The Illuna Paradox: Temporal Shift

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‘Two weeks travel time, again,’ Gable sighed.

‘Professor I’m sure that it will pass by quick enough, you have me here after all, just don’t wake me up for a late night movie marathon, okay?’ Dares said bearing a huge grin, as they both burst into laughter.

‘Very funny kiddo, no promises though,’ Gable added.

The first week wasn't too bad as they had research that they could conduct into the general location of the signal, the best route to take to arrive there plus they also had the opportunity to analyze the post-excavation report for the large mining vessel section that had been discovered back in Warden Star system.

The second week on the other hand had been gruelingly slow, lately Gable had been working on his briefing material that he would have to deliver to the rest of the ‘Procules’ crew when they eventually arrived at the star system of Julosso.

Finally it was the last day of the long journey through warp space; the shuttle pilot had been somewhat distant this time around, allowing Gable and Dares to complete their work. The shuttle pilot must have realized what kind of pressure they were under right now, and as a result he felt that it would be wise to not add to their problems.

The shuttle had finally appeared in the Julosso star system, the journey was somewhat smoother this time around with no unusual turbulence following their arrival which they all thought to be a welcome sign.

‘We are here Helena’ Gable called and Dares instantly sprang to life with anticipation of being able to walk on a planetary surface for the first time in months.

There were a total of three planets located within the Julosso star system, these had included Cadeyrn, which was a barren lifeless planet; the atmosphere was full of toxic gases, and death inciting radiation which would eat away at your survival suit in a matter of minutes. You could even feel the burning of the charring gas through your equipment as it was thrown at you repeatedly.

The planet had possessed a rich deep core mineral content which had been a source of wealth and profit for the Julosso star system for hundreds of years. In addition to the lifeless planet Cadeyrn, Aelia was an ice planet boasting a reasonable sized colony.

Aelia did have a breathable atmosphere, but it was the random ice drifts and the freezing winds that would rip away at your bear skin as you began to flash freeze during the unbearable winters, which the planet had at the same time every year.

As if that wasn't enough, there were also the frequent giant hail storms that had proven to make the planet just as dangerous to traverse, as it was with Caderyn.

Aelia may have been utilized for ice core mining at one time, before the warnings were in place. Some people even dare to do so now, if the ore was in high enough demand or if miners did not already have large scale asteroid field mining operations in progress elsewhere.

Unlike the relentless planet of Cadeyrn, where life outside of the mining stations’ was simply impossible, Aelia, regardless of its many dangers was a beautiful and wondrous gift of nature.

Tourists would often go away on space cruise vessels for their holidays where the vessel would align itself in a stable orbit over the planet to allow tourists to bear witness to the endless plains of ice which had extended as far as the eye could see.

After a day or so, the cruise would take them down towards the planet, where they would experience more of what Aelia had to offer, including frozen mountains, glistening crystalline waterfalls, lakes and caverns which almost anyone had wanted to pay a lot of money to share in, it was what the agencies’ would call ‘A once in a lifetime experience.’

‘Hey, you ever been to Aelia, kiddo?’ Gable asked.

‘Come on Professor, that place is for honeymooners and tourists. It has beautiful scenery sure, but there’s no archaeology or any research potential down there, is there?’ she examined, smiling crookedly.

Julos on the other hand, now that’s my kind of planet, I mean, we have ongoing excavations of ancient civilizations, wildlife and even plants...yes Julos has it all, they have even constructed a large space museum in orbit around the planet, in an effort to preserve human artifacts that date back to the early days of space exploration, at least Julos makes us happy right professor?’ she continued.

‘No kidding, it’s amazing. And speaking of excavations, I wonder what the rest of the team have been up to lately,’ Gable wondered.

‘We’ll find out soon enough when we meet them! I can’t wait to see their faces when we tell them everything, especially Keira’ Dares gestured to the shuttle communications system, hinting for Gable to finally call her. Gable caught onto that not-so-subtle hint almost immediately which resulted in a sigh and him rubbing his forehead repeatedly.

