[Epilogue]

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[Starship Charlotte, Transmission 1]

This is Cathryn Young, reporting on behalf of the crew of the Starship Charlotte. We have successfully landed on the surface of Alpha Centauri Ace. We touched down smoothly at approximately a minute north of our scheduled landing point.

All crew members have awoken from their icing pods. We're a bit stiff and have a few symptoms of mild nausea and headaches, but we're stretching ourselves out, preparing for our first walk on the surface.

The atmospheric pressure is at 1,020 millibars, and oxygen is at about 21 percent. Nitrogen is at 80 percent. Some traces of methane and carbon dioxide are also present. The temperature is twelve degrees Celsius with a humidity of fifteen percent. Gravity is at 0.96g's.

Although we could see what looked like small oceans as we approached, we did not observe anything that would suggest indigenous life beyond the microscopic. The ground instead appears barren and desert-like. The dirt has a reddish pink, almost Martian hue to it. It's . . . breathtaking.

[A pause.]

We did find one surprise when we landed. From the pilothouse of our ship, we can see what appears to be another starship on the horizon. None of us were aware that this was not the first mission, but it is now apparent that is the case.

[Muffled voices.]

What?

[Indiscernible voice of man speaking.]

Shit. Are you serious?

[Thirty seconds of static.]

This is Cathryn Young again, reporting that we've spotted someone walking across the surface of the planet! They are approaching our ship.

[Muffled voices.]

She must have come from the other starship. She looks hurt.

[Clunking noise.]

[Voices fade to the background.]

[Woman's voice:] I'm opening the door.

[Man's voice:] Wait, are you sure that's a good idea?

[Woman's voice:] She's hurt. She's clearly from the other starship.

[Slamming crash.]

[Man's voice:] Did anybody remember to close the airlock?

[Banging noises.]

[Woman's voice:] Are you all right? Miss?

[Man's voice:] What the . . .

[Footsteps.]

[Man's voice:] There is something wrong with her eyes. What the hell. Her teeth. Oh my God what are those things in her mouth?

[Croaking noises. Screaming. Heaving banging.]

[Man's voice:] Oh my God! Oh fuck! Help!

[Screaming.]

[Woman's voice:] Shit, do you see those things in the air. What the fuck.

[Man's voice:] Shut the door! Somebody shut the fucking door!

[Woman's voice:] Help!

[Croaking and clicking noises.]

[Five minutes of screaming.]

[Static.]

[A crunch.]

[End Transmission 1]

[No further transmissions.]

[THE END]

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