Title: The Rape of New Shanghai
Date: 2116AD,16 Febuary
Location: Sol-Proxima Transit, On approach to New Shanghai Colony.
Kate activated the intercom as the distant O'Neil cylinder designated as New Shanghai Colony became visible on radar.
"Colonel?" Kate waited for her passenger to wake.
"Yes?" Colonel Yang cleared her throat.
"New Shanghai Colony in range now Colonel." Kate waited for a moment before opening communications with New Shanghai Traffic Control.
"New Shanghai Traffic Control, this is Colonial-one-eight on approach." The colony grew inordinantly larger for the wait.
"New Shanghai Traffic Control, this is Colonial-one-eight on approach. Are you receiving me?" They were now at two kilometres.
There should be something. Kate looked at the data. Handshake good. No errors.
"New Shanghai Traffic Control, this is Colonial-one-eight on approach. Switching over to remote now." The transport would proceed to autodock. Kate returned to internal comms.
"Colonel. No reply from the nest. Proceeding with Autodock." Colonel Yang appeared at the flightdeck hatch.
"You said no reply?" Kate nodded.
Yang wiped at her eyes and unleashed a yawn.
"And not a comms error?" Kate shook her head.
"No...not a comms error." Yang reached in to a pocket on her flight suit. The Blackberry was old.
"Retract Armour. Lets have a visual." Kate retracted the Armour over the flightdeck to reveal New Shanghai Colony in all her glory.
"What the fuck is that?" The crumpled Graphene Foam hull had breached along the full length of the Cylinder exposing the Industrial decks to the cold of interstellar space. Colonel Yang franticaly typed on the Blackberry and sent the message.
"Still closing on autodock. Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One." The transport made contact with the O'Neil cylinder. Locks bit down on the dock. Kate looked over her shoulder at the hull damage. The rupture was huge. Kate took a breath.
"We have hard dock." Yang placed a hand on Kate's shoulder.
Both hull layers had breached. How was that even possible? They both had family on New Shanghai. No emergency signal. Nothing. They had been gone six months up the colony trail and back again. What the hell had happened ?
"Begin transmit to New Bejing." Kate spun up the Quantum Relay.
"Comms online." Yang typed at the keys on her Blackberry, attatched an image of the hull breach and pushed send.
"EVA suits." Kate nodded at Yang's instruction and climbed out of her seat.
Kate followed Colonel Yang to the airlock. A locker released a pair of EVA suits.
"Are you okay?" Yang, helmet locked and sealed stared at Kate, her face and heart stricken with pain of what might be. Yang held up a thumb.
"I'm okay to go." Kate regreted the words. Yang turned the key and watched the sensors as the exchange happened.
"Atmosphere in the pipe." The pressure equalized.
"Release hatches." Yang rotated the second key and the Automatics released the hatches. The graphene blocks moved to reveal the access to New Shanghai colony. A great panorama of the original Shanghai city on an increasingly distant Earth ran the length of the access.
At least there were no corpses huddled against the airlock in some panicked evaccuation gone tragically wrong as their indestructible colony failed around them. That most of all filled Yang with a terror she had thought left behind on an ever distant earth orbiting an ever distant star.
Yang's Blackberry buzzed and they were both startled by its technological cry against an otherwise utter void of sound. Kate looked at the device strapped on Yang's forearm.
"Do you want to get that or should I?" Yang fumbled for the device and Kate watched as the graphene device display illuminated her face and the message reflected off the Colonel's visor.
Kate could read it easily.
'WTF?? HTFITEP? WL CHK LOGS. KEEP UPDATED!' Yang typed a new message and pressed send.
"We keep going." Kate nodded.
"Agreed." Yang moved forward. Fifty metres... Kate stared at the panorama. The people in the street...deceased...old.
Yang's mother. Young. Virile. Caught straddling the lap of a young man who may or may not have been Colonel Yang's biological father. They had selected the panorama because it had tied at least one of the colonists to the past. There they were. Two earthlings.
Two earthlings whose descendants were on this colony. Girls came here to look at the lovers and run home giggling. It was something they didnt see any more. A colony of a thousand women and a freezer full of sperm. Colony after colony...filled with women chasing a Sunmaker to Proxima.
"You will have to forgive her one of these days." Kate knew Yang harboured a few irrational hatreds. Her mother's decision to marry according to her parent's expectations was one of them.
"Not going to talk about it." Yang turned the key on the boarding Gate revealing a corpse in military combat armour guarding the transit lounge. Yang looked at the face hoping for some glimmer of recognition. It was a Man.