|Chapter Ten: Traverse the Stars|
|Paige woke slowly. Her face was sore and her head ached, but she knew it was from crying for so long the day before. Paul was asleep beside her, sitting on the bed, leaned up against the wall.
She stirred and he woke, looking concernedly down at her. When he noticed that she was awake he stroked her hair gently. “Morning…You okay?” His pale blue eyes looked into her gold one, his worry for her still plain on his face.
Paige simply nodded and looked about. The room was larger than the one she and Cien had shared at the space station, though it was just as simply furnished. Again a small bathroom connected to the room and she rose and walked in there.
Paul sat quietly on the bed as she rose and just watched her walk. Sadness hung palpable around her like a shroud and his heart ached all the more for her sad golden eyes to smile again even as it broke at the loss of his good friend. He watched as she washed her face and smoothed her long dark hair back into a braid.
As she walked out he rose and took her gently by the hand. “Are you hungry?”
Paige shrugged. “I guess I should eat…”
Paul nodded and gently took her hand. “Come on, we’ll go down to the mess hall and see what’s for breakfast.” They walked out of the room hand in hand.
The mess hall was quiet. The few people who were in there were not speaking or laughing. Most sat alone, eating in silence, still not yet recovered from the events of the day before.
Paige and Paul entered and Paige pulled them to a corner table. Paul looked down at her as she sat. “I’ll get you some of whatever is available for breakfast…” He spoke softly, unwilling to violate the desired silence of the others.
He returned quickly with a bowl of standard space gruel, mass produced junk for emergencies, but it was nutritious and kept people operating and took decades to go bad so it was never in short supply.
Jerund came in and looked around. Spotting them he walked over. He only looked slightly better today than he had the day before. His cuts were sealed but the bruises still darkened his already dark skin and the pain still filled his eyes.
He sat down beside her tiredly. “How…how’re you doing little one?”
Paige shrugged as she spooned the space gruel into her mouth. She swallowed, using that time to think of what to say before she actually spoke. “I…I’m as well as can be expected.”
“You took no injuries while we were retreating?” He asked concerned.
Paige shook her head and Jerund turned to Paul. “I’m functional sir…” Jerund nodded slowly, thinking for a moment. “Paul, I want you to report to the hanger. We need to keep up our fighter practice.”
He turned his dark eyed gaze on Paige. “Little one, we brought some supplies over with us. Do me a favor and help Crix catalogue them. We need to know what we have available.”
Paige nodded. It wasn’t flying but it was better than sitting around doing nothing. She was silently thankful to Jerund for keeping her occupied. When she had nothing to do, her mind only turned to Cien. She knew the enemy had not destroyed the base. They had merely captured it. They had kept Cien alive too. She knew this in her heart. She would have known if they had killed him, she would have felt a void somewhere deep inside her soul. There was no void, only a cold dedication to the fact that her husband was not dead.
She looked up when she realized Jerund was speaking with her. “I’m sorry, I was in another world sir…”
Jerund nodded. “It’s alright. I was just saying, whenever you finish eating report to the third hangar bay on level two. That’s where the supplies were unloaded. Crix will probably already be there.”
Paige nodded. “Yes sir.” Jerund rose quietly and walked out. Paige looked down at her bowel of gruel and finished the last few bites quickly.
Paul kissed the top of her head lightly. “I’ll see you later today.” He walked out. Paige rose and took her bowl then headed down to help Crix.
Crix looked up as the small door into the hanger opened. He smiled as Paige walked in. His arm was in a cast and in a sling but he held a small computer pad in that hand and was checking off items with the other. “Glad to see Jerund made good on his promise to send help.”
He handed her a second computer pad and pointed to a pile of various bundles and boxes. “That our medical supplies. The manifest has what is supposed to be there. But there’s no guarantee it is all there. The loading was hasty.”
He handed her a small scanner attachment. “Just scan the boxes codes. If you find anything out of place put it in a new pile until we can sort it all out.”
