March 1st, 2911 OC (Day 60:950 NE)
Shackelton Station Prime, the Falcon-Scott Starport, Terminal 6, Section
10. 10:32 AM Standard Time.
It is a fairly busy time at Terminal 6, Three inbound flights had just docked and several outbound shuttles were prepping for departure. Some to Earth, others to Mars. There were families, students, business types, a few government suits, and the odd loner scattered amoung the 300 or more persons waiting in this area of the terminal. Certainly not the busiest time of day, over 1200 seats remained empty. Some of those sat at the bar, or shopped on the nearby concourse.
Several Alliance Transport Authority security agents and staff walked about, some checking identicards, but most doing their best to be helpful. Two EarthForce Security walked calmly by, having just entered Section 10 from Section 9. They carried rifles and looked no nonsense, but one was taking the time to answer a child’s questions.
One passenger stood at a help desk arguing about some overcharge while several people from the most recently arrived ship slowly moved in, tired from their long trip. Each one having their identicards checked.
Lake Rain sat at a lounge watching the proceedings while sipping a strawberry daiquiri. She’d arrived an hour earlier and still had another hour or two to wait before she could board her flight home to Earth. From the spaceport there, she’d have another couple hours before she would seen her home in Neo York. The nice part was that she wouldn’t have to do any of the driving.
Two weeks ago old Sandra Guthmore had presented her with a winning lottery ticket. However, instead of money, this one was for an all-expenses paid vacation to Alpha Centauri. But old Sandra was in her nineties and didn’t feel up to such a trip to a place she’d never been. Mrs. Guthmore had suffered the unfortunate privilege of also outliving all her closest relatives and so she’d given it to Lake.
Sandra had been visiting the pharmacy where Lake worked for years now. The elderly woman would come in and while Lake worked on filling one of her many prescriptions, she’d chat a while. Lake knew the old lady really had no other social life and very few friends since her husband died five years before, and she didn’t mind talking to Sandra during her long shift. Although prescription drugs were rather quick and simple to fill these days, she always took just enough time to give Mrs. Guthmore all the time she needed to tell her stories or engage in small talk.
When Mrs. Guthmore came in with the winning ticket, she’d been all smiles. Although her doctor had advised against such a strenuous and long trip to Alpha, she seemed just as happy to give the ticket to Lake. She only asked that Lake take lots of pictures and tell her all about her adventure when she returned. Lake, a little reluctant as she was unused to such lavish gifts, gratefully accepted the winnings and had taken vacation right away.
Ten days later had left her feeling relaxed and happy. Lake was excited to return to Neo York and tell Mrs. Guthmore all about her trip. It had really been a luxury Lake would never have been able to afford any other way. The all-expenses paid vacation had covered room and board at a beach-side resort, free transportation while there, and a “shopping spree” at one of the more famous shopping centers near the resort. Between enjoying the sun, surf, and a little exploration, she’d even found time for a couple dates. She’d had pleasant evening of wining and dining, and even a little bit of dance, too. There hadn’t been any sparks, but she’d parted with the fellow on friendly terms.
Lake sat comfortably in the cushioned lounge chair dressed in her zipped and buckled red top, new, tight-fitting black pants and heeled shoes. She wasn’t really wearing them, of course; they were simply some very expensive-looking clothes she’d seen in a store on Alpha and had shifted to make it appear to be what she was wearing. It was something she’d never be able to wear to work, but she fully intended to not let her last night of vacation to pass by quietly, and so she made sure she looked ready to go out on the town.
“I like the new look, Lake.” The voice was familiar to Lake as the young man sat down next to her. His handsome face brighten as he took in the full picture. “I thought we were going to miss you this time, it was a close one. Ria is around, I think she had to have a woman moment.”
A loudspeaker went off in the background, “Transtar Earth Shuttle 1864 has been delayed for 60 minutes. Transtar Mars Shuttle 1007 has been delayed for 60 minutes. PanGalactic 1701 due from Proxima due in 40 minutes. For all other Terminal 6 flights, expect a delay of 90 to 120 standard minutes. Sorry for any inconvenience.”
Lake looked surprised and then a moment later realized who the man was. “Erebos?” She stood up with a wide smile. “Good heavens! What has it been? Four, five years since I last saw you in college?” With the delays, it seemed she had plenty of time to catch up.
“That much, at least. How have you been?” he asked.
“Good!” Lake said. “I have a job now at a pharmacy, something I’ve been doing for a few years now, and an apartment in Neo York. How about you? And your sister? Do you still travel together? I’ve always wondered what happened to you guys after that one semester you two, Sam, and I met and hung out a while.”
His smile broadened. “I couldn’t get away from her if I tried. We have been thinking about getting out on our own, so the rents let us borrow a jumper. We came here for a pit stop, and now we get to catch up. I’ll take that luck.”
“So you have a full time job, guess it is vacation time for you. I suppose you could say the same for us, though our work is a little different. We have helped our parents all our lives, so now we get to do what we want for a while. Where you going on vacation? Are you still playing music? How is Sam, did you guys hook up?” He was asking questions faster than she could answer.
Lake laughed; same old Eberos she remembered from four years ago. “Well actually, I’m just getting back from vacation to Alpha. I still play a little — I get together with some friends for a jam session once a week or so back home in Neo York. As far as Sam, well no we never did hook up. I think he left college around the same time you and your sister did and I haven’t seen him since.”
“That’s too bad. It would have been great to see him again.” His eyes lit up.” Hey maybe we could come back to Neo York with you and catch a show.”
