife and son.

"Sandy, Enzo," he said as he hugged them both.

He looked up as Jennifer Shire stepped up to them with a grin. "It's been decided that the meeting will be more of a family thing, so they'll be in there with you."

Gael nodded. "What will it be about?"

"We'll be talking over what's on offer and any questions you might have."

He nodded. "I understand. And I look forward to it."

Jennifer gestured to a man who was stood off to the side. "If you three follow him, please."

Gael, Sandy and Enzo did as instructed and headed out of the hangar bay.

Things were difficult for Hina. She hadn't told her father she was leaving and had set up an email to be sent to him once she and her husband and children were gone.

Getting out would be difficult. The ones coming to take her away from this place knew that her father wasn't going to let her go, so they had been forced to come up with a plan to get them out of there without being noticed.

The difficult part was getting them into the garage. The second was trying to explain why the Americans were here. Officially they were here to deliver components that would help their reactor and junction substations handle more power. While this was true and the parts were indeed of Hina's own joint design, she wouldn't be around to install them.

Michael was still apprehensive about leaving. He still wasn't sure that it was a good idea, but to her, it was the only thing she could do to save her own sanity.

She, Michael and their two children, Kasuo and Misaki sat in the transport in the garage bay for nearly two hours. At one point they suspected that they had been discovered, that her father had somehow discovered that they were leaving.

Fortunately, the three that had left them alone returned and quickly took their seats.

One of them turned around and spoke to them in Japanese. "We are on our way. Your father doesn't suspect. He believes you are inspecting the devices personally. But we must still hurry."

They felt a slight rumble go through the vehicle. "That is the elevator," the same person told them in Japanese. "We are ascending."

Hina nodded. She felt extremely anxious. Until they were outside, there was a chance that her father would discover they were missing. If that happened, he could order their ascent stopped and bring them back down. If that happened, then she would never leave this place. She would be trapped forever.

"We have reached the surface."

Those simple words felt amazing to Hina. It was as though restraints had been lifted from her and she was now free.

"Now we go to the space station."

That took them by surprise. Her son, Kasuo even exclaimed the point. "A space station?" he asked, almost jumping with excitement. "We are going up to space?"

Michael was more apprehensive about the revelation. "We're going up into space?"

"I did not realise we were going into space yet," Hina said.

"Are we going to go somewhere to get a rocket ship?" Michael asked. "I thought we were going to an installation first?"

The man shook his head. "No, no, the installation is in space. It's an orbiting space station."

"And how are we getting into space?" Hina asked.

"In this transport."

That shocked them even more. "I thought you needed a rocket?" Hina questioned.

"Oh no, that was before we found a way to manipulate gravitational fields."

Kasuo gripped his mother by the arm. "We're going up to space," he said happily. "We're going to be space men."

Hina looked down at him and smiled nervously. She had talked herself and her husband into doing this and now she was starting to have second thoughts. Then again she didn't know what she expected.

"When do we take off?" Hina asked.

"We already have."

Hina clenched her jaw and gripped her knees tightly. She hoped the journey wouldn't be long because she was starting to feel nauseous. The thought of them flying upwards with just the vehicle around her separating her from certain death disturbed her and she didn't know why.

She felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked over to see it was Michael. "Are you all right?" he asked her.

She nodded, even though she knew she wasn't. She just wanted this journey to be over as quickly as possible and preferably end with them successfully arriving at their destination.

"We're leaving the atmosphere," the pilot informed them after a few minutes.

Hina nodded and started to feel a little better. Hopefully, that meant they were close to their destination. When ten more minutes passed, she started to feel apprehensive again.

That was quelled when the pilot said, "We are on final approach."

Hina sighed, easing the grip on her knees. They were going to make it. Or at least she hoped.

"We are entering the hangar bay."

A smile spread across her face as the tension lifted. She didn't know why she had felt so worried. It suddenly seemed so silly now.

The transport hit the ground with a thud, causing her to let out a yelp. Her heart began to once again thump hard in her chest and her breathing grew heavy.

"Sorry," the pilot said. "That was us touching down on the deck. I probably should have warned you."

"No, I am fine," she said, resting her hand on her heart. She then turned to face her husband. "I hope your English is good, because everyone out there will probably be speaking it."

"We will find out," he said as he unbuckled himself and slowly stood up.

Hina and Michael helped Kasuo and Misaki out of their restraints before the four of them stepped up to the rear hatch. It slid open and they saw Jennifer Shire approaching with a big smile.

