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Episode 4 Part 5

By:  Lenady

Tilly sat, curled up and barefoot, on the orange couch in the common room. The leather bound book was in her lap, open to an illustration. She had spent the last hour or so with the book, exploring the new world that lay before her. After she had left Sanrook in the hallway she had went back to her room to unpack, but found herself being drawn repeatedly to the book, to look at the illustrations and glance at the story titles. At times, she was tempted to put off stacking her books, and such, until later that day, though she knew if she did that she would be angry at herself later. She put the book away in the bathtub in the corner, along with her plushies, to wait until she had finished the task that was before her. Despite this tactic she left the room only a half hour or so after she came in, abandoning her efforts for a more pleasant way of spending her first day in space.

Several of the stories in the book had been completely in English and she had immersed herself in them. They were full of lords and ladies, brave knights and great adventures, and Tilly relished the fact that they felt both new to her and comfortable and familiar at the same time. They reminded her of the fairytales she had read when she was a kid; there was a sense of age to them, unlike the fantasy novels she normally read. The pictures, some black and white but quite a few in color, reminded her of a storybook she had read at a library. The book even smelled familiar, possessing that wonderful smell that some books just seem to have, though the smell of glue was particularly strong as well.

Tilly flipped through the pages to another illustration. She sighed and looked up from the page. Despite how familiar the stories felt, they were clearly from a different world than hers. The occasional illegible script, the words and names that she knew must carry an importance unknown to her, the doglike characteristics of the people in the pictures; all of them hinted at so much, yet told her so little. It made sense to her that they didn’t, being of course from a book of legends and fairy tales. Yet, the nervousness that it gave Tilly was not as easy to shake off as her annoyance with Sanrook.

She had been overly grumpy earlier. She realized that shortly after walking away from the argument between her friend and the computer. She was being a poor guest as well as ungrateful. Tilly leaned her head back against the couch and stared up at the metallic ceiling above her. She squeezed her eyes shut, some small part of her willing the past few weeks to go away.

‘What is wrong with me?’ Tilly whispered, not expecting a reply.

“I bet I know what wrong.” The computer’s voice answered. Tilly jumped at the sound, still unaccustomed to being watched without her knowledge. Toren gave her no chance to speak before continuing, “You’re a nice person and you think you were mean aaaand now you are angry at yourself and you took it out on Sanrook. Isn’t that fun? I do it all the time!”

Toren’s exclamation met only the sound of Tilly stretching out on the couch, though that didn’t dissuade her from speaking further. “Don’t worry about hurting Sanrook. She can take it. Why just the other day..”

The door to the common room slid open, interrupting Toren’s story. “Hey, check it out,” said Sanrook as she walked through.

“Check what out?” Tilly asked, somewhat listlessly.

Sanrook had made her way to where Tilly was lying and looked at her from over the couch. Tilly noticed that she was now decidedly drier than the last time she had seen her. Sanrook grinned as usual, exhibiting no signs of annoyance with Tilly for her previous display of moodiness. Tilly relaxed visibly and felt her tense shoulders begin to loosen.

“You can already see the planet”

Tilly sat up and turned to face Sanrook. “What Planet?”

“Our next stop” Sanrook answered, walking around to the other side of the couch.

“But we just left Earth yesterday,” Tilly said as she scooted over to make room.

Sanrook shook her head, motioned towards the door and began to walk. “See here’s the deal. Long distances are the easy part.” Tilly hopped off the couch and followed, catching up to Sanrook as she went through the door. Sanrook paused and Tilly nearly ran into her.
“Um… it’s complicated.” she continued as she began to walk through the hallway again. “Let’s just say it moves at the speed of entanglement. It’s a particle…. thing. Basically you can move through huge amounts of space almost instantly, but the short spaces are what get you. It’s like trying to draw a line from one point to another and making sure there is nothing between them, then you just cheat”.

Tilly nodded slowly, her eyebrows beginning to furrow. They had reached the end of the hallway and made an awkward turn up the stairs towards the control room.

“You cheat time and space” Sanrook continued. “But it’s really hard to do. Sometimes it takes lots of jumps for a ship to get to another planet because of obstacles. So you just have to take your best shot. Since Toren had some time she was able to plot a really good jump so we came out unusually close to the planet. Only a few hours and we’ll be there.”

Toren opened the doors automatically as they reached the top steps, sliding to reveal the room she had sat in the previous day during the takeoff. A large view of space was before them on the wall. “Sometimes it can even come out months away. That’s it.” She said, interrupting herself, “That’s the one we’re going to”, pointing out a growing blue planet on the view.

Tilly stood by the door, still uncomfortable with the view in front of her, while Sanrook made her way over to her chair in front of the console. She spoke after a second, her feet planted firmly in place and her back against the wall, “So what do we do now”?

Sanrook turned grinning and said “we wait and enjoy the view”, patting the other seat. She turned around and Tilly slowly made her way over, sitting in the other chair. She leaned back and breathed, letting a small smile cross her face; and they waited.

 

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