"If you could please look at the monitor behind you," Cindy started, indicating said monitors with a flourish. At that moment, the lights of the ship dimmed down and the monitors glowed to life, a still image of their shuttle on the launch pad displayed.
Allen allowed himself a small amount of satisfaction at having guessed correctly, then turned his full attention to the presentation. Just seeing that impressive looking ship sitting there, ready to go, eased his jumbled nerves.
Sure Earth was his home. Everything he'd ever experienced, good and bad, had been on the little dirt ball. But his passion was space. Always had been, and always would be. And now, so close to lift off, he could feel the adrenaline being pumped through his veins, a thrill rushing over him and covering his arms in goosebumps.
"As you all know, we're on the very first ever Cryo-Sleeper Transport vessel, headed for a planet called Vita." The image on the monitor turned to that of a high-res model of a planet, the word "Vita" written underneath in a bold red typeset. The planet was mostly a faded orange color, a few yellow spots here and there making it look like some kind of spoiled exotic fruit. At the top and bottom, there was what could only be ice caps.
"Vita is one of the four planets chosen for Operation Relocation. It was chosen because, at only 14 lightyears, it's one of the closest planets that could be easily terraformed to meet our needs." The image of the planet gradual changed. The orange areas grew darker until they were a rich brown, and the yellow spots faded altogether. The ice caps melted, and they formed two tiny oceans.
"But, even as fast as the Cryo-Sleeper is, 14 lightyears is still a long way to go." The screen suddenly zoomed out. On the left, there was now a small avatar representing their ship, and on the right, Vita. Between them was a blue dotted line, "Y:161" displayed below it in red.
"As you can see," she went on, a manicured nail pointing at the red text. "The navigation system estimates that it'll take us over a hundred and fifty years to get there. Now, of course, people don't live that long, so until now the travel time had always held people back."
Again the screen changed, a semi-transparent cylindrical chamber coming into view. It was slowly rotating, giving them a 360 degree view. The top opened up like a clam shell, letting them all see the white bed and some horseshoe-shaped object at the top. He guessed that it'd be a brace to keep their heads from flopping around when they laid in it, but he couldn't be certain.
Allen recognized the shape immediately. It was a cryo-stasis chamber.
"But thanks to the cutting edge technologies that STAR has developed, it's possible for us to literally freeze a person in time!" She got a few grins from her horrible, horrible pun before clapping her hands twice. The lights flickered back on, the screens returning to their former black glory.
"Now, if I could just get you all to step away from your monitors please!" she chirped. As if on cue - no, on second thought, most definitely on cue - the monitors simultaneously began to slide forward. They made progress at a snails pace, but with every revealing inch, Allen's smile grew wider. He should have guessed.
A very familiar looking cylindrical chamber was soon revealed. It came to a shuttering stop when the monitor nearly touched the opposite wall, the semi-transparent lid opening with a smooth pneumatic hiss.
"So, whenever you're ready, climb in and get ready for some of the best sleep you've ever had!"
Allen, unable to contain his excitement, was already crawling inside before Cindy had even finished speaking. The beds were, surprisingly, very uncomfortable. The white foam mattress was beyond simply being soft. He sank so far into the mattress that he was laying in it as much as on it.
He sat up, sending a quick glance over to Alexis and Matthew, his mom helping them into their pods.
Allen's dad just happened to look up at that moment as well, locking eyes with him. "See you on the other side?" Allen asked.
"If my eyes don't freeze and fall out," he grumbled, casting a quick knowing glance at his own pod, but the wry grin he was sporting let him know he wasn't being serious. His father had always been the kind to make a joke to ease the tension. Even if he occasionally needed to work on his timing.
Cindy closed the doors over the twins once she made sure they were laying with their heads properly inside the brace - Allen allowed himself another small smirk at being right once again - then moved on to his mother. His father was next, and then, finally, his own. As soon as the top was shut, he heard a vacuum kick in, sucking air out and replacing it with some secret cocktail of god only knows what gasses.
His eyes grew heavy with a profound exhaustion he couldn't remember having ever felt before, and his consciousness slipped away.