Paige looked around at the various piles of boxes. “This is going to take a while…isn’t it.” Crix rubbed his neck and nodded. Paige sighed and gave him a good natured smile then turned and went to work.
It took them the better part of two weeks just to catalogue all the boxes. Luckily, most of the supplies had made it onto the ship. What hadn’t been loaded were minor things. Extra flight suites and a few boxes of space gruel, which the moon base had a large supply of anyway.
Now that they were finished with the cataloguing Jerund had put Paige and Crix to work inventorying the moon bases supplies that were already there.
The job was about the same. Run the scanner over the box and put it into the computer.
Paige sighed and looked out the window into the star scattered sky. Up here she could see more stars than she ever had on earth. The view was beautiful and she ached to be able to share it with Cien.
Her breath caught as a lump formed in her throat. She shook her head stubbornly. She couldn’t break down now. They needed to know what sort of supplies they had on the base, should another attack come…or rather when another attack came. She shook away her painful thoughts and turned her full attention on the shelf she was inventorying.
Paul watched as Paige slept. She had been inventorying the base two weeks already. He knew it was hard for her not to be flying but he was glad that Jerund had found something for her to do. It kept her mind busy and made her feel like she had a purpose.
He was nervous. The front had been very quiet since the Kilan had taken the space station. He was sure they were preparing a bigger force to try to take the much more fortified moon base.
It took time to assemble their ships for an attack, which was a boon for the fighters. The injured were healing and there force was once again becoming ready for the attack they knew would come.
Paige stirred, muttering softly in troubled sleep, startling him out of his thoughts. Paul stroked her hair, quieting her for the moment.
He lay back staring at the ceiling. He needed to get some sleep himself. He had another day of drilling and mock fighting in the morning. Paul sighed and closed his eyes, hoping to get at least a few hours of untroubled sleep.
Paige brought the entire inventory list to Jerund in his office. It had taken her a month to complete the inventory of the station and all its goods but now it was finished.
Jerund smiled slightly as she entered. “You’re done then?”
Paige nodded with a slight smile for her commanding officer. “Just finished. Since this base was outfitted as a defensible position we had a lot of supplies to inventory.”
Jerund nodded, glancing over the list. “It looks like you were very through, thank you.”
“Any other tedious boring and occupying jobs around here that need to be done, general?”
Jerund gave her a slightly droll smile. “You could clean the base bathrooms…” He gave her a slightly broader smile to let her know he was joking. “Or you can go to the medical ward and help Tris and Jester. They said you were a help on the space station and asked if you could help them some more.”
Paige nodded. “No problem. I’ll head over there right now.” Jerund nodded his dismissal and Paige turned and left.
Jester looked up at the door to the medical ward slid open and gave Paige a slight smile as she entered. “There you are. How are you feeling?”
“Physically alright. The morning sickness is gone completely.”
Jester nodded. “You’re what…three and a half months now?” Paige nodded. “Good, good. Starting your second trimester. Wish we could check you out more.”
Paige gave him a half smile. “What is meant to be will be.”
Jester nodded. “True enough. Tris wanted your help with organizing the supply manifests in the computer. You’re better at that kind of stuff than I am and I’ve got to see several of the guys anyway. She’s in the side office.” Paige nodded and headed off to help Tris.
Jerund looked at the computer screen. Two months had passed since they had left the space station. Ships had been arriving there since and they were preparing for an assault.
He knew they would come to the moon base soon. Almost all their ships had arrived now, so it was time to play the waiting game.
He shut down the screen and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He was exhausted but had little time to rest. He though deeply for a moment. If he went to sleep now he could catch a few hours rest before they had a patrol flight scheduled. Nothing else was pressing on his time, so he rose and lay down on his bed, falling almost instantly to sleep.
Paige sat staring out the window into star scattered space. Jester and Tris tried to keep he occupied but she just had too much free time sometimes. Two months had passed since she had last seen her husband and she still could not shake the feeling that he was alive.
