Project Center of the Universe

I’m happy to present the brand new cover for Project Center of the Universe.

Now, here is an excerpt from the novel available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00WJ2OSBO

Chapter 2: Project COTU

David looked onward as the conference hall began filling up slowly with the crew chosen to carry out his dream.  The senior personnel were already standing single file in a line upon the stage.  Besides Captain Franklin Ellwood and himself, there were five other members that had been chosen to lead the different departments.  As the crew of approximately three hundred stood at attention below the stage, Captain Ellwood took a step forward and began the presentation.

“All of you gathered here today are the best the IA has to offer.  Every one of you has had an outstanding career that will finally reach its incredible climax.  I’m sure some of you are aware of the fact that in recent years a new center of the universe has been formally accepted.  Whether this center is artificial or supernatural in nature is inconsequential; it is our destination.  It begs the question, ‘What could possibly be awaiting us in this center?’  Perhaps it holds possible answers to the questions that have plagued every species I’ve ever come across.  What created our universe?  Is there God or an all-divine controller of the universe?  There is no way to determine what will await us.  As most of you all know, I will be your captain on this voyage.  It’s time for me to step back so you can meet the rest of your senior officers.”  Ellwood gestured towards the rest of the crew, and he moved back into place with the other personnel.

As David took his place in front of the stage, he saw the staring faces of the cadets.  He was unaccustomed to the attention.  As a scientist, David had usually found himself confined within a small room.  “My name is David Quinton, and I will be your first officer.  I am also the founder and primary researcher of Project COTU.”  When he finished, he awkwardly stepped back in line.

“I am Commander Dejak Isiltah, and I will be the communications operator.”  Dejak was a Norkandin from the planet Eros, a planet that was almost entirely composed of deserts.  He was dark-skinned and thin and had the trademark Norkandin yellow eyes.  His coarse black hair was slicked back.  He had made a name for himself by translating the complex Ferhan language.

“I am Commander Alicia Corneas, acting ship navigator.”  She was a slightly short, athletic human female with a light brown skin tone and matching hair color.  Despite her size, she had a very commanding nature about her.  This was demonstrated in her posture the most.  Alicia was best known for successfully traversing through the Argonias asteroid belts in the Andromeda galaxy.

“Commander Keshnear, weapons control and management.”  He was of the Mendonec species and with their highly tuned telepathic abilities, he was quite capable against the Ten-Leers’ cloaking device.  He had the natural reptilian features commonly found on Mendonec in addition to being very tall and thin.  The color of his scales reminded most of the color of Earth’s ocean.  He had served as the weapons control officer on the Eclipse with Captain Ellwood.

“I am Doctor Rachel Shatner, and I don’t feel as if I need to explain what my job is.”  As always, the doctor brought smiles to a few of the cadets.  She had a very pale complexion and fiery red hair on a very slender build.  David had worked with her previously when the Antepidus microbe had been discovered on the surface of Mentalas III.  She typically wore a smile on her face and reveled in her abilities to make anyone laugh.

“Mantel Correj, chief engineer and primary expert on the overall structure of the ship.”  Mantel came from a species known as the Korken, which had no definable gender.  However, they did take positions of wife and husband in marriage.  Korken children were always referred to in masculine pronouns.  In their mating ritual, two of their kind would be isolated together for what amounted to three human years.  During this ritual, there was a connection between their minds.  When exiting isolation, the couple would have a child.  Like most of his kind, Mantel had semi-transparent gray skin and pure black eyes.  In addition, Korken had no hair on any part of their body.  Mantel was famous for reducing the power necessary for the artificial wormhole generator by 75 percent.

The cadets gave a roaring applause to the senior personnel as they slowly exited the stage to the left.  David waited on the stage with the captain.  Captain Ellwood looked over the crowd and declared that the time had come for Project COTU to be explained in detail.  He exited the stage, and David watched as the hologram view-screen behind him turned on.

“In the beginning, the Big Bang occurred.  This resulted in the galaxies moving apart from each other.  Later, scientists anticipated that something along the line of the great freeze would occur.  Due to the space in between galaxies, there would be a decrease in new stars born.  Without new stars, temperatures would have dropped and frozen the universe.”  The screen switched between examples as David spoke.  “In 4687, we realized that the galaxies were reversing in direction.  Some have speculated that they were returning to the spot in which the Big Bang had occurred, yet there were no new scans indicating any kind of energy or gravitational pull.  Studies continued with no new data regarding the situation.  Scientists hypothesized that eventually the galaxies would collide, consequently destroying all life forms in the galaxies.  Later, this hypothesis was disproved in the year 10,784 when the galaxies commenced moving into a new formation, although they were still moving closer to each other.”  David paused for a moment to let the screen load to a rendered display of the galaxies’ movement.

“In 110,982, the galaxies stopped moving closer and began a simple curve motion.  After several years, we determined that the galaxies were regulated in orbit around a particular spot in the universe.  With further research, we identified the Andromeda galaxy as being the fourth to orbit this newly appointed center of the universe.  We were able to locate the six closest galaxies from the center.  Our Milky Way galaxy is the third from the center and will be closest to the center of the universe during this year.  We do not know what regulated the galaxies, and each of the probes we sent could not gather relevant data.  I have been working on Project COTU for the last twenty years.”  He paused again and then looked out to the crowd with a smile.  “So now we are traveling to the center of the universe to discover what secrets lay there.  It will be the single greatest journey mankind has ever taken.”

As the view-screen powered off, clapping and cheering filled the auditorium, coming from every single crewmember in the room.  David could not help but react to their approval, bestowing to the crowd his biggest smile.  Captain Ellwood gave an approving nod to David from across the room before he left to prepare for the journey.

Everyone began to depart except for Commander Alicia, who walked towards David.  She looked at him with a sort of shy smile before she began talking.

“Have you always given such arousing speeches, sir?”

“Not really….  I tend to spend time alone with my research,” he answered.  David realized he did not expect Alicia to be shy; she had always appeared so confident.  Alicia almost giggled nervously, but she held her composure.

“Either way, sir, I look forward to working with you on this mission.  It is very exciting,” she stated as she walked away.  While David watched her walk away, he thought to himself that he hoped to work with her as much as he could.  However, he noted sadly, his research would primarily consume most of his time.

As he looked around at the now empty auditorium, he thought about how this was really their last option at determining what lies beyond.  He acknowledged to himself that this small crew might not make it back alive.  With a small sigh, he left the auditorium.

COPYRIGHT 2014 A.W. RIchey

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