‘I’m sure that she doesn't want to talk to me, kiddo, it’s been almost a year since we parted ways, we didn't even break up, we just moved on. Well I didn't but I guess she did. Gable thought for a second before continuing.

‘I agree that we could use her expertise, but I doubt that she would be interested in even being on the same ship as me,’ he finished, shaking his head, looking away into the distance, silent now.

Dares knew that Gable would not change his mind about calling Doctor Keira Landon, so she decided to let the matter drop, an effort that even Gable admired considering that Dares would rarely let anything drop.

She hasn't let this drop at all has she, I can’t say anything though, and she will just deny it’. He thought to himself.

Everything appeared to be forgotten now, or so Dares wanted him to believe and so Gable could only respect her actions by playing along with her. Twenty minutes left now, until the shuttle would begin its descent into the atmosphere of the planet.

They were both looking at the deep blue, white and green planet of Julos from above and it was beautiful. Julos consisted of being forty percent ocean, and the other sixty percent consisted of lush jungle terrain where endless droves of trees and foliage had covered almost every landscape.

The large cities of Julos were the only exceptions of course where the land had been deforested in order to make room for the foundations of those cities; the largest city on Julos had been Nepos.

Nepos had always been a flourishing colony; this was primarily due to it possessing a remarkably fertile landscape, and flourishing wildlife, although the city had always been a tourist hot-spot anyway.

The utterly lush scenery and intrinsically beautiful gardens; of which the advertisements often capitalized upon, would claim that such spectacular features did not exist anywhere else within Republic space.

Holiday agencies would always over exaggerate the quality of a tourist destination; it was how they made their money, however this destination actually was a unique colony and the advertisements were right for once.

Unlike Odysseus station in the Warden star system; the docking station in Nepos had been much larger, most likely because it had been situated on a planet and therefore had allowed for more construction space.

The descent towards Aegean transport station took thirty seven minutes, and it had been almost effortless as the shuttle gently glided towards the planet surface.

The tranquil journey had somewhat emphasized just how unique traveling through Julosso star system was compared to Warden.

The transport vessel was on its final approach to the terminal as both Gable and Dares stared out of the windows at the gorgeous blue skies; where substantial air traffic could be seen entering and leaving the air transit station.

There were also shuttles hurrying and weaving around each other as if they were participating in an obstacle course of which spanned the entire city.

There were shuttle traffic lanes that had formed corridors through each of the towering buildings that occupied the vast majority of the city; there was even substantial road surface traffic where it seemed that everyone was in a hurry to get somewhere.

Nepos it seemed; was a city which never slept.

Aside from the noise polluting sounds of modern technology working at its best; there was also the presence of unparalleled beauty in the planet’s natural landscape.

This unique landscape included the legendary ice waterfalls which were located around various parts of the planet. One of the most popular examples of such beauty was ‘Aurelia’s Fountain’ which was literally a mountain of pure ice that was taller than the tallest sky tower in Nepos.

‘Aurelia’s Fountain’ had obtained the name during the colonization of Nepos as the first city to be colonized on the planet and then placed under the governance of City Mayor Aurelia Goodwind who had led the city along with the planet into bliss and prosperity.

‘Aurelia’s Fountain’ had been the source of fresh water and life for the entire city just as Aurelia Goodwind had governed and created life in the developing colony.

The crystal clear ice-water would constantly crash and splash as it traveled down each side of the mountain creating a waterfall effect. Humans had constructed a dam of sorts at the base of each ice mountain on the planet, including that of ‘Aurelia’s Fountain’ where water was stored and later extracted for consumption.

The natural landscape of the planet along with the human constructed parts had existed in perfect synchronization since it had been colonized.

Regardless of how much both concepts had actually contradicted each other, many of the colonists had believed that they had finally created a balance between nature and human-made constructions, of which occupy the majority of the planet.

Scientists who often visited Julos, had also concluded that this balance could even be supported by the human capacity to want to explore and understand the universe, where in this case humanity would have had to construct, in order to understand and explore.

Ultimately; it appeared that the ice fountain phenomenon was as mysterious as Warden star system to most people, yet since the colonization of Julos, scientists had still debated over possible reasons and explanations that could support the existence of such wonders.

