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1. the regularly repeated elliptical course of a celestial object or spacecraft about a star or planet.
2. an area of activity, interest, or influence.
3. ANATOMY the cavity in the skull of a vertebrate that contains the eye; the eye socket.

I had a window seat. Marv was next to me. Across the aisle sat Cal. Nobody else was on board. The cabin was white and smooth, all curves with no hard edges in sight, while lights were hidden away in recessed wall cavities, casting soft, diffuse illumination. It was all designed to be very relaxing, but I was utterly bricking it.

Cal leaned towards us. "You both ready?"

"I can barely comprehend what I'm supposed to be getting ready for," Marv said. "You might as well ask a chicken if it's ready for dinner."

"Is this going to make me throw up?" I was strapped into my seat with a lap belt: getting up, past Marv and making it to the rest room in time wasn't a simple operation. And I'd been told that I wouldn't be allowed to stand up for a while after we started moving, so maybe I should go before it was too late? Now that I was thinking about it, I did kinda need to pee.

"Good morning, travellers," came a booming voice, far too bright and breezy. A man stepped aboard, wearing a pressed white uniform and a gold-trimmed hat. It was rather anachronistic against the high technology of the aircraft. "I'm your pilot and captain today. Call me Jona. Weather's looking good end-to-end so it's going to be a beautiful flight. Strap in, relax, and we'll be back down before you know it."

He nodded, then disappeared through a door at the end of the cabin. I'd been on a plane once before, just to cross the channel on a school trip. It wasn't an enjoyable experience.

This, though, promised to be something else entirely.

The engines whirred up and I felt my ears pop a little as the plane started to do something to the air. Looking out the window, I watched as we started rolling away from the terminal and out towards the runway. The spaceport stretched out in all directions, filled with flying vehicles of all shapes and sizes. Some were more like planes, while others were positioned upright like rockets, ready for lift off. There'd been some experimentation with rocket technology on Locque, though it hadn't really gone anywhere or had much of a purpose. Another thing Earth probably suppressed.

It occurred to me that it would be very easy to blame all of our problems on Earth interference.

"When I used one of these to help get you all out of that prison it was really easy," Cal said, trying to reassure us. "They've got this stuff down to a fine art."

Marv whispered in my ear. "Really wishing I hadn't had that bottle of water before getting on board."

"Not just me, then," I said.

"Only an hour right? We can handle an hour." He gulped audibly. "I mean, the surroundings are nicer than being stuck in the hold of a freighter, I guess?"

We taxied to where we needed to be, then the engines increased in volume a touch and we were away, charging down the runway. I felt myself pushed back into the seat cushions, and was about to grab at Marv's hand when he beat me to it. The plane wasn't anything like as noisy as the ones back home, or as lurching, for which I was grateful.

The nose tilted up and my stomach dropped away as we rose into the sky, climbing rapidly away from the ground. I looked down as the spaceport shrank, and the city came into view a little ways off. Every few seconds more of the surrounding landscape revealed itself: forest, then rolling hills, which gave way to mountains, and the coast just visible on the horizon. Then clouds started whipping past and the ground disappeared into atmospheric mists, and then we were above the clouds, the sun drenching the cabin in light and warmth.

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