She has been waiting for this moment for four lifetimes. She did not live them all, but she can feel the weight of her ancestors’ hopes. Three generations spent scraping together one chance for escape.
Metal creaks in the distance. Despite the familiarity of the noise, it sends a frisson of fear dancing down her spine. That could be the one, the last creak, the final straw that spells doom for the habitat.
She forces herself to focus on the console in front of her. The dome can collapse into dust now, for all she cares. The last ragged remnants of the colony are behind her, stowed on this makeshift ship. Their lives weigh on her. Captain, pilot, savior.
Her hand is steady as she reaches forward and flicks a switch. The engines roar to life, making her whole body vibrate. A countdown begins on her screen at 20. Plenty of time for one last check of her console and her safety harness. 10. Too much time. Time to worry. 5. Another creak in the distance. She takes a deep breath. They will be safe. They are going home.
The engines die with a whine.