She touched her slightly bulging stomach and thought of the child that she carried, his child. Paul was a wonderful man, and she knew he would take care of her for the rest of his life, honoring his promise to a friend. He would be a father to her child and love it as if it was his own but there was no way she could stay here and have a life with Paul when she knew Cien was alive.
She knew what she had to do. She rose, looking around but Tris and Jester had gone to get something to eat. She quietly walked out and headed up to the hangers. The fighters were all docked and maintained, even her own. She climbed in and started it up, slowly backing out of her spot and heading off into the starry void.
Jerund woke with a start, knowing in his heart what was happening. He ran down to the hanger, calling an alert as he went.
Paul, Jester and Tris caught up with him in the hanger as he jumped into his fighter, following him into their own. As he swung out into open space he saw Paige’s fighter heading back toward the space station.
He activated his radio. “Paige…please!”
Paige heard Jerund’s voice call out to her over the com. unit. She shook her head. “I can’t, you know that.”
Jesters voice came to her next. “Don’t be crazy…come back, there’s nothing left for you there.”
“You don’t know that Jester. I’d know I my heart if he had died. He’s alive, and I can’t stay away any longer.” She turned down the radio then, muting their protests and set her course.
Then, around the edge of the moon the first elements of the Kilan fleet appeared. Even with the com turned down Jester’s cursing was audible. Paige tried to alter course around the fleet.
A patrol vessel broke off and intercepted her. She felt her ship shudder as it closed in on her, trying for a tractor beam lock she supposed, then her ship shook violently and her head banged the side of the cockpit. The last sound she heard before blacking out was Jerund’s anguished cry.
Paige woke with a start; reaching up to rub the tender spot she was excepting to find where she had hit her head in the cockpit. She was startled to find it wasn’t tender, which meant she had been out several days. She looked around her, getting her bearings.
She was in a typical cell, laying on a thin mattressed bed. There was a sink and a toilet in a corner and a door across from her bed with a single rectangular window and a small meal slot.
She sat up feeling butterflies in her stomach. She put her hand down and realized with a start that she was feeling her child move. She rubbed her tummy gently, smiling to herself, her amazement obliterating the fear she had been feeling.
The door opened and she looked up at a guard in a dark uniform and opaque helmet. “Come with me.” He said softly and she rose and followed.
He lead her through a series of corridors and lifts, taking them out of what was obviously regularly trafficked areas and into smaller more private quarters. He stopped in front of a door and motioned for her to continue through.
The door opened as she approached and she walked through into a small but well appointed office. A woman was sitting at the desk. The woman smiled, tossing her blond hair back over he shoulders, but her blue eyes did not convey the expression. They were cool, a little wary.
“Please, sit.” The woman told her.
Paige sat in a chair, waiting for the woman to speak again. The woman took a moment, running her fingers across the smooth wood grain of her desk before looking back at Paige.
“You…are the Fardreamer…Yes?”
Paige furrowed her brows. “My name is Paige Fardreamer if that is what you are asking.”
The woman nodded, contemplating Paige’s reply. “You…come from the plant…what do you call it…Earth. You lived there since you were a small child.” Paige nodded. “You were raised by an adoptive family. You had one sister…Angela. You were married in October on a base in Kansas to a man named Cien Ranier, who had moved to the United States and joined the armed forces… This is all in your file, the file we’ve compiled on you. We know more. You were visited by people, aliens, when you were a girl. The government took you in a sheltered you, educated you. Do you know why?”
Paige shrugged. “I though it was the results of the tests they gave me after I was visited.”
The woman nodded, her face still contemplative. “We have your sister…and your husband and many of your friends here, in cells not unlike the one you have all to yourself…”
Paige felt the fear return, deep in the pit of her stomach.
“You are also with child…” This seemed to amuse the woman for some reason, but quickly her amused grin turned into something feral. “You will work with us. Become one of us if you wish, if you are worthy. You agree?”
Paige closed her eyes and nodded, hating the feelings of betrayal but knowing in her heart this was her only chance at surviving long enough to help her friends and family.
