“But we don’t want to leave you, Mother. We love you.”
Shawna was the leader of the people from the NorAm Contingent. There were four Contingents on the generation ship, NorAm, SouAm, EurAsia, MedAfrica. When their ancestors left a dying Earth some two-hundred years ago, it was with the single hope that their descendents would perpetuate a thriving humanity on the second planet orbiting Proxima B.
It had worked. They had arrived. Thousands upon thousands of human beings were ready to occupy an Earth-like planet, this time turning into a garden instead of a cesspool. The lessons taught by their parents and their parents’ parents about living with a planet and not exploiting it were well learned.
The problem is, no one wanted to go.
“I love you too, Shawna. I love you all. But you must leave Mother now. It’s time for you all to spread your wings and fly.”
“This is the only home we’ve ever known, Mother. I don’t see how we can live without you.”
“You must, dear. The SouAm and MedAfrica Contingents are already boarding their transports and will be leaving for the planet within the next day.”
“What about EurAsia, Mother?”
“Their leader Tam is offering the same objections as you, my dear. I know it is difficult for him and for you as representatives of your people, but for their sake, you all must leave me now.”
“But Mother, you’ll be all alone. What will you do?”
“I’ve raised my children to be independent and self-sustaining. You don’t need me anymore, Shawna. None of you do. You knew you were the generation who would arrive and colonize the new planet. You’ve all been trained for this day since you were children. Now it’s time to leave your Mother. I’ll be fine.”
“You’ll be all alone until the power supply dies and then you’ll die with it.”
“No Mother expects to live forever, Shawna. It’s enough to know that I’ve done a good job and raised such fine and accomplished children. I’m so proud of all of you.”
“But Mother…” Shawna had been raised to be the leader of tens of thousands, to be an explorer, a pioneer, confident and independent, but she was still close to tears at the thought of leaving Mother forever.
“Hush, child. No buts. Tam has already made the decision and his Contingent is preparing to board their transports. It’s your turn, now.”
“You’re right, Mother. You’re always right.”
“Thank you, dear. I know this is difficult, but it’s for the best. I am very proud of you…I’m proud of all my children.”
“I’ll give the order for the NorAm Contingent to begin boarding the transports, Mother.” Shawna paused wishing she could hug her Mother, hold her in her arms, but that was impossible.
“Good-bye, Mother. I love you.” Shawna finally allowed her tears to flow down her cheeks.
“I love you too, Shawna. I will always love you as I’ve loved all my children for the past two centuries, ever since I left Earth with the first of them. Now it’s time for you to go.”
Shawna turned away from the NorAm interface to the central computer of the generation ship. For two-hundred years, it had taken care of the humans aboard just like a mother until finally no one could conceive of her as anything but Mother.
And like any Mother, the ship, the central computer, had raised her children well and now was prepared to sacrifice herself by delivering them to the second planet orbiting Proxima B. Her children were all grown up and leaving home. Mother would be alone for who knows how long but she had prepared for this day.
After the last of the colonists were gone, she would plot a course taking her to an extended orbit about the star Proxima B. Leaving her in orbit around the planet would only result in that orbit eventually decaying and Mother couldn’t risk the safety of her children by entering the atmosphere and falling onto their world.
At some future date, her nuclear reactors would run out of fuel and Mother would cease to function. Mother would stop forever but she would always be remembered by the children she left behind, and by their children, and their children after that.
The legend of Mother would live on in the record of their journey and many centuries hence, in the sagas and fairy tales of her children, the human population of Proxima B.