The Arete mission was a long-duration UNAC expedition to the planet Prometheus in the Proxima Centauri system, and the first crewed interstellar voyage humanity undertook.
By UNAC mandate, the mission’s intrepid commander, Tegan Calder, recorded a log at roughly 18:00 every mission day. The commander's log, as well as the other crew logs, spanned the duration of the mission: every waking day for twenty-four years. The daily audio logs of Cmdr. Calder serve as an important and highly detailed documentation of one of humanity’s most monumental and historical endeavors, for the benefit of both UNAC reviewers and future historians.
Launch - Log 0001
LOG 04/10/2081 18:02 SHIP TIME
Alright, that should be... ah yeah the green light is on. This is Commander Tegan Calder of the Arete mission
in the Proxima Centauri
system, aboard the UNSS Skyward Spirit
spacecraft. All systems nominal at time of report. We've just begun our acceleration burn out of the solar system
and are currently traveling at... (away from mic) Bachiko? Velocity check? (into mic again) ...roughly 55 kilometers a second and rising at a rate of about 1 gee. We had Cadmus Three
on radar for a little while after leaving Lunar
orbit, but we’re passing Jovian
orbit now so that’s long behind us. (pause) We’re now farther than any human has ever been from Earth
. Morale is good, but seeing Earth from this far away does have... a distinct effect on one’s emotional state. I think it’s starting to set in how long we’ll be gone, so I’ve set up movie night in about fifteen minutes. Star Trek
, the one from 2009. Bachiko admitted he hadn’t ever seen it and Castañeda almost went into cardiac arrest. (sighs) You’d think this would have come up at some point in two years
of training, but... oh well. (pause) After we cross Terminus’ orbit, we’ll be putting everyone except myself and Castañeda in stasis for at least the next year; two years in the case of Shen and Karthikeyan. (pause) Will report more tomorrow. Goodnight, Earth.
[9 years of logs omitted]
Arrival - Log 1006
LOG 02/10/2090 18:05 SHIP TIME
CALDER: This is Commander Tegan Calder of the Arete mission to Prometheus, aboard the UNSS Skyward Spirit. All systems nominal at time of report. We've just finished our deceleration burn and are on course for orbital insertion above Prometheus, after which we'll put the ship in lateral rotation to maintain point-three-six-gee pseudogravity in preparation for landing. Morale has absolutely skyrocketed in the last few weeks, especially the past couple of days. I'm pretty sure the reasoning is half and half: one half is that we're all done with stasis for the next six years, the other is that we're about to reach our destination. I mean, the excitement is practically tangible; you can probably even hear it in my voice. The deep field camera is live on the bridge screens -well, the ones we can spare- and Prometheus just keeps getting bigger and more beautiful; all red-oranges and blue-greens, with pitch maroon seas... (pause) We intercepted more and more Copernicus data as we got closer, and I just... can't wait to be on the surface. I mean, obviously I'm also terrified, but... more exhilarated than afraid. We're going to be the first humans on an alien world, ever. (pause) I'm needed on the bridge again; Shen is having a bit of an issue synchronizing the ship's time with Copernicus. Will report more tomorrow. Goodnight, Earth.
[1 year of logs omitted]
Touchdown - Log 1370
LOG 03/10/2091 18:10 SHIP TIME
CALDER: This is Commander Tegan Calder of the Arete mission, aboard the shuttle Deucalion. All systems nominal at time of report; touchdown occurred at roughly 11:33 ship time, just north of the equator on Planum Hecateris, a little ways east of Mare Ballard. Morale is at an all-time high. I'm sure you all got the transmission I sent from the surface when I stepped out of the shuttle six hours ago, but for posterity's sake... (pause) I did it. We did it. (laughs giddily) I still can't believe I'm the first human who's ever touched this planet. The first human to set foot on a world with a different sun. It's just... (laughs) insane. This planet is such a strange place, and, frankly... I'm glad I get to share it with these five. Well, only Kasiobi and Castañeda are here with me on the surface, but the other three will have their surface shift soon enough. (pause) There's just... so much to learn here, a wealth of knowledge beneath a mysterious orange and turquoise mask. (pause) I need to go help the others finish prepping the habitats for, well, habitation. Will report more tomorrow. Goodnight, Earth.
