Passing the Test

The engine fired at full thrust threatening to shake apart the struts holding it in place and sending a plume of exhaust high into the air, a horse-head cloud straining for the heavens. He waved his fingertips across his neck in an aggressive move to signal cutting power. There was no way to hear anything above the roar of the machine. Hours of review data lay before him, but he already knew what the results would tell him: everything was a go. It worked. The damn thing worked exactly the way the math predicted that it would. The mission could go forward. Man’s journey to the stars could get underway, opening the new frontier, and they could finally visit the bastards responsible for sending them back to the stone age, the mini dark ages. Twenty-seven year one-way trip. Regret tasted like bile in his mouth that he likely wouldn’t survive the journey, but at least he showed them all that it could be done. Someone else would get the honor of returning the favor to the aliens and pummel their world with meteorites like they’d done to Earth, but it would be done. “Counting coup my ass,” he thought. “We’ll teach them a lesson they’ll never forget.”