One such explanation was that each water fountain was somehow connected to an ongoing pressure system located within the lower atmosphere of the planet. It had been argued that this pressure system had resulted in there being a constant supply of rainwater to quench the ever-thirst stricken, dense jungle nearby.

The physics involved with the process of each ice fountain were a curiosity; some had chosen to accept this scientific explanation while others had turned to religion and the belief that each spire was there for some divine reason, none-the-less ‘Aurelia’s Fountain’ was a object of grace and beauty in the eyes of the colonists’.

‘Check it out, ain’t she beautiful? It’s so good to be home,’ Dares announced, grinning wildly.

‘Damn right it is kiddo, we’d better contact the team before we touchdown,’ Gable agreed.

‘Already done Professor, Kenny is meeting us when we land, and one guess as to where the rest of the team are at this hour,’ she laughed.

‘The bar’ he replied with two well known words, also laughing.

‘What a surprise eh, they must have finished the last excavation for the summer season a few days ago and now they are bored. That’s about to change though, I know that much,’ Gable said.

Following what must have felt like a lifetime of traveling; the shuttle carrying Gable and Dares was only moments away from docking now.

The shuttle dove underneath one of Nepos’s giant rotating bridges as it ferried travelers across the waters in various directions. The shuttle was heading for a clearing where very little could be seen at that moment as the daylight was slowly coming to an end; red fiery trails of light spread throughout the dusk sky, illuminating everything that they touched.

The Sun was going down; after a few minutes when the death throes of blinding sunlight were gone, they would see the wondrous skyline surrounding the city limits of Nepos, before the darkness of night, inevitably enveloped everything in sight.

They were finally at the station. The shuttle passed other departing transport vessels that were in the process of leaving the confines of the station.

The shuttle swung by the ever encroaching, shimmering and metallic paneling of the huge complex just as they were arriving at their destination. Gently gliding into its designated lane, Gable and Dares sat waiting patiently when a computerized voice began broadcasting over the shuttle’s communication system.

Shuttle one eight nine, you are authorized for docking sequence, please proceed to Aegean station dock seven, have a nice day’. The computerized voice instructed.

‘Geez, you would think that after a thousand years they would change that greeting, sure it’s a nice sentiment but that damn computer does not mean it, clearly!’ Dares complained.

‘Take it easy kiddo, it’s only a computer, don’t worry about it, besides what would you change it to if you had the chance?’ Gable replied to her sudden outburst.

At least he had managed to uplift her apparent glum mood. ‘Well let’s see, how about ‘enjoy your stay bitches!’or perhaps something a little more personalized, you know... ‘Welcome home Princess Helena, we missed you, open bar!’ that would sure do the trick wouldn't it?’ she mocked.

That brought on a laughing fit while Gable tried to regain his composure, but instead only making himself and Dares laugh that much harder.

It seemed that the generic Aegean station communication drone and the boring and unimaginative phrase that it had been instructed to deliver every time had provided them with some entertainment while they waited to dock.

They were now docking; the metal components of the shuttle were slowly grazing off of the reinforced docking clamps while metal pressed against metal in an effort to stop the ship. The gap between the shuttle and the station was now gone, with a huge echoing crash that must have reverberated around the entire docking area as much as it had penetrated the hull of the shuttle.

The docking abruptly rattled the crew in their seats while they waited impatiently for the shuttle doors to open. Gable and Dares were now gathering their belongings with haste, they had not been planet side for a long time and they desperately sought it now for however long they could experience it.

With a last check over his own work space on the shuttle along with Dares they began to walk briskly down the shuttle ramp into the docking area where they could see the silhouette of a man on the far wall of the complex.

They both turned their heads in unison, and saw their good friend Kenny Haynes casually leaning against the station wall waiting for them.

He was clearly wearing his drab Grey work overalls, the same pair that he wore all the time for work; no doubt because of the small name tag that he had Ellen, his wife stitch in. This tag did not have his name embroidered in to the material though. Haynes being the comedian that he assumed he was, had instead gone for the all too accurate nickname ‘Kami’ as in Kamikaze which he loved.

