“It doesn’t matter that you can’t remember your name, what’s important is that we found you,” she said in a gentle voice. I did not care that I had no memory of who I was, having met her was more important. Though I couldn’t understand for the life of me why I thought so.
Looking at her, I had a fleeting glimpse of obscure images from a garden in spring, then stutter, as the images froze and vanished.
“Hey!” I jumped to Kailo’s voice. “We go, help me get hauler off ground. Talk later.”
I followed Kailo to the hauler’s cockpit, while glancing back and wondering who she was. I hadn’t even asked her name.
Kailo chewed on something. I couldn’t make it out, it seemed to calm him. There was a smell, a wonderful fragrance in the air, which left me feeling just as calm, yet focused.
“Time to leave. Here, you take control seat. I balance thruster mix; big payload, need extra oomph.”
“Yes, oomph. Like you need energy, power, push. Understand? Otherwise we’re stuck here on red planet. Supplies I need.” He paused to think. “We need, to take back… otherwise everyone stuck. OK!” he said, croaked, then stopped. Was that a nervous laugh, or his way of releasing tension. I had no way of knowing what he was reacting to.
“OK,” I replied. As I didn’t have much choice, Kailo guided me through the ship’s controls. At first, I was lost, even though the controls looked similar to my shuttle’s. I had never actually flown either, but strangely, I understood what needed to be done. Still feeling the whiff of clarity, and with Kailo’s guidance, I stirred the hauler’s nose gently up once the thruster began vertical lift off. I could feel the ship’s weight in the controls. The stress could be felt in the vibrations running through the ship’s hull. It felt like the planet was still holding us back, angry with all the materials we had taken and wanted them back.
Once free from the planet’s gravitational pull, the hauler was easier to manoeuvre and Kailo took the helm.
“Now, we’re good. Lesser hauler rendezvous with whooping freighter, my crew will be impatient, surely anxious for noble homecoming.”
“You have a crew?”
“Captain Kailo,” he said and laughed, or rather gargled proudly while bowing, as if introducing himself for the first time. “Always ready to serve friends for true compensation.”
So Kailo was a captain of a whooping freighter and with a crew, and a trader in fact—but trading in what? He had obviously been stranded in this system, on the same planet as me with the female humanoid. And now with my supplies and shuttle parts, we were all able to escape our shared misfortune.
“You’re a traveller, so am I.” I turned to see the humanoid was standing at the cockpit’s door. “Beautiful view. Is that the world we’re on?” she asked.
For a moment, I was unable to speak. “Beautiful, yes,” I uttered, without taking my eyes off her. Realizing what I had said, I quickly turned to look out at the planet as I felt my cheeks blush.
“I’m sorry,” I said, looking back at her hoping she hadn’t noticed. “I don’t know your name.”
“Aria,” she answered.
The hauler had now left the planet’s orbit and Kailo repositioned the ship away from the planet. Pointing its nose into the deep red abyss of space, he powered up the main pulse thrusters.
“Ambassador Aria Augusta,” Kailo added.
What did Kailo mean. Aria an ambassador; ambassador to whom, or to what?
“Fasten down. Hauler flinging to far end of system, rendezvousing whooping freighter behind big planet, hidden in shadow of moon.”
Aria and I returned to the hauler’s cabin and buckled into the two front seats, which offered a bubble view into the cockpit and canopy out into space. The acceleration was instant and then stabilized, allowing us some movement while the hauler sped blindingly to the far end of the system.
We approached a dark caerulean planet and slowed down as we entered high orbit. Its face looked barren, lifeless and cold—far from the sun its surface shimmered like pale moonlight in winter. Kailo skimmed the hauler across the atmosphere to the dark side of the planet, where the only light came from the hauler’s heat shields glowing orange in the thin, high altitude friction. In that endless night, I could make out a small black disk looming in the shadows.
“We go there, between moon and planet, to secret spot of whooping freighter,” Kailo said, as he turned his head back towards us smiling. “Come, speed safe now. Come to front and see Kailo’s interstellar freighter.”
Between the planet and its moon, a gargantuan ship loomed. The begotten offspring of some ancient giant, floating in an empty ocean of gloom. As the hauler approached, small lights appeared, like fireflies in the dark blue. I watched as Kailo sent an encrypted signal.
He waited for a response.
The hauler slowed as the freighter grew in size, the fireflies grew too, flickering now like candles.
“Aunbar ushistis…” Kailo fell back into his seat as the realization of what we were seeing unfolded.
(*Aunbar ushistis – Despair friends)
Spirits of peace, where are ye? Are ye all gone?