Revelator, this is Delta Station confirming docking complete. Welcome home, Revelator.
Lynus switched down the ship’s engines, and as his ears adjusted to the quiet, he stared out the window of the Revelator, not at Delta station but at the blue planet looming large behind it. Home.
“Let’s get this done and start our furlough.” Gillian was the only other crew member of the Revelator, the best mechanic-cum-engineer-cum-fixit-queen he’d ever worked with. And she didn’t cheat at cards. He and Gillian had been on a five-year assignment, hauling supplies from Mars out to the mining asteroids and back again. He’d finally got a load to take back to Earth and after five years on assignment they were looking forward to some time at home.
“What’s the hurry? Have you got a date or something?” Lynus asked jokingly.
“Are you kidding? We’ve got three months of downtime. I’ve got several lined up.” Gillian smiled. Wherever they docked, no matter how small or large the population, Gillian’s wristcom would start to ping as the Revelator approached. There would always be someone by the docking station to meet her. Lynus envied her that. He usually slept alone on the ship after sending a message to Natalya, his daughter.
He was looking forward to seeing Natalya again. Last time he saw her she was still a teenager at school. Now she was a young woman, studying mathematics and engineering.
Once the shuttles from Zhang had cleared the cargo bays, Lynus and Gillian started the shutdown process for the Revelator before grabbing their bags and heading out into Delta station.
“Are you taking a shuttle down?” Lynus asked Gillian.
“Not right now. There’s someone here on Delta I’m seeing first.”
Lynus nodded. “I guess I’ll see you in three months then?”
“Yes, see you then.” Gillian’s wristcom pinged. She waved at Lynus as she walked away talking into her wristcom. “Yes, I’m on my way, I’ll see you soon.”
Lynus tapped his own wristcom to send a message to Natalya. At this distance she would get it almost instantly.
“Hey, darling girl,” he said, then paused, unsure what to say next. “I’m all clear on Delta station. I’ll be down on the planet surface soon. I’ll see you then.”
Five years in artificial space gravity meant his first weeks on Earth weren’t going to be great. He knew from previous missions gravity sickness was like having a hangover. He felt the pressure of gravity growing as the shuttle from Delta station made its way to Earth. Once the shuttle was on the ground his arms were slow to obey his orders to unbuckle from his seat, and his legs were slow to walk him out of the shuttle. He approached the arrivals hall and heard Natalya’s voice, “Dad!”
He turned to look in her direction but his eyes were hit by a beam of reflected sunlight. He folded over, the sudden light in his eyes bringing on a wave of nausea and temporarily blinding him.
He heard Natalya’s voice, “Dad? Dad are you OK?”
He was fine. He’d just forgotten that sunshine could be so bright.