Chapter One: Aria.

Why is this thing casting shadows on the wall of that ship?”

A man in a tattered suit laughs and pushes a blondee woman playfully.

I am so glad you aren't the pilot, Laney.”

Laney Michaels, 31, looks confused. She fingers the holster on her hip lazily, habitually. Her hair reaches just below her shoulders, catching on her right and drifting down, forming a small crescent over her right collarbone. She tilts her head and the crescent moves, deforming, catching a new shape in the dull lights.

If sound doesn't travel in space, why does light?”

SO glad you're not in my seat.” The pilot is laughing. The captain is laughing. Laney is still idly fingering the empty holster. Her bags are packed, ready to be unloaded. She is cargo. Her clothes are cargo. Her pistol is cargo.

She awkwardly adjusts the shoulder of her shirt. It's poking out from underneath a fawn-coloured vest. She has a brown ensemble, light shirt, mid-toned vest, dark pants, leather holster crossing it. All of it brown.

It is not unfair to note that Laney Michaels prefers simplicity. Her hair is an unusual expression of this: it is always between nine and ten inches long. She finds the numbers soothing. Division by three, division by two. She is not intelligent, she is savvy. She can make connections and follow logic, even if her recall is not spectacular. Her confusion over light and sound travelling through space relies entirely on her knowledge of the impossibility of the latter, and her assumption that as both travel in waves, an impediment to one should be an impediment to both.

She wheels her bag happily through the halls of the Virgil 6. It is a standard craft, like so many others floating above so many other planets. She suspects that it was made in the same dockyard as the Aeneas 8, the midpoint between her departure and arrival. The walls are almost identical. It must be so.

It is the simplest answer.

She finds the faces of the Kastori unusual. Not on an intrinsic level – she had grown up with the protruding Y-shape Kastori had. To her, it was simply a marker of an ancestral home. The faces seemed unusual because of her time away. She had spent two years escorting dignitaries around the important venues of Malchor, one of the few planets that, despite the relative interconnectedness of the universe, had never really been settled by anyone but Earthlings. The sudden reappearance of the Y was jarring.

WelCOME Home.”

She taps a pulsing light on the wall and the room around her springs to life.

The End

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