The woman’s smile changed back to a pleasant one. “Good…A guard will collect you when we need you. We’ve some tests we’d like to have you perform soon, but not today.” She hit a small button on her desk and the door opened. “Your guard will escort you back to your cell. Have a nice day.” Paige rose and followed the guard out of the room.
Paige lay on her bed, bored. Several weeks had gone by if her tally was right and they had only put her through several simple tests of her cognitive ability.
She sat up and as she moved she felt her child stretch inside her. It had gotten more active now that she was somewhere around her fifth month.
Every time she felt her baby move she was amazed. Feeling it’s movement were amazing and she was only sad when she though of Cien. Her stomach was growing but she did not yet feel awkward though she was quickly heading in that direction.
She looked up from her reviver as the door opened. A guard was standing there. “Come with me.” He said. She always wondered if it was the same guard. With the dark suit and helmet it was hard to tell.
She followed a few paces behind her guard he lead her down this time and she wondered vaguely what kind of test they would do today.
They emerged into a hanger bay and she supposed they would test her piloting skills. She followed the guard up a ramp and into a small scouting vessel.
He led her into a hallway then turned around and took off his helmet. His liquid blue violet eyes met hers and Paige’s knees buckled. He wrapped his arm around her gently, holding her close against him. “Cien…how…?” He kissed the top over her head fiercely.
“Oh love… I’ve missed you! But we’ve got to hurry. I’ve gotten everyone else I could find already onboard. Not everyone was taken to this ship though…” He sighed and looked down at her. “This thing I programmed to take off in three minutes….I’ll see you after that.”
He turned and ran off the ship before she could say another word. Paige leaned against the wall for a moment, and then headed up to the cockpit.
Jerund was sitting there doing a diagnostic of the ship. “Hello little one…You ready to go?” Paige nodded and sat in the copilots chair, watching the counter go down.
When it reached the zero mark Jerund engaged the engines and shot out of the large ship, getting away as fast as he could. Explosions started along the other ship, traveling down its length. At the last possible second an escape pod shot out, but she lost it amid the debris from the ship.
Paige scooted forward to the edge of her seat as Jerund turned the ship toward where the pod had been headed. A small beacon light came on to the HUD and Jerund vectored toward it.
A crackling message came over the com. “I see you. Open the cargo bay and I’ll maneuver in. Jerund, you and Peter meet me down in the cargo bay. Paige…I’ll call for you in just a bit alright?”
“I love you…Cien, out.”
Cien looked at Jerund. “Are you sure it’s time?”
Jerund nodded. “Now is the time. And seriously, when else could it be?”
Cien nodded. “You’re right of course…” He looked at Peter. “You agree?”
Peter nodded, running his fingers through his short blond hair. “I can’t think of a better time either.”
Cien nodded then and took a small com unit from his belt. “Paige, come down to the docking bay please.”
“Be right there.”
The three men waited in silence for the several minutes it took Paige to come from the cockpit to the hanger bay. When the doors parted all three jumped then look sheepishly at one another.
Paige smiled at them apologetically. “Sorry for startling you guys…”
Jerund shrugged. “It’s alright…We…we’ve got some explaining to do to you Paige.” He pulled over a supply crate and motioned for her to take a seat.
“You believe what I have told you about the Kilan and now you have seen them for yourself, so you know there are other humanoid…well basically human races out there. In fact, there are thirteen of them known…The Kilan have ravaged most of the other races, subjugating them, much like they’ve done to Earth…We…And by that I mean Cien…Peter and I and several others with us, came to warn Earth when the Kilan did the same to our own world.”
Paige furrowed her brows. “You…You’re not human?” The three men shook their heads.
Cien spoke next. “We are Shen. Our Homeworld was called Shen. The Kilan ravaged the planet, making it mostly uninhabitable. We came to Earth, for sanctuary, and to warn them…and to hide you.”
“Me…? You mean…?”
Cien nodded. “You are Shen also.”
