The blinking lights on the console did their nightly dance. Geof just ignored them. He already knew the ship's drive needed repairs and that the overall ship ammo was starting to run low. And that there were no known stars in any direction.
Desperation makes a man enter warp without checking the math. Desperation makes a man stupid. So now he sat out in deep space like he had for the past 40 years of his life checking the ships systems and praying that the next warp would take him to a star with non-hostile life.
He had been twenty three when the swarm hit his system. Twenty three when he scrambled to his ship with a crew of equally desperate fools. They had just grabbed any ship and his was the closest. A hundred and thirteen passengers and Geof. They went into deepsleep and had stayed there. He woke up every year for a day, did the math, picked a new star, uncloaked and warped to it. If there was nothing there he just recloaked, started to refueled off the star and went back into deepsleep for a year.
If he counted those sleeping years, no better to only count the years he was awake. Forty years one day at a time. Never finding anything safe. He had found life at over a score of planets. Every time it had attacked and he had fled. Usually though he found empty dead space around a fuel giving star. Over 14,000 stars with nothing. All because of one panic stricken moment. By now no one he knew was alive. Heck, humanity was probably gone. You were only supposed to deepsleep at most a year. But his passenger's vitals still showed up good and other than the madness of a lonely man he didn't see any change in his own vitals.
He laughed at that thought. Someone owed the engineer who designed the deep sleeper machines a major raise. Who would of thought the equipment would last 15,000 years?
Ah, well, hopefully that unknown engineer lived a happy and long life with many kids. Geof grimaced into the cup he was holding. Bad thoughts. Need to focus.
He checked his equipment one more time and then walked back to his gel bunk. Without even thinking about it his hands punched in the settings for another year with the caveat; wake if needed.
An hour later his vessel was quietly sleeping again.
There are a lot of places to go with this story. My very first one went something like this:
"If Geof had manually checked the equipment instead of just looking at the screens perhaps he would have found the severed wire. The wire that connected the star mapping computer with the sensors. But he didn't. And as he slept yet another Terran Federation probe flew by his cloaked ship unnoticed."
Another other was to have him finally find something.
Another was to have him reach the end of his life and have to wake up one of the passengers and teach them everything while telling them that they've been sleeping for fifteen millennium.
I'm sure there are more but thats what I had for this time.