Part I, "An Introduction to the Deep Explorations Project"

The following document is composed of selected excerpts from the journal of Harold Johnston, a journalist, archivist, and historian who served aboard the Ambassador.

23 July 2114

Finalized my enlistment paperwork today. Mom's scared. Dad thinks I'm throwing my life away. Karen's worried about us . Half of my professors seem to agree with my father. Everyone seems to have it in their head that the Deep Explorations Project is like something out of an old war novel or history book. I've shown everyone videos, told everyone what the recruiter told me: I won't even carry a rifle. The Project isn't the Army.

People aren't afraid to send their children to police academies or trade schools. Hell, Paul seemed really excited to join up with the Counterinsurgent Corps and he has twice the brains and the exact same schooling I do. I won't even spend any time close to the rockets. I'll still just be a journalist. I won't have to protect anything from terrorists, not even myself. I'm not a damn astronaut; unless a very and rare opportunity comes up, I'll never set foot in anything more exotic than a public charter plane. My life isn't going to turn upside because of my choice of employer.

But try to explain all this to everyone in my life, and they look at me like I'm a damn fool. "They're gonna send you into one of those rockets and it's gonna explode on the launchpad and you won't even have time to realize how wrong you are." It's ridiculous.

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