Hayne’s philosophy for excavating was to never hold anything back, whatever they were digging through, be it the weather or a mountain of rock. The man would charge right through it.

Haynes had clearly been waiting for them as he had promised; the excitement was apparent on his face. He had missed them both without a doubt but Gable caught a trace of something else there too. He saw curiosity and fear in the eyes of his friend; he did not want to bring it up right now so Gable had decided to brush it off for the time being.

‘Damn it is good to be back on land again, even if it is only in station for a night!’ Gable declared.

‘Long time no see Kenny! Hey! Have you lost weight? How is little Kara doing?’ Dares began with the twenty questions routine, before ending with a deliberate wink as she embraced him in a prolonged dramatic hug.

Kara Haynes was Kenny’s four year old daughter who lived back on Julos with her mother Ellen, while Kenny was out exploring the universe with Gable.

He rarely spoke of his family to anyone outside of his crew, but Dares was more like a family member to him anyway, so he always told her everything, just like Gable did, Dares simply had that way about her.

‘No kidding lassie, I mean we only saw you two a couple of months ago and you’re back early, that almost never happens, you know? Anyway Ellen and Kara are doing great! We will be hosting the annual garden barbecue in a couple of weeks’ time if you guys are interested?’ Kenny asked solemnly, his invitation was to them both.

‘Well I’m in, old friend!’ Gable replied.

‘Anyway, it’s good to see you Kenny! Helena is right, have you been dieting?’ Gable then asked in astonishment.

‘You can tell? It’s all of the running and extreme yoga classes that I have been taking!’ Haynes mocked, wondering if the others were still taking him seriously.

‘Yoga...yeah right! Nice try Kenny, almost had us there!’ Gable replied.

‘I have to tell him.’ Gable thought to himself.

‘Anyway old friend, we come bearing some disturbing news! We’re actually here on government orders believe it or not, but...I will go into that later, how have you been then? Still causing trouble? My ship better be purring like a kitten I tell you’ Gable rattled on, catching his attention.

Haynes laughed on queue. Still smiling reassuringly, Haynes waved his hand in the general direction of the ship.

‘Government orders you say? That does sound serious, as for the other can relax boss, she is an image of beauty! Just as she was when you left for Warden star system, that’s right she still flies straight!’ Haynes laughed again.

‘Say, where is everyone else at Kenny?’ Gable asked, his gaze assessing the otherwise empty compartment.

‘Ye take one guess my lad!’ he replied with a chuckle.

‘The bar’ Gable snorted.

‘Now there’s a surprise, well lets hit the bar then Kenny, what do you say?’ Dares questioned as both Haynes and Gable burst into exaggerated laughter.

‘What did I say?’ she asked innocently.

‘You just asked Kamikaze Kenny if he wanted to hit the bar, kid, I mean this guy practically lives there!’ Gable jested, patting Haynes upon the shoulders.

‘How rude ye are boss! I don’t drink...yeah okay that wouldn't fool anyone, I have been hitting the jungle bar strip most nights this week following the excavations on Keon Island!’ Haynes confessed.

Keon Island was an archaeologist’s paradise. Any archaeologist would want to go there simply due to the abundance of landscape archaeology that was present.

‘Tonight though, my good friends...the festivities will take place here in the station right? I hear that we are in some kind of a hurry?’ Haynes asked, and Gable nodded in agreement.

‘To the bar then!’ Haynes shouted dramatically across the compartment.

It was only a short walk towards Finney’s Bar which was located at the center of the station amongst all of the shops, restaurants and other bars. Finney’s Bar was their local watering hole in a sense because they would travel so often, and therefore be present within the station for a while before each journey.

The long rectangular passageway that had allowed access from dock seven to the rest of the station had also been metallic; just as it was the case with the exterior of the complex, there was adequate lighting covering the center of the station roof as it directed weary travelers towards the inner section of the station.

Following a ten minute walk from shuttle dock seven to Finney’s, they were finally there, and it was happy hour. Drinks were half price, shots of Parlo were free and as a result of the daily offer, it almost reduced Kenny Haynes to tears.

