I don't know why I'm on this voyage. I was, am, will always be, a consultant. Not one of the scientists that I work with. I've been a consultant for half of my life. I became a consultant 23 years ago. However, I must admit that each year I learn a little more. Some valuable tidbit that will be useful in the years to come.
When my team of scientists was picked to make this voyage to Nebulla 9000, I was surprised. We are not a Class One research group. The only thing we had going for us was a head scientist, Brady Morrison, who packaged the idea of Probe One.
Probe One: a complete, up-to-date, communications station. We laid the ground work for stellar contact within each star system. We erected the buildings; the equipment needed for communications; trained the personnell and in most cases, brought them with us. Brady was responsible for this concept. I was responsible for co-ordinating the remaining scientists work load. I iron out problems betweem the teams and our customers. Scientists speak a slightly different lingo than the customers, so I interface between them. In some instances even my interface doesn't help.
Our voyage to Nebulla 9000 will take ten earth years. We are on a new starship making her maiden voyage. The crew of Croman X is comprised of various life forms from friendly star systems. Usually each species of life remains aloof from the other species, but all are friendly. I seem to be the only one who spends most of her time alone, when I'm not on duty. It's a rare occasion for me to be invited to go out with any of my co-workers. Loneliness is not unfamiliar to me. I've always felt lonely, even in a room full of people.
I came from a family with both parents, a brother, and a sister. A pretty average sized family. At the spinster-ish age of twenty-one, I married. Within the first ten years of married life, I produced two daughters. Three years later I was divorced. My daughters are in their twenties, now, and I have three grandchildren, two boys and a girl, plus two sons-in-law. Through it all I felt alone. It was hard without any loving support and an understanding kindred. I learned to cope. I had a good life. I'm not complaining about that, but I did feel that something was missing.
When the opportunity came to leave for Nebulla 9000, I welcomed it with open arms. My daughters were not as pleased, at first, but after a family discussion they reluctantly agreed that it was a good opportunity for me. My sons-in-law pointed out that I would not have made such a fuss, if it would have been them making the voyage, and not I. I think that they were afraid that I would not return to them. I assumed then that I had every intention of returning and that we were not going into unfriendly territory. Our good-byes were teary, to say the least, and I will miss each and everyone of them, but I was also very excited. This is my maiden voyage as well. I was leaving earth, my home of 49 years.
Croman X is huge! It's a city within a city. Everything you could possibly want, or need, can be found aboard it. The ship is sectioned off into zones and each zone contained all it needed for the comforts of home. The EARTH zone had stores, living quarters, entertainment, and tradesmen.
I guess you could, almost, say that Croman X was a planet unto its self. Each zone could be compared to a country, but those countries were comprised of some alien life forms. A couple of the life forms that I have seen are: Avians, a human form that supposedly could fly; Hissers, a graceful, beautiful, life form that looked almost snake-like, with scales and no limbs; and Allazors, who had tails and faces resembling alligators on Earth. There are other life forms which I would notice on occasion, but I didn't inquire as to what they were.
The crew members, that I saw, were mainly Avians, Hissers, or Allazors. Normally, the members of my team worked on preliminary duties, and were not interfacing with the crew. It wasn't forbidden to hand out with others, it was just that we hung out together, sort of. I should say the scientists hung out, I was usually in my quarters after work hours, reading or writing.
My quarters aren't very large or extravagant. They provide me with a place to sleep, a place to take care of bodily functions and an "all purpose" area, much like a living room on Earth. Meals were usually eaten in a communal eating area, but could upon request, be eaten in your quarters. Each species of life form were provided a weekly menu with meals designed to meet all their dietary needs. I must admit that the meals were good and I never had a problem finding something on the menu that I couldn't eat.. The dinning area was open all the time, so you could eat whenever you wanted.
It amazed me more than once, how clean and relaxing the dinning area was. All the help that I saw there were androids and I had been told that each sector was served by androids of their species. There were five large, separate dinning areas reserved for special occasions and private parties. My understanding is that they are reserved by contacting the master computer a week in advance. Brady usually made it a point to keep everyone in our group informed of additions, or subtraction, of things to our enviornment. That was how I found out about the androids and the special dinning rooms.
As I stated earlier, this was my maiden voyage. In fact, this was the first time our whole group ever participated in the colonization of a new planet. All of our prior work went to already established colonies. Two, or three, of our crew would accompany the equipment and would work with the colonists on setting everything up. This voyage would take us, first, to Luna Brown, a moon of Angus, that was discovered by Vincent Brown. Angus had nine moons, but Luna Brown was the largest of them and, at first, it was thought to be another planet. By the time the first explorers of Angus got truly settled in and began mapping the moons of Angus they realized that Luna Brown's orbit was identical to the eight other moons. Vincent Brown, in a one man space ship, propelled himself to the then named, Luna Nine, and discovered that it had sand, grass, water, and life forms on it. When he returned to Angus with this startling news, an exploratory force was gathered and Luna Nine soon was called Luna Brown.
From all reports that followed, Luna Brown was habitable and none of the present life forms were larger than a cow. Settlers began arriving from Angus. Within a short time, Luna Brown was being explored from top to bottom. The only disparaging thing about Luna Brown was that whenever anyone went deep into the interior they never returned. This in turn prompted the people of Agnus to contact Planetary Federation for help in trying to find the missing people. That's how we got involved.
Our destination is Luna Brown. We are to set up communications in the heart of the interior and map outward to Vincent Island. Vincent Island seems to be immune to losing people. We will be establishing not only the communications hook-up, but a community as well. Brady felt it would take four to five years of intense work to completely scope out Luna Brown.
The complete details of our destination had been withheld from us until we were well into flight. It's just as well, since my family would have put up an enormous stink abount risking my life for some alien planet.