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Chapter 4 : Into Alice’s Arms

Gideon woke to his stomach growling. His mother was sitting across the room watching something on a holo projector. The last time he had eaten was with his family in the large and deserted cafeteria. The cafeteria had felt bigger than the parking lot around the elevator, Gideon had wondered if it actually was. That was how his stomach felt now, large and empty, but his mom and dad had not allowed him to eat anything, both of them saying that they all had to fast for when they left Earth.

He got up from the bed and paced around the small room. This room was beginning to bug him too, he had been stuck in here with his mom for what he thought had been a whole day now. As soon as the first group of adults had arrived on the elevator his mom and dad made him stay in their room, saying that he would be in the way of all the people moving in. He had been amusing himself by asking ViVi questions, but that was only fun for so long.

He was about to ask her if he could eat something now, regardless of the fact he knew the answer but then he heard his fathers name come out of the holo projector.

“And now I give you Dr. Gideon Plock. The man who has made all of this possible. The man who has given us the stars. The man who ensured the human races immortality.”

Now Gideon was paying more attention to the holo projector than his growling stomach. He wondered what his dad was doing on the holoprojector. Scooting in next to his mom he sat down and started watching.

“What’s going on mom?”  He asked.

“Be quiet and watch honey, your Father is about to give a speech to some very important people and I want to hear it.”

Curiosity compelled him to comply, so he sat next to his mother watching the small holographic projection in front of them. There were lots of people wherever they were, it looked like somewhere in the ship, one of the big storage rooms, but empty. Gideon looked at some of the people specifically, there seemed to be lots of different kinds of people there. They were all sitting in folding chairs and looking up towards a shoddy looking podium.

His dad stepped up behind it and looked down at everyone before he started to talk.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we stand here on the precipice of a new age for Humanity. Long have we reached for the stars, eager to venture out and explore new worlds. But this dream had been an impossibility, our very nature as living breathing biological beings preventing us from making these epic journeys. No longer, is this true though. Around the entire planet there are dozens of colony class ships boarding right now. Taking on the best and the brightest, the most eager among us to set foot on alien soil, preparing to take steps that humanity has to take.”

His father paused to take a sip of water, everyone’s eyes seemed glued to him. As if everyone was just hanging on until they heard his next word.

“Some have questioned the morality of what we are doing, I ask these people to hear me when I say that it is with heavy hearts that we leave the only home our species has ever known and loved ones behind. But if humanity is to continue to persist in this universe we must walk the path that has been laid before us.”

His fathers face and voice carried a note of finality  that was impossible to miss, even over the holoprojector. That look quickly evaporated, replaced by a calm but hopeful visage.

“But take heart knowing that those we leave behind will live on for hundreds of years in our hearts and thoughts as we carry them through the heavens, ferried to a new life by the colony ships. These ships have all been stocked with food, clean water, clothing, and all the tools necessary not only to survive, but to thrive on the planets you’re destined for. Additionally the ships all contain a unique combination of technologies that you all have been briefed on. You all understand how the technology functions and the purpose it serves. But this technology will allow each and every passenger to not only survive the journey to your planet, which could take hundreds of  years, but it will allow you to gain the knowledge, training, and experience of several human life times. So understand that I truly mean it when I say that you all are part of the next great step for humanity.”

Again his father paused, looking out over the other men and women gathered in the room with him, demanding their attention. This was a side of his father that Gideon was completely unfamiliar with. This man seemed powerful and captivating, unlike his father who was gentle and inviting.

“So as you prepare to go forth and venture where no human has gone before I ask you all to place your faith in your ship, your trust in the A.L.I.C.E units, and to honor those left behind by keeping them in your hearts. I bid you all a good journey.”

His father stepped down from the podium and the image on the holoprojector changed. The old man cleared his throat and began to say something but his mother turned the projector off before he could get anything out. Gideon looked up at his mother for the first time since his father’s speech had started, “Who was dad talking to?” he asked.

“Dad was talking to all the colony ships that are getting ready to leave Earth. Everyone wanted to talk to him before we left but that was too much time, so he talked to all of them at once.”

“Dad’s pretty smart isn’t he?”

“Your dad’s very smart honey. He’s the whole reason you and I are here.” she said as she made a sweeping gesture around the room.

“So now that there are people on board are we gonna leave Earth?” Gideon asked as he considered his moms previous statement.