Dares wondered off towards the bar facilities at the opposite side from where they had just entered. Haynes waved her off, then clasped his arms around Gable’s shoulders in a violent yet friendly manner, just as brothers would do if they were play fighting.

‘Benjamin my lad, it must be fate that we find ourselves drinking here once again, during happy hour! I mean what are the odds? Seriously, let me buy you a drink my friend!’ Haynes offered.

Gable immediately looked from Haynes over to the unusually quiet bar and decided to jump in before everyone else suddenly appeared out of the proverbial interior wood work.

‘What do you feel like Benjamin, I’m buying!’ Haynes winked; he had a mischievous looking grin now.

‘Two beers barkeep, now that’s me sorted! What are you having boss?’ he laughed.

‘Sorry barkeep, two beers please, excuse my friend here, he is eccentric to a fault!’ Gable apologized, bringing even more laughter.

‘Hey boss you know it, I am one of a kind I tell you...oh wait...two shots of Parlo good Sir!’ Haynes ordered hastily before Gable could get any say in the matter. Two shots down and Kenny Haynes was loving his life!

‘Now, where are the guys at?’ Haynes searched the seating area surrounding the bar until he saw Dares waving them over to the large wooden table where another man was already seated with her.

To the left side of the table sat Mickey Hicks, who was a middle-aged, technological genius who had been responsible for numerous archaeological breakthroughs in the last decade, especially on Keon Island where he had been based for the past few months.

Hicks wore black thick rimmed glasses, with an old Fedora style hat which he rarely took off, that is unless he made an archaeological discovery where he would through it into the air, and perform a victory lap of the excavation site. He truly was a unique individual to say the least.

Hicks had always appeared to be confident, possessing what some of his peers would describe as an intimidating smile, but when you were as successful as he was, you could afford to be.

Unlike the rest of the crew his unique dress code extended even further than that. He was obsessed with wearing old long sleeved shirts and braces; there could be no forgetting the braces of which he would flaunt with pride.

His dress sense certainly added to his character; where some would see him as being arrogant and a self-obsessed outcast, his friends knew the truth, he was a gentle and caring individual, he was selfless and he had been a friend of Gable’s for a long time.

Hicks had outfitted the ‘Procules’ with many of his technological masterpieces which had in turn added to the fame and success of the ship as an archaeological, research and salvage vessel.

Hicks looked to Gable and then to Haynes as they both sat down at the table.

‘Nice to see you guys, I am curious about the urgent recall boss, but for now we celebrate!’ Hicks toasted.

Gable was looking around the table now with a look of confusion about him. ‘What are we celebrating Hicks? From the look on your face it must be good!’ Gable questioned.

Waiting patiently for Hicks to tell of the supposed good news, he swiftly stood up demonstrating a dramatic fist pump in the air.

‘I did it guys! I proposed to Sophia last night and you won’t believe it...she actually said yes to me!’ he almost yelled, the joy flowing through him.

Instantaneous cheers erupted all around the table at the most welcome news; it was certainly better than what Gable had to brief them about.

‘Well her exact words to me were more like ‘it’s about time Mick! A girl can only wait for so long you know!’ Hicks mimicked.

‘The wedding is set for mid summer next year in the Nepos grand hall, on Julos’ Hicks finished.

More cheers and laughter had followed, with the ceremonious clanking of drinks and the exchanging of hugs.

‘Wait you’re actually telling me that you managed to book that place? It’s always been fully booked!’ Dares blurted out, amazed that the impossible task had indeed been accomplished.

‘Anyway...where was I? Yes... me and Sophia often talked about it you know Mickey? She was worried that a proposal was not on the cards for you two, you are! I am so happy for you, congrats!’ Dares applauded.

Dares gave Hicks another hug ‘Come here you’ she said, already squeezing him tightly.

‘Thanks Dares, it means a lot’ Hicks replied. She let him breathe now as Dares finally loosened her grasp on him.

‘Hey come on we’re a family here, right! You guys can call me Helena, you have earned it!’ she added, smiling crookedly.

