Today’s Friday Flash Fics brings me back to the Cohort series, and picks up just after the arrival of the Vanguard ships and the station—all ahead of schedule thanks to things going very, very wrong back on Earth.
Adamson poured a cup of tea from the teapot, and glanced at Flood and Dr. Adebayo. They both nodded, so he poured two more. They sat around his small kitchenette table, filling the small space. It was late in the day.
He could have held this meeting in the Coop, but…
He exhaled. “Okay. How are we doing with the new arrivals?”
Flood took a sip of her tea, eyeing Dr. Adebayo before speaking. “As well as can be expected. Cassandra had already begun the screenings on the journey here in the station, and we’re almost finished. There’s placement options for everyone.” She paused. “The Vanguard didn’t have access to the screenings of course, so we’re just starting with them, and…” She blew out a breath. “Well.”
“We’re lucky Cassandra is here,” Dr. Adebayo said. “This many people finding out they’re here to stay has been a strain. Many didn’t sign up for this—the Helios project was only part of what the research station was involved with, and even among those who took part in the project, it wasn’t intended for everyone to leave Sol and join us here. Now? They’re on a new planet, they’re being screened for the best ways they can contribute, and…” She hesitated. “And they can’t go home.”
“How about you?” Flood asked. “How’s it going with him?”
Adamson shook his head.
“Trauma,” Dr. Adebayo said.
They all fell silent for a moment.
Adamson cleared his throat. “The station?”
“Stable orbit, and all systems green. She weathered the journey perfectly, and my team has been figuring out all the options for what we can complete up there, what we need to drop, and what we can accomplish with the pieces they brought.” Flood looked pleased. “We’re going to get close to the full goal.”
“Close is good,” Dr. Adebayo said. “And, frankly, having something to do is going to be a big piece of that. The last thing we need are idle hands—or minds. Doing something, building something, making a future? That’s going to help the new arrivals who never intended to come.”
Adamson tapped the side of his cup.
“Bradley said the Helios at Sol was destroyed?” Flood said.
Adamson nodded. “They scuttled it. It was that or maybe have a bunch of EDF ships chasing after them, and… no.”
“Idiots,” Dr. Adebayo said. Adamson agreed, then wondered if she meant the EDF, like he did, or if she was referring to the station crew and the Vanguard for blowing up the gate.
“They had no choice,” he said, to be clear.
“At least we know we’ll have no unexpected guests,” Flood said.
“Why are we in your kitchen?” Dr. Adebayo said.
Flood frowned slightly, but she looked at Adamson.
“The station was intended to come once we had a gate to head back home,” Adamson said.
They both frowned now. They knew that. But the station had fled, with three private security ships, and the return gate hadn’t even been due to begin construction back in Sol for months.
“Okay,” Flood said.
Adamson let out a breath. “I might be able to do it.”
They stared at him.
“They have the probes. The probes use the same technology, only, of course, on a micro scale. But Helios is my baby, and there’s more. Part of the design of the station is the framework for the gate, and—”
“You didn’t say any of this, and you cannot say it again,” Dr. Adebayo said.
Flood stared at her, mouth open.
Adamson started to speak again, but the Doctor held up her hand. “No. Listen. You cannot give that kind of hope to some of these people until you’re sure. Do you understand me? We signed on for this. We knew it could be forever. They didn’t. And if you dangle that kind of hope and can’t deliver? It would be cruel and…” She shook her head. Then she stopped. “And that’s why we’re in your kitchen.”
“I’m not entirely stupid,” Adamson said.
Dr. Adebayo blushed. Chagrin was a good look on her, he decided.
“What do you need?” Flood said.
Adamson pulled out his list. “The biggest thing is the probes. But there’s more, of course, and I’m not sure if you’ll be able to figure out a way to get it to me.”
Flood flashed him a scornful look. “Please.”
He held up both hands.
There were thirty-eight children, and five in the twilight between childhood and adulthood. Patel had set about organizing a school—that it had been Patel had been something of a surprise to Adamson. Flood had lined up instructors, and there had always been plans for schools in the future, of course.
Things were just ahead of schedule in some places, and behind in others. They’d figure it out.
And Adamson himself would be teaching physics.
Luckily, the vast majority of the children had come with their parents. The few exceptions—sad circumstances in no small part due to the EDF’s raid—had meant some of the children had been absorbed into the other families, and according to Cassandra and the other counsellors, it was the best move for their wellbeing.
There was one adolescent, however…
The dorms were full again, though Flood and the engineering teams had promised there’d be no doubling-up by the end of the next two months. Everyone would have their own place to live. The supplies from the station—and the fast growing shamboo—made that possible.
It was another thing that wasn’t to plan, but would be okay in the near future.
On the top floor of the dorms, Adamson went to the furthest door, and knocked.
There was no answer, which was no surprise.
He used his override, and closed the door behind him after stepping through.
The boy was kneeling on his bed, holding the hologram again.
“Hey Mica,” Adamson said, in his gentlest voice.
The boy didn’t react.
Technically, there was nothing for the boy to hold. The hologram was exactly that: projected light creating a 3D image of the pre-colonized moon. Luna. But…
Adamson shifted his senses just so, and could feel the hum of telekinetic effort coming from the boy. He’d created a sphere of pressure around the image of the moon, and that’s what he was holding.
The hologram was the only light in the room.
Adamson sat down beside Mica’s bed, and reached out with his mind.
Mica’s mind was cool on the surface. Flat, empty, almost a kind of white-noise. The moon, mostly. Just thoughts of the moon. But beneath…
Pain. Fear. Running. Fire.
Their facility on Luna had been raided first. Bradley had told Adamson that. And only a few ships from Luna had made it out of the EDF’s tightening fist—in no small part due to the Vanguard ships—and gotten to Enceladus. It wasn’t just the Helios project, or the larger company. It had been a WorldGov coup.
And it had not been bloodless.
Mica had managed to pilot one of the escape craft. His parents had been on board. They had not survived. And Mica himself hadn’t known how to pilot the ship. His mother was a professional pilot, however. Bradley had said the kid had done a brilliant docking of the pod with Vanguard-Three.
Telepathy was an amazing thing.
He imagined the son had stayed telepathically connected with his mother the entire time. If he’d managed to block her from sensing her own pain, she could have guided him every step of the way.
Sometimes, he got glimpses of Mica’s memories of those moments, beneath the moon.
“You’re going to be okay,” Adamson said. He reached out and touched Mica’s bare shoulder.
For the first time, Mica didn’t flinch.
Mica’s thoughts returned to the white-noise after the word, but Adamson hadn’t imagined the word.
“This is home, Mica.” He rose. “And I promise, you’ll be safe here. You’re going to be okay.”
It took another fifteen minutes before Mica would turn off the holo, and nearly half an hour to convince him to eat a meal. But he did. He still didn’t speak, though.
But that was okay. They didn’t need words.
When he was drawing the covers over Mica, the boy reached out and touched the side of Adamson’s face.
Helios, the boy thought. You made Helios.
“Yes,” he said. “All of this? It was me.”
Mica took a long, deep breath.
This is home.
“Yes,” Adamson said. “It is.”