Sole Remnants

“Is this really a good idea?” Vanessa asks bluntly now that everything has been explained to her in perhaps more detail than she thinks was necessary. Though, she fully understands as to why she was not spared an ounce of it.

“What else can we do?” Jeff queries in response.

He’s open to suggestions that he may not have considered but that might be reasonable alternatives to what he, as the person in-charge, has decided.

“There has to be something other than blindly heading towards coordinates scrawled upon a wall in a cave that is filled with the bones of the planet’s inhabitants.” Vanessa says attempting to reason and perhaps succeed in talking some sense into Doctor Welty, or at very least the Journeyman’s pilot Sam, that this is irrational.

Vanessa, in that moment, realises that she doesn’t know Sam’s surname. Not that Sam knows hers either. Perhaps they should properly introduce themselves to each other.

Why? Have you already accepted that we’re going on this batshit crazy venture to coordinates that apparently lead to the very species that wiped the natives off the world we are once again sitting stationary above? Those are the words that go through the engineers head.

“Then offer your suggestions. I’m all ears.” Jeff says gesturing with his arms before making sure to add, “That includes you too Sam. You are just as entitled to offer your thoughts and ideas as Vanessa is.”

“I have no suggestions Doctor Welty and while I had my reservations, which you are fully aware of seeing as I made them known to you on our journey back to this ship, I find I now concur.” Sam says in the overly formal manner that Jennesters always seem to favour.

“Two against one is really what I’m left with?” Vanessa conveys her frustration with an over emphasised shrug of her broad shoulders and muscular frame. It’s still wrapped in the stained overalls that she had been adorned in when she’d been under the console digging around with her wrench in hand, cursing.

“Your input is still valid.” Jeff assures from behind steepled fingers and a vacant stare into the middle distance. His voice is monotone, which is not what the engineer would consider normal. So that means he’s only semi-present, likely with much of his faculties deep in thought and contemplation. Though, whether about his decision or something else she cannot say. She could make an educate guess. If she did it would be on him reviewing some detail he has no doubt not entirely elaborated upon but that he finds remarkably important.

“Ok then, why don’t we contact the CPG? Fill them in. Let them know what we’ve found. Maybe ask for aid, relief…” Vanessa begins before Jeff cuts in.

“Relief…You think I will just hand this off to another?” Jeff sounds perplexed, maybe even outraged at the suggestion.

“No, I don’t Doc. Poor choice of words. I just…I think we need to be more than a trio aboard a starship that has had issues just getting out here. Especially if what we could face is some galaxy hopping species with a penchant for mass murder.”

“You might be right…” Jeff acknowledges much to Vanessa’s surprise, which is why she expects…

“…But…” There it is, just as Vanessa had been waiting for, a counter point that will give a reason as to why they cannot do that and must forge ahead.

Maybe the engineer should cut him off before he can utter whatever it is he plans to, yet something tells her not to. That she should hear him out. After all, it might not seem like it but she isn’t entirely against the idea of diving further down this rabbit hole they’re in. At least at this point she isn’t. That could quickly change if they find themselves in a pinch that they can’t get out of. Though it is an if, and Vanessa doesn’t live on ifs and buts, for better or for worse.

“…we could make the jump and drop a slip comm. package back to CPG while in transit. Fill them in on everything. By the time we arrive at the coordinates we should have an answer.”

Vanessa has to admit it seems like the Doc has a great deal more worked out than she was willing to give him credit for. Her guess is that he’s had more than a little help and negotiation from Sam. It’s a belief that is reinforced seconds later when they winks at the engineer and is all the confirmation Vanessa needs that they definitely played a role in the fabrication of this version of the intended plan.

Still, the engineer isn’t willing to rush into giving a response. If she does it might draw unnecessary suspicion and sow a seed of doubt. It’s unlikely, though just because Vanessa doesn’t live on ifs and buts it does not mean she is willing to forego considering potential future issues. Doing so can prove fatal.

Finally, having stalled in silence for almost a minute, she nods. Jeff’s face lights up with joy in the fractions of a second before he throws his arms up in the arm and lets out a whoop of celebration. Vanessa laughs while Sam simply offers a smile.

With their collective path as the crew of the Journeyman set and certain members unwilling to waste a moment more, Jeff cries, “Forward to meet the future, post haste.” His arm and index finger are outstretched as he points toward the canopy of the starships ‘bridge’ just beyond the open hatchway that connects it to the small open area that links it to the crew quarters.

And with those words uttered Sam, Vanessa and Doctor Jeff Welty hurriedly take their respective seats and prepare for the input and initiation of a new slip toward coordinates found concealed secretly in the mural that depicted a species’ extinction. An extinction perpetrated by a seemingly outside alien presence of superior strength and technological advancement.

Before they reach their goal Jeff will study, in detail, some of the fragments he collected so that they have a better understanding, not just for themselves, but to also better convey the facts to the CPG in their transmission.

However, those are things to come, the time for them having not yet arrived. So, with the course set and the slip calculated Sam advises, “Slip in three, two…”

They never say one. Instead the Journeyman lurches forward as it enters the tunnel in and across space.

This particular tunnel will not take them the whole way. Sam had explained earlier that to reach such a coordinates the Journeyman would need to perform five separate slips with no less than fourteen hour cooling periods between. A necessary delay so the engines can vent the excess heat build up that occurs as a result of long slips, like the type they will performing

Still, Jeff doesn’t care as he may soon come face-to-face with a race of advanced sentient lifeforms. It’s what he has always dreamed of and yet he finds he feels reticent regarding the prospect of their possible hostility toward humanity like they had been to whatever race once occupied the planet they have just departed. He wouldn’t miss it for the world however.

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