‘Alright then Helena, so I am guessing that Warden was its usual, creepy ass self during your partial tour?’ Hicks asked intently.

‘Oh you have no idea Mickey, just wait until the briefing tomorrow! I’m telling you, missing ships, unknown space creatures and generally none stop fear, just you wait!’ she promised.

All that Gable could do was shake his head.

Both Hicks and Haynes stared at each other at the same moment before refocusing their attention back on her.

‘What do you mean space creatures?’ they both said, addressing the most outrageous claim at the same time, In reply Dares and Gable laughed at their priceless expressions.

‘We’ll go over the details first thing in the morning when we’re not three sheets to the wind my friends! But in short, yeah...I have never experienced anything like it in my life, and our upcoming mission will be even more mysterious’ he told them all.

An echoing silence brooded throughout the atmosphere once more, as the crew were trying to process the last discussion.

This feels like we are back in Warden star system again’ Gable thought to himself.

A few minutes later Hicks broke the silence.

‘Say Helena, where’s Keira at? Is she...’ Hicks started, halting in mid sentence as Gable looked at him with sorrowful eyes, and as a result he immediately chose to change the conversation topic.

Dares smiled at Gable in understanding of his current inner turmoil. Doctor Keira Landon and Professor Benjamin Gable were once best friends and they were even in love, until about a year ago when their work commitments had driven them apart.

‘Mickey let’s go get the next round in okay?’ Dares asked Hicks, leading him towards the bar.

‘What happened between the boss and Keira, they were best friends...even more so’ Hicks whispered to her.

‘Well about a year ago, Keira gets an urgent request from the government to go and excavate an ancient burial site on the planet Ion which is at the opposite side of the Republic, Right? And it was a career making deal, so she had to go, whereas poor old Benjamin was still tied up with the excavations on Keon Island,’ she replied, Hicks smiled somberly.

‘So they haven’t spoken for a year then?’ he asked.

‘Not a word...too painful for him I guess, on the other hand I have spoken to Keira and she wants to talk to him desperately, but you know how our great leader is...he doesn't even know how she really feels!' she complained.

'It’s too painful to watch, between you and me though Mickey, I have spoken to Keira about everything that has happened in Warden star system, and she has decided to make the first step, she is coming to meet us here and we have to pretend we didn't know okay? The government sent her! Understand?’ Dares replied almost harshly in the same quiet tone of voice.

‘He is miserable without her isn't he?’ Hicks asked, looking over at Gable.

Dares nodded in agreement.

‘Damn right he is, although he would never admit it, that is why bringing Keira here is such a good idea! That and of course the part where she is the best researcher on ancient civilizations and one of the best archaeologists out there!’ she declared.

‘So when is she getting here then Helena?’ Hicks asked.

‘She should be here any moment...would you look at that? Speak of the devil!’ Dares announced.

Keira Landon stood at the entrance of Finney’s bar frozen in place, seconds after walking through the swinging doors, she noticed Gable sitting with the others right away.

Landon did not expect to be in this situation, sure, she knew that she would be facing Gable here, but not like this.

A few moments later everyone had begun to notice her standing in wait, as each of their heads turned in an almost synchronized fashion.

Naturally, Gable had been the last one to turn her way and his breath caught as she finally caught his gaze, brushing it off, she shook her head and chuckled to away to herself and headed over towards the table where they were all sat.

As if on cue, Mickey Hicks and Helena Dares had chosen that moment to rejoin the rest of the crew at the table. They had each greeted Landon in turn and then it came, the awkward silence when it was Gable’s turn to welcome her back, but he put up a brave front and gave her a hug.

‘Long time, no see Keira, I...It’s good to have you back,’ he managed to say.

For those who did not know Gable they would have thought that he had held a strong dislike for Landon, his friends had known better of course. The two of them had been through a lot, and all of those memories and feelings could not simply vanish at ones beckoning call.

Landon smiled one of her radiating smiles for him; it was as if she had expected a less friendly greeting from him as a result of their parting ways.

‘It’s good to be back here Benjamin’ she replied, shifting her gaze around the table.

