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Sorry, folks, no #fridayflash for a few weeks. Instead, I'm revealing excerpts from Defying Gravity, Fighting Gravity, and Pull of Gravity. So, here is Chapter One of Defying Gravity.
It’s only a year.
Linia stepped upon the silver staircase leading to the SS Perseid. Her moment to shine was finally here. After her years of linguistic studies and weeks of private training, she was the youngest crewmember to board this mission to brave new worlds and greet intelligent life on neighboring planets.
Three Persean crewmen stood ahead of her. Vines twisted in her peripheral vision, nearly encroaching upon the launch pad. How could she leave her verdant planet for a sea of stars? But this spacecraft held her future. She shifted from foot to foot, anxious for her turn to enter.
“Saying good-bye to your mommy and daddy, Linia?” An all-too-familiar tenor voice taunted her.
At three years her senior, she thought she’d left him behind in secondary school. Her head cocked to the side as she glared into his weak yellow eyes. She ignored his fine cheek bones and pure cerulean flesh. So what if he was a fine Persean specimen to every other female? He was a trorc’s ass. She moved closer to the entrance. “What are you doing here?”
Leaning against the railing, he chuckled and eyed her up and down. “It looks like we’re going to spend a year together in very close quarters. I’m the tenth crewmember.”
Her jaw dropped and antennae drooped. “You’re kidding me.”
“Nope.” He nudged her bag. “It’s your turn.”
Her mouth opened a couple of times, but no words would form. In the distance, she spied her parents. Dad wrapped an arm around Mom’s shoulders. Mom’s wheat blond hair, so like Linia’s own, waved in the gentle breeze. Linia’s throat tightened as they waved to her, but she couldn’t bear to return the gesture. Why didn’t anyone else’s family show up? Her embarrassment singed her cheeks and even made her antennae burn. She’d thought there would be more fanfare for their important departure. Instead, she probably looked like a child to the rest of the crew.
Turning away, she stared at the spacecraft. An entire solar year with Griffon on board. Her body slumped at the prospect, and her leaden feet clomped up the remaining stairs. If she didn’t want this position so much, she would’ve turned around and forgotten the entire mission. With a dry mouth, she said, “Linia, linguist,” to the Persean with the clipboard.
“Head to your right. Mixi’ll be waiting for you.” The woman turned toward Griffon. “Your name and occupation?”
Linia gasped and stumbled through the entryway. How did that arrogant jerk get an engineer position?
Stark white walls lined the interior of the spacecraft. The light hurt her sensitive eyes, and she blinked to adjust her vision. A sterilized scent, like cleaning fluids, caused her nose to wrinkle. She turned down another smaller hallway. If two people could pass each other without brushing shoulders, it would surprise her.
“You’re the linguist?” An older woman’s sharp voice echoed along the corridor.
“Yes, ma’am.” She couldn’t place Mixi’s age, since her white-blond hair was pulled back in a bun so tight it gave her a face lift. A small silver triangle sparkled upon her crisp dark blue uniform. So Mixi was a third of the head crew’s triumvirate, consisting of Captain Bous and Corporal Kavin.
“You will address me as Lieutenant Mixi.” She placed her palm upon a panel, and the door vanished into the wall. The room contained a small tube-like bed no bigger than a coffin and a closet barely big enough for her bag.
“These are your quarters. I suggest you dress quickly and meet me outside.” The lieutenant thrust a SS Perseid standard uniform at Linia. Mixi left with a snap of her heels.
The door closed Linia into the small room. Good thing she wasn’t claustrophobic, right? She gulped and ran her fingers over the golden swirl upon her uniform. She was the bridge between the Perseans and aliens, their one link to communication. A surge of pride and authority roared through her while she dressed in the uniform. The dark blue blended well with her lighter complexion. She pulled back her hair from her face and tied it in a ponytail before checking her appearance in a compact mirror.
“Linguist Linia, any day now,” Mixi called in her crisp voice.
Linia snapped the mirror shut and dropped it in her bag. Was she delaying the ship’s departure? She scurried out the room and nearly bumped into the lieutenant. Mixi glared at Linia, and she shuddered. Without another word, Mixi marched down the corridors.
Linia jogged to keep up with the lieutenant’s long strides. Her gaze sought the Perseid’s interior, but the same sterilized walls enclosed her. Each hall was nearly identical. How would she find her way around?
Mixi halted and placed her palm on another panel. The door slid open, and they entered the control center of the SS Perseid.
Eight Perseans sat at a metallic, semi-round table in the center of the room. Ten silver chairs, bolted to the floor, had seatbelts along the waist and over the shoulders. A window panel spread along the front wall. Slight raised edges appeared on the other walls, and Linia assumed they led to various instruments and cabinets.
Mixi motioned for Linia to take the vacant chair at the end of the table before the lieutenant stormed to the captain’s right.
With some reluctance, Linia lowered herself into the chair beside Griffon. He gave her a diabolical grin, and she ignored him, or tried to. Her gaze focused on the large viewing screen. A mixture of emeralds, crimsons, and purples bloomed before them. She breathed in, already missing Persea’s warm floral air. This would be her last glimpse of the planet before they lifted off into space.
“Welcome, everyone. We have quite an adventure before us, don’t we?” Several chuckled and nodded, but Linia’s lips pursed into a line. She thought she’d be sick. “As you know, I’m Captain Bous.” The captain rested his hands across his bugling belly. The bright lights glistened off his perspiring forehead while he introduced the crew and their positions. “Buckle your seatbelts. Let’s fly.”
The seatbelts clicked into place, and her heart rate increased as the countdown began. Tingles, like lying down in a bed of prickly grass, coursed through her body. Her hand fluttered to her neck as she traced the smooth sapphire stone of her choker, the same one all Perseans wore.
A flurry of activity surrounded her. The captain placed his hand upon the table, and the flight instruments shifted into place. Several other Perseans did the same. She felt left out. A linguist’s skills would only be necessary when they met other intelligent life. Until then, she was no one, and the thought sank home. Her chest strained against the restraints.
What was she doing here?
A deep rumbling sound rose like a furious draken. The ship trembled as if in anticipation for the journey.
“Countdown. Three, two—”
She needed off this ship. She couldn’t be gone an entire solar year with these people.
The SS Perseid rocketed into the air.