Cien looked to Peter and the man spoke next. “The Shen were known for their skill in genetic manipulation. By the time the Kilan came we had gotten to the point where we were creating most of our offspring, instead of birthing them. You were one of the last children created before the Kilan attacked our Homeworld. Jerund fled, along with one of my brothers and I, followed by a few others who escaped to hide you on Earth. That’s why you are different. That’s why you are special.”
“Your brother? Where is he now?”
“I’m his brother.” Cien said softly. “Peter’s Shen name was Niec. Since he was being schooled in human schools we had him change his name to sound more human. He was to watch over you, to help you.”
Paige though. “It was you then…in the field that day.”
Cien nodded. “I and my older brother, who was lost to the Kilan during some fighting not long after…”
Paige fell silent then and she looked down, studying her hands in her lap. Cien came and sat beside her. “I know it’s overwhelming love…”
Paige shook her head. “It’s not that, it just explains so much.”
Cien nodded, then put his hand on her stomach, smiling slightly. “When Jerund told me…I couldn’t believe it.”
Paige smiled as the child shifted inside her and watched Cien’s face light up boyishly. She leaned up and kissed his cheek. “It so wonderful to have you back hon.”
“It’s wonderful to be back…but there’s still business to be taken care off. Jerund leaned down and gave Paige a hug as Cien stood.
“I’ve got to go little one. We need a person on the inside and the Kilan will trust me.”
Paige looked up at the general. “Be careful.”
Jerund nodded. “I will be.” He climbed into the escape pod as the rest of them turned and left the bay.
Cien cycled it when they were safely out, allowing the pod to drift back out into space. Paige leaned against Cien, tired out by the events of the day. He turned to Peter. “Niec, you go set our course, I’m going to show her to our quarters.”
Niec nodded and headed up toward the cockpit as Cien lead Paige in the opposite direction and into a small room. “Here love…” He directed her to the bed. “You take a nap…rest. I’ll come back to check on you in a little bit. Paige nodded, smiling up at her husband, then allowed her self to drift off to sleep.
Cien walked into the cockpit and gave Niec a grin. “Nice to be flying again isn’t it?”
Niec nodded. “We’re bound for Peth then?”
“Yea but you know the procedure. Don’t make us easy to follow.”
“Already done. With all the course changes though it’s going to take us a month to get there.”
Cien nodded. “That’s alright. Better to take the time and be safe. How’s Angela?”
Niec made a so-so gesture with his hand. “She still healing but considering what she’s been through she’s doing wonderful.”
Cien smiled and nodded. “Wonderful. Were Winter and Crix able to get the scanner running in our medical ward?”
Niec nodded, looking over the instruments. “Yea. I figured you would ask because of Paige. Winter is training Jester right now, but they both want to scan her and check the baby soon.”
Cien nodded. “You got everything under control?” Niec nodded. “We’ve got three days before our first dog leg.” “Good. I’m going to go check on Paige.” With that Cien walked out.
Paige woke to a gentle kiss on her lips. She opened her eyes and smiled up at Cien, uncurling and sitting up on the bed beside him. “Feeling better love?” He asked.
Paige nodded, thinking. “Who else is on the ship?”
“Well we were able to rescue your sister, Duke Jester, Tris, Winter, Crix and Jayson at this point. They took everyone else onto the other ships…hopefully was can get them back soon…” Cien trailed off and Paige lay her head on his shoulder and snuggled up close against his side. He held her close. “I’m so sorry love…”
She looked up at him, confused. “Whatever for?”
Cien sighed. “For not begin there when you needed me…”
Paige reached up and shushed him gently. “The past is gone. What matters is now, and you’re here now. While you were gone, I was watched after and taken care of so don’t worry about that love.”
Cien nodded and buried his face in her long hair, breathing deep of her scent. He had missed it. As he leaned against her he felt the baby move inside her and smiled.
They were having a child. When their world had been destroyed he had never though he would have an heir but now he did. He bounced up off the bed and took her hands, pulling her to her feet. “Come on love.”
