In the depths of space there are immeasurable terrors of cruelty, it is one of the first things you learn when you start at the parliament's pilots' academy, although piloting a ship, capable of moving between the different worlds that make up the human expansion region of the galaxy is a task that almost anyone with a minimum of technical knowledge could do, thanks to the fact that flight is almost fully automated, and parliament's safety devices work very effectively when emergencies arise; this does not work in many unexplored regions or where terrifying objects hide in the dark, waiting to fatally catch the unsuspecting.
Neutron stars or magnetars, hidden in the middle of dense nebulae, waiting to crush or disintegrate any object that comes close enough to them. Clouds of incandescent gas, in which incredible magnetic fields are capable of destroying the instruments of ordinary ships and leaving them adrift. Matter-devouring black holes, hidden in the darkness of space, or surrounded by incandescent accretion discs, where matter is accelerated to speeds similar to light while burning at inconceivable temperatures.
But these terrors pale in the face of the most improbable and commonplace of the risks of piloting a ship which may move at inconceivable speeds, the terror of the effects of relativity, and the greatest and most horrible of these, the dilation of time. The quality that time has, for an external observer, of moving more slowly as a moving object approaches the speed of light.
During the first stellar journeys of the Perseus era, when the ships moved at fractions of the speed of light, this problem was not very relevant, if there was dilation, but it was not so appreciable, hardly noticing differences of minutes or even hours between the time of the traveler and the spectators, however when the ships were getting faster this problem became more worrying, arriving to differences of days or weeks.
But when the technological leap was made from the sub-light impulse engines to those of space-time impulse, this problem was completely corrected, since the latter managed to surpass the speed of light by far, without violating relativity and without the effect of time dilation, since in practice it is not the ship that moves, but the space-time around it, which, like a wave, propels it at speeds that today, more than twenty-three thousand years after its creation, can theoretically surpass, in some military ships, up to four thousand times that of light.
When you think about this, you feel a false sense of security, that nothing can go wrong, that relativity is there to help you travel faster and farther than you ever could. It is when you trust this, that again the monsters that lurk in the darkness have the opportunity to take advantage of your lack of caution.
This is how I got here, crossing the hergosphere of a black hole, just at the moment when the space-time impulse of my ship failed, condemning me to spin at speeds that, in the eyes of an external observer, would be higher than those of light, at the limit of the event horizon of this matter-eating monster. While for me, time advances normally, the universe outside my gravity prison, advances as if it were a movie advanced at an immeasurable speed.
As I float, tied by the umbilical cord to my ship, in a last desperate attempt to get the momentum going again, I think of how long I have been here and how much has happened out there, for me it has been several days already, my controls indicate that only twelve have passed, but when I failed the system and was captured by gravity my speed was more than a hundred times that of light, so for the universe outside of here it has been thousands of years already.
Overwhelmed by my situation, I wonder if it is not better to let my orbit fall and finally be caught by the horizon of events, to lose myself in the abyss of its absence of space time, where everything known loses meaning, to sink into its unknown depths. But the morbid need to know, what I once knew has become, pushes away fatalistic thoughts, motivating me to keep trying to escape.
After two days of work, and sacrificing several security devices, I managed to reactivate the space-time impulse engine, my computer has calculated my absence from reality in forty-nine thousand years, what universe will it find, how will the humans of this time be, how much will we have expanded in the galaxy, my curiosity will soon be irremediably satisfied.
After igniting the impulse, I manage to break the gravity bonds of the black hole's hergosphere and my ship manages to quickly move away from its influence. Relieved, but at the same time distressed, I set out for Heracles, where, when I left my time, was the seat of parliament and the headquarters of the exploration division, where I was to report.
I had to cross two bridges whose monitoring stations were not where they should be, I assumed they were removed and replaced by some sort of device, which was completely unknown to me and undetectable by my ship's sensors.
When I got to Heracles, the first thing I noticed when I approached, was the absence of radio emissions in any band, they would have been completely eliminated as a way of transmitting information, what new technologies would have been used? I approach the planet, I descend into its atmosphere and there is nothing; what was once a world that, even before the arrival of humans, was brimming with life, with extensive and dense forests, was now a huge desert of completely transparent skies, without a single cloud in sight, its once vast ocean had completely disappeared, apparently all its water had disappeared, leaving only a barren rock, where before there was a beautiful world.
Thus I began my wanderings in this new universe, whose nature is completely unknown to me. Palas, Dione, Amphitrite, The Earth, Cerberus, Atlas, all abandoned, some still preserved ruins of cities that were once populated by millions of people, others were unrecognizable, completely flooded or frozen and in all of them stood out a complete absence of man, where did everything I once knew go, where did humanity go?
Perhaps it would have been better to let myself fall into the horizon of events.