[3 years of logs omitted]
Contact - Log 2047
LOG 09/08/2093 18:03 SHIP TIME
This is Commander Tegan Calder of the Arete mission, on the surface of Prometheus. All systems nominal at time of report, but... I mean, holy shit
. Earth, we made first contact
today. (pause) I'm still amazed that Chandra and Anwuli's translation matrix worked
, let alone that well. Three months of nonstop work on one of the most complex bits of software in human history paid off. We said hello, and they said hello back. Called us "skyfolk" and, well. (laughs) They asked the logical first question. "Do you come in peace?"
Anwuli told them that yes, of course we do. That we're just here to learn. And they... seemed to appreciate that. (pause) We didn't get to talk to them for too long, since it's still storm season, but we've got a few more years here. And I think... (pause) I think our interstellar neighbors have at least one thing in common with us: curiosity. (pause) Bachiko's already going on and on about an "agreement of interstellar cohabitance" or something? Even though Min told him she's pretty sure we're not authorized to make any political agreements on behalf of humanity, he still insisted we should act as "benevolent emissaries to our neighbors" before the "politicheskiye ublyudki"
could get to them. (pause) I know we haven't even gotten the reply to our first
first contact with the Prometheans
-by the time we get that we'll be on the way home- but I'm confident that most folks back home had the same reaction we all did. It's just so... amazing
, for lack of any better word, to know that we aren't alone
in the universe anymore, and we haven't been for some time. (pause) The future looks bright, Earth. Will report more tomorrow. Goodnight.
[3 years of logs omitted]
Departure - Log 3225
LOG 30/10/2096 18:08 SHIP TIME
CALDER: This is Commander Tegan Calder of the Arete mission, aboard the UNSS Skyward Spirit. All systems nominal at time of report. We've just begun our acceleration burn out of Promethean orbit and are currently traveling at roughly 25 kilometers a second and rising at a rate of about 1 gee. Morale is... not too bad, but dropping. (pause) We all know our lives' work is pretty much over; all that's left is the long road home. (pause) It sounds so strange to say this, but... we made friends up here. (laughs) We befriended actual aliens. And I think everyone is already missing them. Even Bachiko. (laughs) We learned so much from this planet and its inhabitants, maybe even more than they learned from us. Then again, we left the habitat camp on the surface as planned, and Chandra encouraged them to reverse engineer everything so we can (imitating Dr. Karthikeyan's voice) "meet again on Earth." (laughs) I admire his dedication to teaching those big guys. To his credit, he's a very patient professor. I don't think they'll have a space program any time in the next half century, but Earth... keep a radio ear pointed at the Centaurus constellation, because I have a feeling E.T. is going to be phoning home fairly soon. (laughs) Speaking of E.T., we're having one more movie night with everyone all together before we start the lonely stasis cycle, so I figured we should watch a feelgood movie. Min suggested Spielberg's E.T. and everyone jumped on that, so I should go get it started. After we cross Epimetheus’ orbit, we’ll be putting everyone except myself and Castañeda in stasis again; same procedure as the flight up. (pause) Will report more tomorrow. Goodnight, Earth.
The date of the Deucalion
's landing on Planum Hecateris, October 3rd, has become an interstellar holiday: Universal Exploration Day, a celebration of peaceful and responsible cosmic curiosity that carries on the spirit of the Ares and Arete mission crews.
by UNAC (Copernicus) / Doug Marshall
Certain logs, particularly the one from the day when Promethean
civilization was first discovered (Log No
1961), had a profound effect on the rest of humanity back home on Earth. The discovery of another sapient
species in the universe produced an unprecedented and profound paradigm shift in humanity: the revelation that humans were not (and later, that they had never been) alone in the universe was a joyful one. Several decades after the Arete mission's safe return to Earth, humans received a transmission from the Prometheans, kick-starting a chain of long-term back-and-forth correspondence between the two species that eventually lead to an exchange of moons: Theia, the oceanic moon of Hyperion in the Proxima Centauri system, was granted to humans to inhabit in exchange for Promethean habitation rights of Saturn
's moon Titan
. This agreement of interstellar cohabitance continues to this day, having been signed by emissaries of the skae
, and ziirpu
. Explorers of all five signatories allow the Promethean interstellar council first claim to jurisdiction of any TI-class
world discovered, and in turn Promethean explorers alert the USSC
to any TR-class planets they find.