Daniel sat frozen in the capsule as he watched the already massive globe as it grew larger. His constraints made even the tiniest of movement impossible, so he had nothing to do but watch. Watch, and think.
Daniel glanced across the capsule to Joshua, the only other human-- Or, at least, Terrestrial-- he would be seeing for a week. Although they had only met a month before their epic journey began, Daniel and Joshua had taken an instant liking to one another. And though they embarked over four years ago, to Daniel it felt like mere days due to the cryo-freezing they had endured.
Though he remembered nothing of his time in the 'icebox', as Joshua called it, Daniel felt different-- wiser, almost, as if he had awakened from a perfect dream-- then when he entered it.
Upon thawing, Daniel was surprised to hear Joshua's starkly different account. According to him, Joshua could recall every moment of his voyage; Pure blackness and unbearable cold for four straight years. Joshua, too, seemed different after the voyage. Quieter, hardened, as if he had spent too much time dwelling on dark thoughts.
As the cosmic sphere expanded beyond what his viewport could contain, a flicker of fear leapt across Daniel's mind. What was waiting for him down there? Hyper-advanced aliens, with power beyond his wildest dreams? Savages who could barely be recognised as sentient creatures? Or, perhaps, a race so similar to man that they could only be called human? Daniel shuddered. This was somehow the most frightening of all the scenarios he had envisioned. Savages, Daniel could understand. Aliens could understand him. But humans? They could barely understand each other.
Daniel, we're about to begin the entry process. Are you sufficiently restrained? The voice in his head surprised Daniel, though it shouldn't have. He knew it was going to warn him sooner or later, and this was exactly the right time for it to do so. What had alarmed him was it's cranial presence, literally a voice in the back of his head. The Neural Emissions Reader and Organizer, or N.E.R.O for short, was one of the greatest technological breakthroughs since the advent of the magdrive, though it was one Daniel had no great love for. Though it was perfectly efficient, and it allowed for instantaneous non-verbal communication, to him it felt... Unnatural. Wrong.
Despite this distaste, its advice was still perfectly viable. Daniel struggled against his restraints, testing them, though he didn't move at all. Restraints are in order, N.E.R.O. I report ready for touchdown.
Alright, Daniel. Entry will begin in ten seconds, and will last for only a few moments. Please, brace yourself.
Get ready for a bumpy ride, Joshua chuckled into Daniel's head. Though even an infinitesimal error by the computer would kill both of them, Joshua seemed completely unconcerned, as if he were simply boarding a hyperloop for the thousandth time.
The capsule suddenly shook violently, and Daniel was suddenly very thankful for his restraints. The edges of the glasteel viewport began to glow, superheated, and a plated cover slid over it. As it did, the capsule went completely black and shook again.
Almost instantly, a light pinging spread across the hull. Although it sounded like mere rain or pebbles, Daniel knew that if even a single particle breached his painfully thin shielding, he would instantly die. This whole journey, it seemed to Daniel, was fraught with the looming threat of instantaneous death. He just had to trust that the engineers and programmers back home had done their job. Though he couldn't see anything through the blackness, Daniel closed his eyes and prayed fervently.