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Chapter One - Departure

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Two hundred thousand kilometres out from Earth, the Elysian was underway and ready to begin the main phase of her voyage. The supplies were stowed, the extensive array of equipment, components and machinery were secured in place and all of the crew were now safely preserved in cryonic suspension pods. All except for him that was. As commander of the vessel, Christopher Sergov would be the last person to go into suspension.

Over three decades of manned, deep space exploration, it had become a tradition for the commander to be the final one. He or she would check that the vessel was secure and that everything was functioning correctly and then when everything was ready for the voyage, he or she would put themselves into cryonic suspension and the flight computer would commence the many months of full thrust from the ion drive propulsion system.

Christopher, or Chris as he preferred to be called, was a fraction under two metres tall with very short, neat, light-brown hair. His skin was paler than might be expected with his dark brown eyes. He was of athletic build and fairly average-looking, clean-shaven, no features out of the ordinary apart from a subtle scar, barely two centimetres long, on the left side of his throat. It had been inflicted by a fencing accident in college years before and, in a quiet sort of way, he was quite proud of it. He felt it was the only part of his appearance that was a little distinguished.

He had the flight operations computer running one final check of all the ship's systems when the incoming transmission light began to urgently blink for his attention.

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