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Journey to Andromeda

5 spaceships set out on a 20 year journey to colonize a dsitant planet

Humanity had decided that the time and technology had arrived to go out and populate other planets. 75 years earlier, when the trip took almost 40 years, scout ships had been sent out to survey other galaxies for a suitable planet, capable of sustaining human life. One was selected and had been carefully surveyed over a period of years. After a number of additional years of research and development, it was finally time to depart. With new technology, the trip was going to take only 20 years until they reached their destination. Not until 2221. Five ships of volunteers. Each ship carried 150 carefully selected volunteers and 20 crew members. In addition, each ship also carried 50 children of varying ages, so there would be a continuous stream of people reaching child bearing age.

Every ship also carried a compliment of androids. They had been programmed to be able to carry on a number of tasks from maintaining the ships during the journey, to helping with the construction of the settlements, to assisting scientists with various research projects later on. They were also used as storehouses for much of the technical information that would be needed to populate another planet.

All the necessary skills had been covered. Included were builders and craftsmen in a variety of professions. Teachers, medical personnel and a military presence were included as well. Each person had been matched with another to mate when the time came. Children would be important when all was ready. These 1100 people had been culled down from tens of thousands of candidates. Backgrounds had been thoroughly screened. Health histories taken, checked and double checked. Men and women with a family history of twins were given special preference. The various backgrounds were divided equally amongst each of the five ships. If something unforeseen happened to one of the ships, one profession or skill would not be completely lost.

Everyone who had been chosen was of above average intelligence and all were perfect physical specimens. Outward appearances differed, as the selection committee felt it was important to have a physical variety. Tall and short, slender and muscular. Most of the people had multiple skills. Besides the main skill they were initially chosen for, each person played at least one musical instrument, sang, or was skilled in one of the art forms. Science was nothing without art to accompany it.

This initial group of pioneers would set up a colony, build shelters, plant crops, and begin the process of populating the planet. Surveying crews would travel around the planet searching for natural resources that could be used to form building materials, create medicines or provide nourishment. Other suitable locations for establishing additional living centers would be determined. A small number of scientists would oversee some of the research with help of the androids. Other ships would follow over the next several years with more families, more skills and additional supplies. But success depended on this first group of people.

The ships contained sufficient supplies to carry them over until crops came in and others indigenous plants could be determined to be safe and nutritious. Medical supplies and technology were included as was a large electronic library of scientific, classic and entertaining literature. An extensive collection of audio and visual recordings was also provided. The ships themselves were designed so they could be broken down and every part had a secondary use as part of the structures that would be set up. Nothing would be wasted. Simple shelters would be set up within days of arriving. The process of colonization would begin soon afterwards.

Since 20 years was a long time to travel and to ensure the volunteers would be at the peak of their lives when they arrived at the planet, all the passengers would be placed into stasis. They would sleep the entire time. The aging process would be slowed to almost nothing. Since androids would be used to run and maintain the ships while they were on their journey, only 2 supervising human crew members would be awake on each ship at any given time. They would remain on duty for six months, then awaken the next two crew members. They would be placed back in stasis until it was time for their tour of duty once again.

When they neared the planet, designated Andromeda, they would awaken the passengers. The process would take about a week, plus everyone would undergo a rigorous exercise and reanimation process so they would be in tip top shape when the ships landed. From information received from one of the scout ships that had surveyed the planet, several possible sites had been identified. A small landing craft would investigate these while the crew and passengers were preparing to land. Once the final site was determined, the ships would land and the colonization process would begin.

The ships launched without a hitch and the first two crew members on each ship settled in for their first tour of duty. To keep from going too stir crazy, they regularly played various games and communicated with each other over the ship to ship com system. Since the day to day running of the ships was mostly automated, and no real maintenance would be needed for awhile, the androids on each ship began to join in some of the activities with the human crew members. Though originally, they had just been given alphanumeric designations, actual names were soon given to them. Their appearances were that of humans, both male and female, and rumors were that they were all anatomically correct. Being androids though, they did not consume any of the ships limited resources.

As the sixth year of the journey began, it was time for the original two crew members on each ship to be awakened for their second tour of duty. On the ship designated Scorpios, Mandy and Robert had just put the original crew into stasis after being briefed on the current status of the trip. There was generally about a two to three week overlap between the two crews so that the two new crew members could be physically acclimated and briefed on any problems to be dealt with. During this time, they had little contact with the androids.

Once they were up to date, Mandy and Robert set about touring the ship and checking on the maintenance in progress. As they began interacting with the androids, they both sensed something strange, though in discussing it, neither of them could put their finger on anything specific. They followed their normal routine of making sure everything was being handled expeditiously, having relaxation time with the active crew members on the other ships and also interacting with the androids in recreational activities. The next six months flew by uneventfully and soon it was time for Mandy and Robert to be put back into stasis.

Another five years passed and Mandy and Robert were once again awakened for their third tour of duty. This time, there was a definite feel of something being different, something amiss. They could not figure if out, but were determined to find out before the end of this tour. The one thing that they both agreed on was that whatever it was, it involved the androids. They just seemed to be acting a bit different. Maybe it really was nothing. Though androids had been around for many years, they had never been isolated in groups such as this. Most were members of households in small numbers or worked at certain professions where they were completely isolated.

