When Darius wakes he does so with a groan, loud to his ears and long. It escapes from between his lips helping to convey just how much pain his body is in. Dull aching pain but pain all the same.
Against his better judgement he peels open his eyes. He struggles to do so and finds, once achieved, a ceiling above him. It isn’t of his converted storage hold of that much he is certain. No, it’s the ceiling of full room undoubtedly on a mech. He hopes its Weaver he’s on and that it survived, against the odds.
He did his best to ensure it would make it through. Not just the mech but those who call it home too. The last thing he wants to discover is that his actions cost the lives of…
“You’re awake. I wasn’t convinced you would be this soon.” Samuel says sliding into the rough vision afforded to Darius by his aching eyes.
The Governor is wearing a wide smile. It suits him but being without his wide brimmed hat does not for it reveals just how thin his grey hair has become.
“How do you feel?”
“Like death. Where… am I?” The pained Darius replies with difficulty.
A fresh smile appears across Samuel’s face. It’s a lesser smile on this second occasion but is swiftly followed with an answer. “You’re in my room. It was the least I could do for the man who save us. All of us.”
“No casualties?” The pilot doesn’t quite believe it can be true for reasons he is unable to give. That is why he felt it necessary to speak the query and seek confirmation.
“A few cuts, bruises and concussions but no fatalities. Everyone will live.”
“Crippled, beyond repair they tell me.” Samuel is casual in his reply.
“So I failed?” Despair claws at the pilot Captain as he lies in Samuel’s bed, eyes dipped low toward his booted feet.
“No. No dear boy. You didn’t fail at all.” Hearing the hope in the Governor’s voice Darius lifts his gaze and locks eyes with the older man, the elected representative of the people.
Sadness persists in them, that is unlikely to ever fade, but amongst that sadness is something else, unbridled hope. It wasn’t there the last time they spoke alone like this. Recalling that conversation it feels as though it transpired a lifetime ago and yet it wasn’t. Or at least it can’t have been. Darius has no clue as to how long he’s been out or what might be the extent of his injuries.
You’re alive, be thankful for that; the voice in his head tells him. And he is. Though, he would be lying if he did not admit he is confused by Samuel’s manner. Weaver is scuttled but the Governor isn’t deep in despair. Because of that Darius’ brow is deeply furrowed while he stares at the older man
The response from Samuel is swift, a chuckle and following it he suggests, “How about we get you up and moving? You must be stiff and it’ll do you some good.
“Just tell me whatever it is that’s happened, Samuel please.” Is the adamant reply from the pilot Captain who is in no mood for games or whatever this might be they’re partaking in.
“Where would be the fun in that?” The Governor counters with a smirk.
He’s been waiting for three days to break this news to Darius. A number of times it looked as though he might never get the chance with how touch and go the pilots’ condition was. But he pulled through, obviously. If he hadn’t Samuel wouldn’t be talking to him now.
Better still was when he got news that no one has contracted Rotcage from the hull breaches in Weaver. It took hours for the smile to vanish off his old face once he’d heard that.
“Ugh.” Darius exhales bluntly in defeat. Evidently Samuel is going to play whatever this is out whether the pilot likes it or not and so he attempts to move.
His victories do not come easy. And in fact his body, he soon learns, is so stiff and resistant to his demands that it becomes necessary for Samuel to aid him in his endeavours.
Once Darius is on his feet the pair leave the Governors room; Darius limping and needing to use Samuel as support.
Through the pain and the difficulty the pilot Captain cannot help but notice the corridors of Weaver are empty, silent as the grave. The pilot hates it. He’s never before seen them like this. He imagines this is what it must have been like building Weaver. He can’t stand it. He wants the bustle, the bodies. These corridors are where the colonists belong, safe and sound within the metal skin of the mech.
“Where is everyone?” The pilot asks no longer able to resist the urge.
“They’re busy working.” Is the short uninformative reply Samuel delivers with a grin.
“Working… working on what? You said Weaver is beyond repair.” Darius could not be more confused he thinks if he purposefully tried to be while hobbling along aided heavily by the older man.
“It is. But there remains plenty to do. I shouldn’t spoil the surprise but suffice to say our future is secured because of you Darius. Thank you.”
“I know. But soon you will.” A chuckle escapes from between the older man’s closed lips as they carry on slowly toward their destination. It takes a while for the pair to reach it, the remains of the command centre. It too like the corridors is barren but moreover it looks and feels worse due to many of the consoles and much of the remaining wiring, circuitry, etc having been stripped. Even sections of the decking are absent, having been cut away to reveal the superstructure beneath. Darius remains perplexed. This sight raises more questions than ever and offers nothing in the way of answers, hence why he mutters, “What is going on here?”
“Look out the window.” Is all he gets in reply.
“You mean the view port?”
“If you insist on terming it that Darius, then yes look out the view port. Tell me what you see out there.”
The pilot retracts his arm from across Samuel’s shoulders and then hobbles painfully forward.
“Sand; I don’t have to amble any further than this to tell you all that I’ll see is…” The pilot Captain trails off for his words have become stuck in his throat now that he’s set his eyes upon what lies beyond the view port. It isn’t what he expected, not in a million years. It’s why his jaw drops; panic fills his chest as it tightens. Somehow he manages to spin on his heels a hundred and seventy degrees, roughly, to face Samuel.
“Why are they outside? What’s going on? Rotcage; has everyone forgotten about…”
“No Darius, they haven’t forgotten.” The Governor assures with his palms flat and hands raised.
“So why…?” The pilot begins.
“Because you found paradise here on Promise, Captain, like we always hoped.”
“What? This isn’t funny Samuel. I’m in no mood for anymore of your jokes. Now tell me what’s really going on?”
“I’m not joking. After you passed out from your wounds I took charge. Charlotte informed me of the discovery. I didn’t believe it either. She assured me it was correct. Still, I played it safe until a little over a day ago when all results came back. Conclusive, irrefutable evidence shows this area of Promise being devoid of spores, past and present. Here we never have to worry about Rotcage.”
Darius is lost for words. He wants to say something, anything, but can’t. So it is left to Governor Samuel Jenrick to speak.
“We’re finally home Darius. No more scrounging for resources, living in fear, in confinement. Here we can build. Here we can thrive.”
“What about the other…”
“We’ve sent out a wide burst. Nothing yet but if anyone is out there they have a home here.”
“And the Ulysses?”
Samuel shrugs and shakes his head. “We’ve seen nor heard a thing from it. We believe it lost or soon to be.”
“Relax Darius, we’re free.” The Governor swiftly adds with a hearty chuckle which draws a smile out of Darius.
It’s the first time he’s smiled in years and he can scarcely believe that humanity, the colonists of Weaver, have found a home on the planet which seemed so determined to want them dead. Hope, real and true; something he hasn’t felt in many a year fills him. It sends warmth spreading throughout his body.
Humanity, these few thousand at the very least, have the prospect of building a future. Not with sights on being here in days or weeks or even the seldom considered months ahead but years, decades, maybe even centuries.
It brings to the pilot Captain’s mind an old Earth adage which goes: the grass is greener on the other side. Darius doesn’t believe that. Not greener. Just as green. Promise presents problems. Perhaps no less than Earth did prior to their departure from it. But this is their home now and they will adapt to survive, as they have from the moment they left Sol and entered this system and set foot on the planet as colonists some fifty years ago.