The Eden Sky - Part 2 - Old Friends
Mila looked around and noticed that Alistair and Alexa looked pensive. A twitch of the jaw and the occasional glance at the floor. She’s worried about something.
“Alexa. What’s wrong?”
Alistair sat on the bed beside Mila. The plastic coating squeaking as he shuffled closer, hand outstretched and pressing gently on her shoulder. Alexa joined him. The bare metal frame sagging slightly under the increased load and the weight of what appeared to be the beginning of grief councillors.
“What is it? If you’re about to tell me that I’m actually dead and this is The Matrix then you may as well put me back to sleep or at least get me a drink. Red pill or not, this weird grief councillors formation is a little uncomfortable.”
Alexa held Mila’s hand in hers. Emanating warmth, an undulating heartbeat, slightly slick from anxiety or residual adrenaline.
“Mila.” Alexa began, pressing their palms together. “We’ve been woken early. The ship received a message from Home. Everyone else has been awake for a few days now trying to figure everything out. But...”
Another sullen silence. Why can’t anybody just spit it out?
“And?.... I hate to sound grumpy but I’ve been asleep for, what, a decade at least? I’m hungry, my body feels like overcooked pasta and I’m going to spend the next few days throwing up and passing out at random. Can someone tell me what’s wrong?”
Some more blank stares, sullen silence and a few stuttered words. Alexa began to speak but was interrupted by the ever sultry tones of the ships intercom system.
“Attention passengers. A meeting has been convened in the atrium. I repeat, a meeting has been convened in the atrium.”
The slightly too-human voice of the ships AI filled the room. It left a void behind when the announcement had finished that was only punctuated by the relieved sighs from the bed as it’s passengers disembarked. Mila looked at Alexa, a heavy sigh and half-smile. I can’t stay mad at you.
“I’m,- I’m sorry Alexa.” Freckled arms were thrown around her neck and that same gentle giggle. Foreheads pressed together, noses tip-to-tip, slightly cold still from the cryo-pod, they swayed to an inaudible tune.
“It’s okay Mila. I missed you.”
“I’ve missed you too.”
In the background, Alistair shuffled about uneasily. Carefully replacing instruments, quietly disposing of canisters and preparing the room for the next person as the pair entwined, humming the same song together beneath the caustic lamps of the med-bay.
A pulse of light ran along the corridors through invisible lights in imperceptible grooves on the glossy white plastic walls. Mila and Alexa striding confidently with arms linked and a purposeful gaze boring through everything in their path. Alistair lagged behind, glass panel screen in hand, checking off notes and running through lists of staff and crew members aboard the vessel.
“That’s is... yep... all checked and accounted for now. A few stragglers still in beds being watched over but other than that, we’re all here. Now, let’s see what the message actually was.”
Mila turned fractionally and spoke in his general direction. A level of apathy still prevalent.
“I’m still mad at you for stringing me along earlier. Both of you, although I can’t be mad at Alexa. You, however, Doctor Alistair Van Den Booert, with your hypocritical oath and niceties should have either come out and said ‘I don’t know exactly’ or just not left me hanging with your faces looking as if everyone had died just as I wake up!”
She lost her temper towards the end of the tirade. Still not entirely back to normal.
“I’m... I’m sorry. That was harsh. I guess I’m still not one-hundred percent acclimatised.”
“it’s okay. I’m actually quite used to it now. You’re the – thirty-fourth person to swear at me. You very nearly became the twelfth to hit me. Thankfully I’ve always managed to keep the scalpels away from everyone so that’s one positive!”
Alexa squeezed Mila’s arm. An opaque smile brushed across her pale, freckle marked lips. The trio set off down a side path where the pulsing stream of lights quickened towards their inevitable let destination.
“I hope there’s food. I’m starving!”
A set of circular doors, a similar gloss to the walls but made of grey metal, sighed open as the party approached. A dull throng flowed through the doorway from the cavernous atrium. The high convex ceiling of glistening plastic and more imperceptible lights ran off into the distance for eight-hundred metres. Curved archways leading off of the main thoroughfare of stone effect flooring running through beautifully manicured gardens from all cultures of the world. Stone benches hovered over lush grasses and wooden sculptures of indiscriminate origin dotted the lush landscape. An artificial breeze carried the scent of fresh cut grass and summer Flowers through the air and the simulates rustling of leaves leant the area a serenity befitting the central area of the ship.
At the heart of this oasis, a grand amphitheatre was carved into the stone floor. Ringed by several statuettes and an intricate water feature of hovering stones and bamboo shoots. The seats themselves barely touching the rough artificial stone beneath. At the centre were the main flight Creek crew of the ship. They looked pensive. All around them; every sector of the ship had been brought together and sat around the amphitheatre, gossiping to themselves.
“Alexa? Clearly the ship is still going, nobody seems to be missing and we’re not that far out of our sleep-cycle, yet everybody seems incredibly anxious. I feel like I’m missing something but what can be so bad that it needs everybody?”
A familiar face swung around a few rows ahead as Mila and Alexa sat down in the uppermost row. It was Christian, the Lead Technician within biochemical engineering.
“Mila! You’re awake!”
He rushed around, started clamouring up towards them through groups of people, seemingly oblivious to the wave of chaos he had started as he approached. His dishevelled look starkly contrasted the pristine jumpsuit of the engineering subdivision crew. It was a painful white, bleached to within an inch of the synth-fabric’s life.
“Graceful as ever Christian! It looks like we’ll have the whole Alaskan Troupe together again at this rate! Now, where are Timor, Aarpi and Jenni?”
Christian squeezed between Alexa and a giant of a man that sat next to her.
“Oh they’re down at the front discussing the theoretical effects of mollification on a graphene cylinder under the pressure of an imploding sun. So far I’ve managed to understand roughly nine per cent of what they’re saying and I think Aarpi is winning.”
“I have about the same level of understanding as you do there. Wait... is it even possible to mollify graphene? Alexa, you’re the mechanical engineering here, help us out do we can go save the guys before they fight. I’m not up for another marathon fifteen hour D and D session to mend broken bridges.”