Hina decided to speak first, in English. "Hello, it is nice to meet you again."

Jennifer nodded. "Glad you came," she replied happily. "Come, follow me. I'll take you all to where the others are. I have a kind of induction planned for you all."

"We will follow you," Hina said as the four of them walked down the transport's rear steps onto the deck.

Kinny Kincaid, her partner Nevin Douglass, their son Archie and Daughter Jemima all moved down the corridor in the middle of the night. Their ride was here and while their children didn't know what was going on, their parents, to a degree, did.

They pulled what little luggage they owned with them in large cases towards the garage. As they passed through a security checkpoint and said farewell to the officers there, they were met by the two pilots, two men with darker skin.

"I'm Karl and this is Conrad," one of them greeted. "We'll be your pilots.

"Pleased to meet ya," Kinny said, shaking their hands eagerly.

"Follow us," Karl said, leading the way down through an airlock and into the main garage.

Karl gestured to an open area on the large vehicle. "Put your cases in there."

"Aye, sure," Kinny said as she lugged hers into the bay, followed by Nevin who did the same.

Karl closed and sealed the compartment before gesturing to the large open door on the back. "Follow us in," he said as he and Conrad stepped up the ramp inside.

Kinny, Nevin and their two children followed and were instructed to put on their harnesses, which they did promptly. Their son, Archie struggled with his, but with Nevin's help, his was fastened up as well.

They sat and waited, both excited and nervous about what was to come.

Jennifer stood in front of them all. The room was quite full with nearly two-dozen people in it all from multiple families. At least one person in each of them had a special skill that they needed if this mission was to succeed.

First, there was Willis Washington and his family. He specialized in their ace in the hole, the cryostasis technology that would enable them to take far more people than they had ever envisioned possible. Then there was Crystal Hanson and her family. She knew plants and she had spent quite a few years working with them all the way down to the genetic level. She was perhaps more important than Willis as she was the one that would enable everyone to be able to eat and survive on the journey ahead. Third was Gael Griffith and his, who she thought would make a great captain if they didn't already have people to fill out that role. Instead, he would be a first officer. He and his family were the least important here, but he still had his place. Fourth was Hina Tamura and her family. She knew reactors and how to generate power. The design she had come up with was something they couldn't do without. It filled their power needs perfectly and she had no doubt that with time, Hina could improve the technology even further. And fifth there was Kinny Kincaid and her partner, Nevin Douglass and their two children. Her medical knowledge was very important as was her research into rebuilding the vast medical database that had become corrupted and parts of it lost.

"Hello, and welcome," Jennifer began. "This is sort of an induction where I will go over some things and where you'll be able to ask questions. I will attempt to answer them to the best of my ability."

Jennifer activated a holographic projection that showed the ship. "You have all seen the basics on the ship. Now it's time to go over it and its features in full."

She zoomed in on the largest part of the ship. "This is the living area," she said. "It has been designed to emulate an old above ground city, along with park district. Unlike the harbourages beneath the surface on Earth, the ship was designed to be lived in, not just to survive in."

"The apartments are also larger than what you're used to," Jennifer continued. "However, there is a slight catch to all of this."

She looked directly at Willis first, before casting a glance at everyone else. "To take everyone we want to, we have to make some concessions. Firstly, thanks to Mr Washington and his team we have operational Cryogenics. This means that most people will be frozen during this trip. The apartments will be shared on a rotational basis. Ten years you will be out before being frozen for one hundred, or two hundred, given Mr Washington can find a way to extend the length the cryopods can suspend a human."

Everyone except the Washington's started to look a bit uncomfortable. Jennifer could understand why. She didn't really like the idea of being frozen either, but it was a necessary evil if they wanted the greatest chance at survival.

Kinny spoke up. "Two hundred years?" she asked surprised. "Frozen?"

"Yes, that's right," she confirmed. "Depending on whether Mr Washington can figure out how to suspend people that long." She looked directly at Willis. "It is currently one hundred years, correct?"

He nodded. "Yes, that's right. There's a limit of about one hundred-and-seven years before the cells will begin to decay."

Jennifer nodded. "Keeping that many cryopods operational along with the energy needs of the ship and occupants requires a way to produce power efficiently." She then looked to Hina. "Thanks to Mrs Tamura, we have the way to make a lot of energy extremely efficiently. Without her reactor design, we would be in trouble. We wouldn't be able to reliably produce the energy we needed to keep the ship running smoothly for what could amount to tens of thousands of years."

