Things you do not wish to...

An Alpha Centauri fan fiction by Shade

I say this only once before beginning. I don't own Alpha Centauri, I don't even think I want to. I intend no harm. Now that we're clear about this, let us begin...

1) See.

It was a busy day at the UN Headquarters in New York, busier than ever: it was the day of judgement for many present. All of the ten thousand prominent men and women had sent in their application forms in order to be chosen to go on the well-known mission to Alpha Centauri, the star nearest Sol. It was a colonizing mission: scientists had found out that Chiron, AC's prime planet, was similar in environment to Earth and thus habitable. Despite the dangers that were sure to be attached to the mission, many had sent in their application form. Earth no longer was a desirable place to live in the year 2060.

Among the many was professor Prokhor L. Zakharov, one of the world's most known and respected scientists. Next to him sat one of his colleagues of the Free University of Belarus, Youri Beslin. They were both hoping for a place aboard the spacecraft that would bring them to Chiron: Zakharov as a physicist and chemist, Beslin as an informatics specialist and programmer. They were talking to each other about the mission: or rather, Beslin was having a long monologue about the mission and its several advantages. Zakharov pretended to listen, but in the meanwhile looked over the crowd to see if there was anyone he knew. His eyes fell on a few older men - all professors in something or other that he'd met at congresses - until they rested on a quite familiar figure not too far away. Zakharov jumped. He knew that girl that had her arms thrown around a young boy's shoulders. Beslin had stopped in the meanwhile, noticing that he had lost his listener's attention somehow, and turned to look at the girl too: he gasped audibly.

"Do you know her, Youri?"

"Yes, yes, of course! That, my friend, is none other than Deirdre Skye, the daughter of Alexander Skye - you must know him. Maybe she's come to hear if her father has a place aboard the 'Unity'..." Beslin trailed away as he saw someone pass Deirdre: the boy she was with poked out his tongue.

"Right, Sean, what's he doing here anyway... monopolist... pollutor pig..." Zakharov chuckled: never before had he heard an accent that appealing.

"She's Scottish, as is her father.", Beslin clarified. "She's pretty young, too, to have a reputation like hers in the academic field." The old scientist added, after seeing Zakharov raise an eyebrow in surprise: "She is said to be even better than her father. She is said to do wonders with plants, and make them do wonders, too..." Again, his voice trailed away.

"Who was it that passed her then?"

"Oh, that was Nwabudike Morgan, CEO of almost every multinational on this planet. I wouldn't be surprised if he was chosen to go along: he has enough money to buy himself in twenty times..."

"But why...?", Zakharov started, but was cut short by the voice of the president of the UN.

"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for your enthusiasm and your applications. We have carefully deliberated on every appointment and made sure to select a balanced team for this mission.

We will appoint as the captain of this mission... John Garland of NASA." The speech was punctured by applause as Garland was hugged by his colleagues and wished the best. "As general coordinator of the scientific team, we will appoint professor Prokhor Zakharov of the Free University of Belarus." Zakharov couldn't believe his ears: he was only vaguely aware of the congratulations of the people around him, but came back to his senses when Beslin gave him a pat on the shoulders.

"Well done, Prokhor, well done..."

"Operating under supervision of professor Zakharov will be three teams: a team of engineers led by Nwabudike Morgan, a team of defensive development research led by Corazón Santiago, and a team of ecologists and bio-engineers led by doctor Deirdre Skye. Further, for the safety of this mission, a detachment of marines is sent along, led by Sheng-ji Yang, and we will be accompanied by an expert in ethics and behavioural psychology, sister Miriam Godwinson. Lastly, to ensure that the UN charter for this mission is followed strictly, vice-president Pravin Lal of the UN will go along on this mission. That concludes the openings for this mission: the applications for next mission can be sent in starting tomorrow and the team for that mission will be picked in a month. If those selected for this mission will come to the stage, they may follow me to be briefed. Thank you, all, and a very good day."

Zakharov saw from the corner of his eye a rather elderly-looking woman throw her arms around Deirdre and cry: meanwhile he was being ushered out of his chair by Beslin, who was still congratulating him.

"...as for me, I'm hoping that maybe next mission... But you go now, they'll be waiting for you." Indeed, at the stage, the group was waiting - he was the only one that was still hanging around in the hall.

