Goodbye Sol – Page 6

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The mattress was soft and wonderful, my bed was way more comfortable than the barely padded, cramped space of the cryopods. I could feel my eyes fluttering quickly under my eyelids each time I closed my eyes. I barely got under the covers before sleep took me.
My bare toes wiggled in the cool grass, soft but prickly. Two children, a boy and a girl, laughed as they ran past me towards a tree with a tire swing hanging from a thick limb. The young girl screamed joyfully as she jumped up onto the tire. I laughed, and brushed long strands of blondish red hair from my face. I chased after them, and tried to get on the tire swing as well. It felt fun and dangerous as I swung wildly in the wind. The boy and the girl were squealing gleefully watching me swing higher and higher.
As I jumped off, something changed. Instead of landing on the grass of the hill, I was now looking out into the field. I was standing on a wooden porch with well worn white painted wood. It was attached to my old family home, just outside of the city.
“Dinner! Come on in now!” I called. I knew that I was calling to three children, two girls and a boy. I could see them dutifully getting off the swing and running towards me. I focussed on one girl, her blondish red hair bouncing wildly in the wind. As the children ran towards me they grew, not just in size but in age. By the time they reached the porch all three were full grown adults, with the boy sporting a well kept beard.
As we walked inside to the table, I pulled out a wooden chair and sat down. My feet could no longer touch the ground, and the height of the table surface was just below my mouth. The man that I had followed inside seemed to be even larger now, and he glanced down at me. His kind eyes were calming, and the two women, that had been young girls only a few moments ago, were busily setting the table.
I watched the bearded man cut up a breast of chicken into bite sized pieces, blowing the steam away. He spooned a small portion of potatoes onto the plate and mixed in some butter. Peas, carrots and broccoli were all scooped onto the plate as well. He continued to lightly blow away the steam.
“You be careful, now,” he gently said to me, “it might still be hot.”
I stretched my neck out to see what was on the table and picked up my fork. It had a plastic handle with the word princess printed on it. I scooped up some potatoes and with my free hand squished some of the veggies and meat into the potatoes. My mouth watered as I lifted the fork to my mouth.
The sound of a buzzer woke me from my reverie. My mouth was still salivating with anticipation of that first bite of a home cooked meal. I swallowed, yawned, stretched and started to get ready for another day of playing assistant to Asher.
“Crew to the bridge,” the captain commanded over the intercom.
I found it funny when he called Asher and I in such a formal way, but his military training definitely seemed hard for him to shake. Interstellar Humanity, the company we all worked for, was a publicly funded organization with strong ties to the government, so it wasn’t surprising to anyone that a military Captain was given command of Lalonde’s Dream and the expedition.
I exited my quarters and walked upstairs. As I entered the bridge, I saw that Asher was already in his seat, and Emeric had slid his right up to his console.
“You rang?” I asked taking my seat.
“We are on the final approach to dock with the Raven,” Asher replied.
“Okay…” I tried to quickly figure out how that was possible. “Did you sleep?” I whispered to Asher.
He nodded, his eyes still fixed on the screen.
“Engines?” I asked.
Asher shook his head.
“Aren’t we early to be catching up to the Raven?”
“It seems that they are slowing down even faster than we are. I still don’t understand it.”
The captain cleared his throat, and gave me a quick look. His mouth was tight, eyes wide, brow furrowed. As quickly as he had turned, he was back facing his console.
Asher pulled his eyes from his display and looked at me. I pointed to the captain and shot Asher my best quizzical expression. He seemed to understand and began explaining in a whisper. “We aren’t completely certain we can dock with the Raven. These ships were made at different times, for very different purposes. All of our data says it is possible, but even if it is, we have no idea what we will find when we go over there. I think Emeric has gone full military on us.”
“Quiet the chatter,” Emeric commanded not missing a beat.
Our ship was still gaining on the Raven, and as we came closer, I realized just how small it actually was. The LD was over two times longer, two times wider and almost twice as high. It was almost laughable to me that such a small and fragile looking ship had even made it this far.
I watched on my display as the two ships got closer together. We passed by the Raven and then matched their speed. The natural hum of our ship shifted to a slightly higher register. For the second time in as many days, it felt as though the LD was working harder than it was used to. The microthrusters caused our ship to shake slightly as it flipped end over end.
I looked over at Asher who was busily checking over the ship’s systems, hoping he would look back to me and explain why we were travelling upside down relative to the Raven.
“Lining up our docking hatches.” Emeric said answering my unspoken question.
Looking at the Raven, I realized that because of the position of their solar panels, and knowing that the docking ports of both ships were on their right sides, we had to approach upside down to avoid hitting the solar panels.
Emeric tapped on various icons on his display bringing us ever closer to the Raven, making sure to keep our relative speed the same, and using the microthrusters to inch us slowly toward the docking hatch.
The magnetic clamps engaged after a few moments, and everything felt differently. It was as though I could feel the extra weight of the Raven through my chair and reflected in a change in the air pressure.
“We have successfully docked,” Emeric said. After a few moments he turned in his chair, a stoic look on his face. “Asher, if the docking port connection is stable, I expect you to resolve the issue with our engines while Anaya and I board the Raven and answer a question that I’m sure everyone on Earth is curious to know the answer to: are they still alive?”

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