The Incredible Journey
Prelude: The Zeitgeist of the Voyage
From the birth of humanity, the moon was a conquest to be had. It wasn’t just some floating object in orbit around our pale blue sphere, but something of desire. Be it the ancient civilizations who worshiped the pale glowing orb as a Goddess, or the newer modern belief that the moon was our final destination in the great scheme of life. It shaped human development, and also brought the people of Earth to stand together in solidarity knowing that the moon would be the first stop they had to make on the journey to the absolute final destination; the stars. The people of Earth were well aware that this would also bring them to war with who will be the first to claim their flag.
The Great Empire was just a faction of the many divisions in the world that sprung out after the Last Great War of the West. It lay in what was the colonies of England, south of the British Kingdom of Canada, and north of the Republic of Texas and its ally, Mexico. While the Great War was over, the fighting on the frontiers of the Empire were strong amongst the United Federation of Franco-Russia that encompassed the western portion of the continent. Since the founding of the Empire after the War of Revolution in the 1700s, when Imperator Washington took control of the Eastern coast through the bombardment of British bases with the newly developed proto air-ships that were capable of carrying massive payloads of explosives, the world looked towards the shimmering nation of prosperity with eyes of hope for a powerful example to be made to the other nations of the world. This never seemed to come to pass.
The 1800s came in like a storm with the Empire not planning to spread any bigger than it had already stretched. There was little to no wars, apart from a failed Invasion of the British Empire that occurred in the later part of the 1890s. The Great Empire restructured itself to become a political powerhouse, taking in scientists from all over the world, and slowly restructuring the economic classes. It grew with industry, building larger and larger factories to mass produce products. It grew with economy, re-vitalizing the Imperial Banknote. And besides the occasional fighting amongst the borders of The Great Empire and Franco-Russia, there was little bloodshed. Peace and prosperity were within the grasp of humanity.
The years went and as industry boomed, much of the Empire remained the same, while the world’s view of the Empire dwindled. Sure they had industry, and a superior army, and some of the greatest minds of the scientific community, but they made no point to prove it. They refused conquest of other territories and remained the same size as they had when they split from the British in 1700s. With little immigration and few emigration, the Empire was almost silent in its place. It was when The Grand Imperator Roosevelt decided that the only course of action that would prove the strength of the Empire would be to conquer the moon that the world now began to become more interested. Now there was a reason to be afraid. For if the moon was taken. Perhaps so could the rest of the world.
Act 1 — Launch
Across the mighty Appalachian Mountains lay the Capital City of the Great Empire of America. A bustling city of concrete and steel that jutted out toward the almost endless sea. It was a place that acted as a birth of industry and the strength of a powerful union. Settled within its mighty walls sat the Imperial Institution of Science and Alchemy, a monstrous complex the held not only members of the governing upper class, but also members of the high ranking scientific community. The Capital made no bluffs about it, the Great Empire was a nation founded on the back of the upper class and the intelligent. The working class simply acted as the stepping stones to the might that was the dominant power. Within the Imperial Order’s classes of people lay the Lord Professors and Esteemed Provosts, educated minds who spent the years studying for a way to keep the human race alive for eternity and, more importantly, to spread the Empire to as far as they could. They served under the Grand Imperator who acted as the head of the government and decision maker for the Empire. The Grand Imperator no longer cared for land and water on the planet the Empire called home. He had more grand plans. Plans that extended to the stars.
“ORDER. Will I please have order?” Lord Professor Barbenfouillis shouted as the noisy crowd of his fellow colleagues talked over him. The glow of their glimmering robes shined as light struck them as the sun began to set. A few of them were wearing tall pointed hats with decorative emblems of their respective collegiate houses. The audience of robe clad scientists kept their noise up as they debated between each other about the prospects of traveling to another world. “I said, ORDER!”
His voice boomed through the crowd which suddenly silenced as it turned to face him. His hand pointed at a chalk board filled with scribbles of equations on flight trajectory and propulsion. He had a slight tremble to his hand, a sign of age. He had a long white beard that was very rarely kept neat or tidy and his robes were fairly aged, frayed at the arms and with many holes from the embers of his pipe that he kept almost constantly lit.
“Lord Barbenfouillis, many of us were discussing the prospects of the Imperator’s challenge for us. The moon is a great venture, but how achievable is it in the Columbiad?” a younger scientist said. The rest of the crowd murmured in agreement.
“Our engineers have stated that Columbiad is almost complete and so is the canon that will launch it at the moon. By the calculations, that I personally inspected and aided with, we should be in launch stage within the next few hours when the moon is closest to our planet in its orbit. What we need now is to finally decide who among us will travel to this great venture.” Barbenfouillis explained patiently. A few hands jutted from the crowd of scientists, Barbenfouillis reached out and pointed toward one, a young astronomer from Europe named Henri.
“Lord Professor, I will kindly request that my partner Francis and I be considered for a place on the ship. I also would like to nominate two other science students to accompany us for learning perspectives.” The crowd seem to agree at this prospect, and the other hands dropped, as if they were to also nominate Henri for the position. One hand however shot up from the back.
