Arrival is imminent. Eighty years after leaving Earth, the interstellar transport Horizon is days away from its final destination—the unexplored moon of Verdan. Siblings Mikhail and Mary are at loose ends, occupied with plans, preparations, and personal struggles, in near constant conflict with their elderly father Dimitri, the expedition's founder and a man obsessed with staging the perfect landing. But when touchdown commences, what lies in wait on this little green moon? Is it home, horror, or something far more mysterious?
AVAILABLE IN E-BOOK & TRADE PAPERBACK FORMATS
Published by The Concentrium
Initial release: February 2013
Updated: February 2016
Library of Congress Control Number: 2012952603
The observation screen flashed blue and white before filling itself with the blackness of open space. Dimitri Kucherov and Misha Stennikov were standing shoulder to shoulder in front of the ceiling-high image port when a female voice came online and announced the distance traveled—14.7 billion kilometers.
Dimitri shifted his weight from one leg to the other and inadvertently jabbed his elbow into Misha’s arm. The embarrassed pilot took a step to the side and gave the Founder more room. Dimitri was too preoccupied to notice the gesture. The display screen held his full attention.
Minutes passed and stars glistened.
Dimitri Ivanovich Kucherov—the man who had changed the world. He was taller than most people expected, and thinner. The color of his well-tanned skin was a near match for his sienna-print suit. Atop his angular head, his hair hung thick and brown, and perfectly groomed—the gray flecks at his temples the only sign of approaching middle age.
As darkly complected as Dimitri was, Misha stood as his pasty opposite. His ligature implants—visible from any part of his body his jumpsuit did not cover—blinked in a cavalcade of colors, linking him to the innards of the ship like the living, breathing control system that he was.
“No, no. This won’t do.” Dimitri flipped his hand at the screen as if he were dismissing the entire universe. “Is it possible to switch to a reverse view?”
“If that’s what you prefer, sir. The only reason the display is pointed forward is due to your edict that none of us should ever look back. It’s what you’ve always spoken of, from the very earliest days. ‘Looking back is wasteful.’ Those are words you’re famous for. And I for one have always understood the quote, and agree with its premise.”
“Well, just this once, how about we ignore my little pearls of wisdom? We’re about to leave the solar system. If there was ever a time to look back, this would be it.” He elbowed Misha intentionally this time. “And don’t tell me you don’t care or think about such things. This is a monumental moment, Mr. Stennikov. This could be the last time we’re able to see it with our own eyes.”
Misha’s cranial implants lit up, a blazing ruby red. The next instant, a dimensional representation of the planet Earth materialized inside the screen, its man-made rings ever spinning in the distance.
Dimitri stared at the blue-green wonder, muttering over and over, “My, my. My, My.”
“Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?” Misha said as his implants transitioned back to an inactive gray.
“Not at the moment, no. Although I do ask that you relax. I insist upon that. I want everyone aboard to take a deep breath, and no matter what else—find-a-way-to-relax. Yes, our birthplace is fading into the distance. And yes, the unknown is out there beckoning. But none of that matters, not a single bit of it.”
As if reminded of something, Dimitri stopped there and turned.
“Listen to me ramble on. You were correct to quote me, Mr. Stennikov. Looking back is anathema, the ultimate distraction. What we are embarking upon here will require fortitude of the highest order. The past is irrelevant. The distance forward, out of our control. From now on out, all we can realistically do is live our lives—which I remind you, is precisely what we would’ve been doing on Earth. And now, as we inch our way across the galaxy, it’s what we have to do here. Perspective is paramount. A purposeful existence, that’s what truly lies ahead.”