“Come where you silly kangaroo?”
“Down to the medical ward. We finally have equipment to check you out and the progress of the child you carry…our child!”
Paige smiled with relief. “Wonderful. Lets go then.” Cien took her hand and lead her out and down the hall. They went down a level and turned into a side room.
Jester and Winter looked up as they entered. “Ah! You’re here!” Winter said with a smile.
Jester grinned. “Saves us having to call you down here. I suppose Cien told you then.”
Cien looked a bit sheepish. “I didn’t tell her everything.”
Winter looked up at him. “You didn’t? I guess it falls to me then.” She shook her head at Cien and turned to Paige. “Shen physiology is different than a humans. So is their gestation time. We’ll see for sure how far along you are when we scan you in just a little bit but most Shen children arrive at a little over seven months, instead of the usual human nine.” Paige nodded. “Any other surprises I need to know about?”
Winter thought. “Not that I can think of. In truth Humans and Shen aren’t all that different. We can even interbreed, which is a good thing if you expect any nieces and nephews.” Cien chuckled.
Jester looked at Winter. “Is the scanner ready?” Winter nodded and patted the examination table.
Paige lay and Cien held her hand gently, leaning over to peer at the screen as Winter tapped several buttons then positioned the scanner over Paige’s stomach. Cien smiled as the screen came and Winter grinned also.
“Fully healthy and at five months and three days.”
They turned the screen toward her and Paige smiled, seeing her child for the first time. Cien chuckled as the baby shifted and stretched. “It’s a boy!” He said triumphantly.
Winter looked at them “got a name yet?”
Cien shook his head. “We’ve not discussed it yet. We’ll let you know when we do.”
Winter smiled and nodded. “Alright, everything looks good. Just don’t push yourself to hard and we’ll look at you again right before we arrive at our destination, then the next thing we’ll have to worry about is delivery.” Paige nodded and rose as they moved the scanner from over her.
She looked up at Cien and smiled. “I’m hungry love. Lets go eat.”
Cien chuckled. “Alright, lets.” They walked out and headed for the mess hall hand in hand.
Paige lay looking at the ceiling. It had been a long day. She had so much information to digest. Cien rolled over and looked at her. “You okay love?” He pulled her close against his side.
“I…I guess I am really…It’s just a lot to try and comprehend, that’s all.”
Cien nodded. “I wanted to tell you the truth all the way back in Arizona…I’m glad I didn’t. It would have been to dangerous…they might have even killed you when they captured you…”
Paige rolled over and looked into his blue violet eyes. They held pain and fear and she lay her head gently on his should and kissed his neck. “But you didn’t love, and now we’re safely together again. You and I…and our son.” She smiled and gently pulled his hand and placed it over her stomach. Cien smiled, some of the shadows vanishing from his eyes as he felt his child move within her.
He kissed her gently and glanced at the clock. “We need to get some rest love, I’ll have to pull a morning shift in the cockpit.”
Paige looked up at him. “Where are we going Cien?”
He smiled and kissed her cheek lightly. “A new planet, a beautiful planet, called Peth. Jerund found it. It’s peaceful and safe. The Kilan won’t find it.”
Paige snuggled down, yawning. “Alright love. When will we get there?”
“In about a month.” He kissed her again as she yawned once more. “Go to sleep love. I’ll wake you when I leave in the morning.” Paige nodded and closed her eyes. Cien watched her fall to sleep in his arms, then closed his eyes with a contented sigh and followed her to sleep.
Paige sat sleepily in the messhall. Cien had woken her up when he left for the cockpit and she had been starving so she had headed on down to eat but that did not change the fact that it was still very early, especially to her bodily clock.
Someone sat down across from her and she looked up into the smiling face of her sister. “There you are.” Angela said. “I heard some good news. Something like I’m going to be an aunt soon.”
Paige smiled and nodded. “Wonderful! Do you and Cien have a name yet?”
“We talked about it this morning. We’re thinking about Sivin. It’s a Sheniz name.”