"I hope you can come along in the next mission, my friend - Youri. Now, I should go and hear what they have to say. I will see you later, I expect." With those words, he stepped in the direction of the stage.

"Ah, and here is the man who will make our mission a scientific success. Ladies and gentlemen, meet professor Zakharov. Professor, these are.." He was introduced to the others who would be going on the mission. He knew Yang, who was one of the men he had looked at earlier - now he could place the man as a political expert and a man of a high function in the new Asian world. Miriam he very much doubted to be what she gave out to be - she looked too zealous to be an etiologist. Corazon, the one in charge of defensive technology, gave him a firm handshake - too firm for a woman, yet her soft hands showed that she was only that. Morgan didn't look the least bit impressed with him. Pravin Lal was amiable enough, but the man lacked backbone in Zakharov's opinion. And then there was Deirdre, who looked so profoundly shaken that she didn't even notice him extend his hand. Lastly, he saw the captain.

"The name's John Garland, professor, but you can call me Jay." The man had a heavy American accent, one that amused Zakharov. He nodded as they started walking to a meeting room.

"Prokhor Zakharov, but you may call me Prokhor... Jay."

"I can already tell that we'll get along fine. As for them..." The tall man sighed. "I dunno. They look like the most crazy-picked bunch to me. Though those two younger women look like nice-type chicks to me..." Zakharov followed his gaze. He had noticed the skin-tight dress Santiago wore earlier but had paid it no heed: as for Deirdre, she had obviously not bothered to dress formal since she wore some tight blue jeans and a T-shirt that was too small. Zakharov swallowed, a blush quickly spreading over his pale face. He didn't know how to react on the effect of seeing just how feminine these women were.

"I wouldn't judge them on that.", he said drily, his blush gone again.

"Oh, no, now don't get me wrong," John said quickly, "I'd never judge the two doctors on their looks - though they sure are lookers... I know for a fact that they're both idealists. Santiago there...", he pointed to the Hispanic beauty, "has got a Ph.D. in ballistics but also a black belt in karate and about a dozen different rifles in her house. And miss Skye is as much an ecologist as a member of Greenpeace and the WWF. But she's a bit too slender for my taste anyway. I like a woman whose curves are nicely filled out - like Santiago."

"I don't know... I think I'd like miss Skye most..." It was said before he knew it. He blushed again, this time longer: what was it with him! "...But I'm not one to judge."

"No, leave that to our big CEO over there.", the captain remarked. "Hasn't taken his eyes off those two for a second. ...Ah, I think this is where we'll be briefed!", he said quickly as he saw Zakharov's features darken. "Shush now, don't wanna miss a word of what they say, now wouldya?"

"Ladies and gentlemen... and captain Garland," said the woman in front of them, which earned her a playful scowl from said captain, "I'm here to introduce you to the starship that you'll be travelling on. It has been worked on for years by many scientists across the world - and now it is finished. It's called the USS Unity." She pushed a button on a screen and a screen flashed on, showing them an image of a grand spaceship, gleaming in the sunlight. "It has room for up to a thousand passengers - though only three hundred of them will remain awake once the ship has passed Jupiter. It also holds a large area that will be devoted to scientific research - both the necessary variety and the superfluous one that most undoubtedly will have its uses. But this is mostly an introduction, so I'll spare you the details.

There are things required of you. First of all, you must make sure you take with you your own supplies for research and such. That means that you'll have to ask your employers to give you the necessary. The four universities will not have any problem with this, but of some I am more uncertain. Also, you are required to bring along your own staff. It has been proven to give the best results. And lastly... you will be put in cryostatic sleep once the ship exits the solar system. Is there anyone who has a special kind of heart disease or metabolism dysfunction that prevents him or her from going in cryostasis for longer than a month?" The woman paused and surveyed the gathered company: when no one spoke, she continued: "Along these requirements there are also certain liberties you have. Firstly, you may take with you - if you wish this - a family member or other close relative. Among those are also counted long-term relationship partners and fiancés. Also, you may bring one superfluous item with you as a luxury item. The ship has minimal comfort and I can imagine that you couldn't live without, say, a portable video player or a CD-player.

One last comment. If you bring your beloved with you, make sure he or she knows that interfering with your work is out of the question. You have your responsibilities, live accordingly.