“Probably, your dads on his way back here right now, he’ll know more than me.”

“Ok, can I watch something on the holoprojector?”

“Sure honey.” His mother handed him the small device, he turned it on and began searching for something to watch, he was hoping he could find Captain Lonestarr and the Space Rangers. Just as he was about to give up hope his dad walked into the room, he quickly turned it off and rushed to greet him.

“Hey dad! I watched your speech with mom! You were great!” His dad looked down at him and frowned a little then looked up at his mother still frowning. She shrugged at him “I wanted to watch your speech and it’s not like I have much privacy here.”

He let out a small sigh “Well, too late now I suppose.”

Gideon Jr.’s brow knitted together in confusion “What’s wrong dad?”

His father squatted down so they were eye level. “Nothings wrong bud, I just didn’t want you to see me when I talk to people at work like that.” He finished the statement by tousling his son’s hair before standing back up.

Gideon’s mother greeted his father with a hug and a softly spoken apology. “So, what do we do now?” she asked his father.

“Not too much for us to do but wait, they started processing the passengers getting them into their units before the ceremony. They want me to stay out for as long as I can so I can handle any problems”

“Well why don’t we all watch something on the holoprojector then? There isn’t exactly a ton else to do” His mother suggested.

Gideon Jr. offered up the small device and the family settled in on the bed, cuddling up together.   Gideon Jr. decided on the Captain Lonestarr and the Space Rangers movie, it was his one of his favorites. Despite this being one of his favorite movies, the lack of food, proximity of his family, and the shared body heat soon lulled him to sleep.

—-

In a half sleep state Gideon was quasi aware of the fact that he was now laying flat on the bed, not against either of his parents. He heard familiar voices around him, but the veil of sleep was far too thick to allow their meaning to pierce it.

“He’s asleep, I think it’s best if we go ahead and get you settled in.”

“I’m worried about leaving him alone.”

“Thats exactly why I want you in now.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I have to get him in later tonight, its the last time there will be a lull between arrivals. I don’t want him in alone.”

“I…I just feel like I won’t see him again. I know I will but I feel like I won’t.”

“You’ll see him again in just a few hours. I promise.”

Gideon thought he felt something soft and wet press against his cheek but could not be sure. He almost managed to grasp the meaning of the softly spoken phrase the followed, but it slipped through his hindered mental faculties like sand through fingers.

“Be a good boy, mommy loves you and will see you soon.”

—-

Gideon woke up to a mostly dark room. The holoprojector was playing a Master of the Galaxy cartoon casting the small rectangular room in an eerie glow. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes while he remembered the weird dreams he had.

“Mom? Dad? Hello?” He softly called out into the room around him. Using the holoprojector as a flashlight he quickly looked around the room and found himself to be alone. Walking over to the door he pressed his hand against the activation plate, just like he had done yesterday, but the door did not move. Panic began nibbling at the back of his mind. He was locked in a dark strange room with no way to turn on the lights. He reached up to rub his forehead and felt the smooth metal band on his wrist, an idea came to mind.

“ViVi where are my mom and dad?” he asked the bracelet.

Within seconds ViVi was responding “Your father is currently 14 meters from your position and moving towards you. I am currently unable to locate your mother.”

“Why can’t you find my mom?”

“Her biometrics are not present in my system.”

“What do you mean?” a tremble of panic in his voice.

The door to the room slid open, allowing harsh white light from the hallway to flood into the room, blinding Gideon. A large dark figure stood in the doorway, its features impossible to discern with the intense light behind it.

“Dad?” Gideon asked, shielding his eyes with one hand.

“Hey buddy.” A gentle and familiar voice replied, but there was something unusual in his voice too. The figure moved into the room and the door slid shut. Now all he could see was a bright white rectangle burned into his vision.

“Where’s mom? ViVi says she can’t find her bio…bio-meters in the system.”

His dad paused for a second, Gideon thought he saw wetness glistening on his face. His dad let out a breath and replied “ViVi can’t find your mother because your mother is not wearing one of these,” he motioned to the band on his son’s wrist, “and her information was never entered in with the other passengers. Also, your mother is in Alice’s care now.”

“What do you mean dad?”

His father leaned in and hugged him tight, his shirt felt damp and clammy. “Come on, let me show you.”

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