Chapter 15 - Earth

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 A rumble in the deck shook Codi awake. It took a few seconds for her to get her bearings and remember where she was, and where she was going. Once she blinked herself awake and cobbled her situation back together the rush of excitement returned. Propping herself up on one elbow she turned her head to one side, extracting a crack from her neck. Sleeping on the vibrating metal cargo deck with little more than a blanket as a buffer left her stiff and sore.

She looked around the room for the others. The twins were still asleep, bundled in a corner but she saw Max and Lita sitting together across the room deep in conversation. A thin smile slipped across her face as she let her gaze wander on. Then she found Vasco standing on the opposite side of the cargo bay looking out of the thin rectangular window. Her brows creased into a frown when she realised there was a blue glow coming from the window.

Kicking the blanket away, she stood up and crossed the bay to stand beside him. Her mouth opened in amazement when she looked out the window. Outside the thin slit a rush of blue and white swirled and danced like an electrified sea, so bright that she had to close her eyes for a moment. When her eyes adjusted to the brightness she looked at Vasco.

“Pretty cool, huh?” he said.

“What is it?” she breathed, staring back out of the window.

“It’s the FTL stream.”

“Which is…?”

“Faster than Light stream. It’s basically what happens when you stick a big middle finger up at the laws of physics.” He smirked. “I don’t know how it all works.”

She moved her face closer to the glass. “Wow.”

“We’ve still got a good six hours till we reach Earth,” Vasco told her. “Not much to do back here.”

“Have they stayed up front the whole time?”

“Max’s dad popped back to check on us a few hours ago. Other than that they’ve been keeping to themselves.”

Codi rested her arms on the window ledge, still gazing at the beauty of the FTL stream. “Well, looks like I’m going to see the Gauntlet after all.”

“Mhm, who’d have thought it,” Vasco chuckled. “So how do you feel?”

“Tell you the truth, I don’t know.” She leaned forward, resting her chin on her hands. “Nervous, happy, excited, terrified; take your pick. All I keep thinking is how much of a chance we actually have. I mean, a few days extra training is all well and good, but how much have we really improved? How much has changed since the friendly?”

“Not enough,” he admitted. “But I have a game plan.”

“Care to share?”

“I’ll share it with everybody when we get there.” He smiled. At that moment a clunk sounded through the cargo chamber and the door to the forward section opened. Max’s father stepped out, cane swinging and a mischevious grin on his face.

He stood alongside them. “Well, we’ve just been given a rather urgent communication from Kantha IS Transit Services.”

“Saying what?” Vasco looked up sharply.

“Oh, I don’t know.” Mr. Lannigan shrugged. “Communication in the FTL stream is always a little finicky.” He paused, then winked at them. “Just thought you should know, I think your friends back in the city have caught on.”

“How long until we reach Earth?”

“About four and a half hours. We made good time.” He tapped his cane against the floor. “I’ll be up front if you need me.”

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