Then, for the practical side of the mission. We leave in two weeks: make sure you are ready by then. You will all be accommodated in the complex surrounding the base from which the space vessel will leave: I imagine you can handle your affairs from there as well as from your home. You will now be brought to the complex and showed your quarters. I wish you all a good day." With that, the woman was gone and they began to rise.

"Welcome to 'Life the Hard Way'...", Garland said to Zakharov as the two walked out of the meeting room.


It was already bustling in the halls of the UN Headquarters when Deirdre Skye stepped in with her brother Sean and her mother. Her father was at home, still working on some of his articles that were due next week. She loved her father, he was the one that had shown her the miracles of nature when she was a child - those miracles were now the ones she made. She smiled. Her father had made her hand in an application form, telling her in little words that he wished nothing more than for her to go on that mission and get away from the misery of Earth as soon as possible.

"You're young, girl, and talented. They'll need someone like you more than they could use someone like me. You're my hope, more so because you've achieved everything I have at your age - and more..."

She looked around while leaning a bit on her younger brother, a bit uneasy, and noticed a few professors she had seen or heard of. She smiled as she noticed a few women around as well, easily noticeable in the sea of dark suits: she recognised doctor Santiago, who she knew had achieved monumental breakthroughs in mining technology with explosion mechanics and such. But of the men, only two distinguished themselves from the uniform masses: both did not wear a suit, but a simple outfit with a trademark white lab coat. Deirdre recognised Professor Zakharov, who was said to be an expert in anything physics and one of the greatest minds in the world since Einstein. She sighed. Of course, he would be chosen to go, but if she would be? She smiled as a few words spoken by the professor and his friend drifted her way: the man's name was no subtle indication of where he was born, but she had always found accents funny - and the professor had an accent that was too clear to be hidden behind his perfect English.

It was then that Morgan passed her and looked at her briefly before continuing. Sean poked out his tongue to the towering businessman, and Deirdre nodded.

"Right, Sean, what's he doing here anyway... monopolist... pollutor pig..."

"He does seem to fit the titles rather nicely." The man on her right was glaring daggers at the tall African as well. "The name's Garland, John Garland. But a lovely lady like yourself may call me Jay."

"Deirdre Skye. And of course you can call me Deirdre. It would seem out of place for you to call me 'miss' or 'doctor'." Just as she felt an interesting conversation had come up, the president of the UN spoke and Jay rejoined his colleagues a bit further ahead of Deirdre.

"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for your enthusiasm and your applications. We have carefully deliberated on every appointment and made sure to select a balanced team for this mission.

We will appoint as the captain of this mission... John Garland of NASA." Deirdre smiled. She saw his colleagues congratulate him and silently did so as well. The president continued. "As general coordinator of the scientific team, we will appoint professor Prokhor Zakharov of the Free University of Belarus. Operating under supervision of professor Zakharov will be three teams: a team of engineers led by Nwabudike Morgan, a team of defensive development research led by Corazón Santiago, and a team of ecologists and bio-engineers led by doctor Deirdre Skye." Deirdre could not believe her ears. Had she, who was regarded by her father's colleagues as just a girl, really gotten a place on the colonization mission? She felt the arms and congratulations of her brother and mother surround her, through which the rest of the speech sounded faint.

"Further, for the safety of this mission, a detachment of marines is sent along, led by Sheng-ji Yang, and we will be accompanied by an expert in ethics and behavioural psychology, sister Miriam Godwinson. Lastly, to ensure that the UN charter for this mission is followed strictly, vice-president Pravin Lal of the UN will go along on this mission. That concludes the openings for this mission: the applications for next mission can be sent in starting tomorrow and the team for that mission will be picked in a month. If those selected for this mission will come to the stage, they may follow me to be briefed. Thank you, all, and a very good day." Deirdre detached herself slowly from the arms of her mother and brother.

"Mom, I have to go now. I'll meet you tonight at the hotel, okay? Sean... take care, allright?" She stepped to the stage, where most of the others that were chosen to 'lead' the mission were already gathered.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is doctor Deirdre Skye, talented daughter of professor Alexander Skye. Doctor Skye, these are..." Deirdre was introduced to Garland, who winked at her slyly before shaking her hand. She refused to take Morgan's hand, but heartily shook sister Miriam's, doctor Santiago's and Lal's. Yang merely nodded in her direction, with a small smile - she knew instantly that he was among those that saw her as the daughter of her father. With a sigh, she thought of what she was going to face once word got out that she was going and not her father: sunk in thought, she didn't even notice them introducing Zakharov to her. It was doctor Santiago who 'awoke' her.

