Teleporting Purgatory

Summary: A whistleblower reveals the horrifying truth behind the Stellar Expeditionary Fleet's teleportation system.

I know I do not have long to live, no matter how many times I may in the future. Like many of you, I was enraptured by the Stellar Expeditionary Fleet's holo-drama series Cosmic Crossing. Like many of you, I was well-aware it was heavily edited and partially staged. All I knew when I signed on was that I wanted to be one of the red-suited Away Teams, despite their dramatized deaths on alien worlds.

I reached that assignment after doing poorly on the Entrance Exam, despite my surprise. As I later learned, there was a cynical reason for doing so. It came when I accessed an unauthorized data cache from a contact working on Teleporter Maintenance. It took many lives to bring this information to you, so please treat it with the gravity it deserves.

The teleporters are always used to send Away Teams to new worlds, instead of conventional shuttlecraft. There's a reason the Away Teams always seem to be the same people, with slightly different names: Because they are. The teleporters work by destroying us at a molecular level, then reassembling us on the surface. We die each time we step into one, and an identical physical and mental clone comes out on the other end.

This was something of a dirty secret, though. The truth is that the people on the Away Teams are not conventional members of the Fleet, but instead entrants in a database of various skills. Those not cut out for officer roles in the Fleet get assigned into it, and then thrown into the teleporter, so we can be copied and pasted for any mission that might arise.

In short, we are no different than biological androids, produced on demand in any quantity. We're sent into certain death to chart untold worlds. Our space colonization is built upon a mountain of red-suited corpses. Each of us is copied anew each time, unaware of our prior existences. It is a warped reincarnation of eternally awakening at the same moment, in different places and eras.

If there is an afterlife, I am probably crowding the gates. I know that I am going to be thrown into the teleporter again, which will annihilate me like the expendable asset I am. That is why I am leaking this now. While the death sentence is rare across the Fleet, this is an eternal life sentence. It is one I serve on behalf of humanity, but I simply wanted to be aware of what I stepped into.

Regardless of what happens, I know others will follow in my footsteps. I will die a million times to ensure my mission, as I already have unknowingly. I wear my Fleet red uniform with pride, because it is the last thing I will wear on innumerable frontiers.