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The star craft Aurora's mission to Alpha Centauri B-III was prompted by receipt of a message transmission from deep space.
They had just broken out of orbit from Arcturus V--having completed a routine exploratory mission--and had left the planetary system and shifted into quantum drive through hyperspace as the astrogators plotted a course for Earthport, when communications detected the old style space message coming from the vicinity of Alpha Centauri.
At first, they were unable at all to play the message on the control deck's central viewing screen, which brought up only static and severely scrambled images reminiscent of old Earth television signals. Andrea Varnak, the Aurora science officer, had the computer run an analytical search for a match in the archives and sure enough the computer located and downloaded the encryption codes of an extremely archaic form of space message transmission.
The transmission had both audio and video components. Into the viewing screen sprang the image of General Timothy Haskins, whom Landry remembered from historical accounts. Some four centuries ago, General Haskins had been commander of the Green Horizon--Earth's first nuclear fusion-powered interstellar craft traveling at a fraction of light speed--which was sent to Earth's nearest star system of Alpha Centauri to colonize any terrestrial-type planet capable of sustaining human life.
The broadcast, in fact, was estimated to be some four hundred years old, received in the archaic form of message transmission traveling far below the speed of light and long pre-dating modern hyperspace communications. It had taken quite a long time for themessage beam to travel from Alpha Centauri to the present spatial position of the Aurora.
"Greetings," said Haskins on the Aurora control deck viewing screen. "I am General Haskins of the Green Horizon expedition. I am transmitting to you from the third planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B. The planet has a lethal atmosphere. We have managed to erect a dome with an Earth-like atmosphere. But the dome can only sustain us for approximately one Earth year. After that we will die." He paused, his expression infinitely somber.
Haskins continued. "I have no realistic expectation that any Earth vessel can possibly intercept this message within the very short time allotted to us for our survival here. However, I do hope and pray that by some great long shot or miracle someone from Earth will receive this message in time enough to assist the Green Horizon colonists."
Haskins ended the transmission and his image faded from the screen.