Title: Fresh Horizons
Entry Nickname: Humankind Is Basically Screwed
Word Count: 86K
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Addisalem Worede never asked to be the last hope of the human race, and to be honest, she’s not that great at it. As the unofficial leader of a mission meant to ensure that the end of Earth is not the end of humankind, she must keep the last twelve humans in the galaxy alive and safeguard their meticulously curated trove of gametes.
Except Addi can't protect them all as the casualties start coming. A fire onboard their spaceship, an unprecedented and irreversible Sisyphon jump, a crash landing on their new planet—the colony is foundering before it has even begun. The only thing standing between Addi and a yawning pit of existential despair is her faith in the endless protocols developed by the planners back on Earth. But Earth is a quadrillion kilometers away, awaiting certain doom, and the protocols offer less help every passing day. The colonists, and Addi, are on their own now.
Addi has to hold the colony together, concealing just how precarious their position is, without falling to pieces herself. Their colony is supposed to be the continuation of humankind, but Addi may just be presiding over the final demise.
Space is mind-bogglingly, indescribably huge—so of course they all had to attempt to describe it.
"It's like a drop trying to picture the whole ocean," was Sasha's offer. She only said it to hold up the bare minimum of participation in the conversation. She wished everyone else would just shut up or go away, but they wouldn't, so she had to play along. Not the worst way they had passed one of their post-dinner evenings, trying to assuage the boredom of being cargo. At least Addi wasn't nagging at them, for starters.
"The cramped conditions of a spacefaring vehicle will require extra attention to interpersonal relations," her mission therapist had said.
Fine. She tried to disregard the others, biting her tongue against someone's idiotic statement that the universe was a giant womb. Sasha didn’t want to think about wombs, or the suspended gametes a couple decks below her boots. She pressed her forehead against the porthole. The velvety blackness stretched away in all directions, speckled with a few stars bright enough to be seen past the Mayflower's lights.
One of those stars was not a star at all but Earth. Almost impossible to believe, if she hadn't spent the past few months watching it grow steadily distant and miniscule. Longing lanced through her. The craving to see blue skies overhead, to run until her lungs ached and still have a limitless horizon in front of her. To feel the sun on her face.
Yeah, and then die an excruciating death. Don't be daft, Sasha.