Lake grinned. “That would be great! I was just thinking I wanted to end my vacation with a bang! How long will the two of you be around? My job is pretty low-stress and the hours are very reasonable. I’m available most nights, in fact. We could hang out, like old times.” Her smile and her enthusiasm were infectious. She was exactly the same person he remembered; easy going, easy to be around, and fun to hang with. There wasn’t a ring on her finger and she obviously wasn’t here with anybody. It seemed a little curious that she was still single.
Finding his way through the crowd, Sam figured he’s just sit at the closest seat to the terminal and catch up on some serious sleep. His travels to various world were taxing and he found that one could climb only so many mountain faces before it took it’s tole. Clutching his carry on bag, he made for the closest chair to the terminal. On his way there he passed a small lounge. Quickly glancing at the crowd sitting in the lounge, Sam saw a few of his old college buddies. Turning his head and continuing to the chair he suddenly stopped, raised an eyebrow and turned his head again. He wasn’t seeing things. There sat two of the closest friends he had during his one semester at the University. Shaking his head a bit he slowly made his way to the two sitting at the table.
“Sam?!” Lake exclaimed. “My gosh! I can’t believe this! This has to be the best vacation, ever.” She came around the table and gave both Eberos and Sam a warm hug. When she let go, she was grinning ear to ear. “Come and have a seat with us, Sam. You’ve got to tell us what you’ve been up to these past four years!”
“Hey man!” Erebos stood and shook the hand of his long time friend. “Oriana should be showing up soon. If she would ever make up her mind that is.” He rubbed his temples for a moment and then sat down at the table with his friends.
After Erebos sat down, Sam heard from behind him, a voice he hadn’t heard in five years.
“I don’t have a problem making up my mind,” Oriana said. She stepped up to the group, looking to see who her brother was talking to. Upon seeing who was there, she said, “Sam? Lake? It is so good to see you both again.”
Oriana set down her bag, stepping over to give Lake a hug in greeting, then giving Sam one as well.
Lake, still grinning, said, “Perfect timing, Oriana! Sam was just about to fill us in on what’s been happening with him these last several years.”
“Well look at this… the gang’s all here! Well this is freakish good timing. The past four years have been pretty much the same as the four years before that… Still living the good life… As long as my parent’s inheritance continues to allow me the good life that is. I just got back from some mountain climbing and am heading back home to Neo York. What about you all?” Sam sat in the closest chair to him.
Over toward the check in desk, a small group a people, two men – by their stature body guards, a droid and a young well-dressed but not outlandish red-haired woman entered the terminal waiting area. She was not familiar to Oriana or Erebos, but Sam and Lake thought they recognized her from somewhere. A couple young women, maybe 12 years old or so saw her and moved over to her leaving their parents behind. The lady, no more than twenty herself seemed happy to see the girls and began what looked like signing autographs.
Meanwhile a technician seemed to be working on one of the Terminal’s computer stations and several dozen more people began showing up. Some of the conversation was bordering on the frustrated.
The loudspeaker chimed and then announced, “All outbound flights now delayed at least 120 standard minutes due to an incoming priority flight. We thank you for your patience.”
Sam overheard a businessman yelling at a service desk employee, “Do you know who I am? You people and your delays, well this will be the last time I take this starline unless you get me on a flight!” The poor woman looked flustered.
Lake took in the scene beyond the small lounge with a sweep of her sharp eyes and smiled. A delay didn’t sound too horrible to her, since it gave her the chance to catch up with old friends. She focused back on the conversation with her friends. “I’d almost forgotten,” she said with a cheery laugh. “Sam the eternal playboy! It must be one adventure after another — equalled, I’m sure, only by the adventures that Erberos and Oriana must have flying around the galaxy with your family. You must see amazing things,” she said to the twins and Sam with a touch of envy.
A number of what looked like emergency medical personnel entered the Terminal and moved through to Gate 3. An announcement went off, “Incoming medical transport on approach. All medical personnel prepare to receive patients. All pending passengers please be patient, all flights will resume once the medical emergency has passed. Please remain in the boarding lounge area. This is a routine medical situation and poses no threat to station guests or personnel. Thank you for your patience.”
Sam looked over at the medical teams as they swooped by. “I hope every things okay?”
As more of the medicals teams passed by, Sam became more anxious. Looking back at his friends he finally stood and looked to Lake. “Excuse me for a moment… I want to make sure every thing is okay…” Sam grabbed his bag and quickly made his way to the area of the emergency.
One of the Transport Authority guards saw Sam and moved toward him, “Sir. Please could you return to the common area. Everything is under control.”
Lake stood and went to stand next to Sam. She addressed the guard. “I’m pharmaceutical biochemist and a paramedic. If there is an emergency and assistance is needed, I’m here to help.”
“Thank you ma’am. We recieved a report. Flight 1701 was diverted to Proxima Station yesterday. Some kind of asteroid collision on the base. The majority of the passengers were re-routed to a different flight while the liner was commandeered to deliver the injured to Earth. They are stable as far as I know, with medical teams on-board, but from what I understand they are quite overwhelmed. Over 200 casualties.” He turned to what looked like a senior medtech, looking for permission. The tech nodded, and the guard said, “Okay go on, show your identicard to the senior med tech.” Turning to Sam the guard asked, “Do you have medical experience sir?”
Lake looked back at Oriana and Erebos and gave them an apologetic smile. They’d understand she wanted to help and hopefully they’d still get a chance to get together in the very near future. Lake then proceeded on past the guard, fishing out her identicard as she went.
Sam looking at the situation looked back at the guard. ” I can help.”
“Don’t I know you?” said the guard, he then waved Sam along and said, “Show you identicard to the Lead Medtech. We’ll need bodyies to help with stretchers and more.”