“You ready to get out of here?”
“I guess.” Zark tried to appear uninterested, but Zedd could see he was nervous.
“I’ve been on this ship for two decades. It’s nice to have solid ground under your feet. Can you even imagine a place with no walls or ceilings?”
Zark looked away, and contemplated. “And if a giant meteor comes crashing down? How do we escape? Here, we can move out of the way of something like that. How are we supposed to survive on a floating rock we have no control over?”
Zedd pondered the question. “You know, I guess it could happen.”
Zark responded with an incredulous look. Zedd laughed.
“Look, all kinds of things can happen. that’s not how you live. Plus, Zarmina’s defenses are better than the Duskrider’s. We’re still living in ‘60s-era technology. Let’s get with the times.”
Zark, Zedd’s son and technician of the Vela team, was sitting on the couch of their nearly empty apartment. Long hours of sitting behind screens kept Zark from attaining any musculature. This paired with an efficient metabolism had kept Zark on the scrawny side.
It was their last time within the walls of the Duskrider. They had docked in the Sector 3 city of Vogt, the industrial powerhouse of the populated sectors. Their belongings were been packed into crates and would be shipped to their new apartment by service droid. Zark hadn’t known a world without walls and was anxiously waiting to see what it held in store for him.
Zark looked back to his father, “What’s going to happen to the ship?”
Zedd sat down. “Decommissioned. Parts will be recycled. But you know something cool? They’re going to rebuild the Sidewinder in Escudé. Exactly how it was here.” Zark’s face lit up a little. “There’s a whole world out there to explore but don’t go thinking you’ll never get to revisit a piece of this.”
Hearing that he would be able to revisit the track was nice, but Zark still didn’t welcome the thought of moving. The Duskrider was all he had ever known and the thought of a boundless world terrified him. It was safe here. It was comfortable. He felt as if he was being siphoned from his home, against his will.
“Do you have everything ready to go?” Zedd stood back up.
“Yeah, it’s all packed.” Zark had filled two crates worth of his stuff. They sat next to the entrance of the living room.
“Alright, I’ll do a once-over, then let’s head out. Did you get that thing I sent you? I was hoping you could figure it out.”
Zark fell back into the couch and sighed. He pulled his celltab from his pocket and opened it. He saw that Zedd had sent him the MRL Welcome Packet. It contained two files. The LSP-88 User Manual and the MRL Handbook. He forwarded both of them to Lena with a quick message, In case you need some travel reading :)
“I think we’re set. Let’s get out of here.”
Zark looked up.
“Ok.” He downloaded the LSP-88 User Manual to read over later. Zedd opened the door, but paused as Zark stepped through. They turned and looked at their empty apartment.
“Hard to believe it’s been fifteen years.”
Zark had so many memories of that room, but without the furniture, none came to mind. His nostalgia had left with their belongings.
Zedd broke the moment of silence. “Ready?”
Zedd pressed the button on the outside wall of their apartment, and the door slid shut.
“Ok we need to register before we leave.”
They made their way to the main plaza. Just three days prior it had bustled like a hive, but now it was desolate. Not only were the people missing, but also the banners, signs, overhead drones, and fountains. Zedd looked around. Most of the convenience stores, if they hadn’t closed yet, had crates packed up inside ready for shipping supplies to their new locations. Zedd and Zark sat at a bench and waited for the first tram.
Zark took his backpack off and grabbed his celltab from the side pocket. He turned on the screen and expanded it to fit comfortably in both hands. He found the file he was looking for. A page displaying LSP-88 User Guide appeared. He scrolled down to the document’s table of contents and read.
Zedd looked over.
“Pretty cool, huh?”
“Yeah this Ellis guy is pretty advanced,” Zark answered.
“Ellis? Zedd asked.
“Yeah. I thought the name fit. He’s gonna be around a lot. May as well treat him like a team member.”
“This thing is huge.” Zark said, skimming through the pages of the guide. “ It’s like 600 pages.” Handling...Control Panel...Volume...Cleaning… the table of contents filled two pages of the introductory portion of the guide. “Hey, do you think it would be a good idea to partition Ellis’s operating system? We can upload the one we made. Figured it would save us some time trying to teach him everything.”