Eternity’s Liftoff (7/7)

3: CLAUDIA

Epilogue

“She’s not answering my alerts!” The deep, gruff voice of the vessel’s captain rang behind him as he strode briskly down the metallic hall. “I haven’t heard from her since boarding, and she wasn’t at the Captain’s first meeting!”

The onboard Chief Departure Council Ambassador tailed behind the Captain Robertson’s long strides, trying to keep pace. “She did say she wanted to have the first twenty-four hours to herself, sir,” she suggested mildly. The two of them practically raced through the halls, fueled by the captain’s irritation.

“It’s been longer than that,” said the captain, turning into the fifth bay. He scanned the unit headings and stopped below the one reading UNIT 138A. “You sure this is it?” His companion nodded. Ignoring the buzzer to the right, he rapped smartly on the door.

There was a smattering of what sounded like small feet running, and the door swung open. “Hello sir—oh boy!—are you the captain? We’ve been watching all your orientation videos, sir!” The boy wore the largest grin the captain had seen in years. “Dad, come take a look, it’s the ship’s captain! Sir, can you tell me if the ship really has a hundred different engine rooms? How big are they? Can I see one?” Henry Taft emerged behind his son and put a hand on Cam’s shoulder.

Captain Robertson stared flabbergasted between the young boy, his father, and the suite unit number marked out for Claudia Clyne, head scientist and a true hero—or so they said—of Departure. The annoyance on his face transformed to pure bewilderment. Behind him, Adela Novak stood, slightly out of breath, a little smile creeping onto her face.

After all these years, she thought, Claudia Clyne had gotten her way at last.

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