‘All of you guys, it’s been a while and we have a lot of catching up to do! I hear its happy hour Kenny?’ she questioned with ill hidden pleasure.

Recognizing the tension that had been building up between Landon and Gable; the crew had somehow managed to avoid bringing up the topic of their relationship all night.

In the end though, there would always be some nostalgic moments that were tethered to key aspects of their lives together, such as work commitments or even music.

‘So how has work been then Kiera? Any new discoveries out there?’ Hicks asked.

Naturally this particular topic was a raw one at best; after all it had been her work commitments that were ultimately responsible for hers and Gable’s untimely breakup.

While the discussion of her revolutionary work with ancient civilizations was outstanding, the mere mention of the topic had resulted in flashbacks of their final day together as a couple, almost one year ago. She appeared to get over it quick enough though.

‘You bet Mickey! We have discovered the human remains of what we believe were amongst the first colonists of the planet Ion; I’m telling you...the feeling of finding that ancient burial site was unbelievable! the atmosphere was...unique, where you instantly knew how much of an honor it was to be standing there with our ancestors, but on the other hand it did feel like we were intruding, you know? As it would feel within any burial site, I guess.’ Landon replied.

Hicks had been amazed at the detailed description that she provided of the discovery. It had been the type of discovery in which the whole crew were familiar with, being field archaeologists’ and all.

‘Wow, I know what you mean about the discovery of a burial site, tricky business but it pays off right? I mean to discover what could potentially be our first ancestors on Ion,’ is a remarkable feat, Keira. It is especially remarkable considering that there has been no discovered evidence like this, found anywhere throughout the entire Republic, I say again amazing congrats Keira’ Dares applauded.

It was now Kenny’s turn to congratulate her which of course had meant another trip to the bar. Not only a beer for her but shots too, and then moments later the rest of the crew had shots before them again, this relaxing get together, had officially become a party.

Gable chose to deliver a toast this time, he had remained quiet for sometime as his mind wondered between the current events of Warden, and naturally, the now resurfaced events of his breakup with Landon.

‘I am really happy for you Keira, seriously I mean it, congrats, and that is the discovery of a lifetime right there! You deserve it!’ Gable said.

She never expected that speech did she!’ Gable thought, raising his shot glass in the air, everyone then followed in suit.

It would have appeared that the old saying ‘The night goes downhill after the first shot!’ was true; when Gable had awoken the next morning, sprawled across the floor of his temporary station quarters, which were large in size and had boasted a variety of unusual, yet luxurious furniture pieces.

‘Oh my head is killing me, what the hell did we drink last night? I only remember those damn shots that we had, courtesy of Kamikaze Kenny, great we were probably drugged...I’m making jokes to myself right now! Man I am hung over! I wonder where the other guys ended up’. Gable thought as he climbed back up, and lay on his four poster bed, unable to move.

A migraine took hold as soon as Gable found his feet; the ground still appeared to be rotating as well.

‘I need food big time! Sausages, bacon, eggs; oh my, this is happening!’ He promised himself.

With a rumbling stomach Gable finally across the room to his hard oak wardrobe and got dressed, he even managed to tidy himself up so that he was at least partially presentable to the outside world.

Gable headed out of the door as it automatically sealed behind him, and he began to slowly walk, almost crawl to the nearest cafeteria. It was breakfast time after all; between seven and nine in the morning which had been the only period where the breakfast menu was available, for many years now. This was a constant source of pain for anyone, especially if they had a hangover, but he was there, and he was early.

‘Hell yeah, they aren't running out of anything on me that’s for sure’.He reflected.

The queue had been quite short for that time in the morning; and like any leader he had to set an example, regardless of his terrible hangover, by arriving before the rest of his crew.

The queue was nearly gone now; when he saw Kenny Haynes swaying from side to side as he walked into a full trash can, the sudden tumble had resulted in a cry of laughter from Gable, and utter confusion from the clearly still intoxicated Kenny Haynes.

‘Hell Kenny, I bet you’re glad it’s quiet in here right now! I tell you that would have made Helena’s day!’ Gable shook his head laughing some more.

