The captain's voice resonated through the comms array in Hickory’s quarters. ‘Commander Lace, Prosperine is now visible in the forward viewing window, if you care to take a look.'
She was on board the Jabberwocky―the fastest transport the IA could provide. It was operated by a human crew of five and an array of computers that looked after life support, navigation and communications. The hull was ovoid in shape and bristled with antennae at the tapered end where the propulsion systems were housed. When the sub light engines were engaged, the ship was surrounded by a fine mist of sub atomic particles that left behind a trail of multi-coloured flashes.
The ship’s sensors relayed the forward view to a computer that projected the images onto the curved wall of the fat end, giving the impression of a window looking out to infinity. The Milky Way sparkled, densely packed in places, sparse elsewhere, and here and there the dull black of nothingness.
Individual living quarters were bright enough and contained all the essentials, but there was no room for luxuries. The passengers spent their waking hours on the command deck or in the cafeteria come resource library playing games, watching training vids and discussing strategy. There was also a tiny gymnasium, built to accommodate two users at a time, where the passengers could take turns to link with the poro-enhanced fitness program. Hickory supplemented this routine with stretches and calisthenics to preserve the core strength and flexibility she had built up.
The Jabberwocky had been designed to speed diplomats and politicians between solar systems. It had been hurriedly modified to ensure the passengers and crew spent the longer journey in what the Prefect referred to as ‘reasonable comfort’.
‘About time,’ grumbled Hickory. Cortherien and she had different ideas on what constituted luxury. Three weeks was a long time to be crammed in a spaceship with only seven people and the captain’s dog for company.
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