Awen: Tongue of Flame

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Are We Home Yet?

After almost one thousand years of life on board the generation ship 'Aspire', the descendant colonists' were desperate to find a new home. They longed to set foot upon a planetary surface for the first time.

'Are you kidding me!' Captain Jason Dares yelled, slamming his fist against the image projector before him.

The estimates of finding a solar system which held the potential for supporting life were looking grim at best. The bridge crew had been painstakingly searching for a habitable planet for the last several days, and to no avail.

Once perfectly-tailored uniforms' were now crumpled and worn-out. The putrid stench of sweat lingered throughout the bridge, like a rain cloud which would never leave. Even the Captain had not yet had the time to find a replacement set of clothes; this was certainly something that would have to change before too long.

Everyone was exhausted, and yet the fear of remaining confined to a spaceship for any longer than was necessary was proving to be a useful motivational tool. The soon-to-be colonists had, after all, spent their entire lives living onboard the ship, just as their ancestors' had done before them.

'Hello sis.' a young boy, no older than six years of age announced as he strolled casually on to the bridge.

'Jackson! It's nice to see you bro... but you can't be up here, where's mom?' Isabella Sharpe asked quietly. She was painfully aware of the curious looks that she was receiving.

'She's at the bar, and she said to find you. You stink by the way.' Jackson replied wickedly.

'I what?' she jested, tickling him.

'I meant to say that you smell great sis.' Jackson corrected hastily.

'Yeah, yeah, whatever you say. Did you say that moms at the bar? So she just left you?' Sharpe demanded. Jackson nodded sheepishly.

Sharpe looked across the bridge once. 'Do you see those seats over there? If you promise to behave, Jackson, you can sit there and watch me, okay?' she asked, ushering him in the right direction.

Family members of the crew were supposed to remain below deck at all times; it was a written rule. There was always someone who refused to obey the rules, though, and Jackson Sharpe was not the only one.

The desperate search for a new home was becoming futile, and the days were crawling by, one by one, as artificial ship days slowly folded into restless nights. The fragile morale of the colonists would continue to decline rapidly unless a miracle suddenly presented itself.

Evening lighting was gradually evolving into the illuminating white daylight, and another stressful day of frantic planetary analysis was about to commence.

A mere few minutes later, the sudden discovery of a tiny flora-covered world caught the Captain's attention, and the insistent blaring of the ships surveying alarm was reverberating throughout the entire ship.

The trophy world lying squarely ahead of them was like bearing witness to a welcome mirage of water, set upon the hazy horizon of a vast desert.

The planet sat perfectly within the preferred golden mean zone of habitation, and this was a fact that was now apparently known to everyone on board the colony ship 'Aspire'.

'Docking bay to bridge, I have hundreds of people trying to access shuttles without authorisation. I need orders.' a terrified docking co-ordinator pleaded over the intercom.

Rumours had always spread like wildfire onboard a spaceship, and they probably always would.

'Keep the airlock shut!' Captain Dares ordered. Awaiting a reply that did not come, he knew that he was going to have to act quickly.

'We need to get eyes down there, see to it will you Sharpe?' he asked.

Sharpe stared at her brother for a moment. The Captain noticed her concern right away.

'He'll be safe here, Isabella.' he promised.

Sharpe didn't hesitate. 'Of course, Sir, you can count on me!' she replied.

The thundering echoes of stampeding crowds could be heard throughout the ship, and the area which Sharpe was walking through was no different. Everywhere that she looked, people were barging into each other. There was a bottleneck of agitated people as she reached the giant docking bay elevator, she would not be able to travel that way.

Climbing down several ladders, Sharpe only had one set remaining when a slight rumble in the distance caused her to lose her footing, and she fell.

With a pounding headache, and blood trickling down the left side of her face, Sharpe blinked rapidly. There was a constant ringing sound filling her ears, and her vision was dazed.

Dragging herself over to a nearby communication suite, she mashed the buttons with blood smeared fingers. 'Sharpe to the bridge, I need help, over.' she cried.

'What happened to you, Sharpe?' Captain Dares asked.

'I fell when the ship lurched Sir,' Sharpe replied. 'What was that rumble?' she added, dabbing her temple with a scrap of fabric from her sleeve.

'Never mind that, you just hold on, and someone will be down to find you.' he promised.

There were no fire alarms, and no emergency evacuation orders, whatever had happened to the ship, it was not dead, not yet at least.

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