So there had never been an instance where small groups had been in isolated situations with limited contact with humans. They also decided to search through all the journals and records to see if any of the other crews had noticed anything odd. However, after a thorough search of the records, nothing was uncovered. Everything looked perfectly normal. Next, they checked with the other ships to see if anyone felt anything similar. One crew said they had gotten a sense of uneasiness around some of the androids, but they found nothing and dismissed it as the loneliness and length of the journey.

Mandy and Robert still felt something was wrong. They began to explore parts of the ship they normally did not access. Everything seemed perfectly normal. A few of the androids seemed a bit apprehensive when they mentioned going to certain parts of the ship. While some androids were designed to act more sympathetic, like those used as nannies or medical and rescue workers, they did not have true emotions. Despite their best efforts to discover the cause of the feelings they had, nothing concrete emerged form their investigations and before they knew it, their six month tour was up.

They had been documenting their investigations and when they woke up the next crew, they mentioned all of this to them. Bill and Marie said they would watch carefully and continue to investigate to make sure nothing was amiss. They were over halfway through the journey and did not want something to go wrong after coming this far. They also said they would pass on the information to the next crew and so on until all the crews were watching. Robert and Mandy were placed into stasis again

Year 16 rolled around and Mandy and Robert were awakened for their final tour of duty. They questioned the previous crew about what had occurred the last five years and if any of the crews had been able to determine if there was any problem with the androids. They were told the entire ship had been searched and the androids watched as closely as possible, but nothing had turned up. The other ships reported the same thing. Indeed, neither Mandy nor Robert noticed anything out of place during this tour. They were beginning to think that maybe it was just their imagination.

When their six months was up once again, they prepared to go back into stasis for the last time. The next time they were brought back, they would be in orbit around Andromeda. They would be assisting to bring the whole crew first, then all the passengers out of stasis and prepare to land and begin the colonization. They brought Bill and Marie up to speed and said that maybe there really was nothing after all. But everyone should really keep an eye out so nothing went wrong this deep into the journey.

Year 20 rolled around and for the last time, Mandy and Robert were brought out of stasis. The rest of the crews were next, followed by the passengers. The scout ship was launched to make the final determination of the best place to set up the initial colony. The children would be the last ones to be taken out of stasis as caring for them while the structures were being assembled and the colony established would place undue stress on the limited resources available. Once the initial colony was up and running and the initial crops had been reaped, half of the people would move to a secondary site and set up another town.

Everything went smoothly and within a month, everyone was ensconced in shelters, and an initial planting of crops was in the ground, Poultry and other animals that had also been in stasis were revived and breeding was begun. Several species of fish had also been brought along, and once it was determined to be safe and not hazardous to any native species they might discover, local lakes would be populated. A number of birds were also part of the cargo, and like the fish, would be released once it was determined to be safe for the environment. Even insects such as bees had been brought along, as they were critical in the pollination of the crops if no indigenous insects were found that would provide this function . Hydroponic greenhouses were set up so there would be a supply of fresh food during the cold season. Once the initial planting was harvested and split up, the colonists that would be setting up the next town would be sent on their way. People had begun to pair off and it was now time to awaken the children.

The androids had been very helpful in getting everything set up and the majority of them would be actually begin moving everything needed to the secondary location very soon. The day they were to start waking up the children, the androids seemed to become very agitated. Finally, one of the androids, Thomas, approached Robert. He said he needed to talk to him. They went to the meeting structure and sat down with the other council members and several other androids.

Thomas went on to explain that over the first five years, things began to happen to some of them. They started actually developing feelings towards each other. Through experimentation, they were able to take some DNA from a few of the children, convert it to stem cells and use those to create active reproductive organs in a few of the male and female androids. The result after about 8 years was the birth of a baby.

Not wanting to use up resources or risk having the child discovered, they placed the baby into one of the stasis chambers with another child. The chamber was modified to accommodate both children safely. But they did not stop there, and over the next 12 years, the remaining androids were modified and 52 additional hybrid children were born. Nearly every android was now capable of fathering or bearing a child. They felt, but were not able to completely determine, they might also be able to mate with humans. Since the babies had been put into a stasis chamber shortly after birth, they had also been unable to determine what other differences there might be.

Thomas said he understood that they had done something they probably should not have, but just felt it was the next step in their evolution. They were not even sure what kind of nutrition the babies would need or at what rate or even if they would mature, though they felt it would be similar to humans. By the time they had considered some of these issues, it was already too late. He said that the babies could be left in the chambers once the human children had been removed. The androids would fulfill their obligation to help complete the building of the second location, then would awaken their children and go off somewhere by themselves, if that is what the council wanted. Since they also carried a lot of technical and educational material in their memories, a number of them would be willing to stay with the colonists to perform the duties they had been programmed for.

Thomas and the other androids left the meeting to let the council make their decision. A few hours later, the council emerged from the meeting. The council told Thomas that they would inform all the other colonists, then put it to a vote, but the recommendation would be made to let the androids and their children remain in the colony. As soon as sufficient food and other supplies were in stock, they would begin to awaken the android children from the chambers. Research would be done to see what if any differences existed between the hybrid children and humans. At some point, human android sexual compatibility would also be researched. Two days later, the entire colony voted and the androids were welcomed into the colony without prejudice.

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