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"And, of course, you will immediately transfer to the Mayflower, which will launch from its base along the southern edge of the Mare Nubium just in time for prime-time television coverage Stateside, and carry you on its own magnetosail beyond the solar system's outer limits." The next hologram showed the Mayflower and the bright red line of its trajectory that curved away from the inner planets and out beyond the orbit of Pluto. "And once you Pilgrims are sound asleep, preserved for centuries in your cryobeds and far away from any other living thing, the Mayflower's automated flight system will aim it towards the Forty-seven UMa system, fire up its implosion engine, and initiate the four hundred fifty-eight year journey to Forty-Seven UMa Gamma."

When the colonel spoke next, after the Mayflower had zoomed out of sight and the holovision had gone dark, he was choked up for the first time the Colonists had ever seen him. "Well, kids, that's the mission. I have to say that I'm damn proud of you: you handled that year of training in Texas tremendously well and set a high standard for all the SCP classes that will follow. I hope you won't have forgotten us Earthlings when you arrive at your new home in the year twenty-four seventy-nine." He sucked in a gulp of air and wiped at an eye. "Any questions?" "No? Then get the hell outta here."

The four hundred Colonists let out a collective cheer, and those who didn't approach their gruff instructor to thank him immediately headed for the exits for one last night of Earthside celebration.


"So where are all of your roommates?" Bettmann asked with a rotating glance after looking upward from Korsakova's left hand, the wrist of which was resting on a foam support bar as the hand lay suspended in midair, covered with a gray goo that was rapidly drying in the stream of a hairdryer.

"Out with their dates this evening," Korsakova replied while maintaning a steady gaze on her immobile hand. "I let Veronica and her boyfriend borrow my car." Then, with a sly smile, she added, "I suppose I won't be needing it, since I'm staying in with my date."

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