Author : Debbie Mac Rory

“This ship represents the cutting edge of our technologies. It’s fitted with both near-light and dark-light engines. It even has solar sails installed, if you ever wanted to cruise on silent. The ship is designed for a skeleton crew of 6, though it can accommodate up to 25 comfortably, while still allowing personal space for each crew member at maximum capacity. All resources, food, water, medical provisions, have been supplied for up to three times your estimated mission time, with apparatus to synthesize more should you wish. The data banks have been filled with the most up to date journals and papers, as well as a full directory of social materials. In short, this ship has everything you could need. It is a home away from home”

“And what do you want me to do with it?”

“Get lost”

* ** *** ** *

Gavin sighed, stretching tired muscles as he got up from his chair. His shift had finished over half an hour ago, but he hated giving up the view from the bridge. Alex nodded at him as he left. Brid, already deep into her spectral analysis data was too absorbed to notice his exit.

Morale on the ship was high, as you would expect following an all night party. The last solar system they’d encountered, while still primitive had a wealth of life, both micro- and macroscopic. Since the probes had started coming back with samples, he’d barely seen Selene, Liz or Niall and at times he wasn’t even sure they’d come out of their lab. He smiled as he walked by them, heads down, taking sample here, cuttings there, lost in their own little worlds, even without the haz-mat suits.

He turned shortly after passing the environmental section, entering his second favourite place on the ship; the library. The tones were muted and relaxing here, with plenty of seats for solitary of social relaxation. Elin was already there, and her eyes lit up as she saw him enter. Abandoning her e-book, she crossed the room to the sunken mid-section of the room, facing a wall-wide screen. The formal meeting room had been abandoned in favour of this area; it led to a much better atmosphere among the crew.

Elin quietly took a seat beside him as he tapped the notebook he had carried, connecting to and then loading the new data to the map that hung as the default view on the screen. A series of images, ones they’d taken themselves flickered by as the new data was incorporated. Slowly an image resolved on the screen, a flattened disk of the Milky Way, home shining as a bright blue dot on one edge. A small uneven ring of coloured information points surrounded the dot, conspicuous against the grey-scale of unexplored space. Piercing out from one side of this area, a thin wedge, making its winding way outwards. At the point of the wedge, a small cursor glimmered, indicating their current position.

“We’re doing well”, Elin said, leaning against his him.

Gavin smiled as he laid his arm across her shoulders.

“We haven’t even reaching mid-point yet. Do you think we’ll make it all the way to the centre?”

“With everyone still excited about the samples from Tryprin, I think you could bring them right out to the far side and they wouldn’t complain”.

Gavin chuckled, hugging Elin close before resting his head on top of hers.

“And do you think we might actually decide on a name for this boat by then?”

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