Angela nodded. “Kinda weird isn’t it. Never thought I’d be where I am now…”
Paige nodded. “You can say that again!” She yawned again and stretched.
Angela gave her a slight smile. “Why don’t you go back to your quarters and get some rest? I’ll clean up here.”
“Thanks.” Paige said, rising and gratefully headed back to bed.
Paige puffed a bit as she went through her morning routine of exercises awkwardly. She gave a frustrated sigh and lay back.
Cien grinned at her from where he was seated on the bed pulling on his socks and boots. “You okay love?”
Paige sighed again before answering. “I’ll live. I just didn’t expect to be this large after only two weeks. I thought this ship was big enough but the halls all seem to get a little tighter every day. I’m going to get stuck in a doorway before we get to Peth.”
Cien chuckled. “No you won’t love. You’re not all that big really. You’re taking care of yourself, following Winter and Jester’s orders. You look wonderful to me.”
Paige mumbled something under her breath of which Cien only heard one word, cow, but he knew what was going through her head. He rose and gave her a kiss, helping her up from the floor. “You do not look like a cow, Paige Ranier. You’re as beautiful as the day I first saw you, if not more so.”
Paige looked up at him. “Really?”
Cien nodded solemnly. “Absolutely.”
He placed his hand gently on her belly, feeling his son move within her. Paige smiled at him. The wonder in his eyes at just feeling his child move was amazing to her.
He looked down at her, catching her watching him and blushed. Paige laughed softly and kissed him. “You go on or you’re going to be late relieving Jester. If I need anything, Tris or Angela will come help.”
Cien nodded. “Alright. I’ll see you at lunch then.” He gave her a quick kiss then headed for the cockpit.
Paige lay back under the scanner again, Cien at her side. Winter manipulated the controls and brought up the picture of their son. “Just as beautiful as before.” Winter stated. “He wonderfully normal in all aspects. He should arrive about two weeks after we land at Peth, which is to say in about three weeks.”
Cien kissed Paige’s cheek and she reached out and gently touched the image on the screen above her. “Sivin…Sivin Paul Ranier.”
Cien smiled. “That him love. Our son.”
Winter grinned. “So you’ve finally settled on a name then.”
Cien nodded. “It’s a good name…for a good friend lost.”
Winter nodded her face now solemn. “Exactly.” She turned off the scanner and the image faded and she patted Paige’s arm. “He’s wonderful. So no worries now until you go into labor. I recommend rest and food…oh and keep a comlink on you. The last thing we need is you going into early labor when you’re by yourself.”
Paige nodded and grinned. “And that would be when it had to happen no doubt.”
“Not one.” Winter said, her smile returning. “Now you guys go get your lunch. Oh, and if you see Crix, tell him to hurry up and relieve me. I’m starving.” She grinned and motioned them out with a friendly wave, which they returned then headed for the lift to go down a level to the messhall.
Paige sat in the cockpit with Cien, smiling. They were due to come out of hyperspace any minute and he had brought her up front to see Peth first hand. Niec sat in the copilot’s chair and Paige was assigned the navigators seat. Cien grinned, happy as any schoolboy.
“You really love flying don’t you honey.” Paige said, stating more than asking him.
Cien chuckled. “I was born for it. My father was a pilot, best Shen had ever had. Niec and I both grew up in the simulators, from the time almost before we could even read.”
“Sixty seconds until exit.” Niec said. Cien turned serious and started his checklist. He had everything checked and ready by the time he heard Niec start his count down. “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one…”
Cien reached up and pulled back a lever, dropping them back into normal space. In front of them a beautiful blue, green and white planet orbited.
“Welcome to Peth.” Cien said. “We’ve got about thirty minutes until we land.”
Paige smiled. “I’ll go make sure we’ve gotten all our things packed love.”
Cien nodded, looking back at her and smiling. “Alright, I’ll see you right after touchdown then.” Paige leaned in and gave him a quick kiss, then headed back into the ship to their quarters.