Author : Kate Runels
Mary Slade slipped her ship into the maze kilometers ahead of the police’s patrol craft still trailing her. Trailing since Ganymede station days ago. It was annoying to say the least.
Slade didn’t know why they had decided to trail her ship, why her, out of the dozens that had left the station at the same time, they followed, and to get rid of them was through the maze.
A small face appeared reflected in the glass of the front view. Slade knew her craft was small, but she’d never had another person in it with her. She kept her eyes on her controls as more and more asteroids surrounded them.“What are you doing up here?”
“Are they still following?”
It was odd how small the ship felt with another in it, even if the other was a young girl. “Yes. Now get yourself strapped back in, I’m heading into part of the asteroid belt called the maze.”
“We’ll lose them. I grew up in the maze, Amy.”
“No buts. Now strap yourself in!” Slade had no patience for idle questions, coming into the belt at speed. The patrol craft still trailing.
The reflected image disappeared. Slade never once looked directly at the girl. Her first glimpse of her on station had been enough for all the memories and the guilt to almost overwhelm her. The resemblance was uncanny. Her sister had died a long time ago and this eight year old girl looked just like her. Clone? A frozen test tube child? What kind of experiment had the government done? Slade didn’t know, but the government did that to recruits, tried to do it to Slade.
Warning alarms brought her out of that self-defeating memory as small asteroids went past.
“Light Space Craft, you are entering restricted space, heave to and-” the trailing craft finally contacted her.
Slade silenced that as well. She needed all her attention and focus for the maze. Not many pilots dared the asteroid belt outside of the proscribed and constantly cleared lanes, between the inner and outer system.
More asteroids filled the H.U.D. and the patrol ship gained on her as she fired braking thrusters and changed direction.
Soon that’s all she did while heading deeper and deeper into the maze. She’d traveled mostly in the maze, but had visited the labyrinth, but had never been to the far side and the warren.
The maze constantly changed, shifted. She had a basic idea where she was and where she wanted to go. Vaguely, she sensed the patrol craft until she no longer did.. Either crashed or turned back. It was no longer her concern. The beacon alert chimed at her. She was close to five mile asteroid.
“Five mile, Five mile.” Slade hailed the old prospecting homestead, knowing she had been spotted and most likely targeted. “This is courier ship, Slade’s Promise. Mom, Dad, I have someone you need to meet.”
She hadn’t been back since she and Alissa had left, with such optimism, filled with the knowledge they were doing the right thing. Now, her sister was dead and it had taken Slade years to track down this lead. This child.
Slade flicked off the comm and then slowed the ship and aligned it with the slight opening in the asteroid which led to the dock.
“Wow,” came from behind her.
Slade started, it had sounded so much like Alissa. “You’re safe now,” she said, as the ship settled onto the dock and the slight opening closed back up. “Welcome home.”