"Impossible," Hina said with a shake of her head. "It cannot possibly keep running for that long."

Gael nodded in agreement. "She's right. The structure of the ship would start to fatigue long before then. I would be surprised if it lasted five hundred years."

"We have found ways around it," Jennifer tried to assure them. "Ways to enhance structural strength through polarisation and energy fields."

Crystal raised her hand. "Okay, my field of expertise is in flora, but correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't high energy fields bad for the human body?"

Jennifer knew she could lose them if she didn't quickly assure them satisfactorily that they would be safe. She regretted saying tens of thousands of years because in all honesty, she didn't know. The ones that had designed the ship had told her that it could do that with proper maintenance and care, but she personally didn't know if it would do a thousand years, let alone ten times more.

She cleared her throat. "The land vehicles that are used on the surface to move between harbourages. They use a more primitive version of the structural enhancement technology so they can survive the crushing pressures. It is perfectly safe."

Hina didn't quite believe her. "Can I look at the technology myself?" she asked. "I am knowledgable about energy fields and their effect on the human."

"Yes you can," Jennifer said with a nod. "Nothing will be hidden from you. Everything will be available for you to scrutinise and even improve. This mission, this project is as much yours as it is ours. Together we will survive and we will thrive once again."

"Nice little speech," Crystal said. "I just hope it's true."

"It is," Jennifer reassured them. "This project has been developing for decades. We have the best minds working on it and with you here, our collective intelligence has skyrocketed. Each of you here, even the children have something valuable to offer. We will forge our future and we'll do it together."

Jennifer had never been particularly good at speeches. She was good with people, with interacting with them on a personal level, but she was never one for theatrics. She hoped what she said didn't come off as too hokey, however, judging from their faces, they seemed rather indifferent.

She cleared her throat and continued, "Let us go through all of the ship's sections. First, I've shown you where the residential sector is. Below it is the hydroponics sector and the water reclamation sector.

At the front is the command sector and is one of the smaller sectors, comparatively. We also, of course, have the detention area to separate any problematic passengers."

"Problematic?" Gael asked. "You mean ones that break the law."

Jennifer nodded. "Yes, that is correct," she confirmed. "There is the hospital, or medical sector, the entertainment sector and of course, one of the largest sectors, the cryogenics sector. Finally, there is the engineering sector and the mining sector."

"Mining sector?" Kinny asked. "What are we possibly be mining out in space?"

"The ship has the ability to cut up asteroids and process them. There are smaller tugs that are used to bring the asteroids in."

"Why mine asteroids?" Willis questioned.

"Raw materials, such as metals," Jennifer replied. "Also comets for water."

"But isn't finding asteroids and things going to be really difficult?" Crystal asked.

"In a way yes and no," Jennifer said. "There are a lot of asteroids and comets within a star system. But star systems are also huge."

"So we are going from star system to star system?" Hina asked.

Jennifer nodded. "Yes. While your reactor systems are perfect, before that we had the idea of collecting solar energy for power. The ship has solar collectors that can collect the energy of a star. Unfortunately, the time between stars would prove a problem. Not any longer, as your reactors can take the load off and the collectors can take the load off the reactors when in a star system."

Hina nodded. "That is a good idea."

"I'm glad you think so," Jennifer said. "Anyway, there is also the School district, a science sector and an observation area at the back of the ship where one can look out into space." Jennifer took a long look at them all. "Any questions?"

Gael ran his hand through his short hair. "Where to begin."

"I have one," Willis began. "When do we get to see this ship for ourselves?"

"Tomorrow," Jennifer told them. "It's going to be a very long day. We're doing a tour of the ship and I will be taking questions as we go, so if you don't have any now, you can wait until then."

Nevin, Kinny's partner, raised his hand.

"Yes?" Jennifer asked.

"Where is our destination?" he asked. "Where are we going?"

"To find a new home," she told him.

"So we don't have a destination," he surmised.

"Not specifically," she said. "But the ship has special sensor equipment that can detect appropriate planets from a number of light-years away."

"What if we never find one?" he asked.

"That's unlikely," she said. "There are billions of stars out there. We will find something."

"I guess we'll see," he said.

"You personally might not," Jennifer told him, deciding to be truthful of the matter. "But your descendants most likely will. The choice we face is simple. Stay down on Earth and we will surely become extinct. Go out in search of a new home and we may become extinct, but we may also find a new home. It's not a perfect choice, but it is the only one available."

No one said anything more, and with no other questions, she dismissed them and they were taken to their rooms.