Part 10 Chapter 07 (part 2)-Ship Appears

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From atop the ridge, I waited for the vessel that would take us to Fennako City, and I watched the ever-shifting sea. The ocean awed me—how it filled the space between the mountains and went beyond, enclosing the planet, its depths generous enough to accept all humanity without a trace.

To the east, water shimmering and shifting in shades of blue and gray reached to a true horizon, a faint line dividing sea from sky. Mountains flanked the arc of the horizon, standing sentinel. That water, this glimmering substance that made life possible, should be so abundant seemed wildly unlikely, as unlikely as being queen of all I saw—which I was if Grandpa were correct.

The horizon was empty. Then, as if by a sleight of hand, the entire ship appeared. With towering white decks, she seemed a mirage, a dream of clouds.

Through my implant, I heard the skipper hailed; Captain Alop Fennako, of FNS Shewolf here. Transport for Space Transit. Request permission to put in at Spaceport Island.

Fennako, you have the codes.

As FNS Shewolf drew nearer, I counted five levels. In her superstructure fluttered a green banner with a black-and-white Danna star, the Fennako flag. A full-sized boat hung across the ship's stern. I recognized the boat. I'd seen it behind the bearded man as he'd knelt before me.

What's your length? asked Kold Command.

Five-dozen meters.

Dock at Fennako pier, indicated on your chart. Southwest near Fennako Seaguard skiphouse.

Next, Kold command hailed Space Transit. I was the interpreter, so the correspondence was routed to me. I had a screen-com in my shoulder bag, but I didn't use it. I could receive quite well with my neuro, thank you.

Kold Command sent, Space Transit. Your transport, FNS Shewolf. Estimated arrival: two post meridian. She docks at Fennako pier. Do you know where that's at?

No, I answered.

We'll have Kold representative to assist with boarding. Sink it all! Fennako sent the royal yacht.

I translated and forwarded the message, minus the profanity and commentary about the royal yacht, to Space Transit personnel housed in the tent. I stood at the center of a triangle made up of Kold command in the village, Space Transit in their tents, and the approaching ship as the third point.

From the tent, the Colonel responded, Two pm that is. Fourteen hundred hours.

Two post meridian, I corrected. Local time, by the sun.

I visualized the meridian line extending across rich blue of the sky bisecting puffy clouds. Which way was due north? Squinting, I tried to estimate the sun's position in relation to that ephemeral line. The sun was too bright, so I turned to my shadow, spilling down the bank over black shale. I let the Colonel know; I'm not sure about the time right now, but I can see the ship, and she's moving pretty fast. She'll dock soon.

Footsteps crunching, I returned to the Space Transit tent. Our expedition was packing, deflating cots, stuffing clothing into totes, striking the sanitary unit.

Gagnon called me over. "Ms. Politkofsky, about your costume."

I glanced down at my Fenrian parka. "It's not a costume."

Gagnon sighed. "In a sense, we're on stage. The impression we make is more important than our comfort or convenience."

I tried not to pout, but failed. Grandpa had told me the same sort of thing.

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