"Miss Skye, it is time to go." She had a rich Spanish accent. "Call me Corazon," the older woman said as she opened her mouth to speak, "doctor sounds too formal."

"Okay then, call me Deirdre.", she replied with a smile as they walked through a door into a long corridor. "I've heard of you a lot, Corazon. You're quite the expert. Well, and of course I know Morgan."

"He is an overly charismatic man. I do not like him." The two looked at each other.

"Well, we agree on something. Oh god, is he staring at us?" For Deirdre had noticed the taller man's eyes move away as she looked at him.

"Probably. It is said that he is insatiable, always looking for a new challenge. I will not present him one."

"I'd like to see him try." Deirdre's jaw was set: the thought alone enraged her.

"...But he is not the only one that noticed us. Your friend the captain and our supervisor Zakharov are discussing us as we speak.", Corazon said in an undertone. "Well, our cold scientist at least shows signs of thawing - he's blushing. ...I cannot believe what he just said!", she continued to whisper.

"What?"

"...Nothing." They had reached the meeting hall where they would be briefed, and Deirdre noticed that the two men, who had previously stayed well back, were now approaching. She nodded as she sat down between Santiago and Garland. A woman entered behind them and closed the doors.

"Ladies and gentlemen... and captain Garland, I'm here to introduce you to the starship that you'll be travelling on. It has been worked on for years by many scientists across the world - and now it is finished. It's called the USS Unity." She pushed a button on a screen and a screen flashed on, showing them an image of a grand spaceship, gleaming in the sunlight. "It has room for up to a thousand passengers - though only three hundred of them will remain awake once the ship has passed Jupiter. It also holds a large area that will be devoted to scientific research - both the necessary variety and the superfluous one that most undoubtedly will have its uses. But this is mostly an introduction, so I'll spare you the details.

There are things required of you. First of all, you must make sure you take with you your own supplies for research and such. That means that you'll have to ask your employers to give you the necessary. The four universities will not have any problem with this, but of some I am more uncertain. Also, you are required to bring along your own staff. It has been proven to give the best results. And lastly... you will be put in cryostatic sleep once the ship exits the solar system. Is there anyone who has a special kind of heart disease or metabolism dysfunction that prevents him or her from going in cryostasis for longer than a month?" The woman paused and surveyed the gathered company: when no one spoke, she continued: "Along these requirements there are also certain liberties you have. Firstly, you may take with you - if you wish this - a family member or other close relative. Among those are also counted long-term relationship partners and fiancés. Also, you may bring one superfluous item with you as a luxury item. The ship has minimal comfort and I can imagine that you couldn't live without, say, a portable video player or a CD-player.

One last comment. If you bring your beloved with you, make sure he or she knows that interfering with your work is out of the question. You have your responsibilities, live accordingly.

Then, for the practical side of the mission. We leave in two weeks: make sure you are ready by then. You will all be accommodated in the complex surrounding the base from which the space vessel will leave: I imagine you can handle your affairs from there as well as from your home. You will now be brought to the complex and showed your quarters. I wish you all a good day." Deirdre rose and could hear the captain say "Welcome to 'Life the Hard Way'..."; as she looked around to see who he was speaking to, she saw that Zakharov and he were already at the doors. She quickly walked over to Santiago.

"What was it they said earlier?"

"...It was nothing, really. Nothing to worry about."

"It was about me, wasn't it?" Deirdre knew instantly. Her greatest fear was that Zakharov saw her as all others did.

"Yes. It was Zakharov. He said... I still cannot believe he, of all people..." Deirdre felt something icy close itself over her heart. She nodded slowly, indicating the other woman to speak. "He said he'd like you best of us two." The older woman's black eyes bored into Deirdre's soft green ones. "Watch yourself, okay? These men will take advantage of you. Though Zakharov... no, he wouldn't. He did not feel comfortable thinking about..."

"About what?", Deirdre asked.

But Santiago was silent.