Both Haynes and Gable sat at the table with their morning coffees and full cooked breakfasts, which anyone would argue to be great hangover cures, at least in this case they sure hoped so.

It was almost as if the others could smell out the sizzling bacon aroma as Dares, Landon and Hicks followed the scent like hounds to blood.

‘Wow, what is that? Smells delicious! I got to get me some of that action right there!’ Dares announced to the now crowding group, before rushing to join the lengthening queue.

‘Yeah let’s go guys! This hangover ain’t curing itself! I feel like I have been hit by an air train...twice I might add!’ Dares complained whilst gesturing for the others to hurry up and join her at the back of the swiftly forming queue.

The morning breakfast had proven to be the perfect remedy for their woes; there was not a lot of conversation taking place during breakfast though. It was more like them making grunting sounds, as opposed to them communicating properly, tiredness was finally taking hold after they were finished with their large meals.

With her head collapsed on the table surface, it would have appeared that Dares was suffering the most.

‘Tired!’ she complained.

The others were not exactly in high spirits either, with Gable, Haynes and Hicks power napping in their seats and from first glance Landon had appeared to be just staring at them with her dark, pilot stock sunglasses covering her drowsy, bloodshot eyes.

Hicks had noticed the accidental gaze of Landon falling over him first and jolted out of his zombie state in a panic, as did Haynes straight after.

‘What the hell? Keira, you scared the crap out of me! Ah look Kenny our fiery doctor over there is catching up on her beauty sleep, how cute!’ Hicks gestured, chuckling away, Haynes joined in too, which in turn had awoken the rest of the crew, including one ticked off Doctor Keira Landon.

‘Hey just because I was out of it for a moment, doesn't mean I can’t hurt you two!’ she promised.

‘Alright Keira you have a good point! I offer my sincerest apologies my Princess’ Haynes said, winking in sarcasm.

‘Apology accepted...for now at least, I will get my own back though, mark my words Haynes!’ She promised again. Landon’s use of his surname had made Haynes think that the threat was a real one for a moment, until she revealed a goofy looking grin soon afterwards.

Gable now took the opportunity between the small break in the conversation to interject.

‘Alright guys well let’s get to this, briefing aboard ‘Procules’ in...One hour, that should be plenty of time, so gather your belongings, Kenny, Hicks check the ships supply manifest to make sure we have everything we could need for a long haul!’ he began before pausing to catch his breath.

‘I can tell you now, we will need it all! Helena and Keira, you two go over our surveying, excavating, salvage and repair equipment, and don’t forget the computer systems, also coordinate with Kenny in regards to the storage and the state of all of our other equipment when we get aboard!’ Gable ordered.

They each nodded in agreement as they leaped to the task at hand, a task that would have been believed to be an impossible feat one moment ago, when they were still curled up in their seats.

The crew were now driven; they had each been assigned various tasks to complete and that was all one needed to overcome a hangover. That and bacon, of course.

‘Let’s get out there guys, ‘Procules’ awaits us,’ Gable ordered.

As they each left the now vacant restaurant section of the station, it suddenly boasted a quiet and solemn atmosphere once more, now that breakfast time had come to an end.

Doors echoed with loud crashing noises as they were opened and closed by them. As the crew walked through each of the conjoining terminal corridors, they could hear the chattering of people as they were saying goodbye to loved ones, shopping and even from those who were just awaiting the arrival of the unreliable public transports.

The station was very lively now, it was morning on Julos and everybody needed to be somewhere, as the crew began to battle their way through the gathering crowds.

‘Ouch! My foot, some women just ran over my damn foot with her damn luggage carrier! Get her Kenny!’ Dares shrieked.

‘Heh, lassie I’m too hung over to be your hero right now, seriously I need my bed!’ he replied.

The walk to the hangar bay where ‘Procules’ lay in wait for them, had only taken twenty minutes or so, but their hangover’s had made that walk feel like it was an eternity.

The crew were busy gathering their supplies and equipment; they would have to prepare for every eventuality.

Half an hour later; they were finally ready to begin their voyage into the cosmos.

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