“Yes?” Lord Barbenfouillis asked. A man stood up, not wearing your standard robes of science but rather in a velvet smoking jacket, wearing a tall top hat.
“Lord Professor, I ask onto you: does it make sense that we do not firmly agree that this man be our choice for ambassadorship to the moon? Shouldn’t some manner of the, well, higher class, have some say in the manner as their money is going to the project.” The man gave them a slight smile and sat back down.
“Your point is made, Sir Rockefeller. May I remind you that the budget was approved months ago by the committees and it was well decided that the higher classes wouldn’t have final agreement in this position?” Barbenfouillis said. There was a murmur in the crowd, especially among the party around Sir Rockefeller. Another man stood up, dressed similarly to Rockefeller.
“My friend, John, has a point. Our money may be used already, but I feel this discussion must be had” the man said and sat down. Rockefeller leaned in and shook his hand.
“My fellow members of the scientific community, you have heard an argument for debate on our choice in Henri. Is there any claim that has to be made from your stance?” Barbenfouillis asked. The science community sat quietly and didn’t respond.
“If I may speak? My Lord? I understand Rockefeller’s point, but as a member of the Military, I think the choice in Henri is right. I’ve reviewed countless of personnel documents and his had the highest scores of the ones I’ve seen. The most intellectual and with a surprisingly interesting record in combat. I feel he would serve us well.” A woman spoke up from behind Barbenfouillis.
“Settled. Henri and Francis will act as our eyes and ears for the Institute. As well as two students of their choice. Now, before we continue, I must say that we have a visitor, General Phoebe Bernon of the Military Intervention Service.” Barbenfouillis greeted a stern looking woman wearing a beige military suit jacket and pressed beige pants tucked into black leather boots. She took off a tall hat with the Empire’s emblem and walked intently to the podium.
“Lord Professors, young scientists, and students of the Institute. First, let me thank you for allowing me the privilege to speak to you on this fine day for our glorious Empire. Our military force is proud to stand here with you on this momentous day. A day of achievement. A day of conquest. The day we take that first step toward a better future. It’s a small step for one man or woman, but a gigantic leap for the Empire as a whole. My women are proud to march with you into this mysterious adventure that may prove to be the greatest mission ever set forth by our Leader and his Empire. The Grand Imperator wishes to address you all today, but with tension from the United Federation of Franco-Russia, he hopes you understand his inability to be here.”
The crowd applauded respectfully. General Bernon smiled. She had an almost crooked smile, as if she wanted to appear professional about the situation but still couldn’t contain her own excitement. She raised her hand to quiet the audience.
“Let me say this. This mission will be that of peace and prosperity. I can see in your eyes the fear that the military will be here to dismantle all you have researched and achieved. Do not despair, for we act only in the name of our noble Empire and the Imperator himself.” The crowd erupted in a monumental applause. “Now, Barbenfouillis, I believe the time has come for us to march onward into victory. To travel to this moon.”
Outside of the hall, where the Columbiad was prepped and being loaded for launch, the scientists could see the army of the Empire marching up a ramp into the main part of the vessel. It was a large bullet completely rounded at the top and cylindrical in size, copper in color, and nestled into a short barreled cannon. It was designed to be blasted toward the moon and be able to be repositioned and utilize a pack of explosives to propel itself back to Earth concluding its mission. Henri stepped toward it, amazed at its size, and took the hand of Francis who hadn’t said a word.
“Here we go. For the Empire?” Henri asked.
“No, for science” Francis responded almost immediately. Henri smiled. He gave Francis’ hand a squeeze as two students stepped toward them and bowed.
“Our equipment is loaded, shall we take our positions for launch?” one said. Henri nodded and he and Francis walked with the students into the ship. Barbenfouillis stood at the door waiting for them to board.
“Make this institute proud. Fulfill your destiny” he said softly and walked toward the observer station.
Inside, Henri and Francis took their seats and waited as a countdown was issued out over a megaphone. As the countdown reached zero, a large quake shook the entire ship and pushed them into their seats as the ship rose off the ground. Henri was shoved back at full force into his chair, he turned to see that Francis had passed out from the excessive gravitational force against him as the rocket began to move. He himself could feel that the grip of unconsciousness was undoubtedly near, but before that he turned and faced a porthole looking at the world that he is leaving behind and the stars he was now finally reaching.
The ship sailed smoothly through space quickly and quietly. It soared softly through the now expanding cosmos as it left behind the small pale blue dot, which was Earth. As it neared the moon, the pilots of the Columbiad aimed the ship in hopes to land at a proposed landing site, in a large crater located close to large flat looking field. The ship began to accelerate downward as it neared the moon, almost seeming to burn through an atmosphere that the scientists hadn’t anticipated to exist. The ship made its way into the landing zone and burrowed itself into the crater, like a bullet piercing a large eyeball.