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Far and Gone

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Starry night

Usually, Andrew would finish his day at work by visiting the local bar and getting a drink or two before heading home to his family for dinner. But not today. Today, he went straight home and turned on a news channel. The president of the nation was giving a gloomy lecture on the nuclear capabilities of the many enemies their nation had. It wasn't pretty.

They were ALL nuclear armed and prepared for anything. This especially worried Andrew. He worked as an engineer for a government missile launch station. He was almost certain all out nuclear war would happen eventually. It was just a matter of when.

He had an idea, though. For months, he and his neighbor Ryan talked on and on about stealing a spacecraft called the X/5A. It had been recently constructed for space exploration and Ryan even worked as a test pilot for the craft and made over 15 flawless trips into space and back home, so Ryan was certainly able to fly the X/5A. The two of them had began secretly stocking the craft with supplies in hidden compartments for both them and their families. The plan was to leave the planet and head for another planet that was very similar to their own. Government ships had made several flights to this planet, taking various pictures and orbiting the planet itself. The planet was full of water and many parts were a healthy green color. Some photos even showed signs of civilization, but the crews of these crafts weren't so sure.

So, that was the plan. Steal the craft and fly off to this planet. It seemed so easy. But it certainly couldn't be that easy. They still needed some time to prepare further. They needed time.

But time wasn't on their side. 5 weeks after the president's speech, two enemy nations launched a total of 6 missiles, all nuclear armed and all heading for major population centers. They had 20 minutes until the missiles arrived. So, Ryan and Andrew bundled their families into their cars and headed to the facility. They lost seven minutes to the chaos on the streets. People were rioting and looting. Police stood atop buildings and vehicles, shooting randomly. Some people were attempting to make it to the already packed fallout shelters. Problem was, most of the fallout shelters were sealed up and no one could get in. When they reached the facility, they found that all the personnel had already been evacuated to government bunkers around the region. Sure, they could've joined them. But even if they did make it, what sort of horrors could await them on the surface? Andrew didn't like to think too hard about it.

Ryan used his access codes to get into the hanger where the X/5A was housed. They had less than 6 minutes to leave the planet before the first nukes dropped. Ryan assured them that the X/5A could easily depart in that time. After all preflight checks were complete, the families strapped in and the craft roared to life and moved out of the hanger and on to the runway. Andrew looked out of the window to see two bright streaks in the sky nearing his home city. Ryan pushed the throttle and the craft spurted blue flame from the engines on the back. In under a minute, the craft was breaking through the lower atmosphere and Andrew turned to see the city being engulfed in nuclear fire.

An hour later, the group aboard the craft silently gazed out into space. Andrew was alone with his own thoughts and sighed at the thought of what was happening back home. He tried not to think about it. Finally, his oldest son Caleb broke the silence.

"Dad? What is this place we are going to?" he said quietly. Andrew smirked.

"It's a interesting planet. It has buildings and cars just like the ones back home. It is lush and green and full of water. It even has people just like us, they sound like us, look like us too. It's the third planet from the sun."

"What's it called, dad?"

"It's called Earth."

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