Author: Jeff Mauser

They peered through the small site-port of their shuttle in astonishment. Their small ship had been designed for docking purposes only, not for landing on a planet. The sky was becoming dark, the Blue Giant sun was setting, following the Red Dwarf that set an hour ship’s time earlier. The sunset had been astonishing with the last rays of the Red Dwarf mingling with the Blue Giant giving the multicolored vibrating vegetation shadows of blue, red and purple.

When the darkness outside was complete, they left the window returning to their specific duties. Polya looked over the power supply and rations. She tried calling Command again, nothing.

A red flash from the site-port surprised her. She turned in time to see another bright red flash fill the spaceship. This one immediately followed by pounding of the ships shell. “Aaquil, analyze.”

“Yes, Captain.”

Aaquil, tapping the screens, repeated what was displayed. “Traces of ozone, the flashes could be lightening, sir. The buffeting of the ship is from a liquid composed of 76.7% nitrogen and 22.15% oxygen with 1.15% unknown elements.” Turning to face his captain, “I would hazard a guess that it’s 100% water. Rain. Sir”

Polya watched the rain come down in sheets, with an occasional flash of red lightning. “Aaquil, turn on the outside mic, let’s hear what this new world sounds like.”

“Yes, Captain.”

A loud lonely wail filled the ship. “Reminds me of the wailing winds on Mars, my home in the Valles Marineris. Do they have winds on Titan, sir?”

She turned and smiled at her officer. They had been together nine months ship time. “With Titan’s thick atmosphere the winds are strong but never very fast. You feel its deep vibrations, as much as you hear it. She chuckled. “I’d had a choice to stay on Titan and become a xenobotanist or an Astronaut and leave. A friend dared my boyfriend to go to the outer dome during a storm. He was afraid. I wasn’t. The friend and I made love under the dome during that methane snow storm. It was my first time. The throbbing vibration of the dome got me excited, not him. That’s when I knew I wanted to be an Astronaut. Good thing too, there was quite a scandal, my family was happy to see me go.”

The rain stopped. Polya watched the sky turn olive green with clouds of pastel orange. The Red Dwarf was rising.

“The outside atmosphere is breathable,” Aaquil says joining her at the window. The Red Dwarf now at full zenith and the Blue Giant rising they could make out the shape and color of the large meadow in front of them. The ship was filled with the soft sounds of sighs as they watched swaying plants reflect a rainbow of color. They had never seen a meadow or heard a breeze. They were witnessing a magic moment. They reached for and held each other’s hand.

Up till then, their relationship had been strictly Captain and Officer. Polya was startled and tried to pull away, Aaquil wouldn’t let her.

He looked down and then into her eyes, “I have failed you, my captain. We can’t leave. A large outcropping has taken out the left rear stabilizer.”

She took his other hand, “No Aaquil, just the opposite. You managed to steer us through the wormhole. I knew then we would never be able to go home. I have dreamed of living on a world without a dome. Now we will.”

With trepidation and excitement, embracing each other tightly they watched the sunset on their new home.