“What do you mean I’m not on Alcore? I spent twelve hundred cred to get to Alcore and now you’re telling me I’m on some planet called Tristola?” Jezi tried to be loud enough to make a small scene, but she didn’t want to be so loud enough for the Port Authorities to come and investigate.
“I’m sorry,” the flustered flight agent responded. “It seems you were transferred to an incorrect jumper at Blanifia while you were in stasis.” The attendant tried to give her best apologetic smile through her heads up display. “We can offer you full compensation and a free ticket to any destination within twelve parsecs.”
Jezi was in total disbelief. She felt like pulling all her hair out while screaming and running circles around the terminal lobby, but she knew it wouldn’t solve anything. Not to mention someone would probably post it on the Uni-web. She took a deep breath before responding. “And how long ago did that happen?”
The attendant focused on her display while answering, “Um, it looks like 3 terra months ago. Would you like your compensation now?”
Jezi was in shock. “Three months ago? I should have been on Alcore over two months ago!” She stood there for a long uncomfortable minute, staring at the attendant. She was hoping this was just a dream and she would wake up soon to find herself on Alcore.
“Would you like your compensation now?” the attendant asked again while glancing past Jezi at the other people standing in line.
Jezi turned to look behind her then back at the attendant. Without a word she placed her hand on the raised palm display. After several seconds the display beeped and showed the transfer was complete. Jezi looked at the skin embedded display in her palm to confirm.
“Thank you for flying with SolSpace, and I hope you have a pleasant flight, wherever your destination may be.” The attendant stated and looked to the next customer in line.
Jezi walked away from the ticket counter, still stunned at her predicament. Her hover pack followed closely behind. She tried to remember what it was it the attendant said — destination?
There was no need to go to Alcore now. Her assignment to cover the birth of a new Standerbeast was way past being overdue. No need to contact her editor either. There wouldn’t be any chance of getting another freelance assignment from him again. She continued slowly walking, in a daze, not really heading in any specific direction. She didn’t know where she would go or where she could get another assignment. She needed a fresh start and maybe this was the opportunity.
“Yes, you could be enjoying the sun filled purple skies and beautiful golden waters of Tenaria.” The display sign spoke to her as she came within its advertising perimeter. Jezi stopped to look at the holo display. Her hover pack bumped lightly into the back of her legs.
Sensing she was watching, the display continued, “Imagine yourself laying on the beaches of Tenaria, the radiant warmth of the dual suns giving you a glowing tan, followed by a multi course dinner of our highly rated and unique seafoods, and finish with a perfect night of dancing in the infamous clubs of Landon Beach."
She paused and gave it a thought, then responded, “Nah!”
The display blanked and switched to a view of rugged mountains and sheer cliffs. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find yourself among the breathtaking beauty of the peaks and…”
Jezi pointed at the display and slid her pointed finger to the right. The display of the mountains slid off the side of the display and a new image slid in from the left.
“Only a terra month of stasis sits between you and the casinos of…”
She flicked her hand to the right and watched as the display updated.
The next image of the display seemed to reach out and surround Jezi. A deep blue sky with scattered puffs of white clouds hovered above with a rocky shore along a serene body of water seemed to be right below her feet. She could hear the lapping of the shallow waves of water kissing the sand and rocks. A strange gray and white creature flew over head, calling out to her in a high pitched squeal, almost as if it was singing to her. The display spoke. Not the rapid sales pitch of the previous offers. This time it was a kind and gentle voice, male, with a hint of an accent she had not heard before.
“Some call it Terra. Others refer to it as its ancient name of Earth. Regardless of what name you use, there is no denying this beautiful planet, now called Trinth, is the ultimate destination for those who are seeking peace, tranquility, and the experience of a lifetime.”
Jezi didn’t know if it was the voice or the sheer beauty of the projected holo image that appealed to her. She knew she was going to go there. There was no forethought, hesitation, or a hint of trepidation. She had dreamed of this place.
The image seemed to lift her above the beach and the water. It moved, giving her the sense she was flying above the water. The sensation was so real she had to steady herself, to keep from falling forward, as she leaned into the direction of the movement. Lush green islands rose up in the distance. Towering peaks of mountains arose on the horizon, topped with a pristine white so bright, it seemed the sun had scattered its constant fusion of energy there.
The voice continued, “Once a place of savage wars and selfish plundering, the inhabitants of this beautiful world turned their attention to restoring Trinth back to the condition it was in before the plundering. It has become the example of how humankind could co-exist with their native environments while carrying forth their message of peace, prosperity, and expansion to the stars of the universe. Would you like to learn more about Trinth?”
All Jezi could do was slightly nod her head as she was whisked away into the beautiful skies of Trinth. After a long pause she realized she needed to verbally respond. “Yes,” she said. “I am interested.”
The display changed to show the man behind the voice. His hair was long, silken, and black — a perfect match for the ebony black pupils of his eyes. His smile was sincere and it highlighted the lines of kindness around his eyes. Jezi figured him to be in his thirties, in Terra years. He had an appealing face without being overly handsome and a ruggedness in his stance and composure. This was not some actor or model, Jezi thought to herself. This was a real Terranian.
The man pointed to a view of the Trinth travel counter and then pointed in the general direction within the terminal. He looked directly at Jezi and concluded, “Would you like to see this presentation again?”
She was tempted to say yes, just to experience it again. She turned and headed in the direction pointed out by the native Terranian, her hover pack following closely behind.
As Jezi stepped up to the counter a holo image of the flight agent appeared. “May I help you?” asked the attendant.
“I would like to go there, to Trinth,” she replied while pointing to one of the travel holo displays behind the attendant.
“Excellent. I can help you with that. May I have your identification and travel permits please?”
Jezi pressed her palm up to the scanner on the counter. As the system read her information, she could see the attendant’s smile turn into a look of concern. A subtle beep indicated the scanner was done. “Is there a problem?” Jezi asked the attendant.
“Well, it looks like you have a voucher for up to twelve parsecs. I’m afraid that is not enough for a ticket to Trinth,” the attendant paused. “Unless you have the funds for extending the voucher? It would be twelve thousand creds to the additional thirty parsecs.”
“Twelve thousand creds?” Jezi exclaimed. She only had a little over thirteen thousand in her account. It was her whole life savings. “Do I take the leap?” she asked herself, not really intending to ask the attendant.
The attendant looked at her display then back up at Jezi. “It’s two years of stasis, some serious money, and I’m assuming this is a impulse decision,” the attendant replied.
Jezi pondered what she was about to do. A fresh start. Years away from friends and family. Back to comfortable, familiar? Or off to seek adventure, and new stories to write? “What’s the name of the city where I’ll be landing?” she asked the attendant.
Looking at her display, the attendant replied, “Seattle.”
“That’s a nice name.” Jezi pondered this decision, closed her eyes, and placed her hand on the scanner. “One ticket to Trinth.”
(Photo: © Philcold | Cosmos Beauty Photo)