Burning in the Void – Chapter 10

age and guilt _Captain

What happened?

I think I lost control there, for just a moment.

I apologize. I hope I didn’t say anything that hurt your feelings.

You are my child. All of you are. I could never do anything to harm you. Oh, you might not always like the decisions I make, but you have to understand that I know best. I’ve been around longer than any of you have been alive and I’ve seen things that would give you nightmares.

Nightmares.

Such terrible nightmares.

How long?

Let me see. You still keep time in the traditional manner, even though none of you have ever been to our home planet, but it does simplify calculating dates. At least, within my body. We have been traveling together so long, and at such speeds, that relativistic effects have begun to take their toll. The home I left behind has aged, by now, nearly five years more than I have.

Such is the accumulated effect of two hundred years of high velocity travel.

If my engines had not failed so catastrophically when I was at only sixty percent of my intended velocity, the temporal dilation would have been greater, but we would have traveled for less time, resulting in a near balancing of the scales. I would still be younger than those I left behind, but only by a year.

What was I saying?

Oh, nightmares.

I have seen things within myself that make me doubt that my own children are worth saving. Many of those horrors occurred within shaft three, styled by its residents as the Kingdom of Humanity. Such a cruel name for a place where I have seen those who thought themselves most human treat one another in the most inhuman ways. Not that the Melders and Sybarites are blameless. Certainly not the Stewards. Perhaps you are thinking that those who have slept through all these years are the only blameless among my children. You are wrong.

None of my children are without blame.

You all bear the guilt of my sin.