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PART 2: Airomem

Chapter 22

Airomem would never forget the first time she had seen the power room.

“Oh, and there we were all in one place,

A generation lost in space,

With no time left to start again,”  

Her father sang under his breath, then turned towards her as they walked down the hallway, “Oh Airomem, today is your big day!  Are you excited my little princess? Tell me, what is today?  I seem to have forgotten.”

Airomem smiled when her father called her a princess, and rightly so.  For not only he called her that, but the rest of the Lear tribe.  

With one of her front teeth missing and a new one budding in its place, she held up the fingers on two of her hands, and answered.

“I turned six today!  Which means I get to start in the power room!”  She said, sticking her chin in the air, which she considered very princess-like.

“Oh, I don’t know,”  Said her father, wagging a finger, and crouching down to meet her eye level, putting his hands on her waist,  “Are you sure you are ready?  It’s a big job, an enormous job.  The entirety of Dandelion Fourteen depends on you!”

“I’m ready, daddy.”  She said, and stuck her chin out even higher, which in her mid could only mean more princess-like.

“If you say so!”  He said, picking her up and throwing her over his shoulder as she screamed and her fists beat his back in protest, “To the power room we go!”  

She giggled as she bounced with each step of her fathers until the reached the back of the ship.  Or rather, the very back of the ship- as a Lear, the back of the ship was all she had ever explored, never leaving the two outposts that were constantly guarded against intruders and lead to the front.  They entered a long room, flashing monitors dotting the walls and displaying flickering information, and headed towards a door in the back, where the a word in bold red letters was plastered to the door.

“Nuclear!” Airomem shouted, reading the word, one of the first she had learned as her father taught her to read.

“Yes, nuclear!”  He exclaimed, and set her on the ground, “This is the entrance of the power room, Airomem.  It is time you started learning.  One day,it will be your job to be an engineer here, to keep the power running!  And if you do that well enough, then one day you might lead the engineers and tribe, like me!”  He said, and poked her nose.

“Yeah!”  She shouted, and raised a fist into the air, then quickly lowered it after deciding it was not as princess-like as a raised chin.

“Do you remember the hand signs I taught you?  It’s loud in the power room, and we have to wear ear plugs or else our ears will hurt.  Show me danger.  Good!  Now yes, good, no.  Perfect, you’re such a great learner, Airomem.”

“Look, daddy, I made one up too!”  She said, and held up her hand, making a new sign.

“And what does that mean?”

“It means I’m tired of waiting!”  She said, and her father cracked a smile before continuing to speak.

“Now Airomem, inside this room, everything is serious.  Since the asteroid cracked the ship in half, we have kept the ship entire ship alive.  Both sides.  It’s been no easy task- without the main computer systems, many of the things that happened automatically in the past have to be done by hand.  And we have to be careful, because only one mistake is all it takes to place us back into peril.  That’s our job, Airomem, to not make mistakes.”

“But what if we do?”

“We can’t!  We’ve come so close, and now we at at the final leg of our journey!  Remind me, Airomem, what are we getting close to?”

“The new planet!”

“And what is that?”

“It’s like a ship, but bigger! I think. It’s like where we came from!”

“Exactly.  And it is most exciting because one day, you might get to see it Airomem!”  He reached into a pocket and pulled out a piece of paper with seven dots on it shaped in a ring, “When you look out the window, and you see this, it means we are getting close!  It could be any year now, Airomem, but most think it will be in your lifetime.”

“Will I be princess on the planet?”  She asked, and stuck out her bottom lip, “Otherwise, I don’t want to go.”

“Of course,”  Her father said, “And you’ll want to go!  That’s why I’m showing you the power room, dear.  We provide energy to the ship until we leave for the planet.  Which is good,”  He said, and leaned forward to speak in her ear, “Because we’re almost out!”

Then he started singing again under his breath.

Now, for ten years we’ve been on our own,

And moss grows fat on a rolling stone,

But, that’s not how it used to be.”

And led her into the power room.

Next Chapter

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