We can’t go home again. I already said that, didn’t I?
It’s true enough, most of the time. They told us going in: you will be lost in time and space. You’ll be past the point of no return long before your first gig even begins. You will wake up serving people centuries dead and lightyears distant, with no hope of backup or relief.
Expect nothing, they said. We don’t know what we’ll be in a thousand years, or a million. We might bomb ourselves back into the Stone Age a decade from now. We’re like that. But don’t lose hope: we’re like this too, we reach for the stars, we can fall into savagery overnight but we’ll have millennia to climb back up before you check in on us again. Maybe one time you’ll build a gate and nothing will come through, but the time after that you’ll release angels. You never know.
Isn’t that the fun part, though? Finding out?
We can’t really find out. We don’t dare stop long enough to get a good look. Eriophora‘s huge after all, she is fucking massive, she carries the weight of mountains in her cold black heart. No, it’s not optional: that speck of squashed matter is what’s kept us falling all these millions of years. But try maneuvering with that kind of mass. Ery flies like an eagle over interstellar distances but she steers like a pig on the short haul. We’re ballistic from the moment we wake up to the moment Ery puts us down. We dive through the needle’s eye at a fifth of lightspeed. Our tame singularity jump-starts the very continuum, shocks eight megatonnes of space-bending machinery to life, and by the time the readings have settled we’re already too far gone to do anything but squint aft and glean what we can from the red shift.
If you really wanted to, you could stay behind. Refit a shuttle with extra shielding, decelerate during construction, keep safely distant as Eriophora dives past on its way to heat death. Wait out those scorching, radioactive birth pangs, let the newborn wormhole settle in its collar. Then, in theory, you could go home. Whatever home has become by now. And if whatever’s coming the other way lets you pass.
Someone even tried it, once. I think he and I may have been close. But it was his decision. The rest of us just kept going.
We’re not stupid. We’ve caught ocassional glimpses of the things set free in our wake. Sometimes they’re the furthest thing from friendly.