Chapter 8

Ætherglow #145

You approach Natali with a friendly wave. “Hey, I’m home.”

“Welcome back to the Moon,” she says. “Wow Aydan, you’re absolutely glowing. Those implants are putting work in!”

“Aw, thanks. I feel great,” you say.

“How’s space treating you?” she says.

“It’s nice,” you say. “Tranquil.”

“Isn’t it? I miss it,” she says, looking up at the stars. “Well, your parents won’t like me keeping you here all day.” The gate opens as she touches the screen of her terminal.

“See you later,” you say.

Through a short glass corridor, you enter your family’s domain. The metal walkway runs between the two halves of the rock garden, a number of large grey boulders on a bed of pink gravel. You approach the centerpiece of it all, where the walkway forms a circle around a small plot of live soil supporting your parents’ prized tree. Now about as tall as you are, it’s said to be the biggest and healthiest tree in the neighborhood according to your mom Ælita.

Across the second half of the yard, you arrive at the front door. Following muscle memory, you touch the sensor panel with your right hand and it registers the key beneath your skin. “Welcome home, Aydan,” an automated voice greets you as the door slides open. They did bother to update the greeting for you, that may be a good sign.

Home... Your house seems very clean, sterile, precise, minimal. The wall decorations are each in their precise spot. The few ornaments on the shelves shine under the warm pink-tinged lighting, never allowed to collect dust. Your room at TLA is just as barren, without many possessions of your own to put there, but it still feels a lot more lived in. A lot of effort goes into making this hallway seem untouched by time.

Your solitude doesn’t last long. Ælita is right around the corner, dressed in an elegant silver dress that matches her platinum hair, cut neatly in a straight line above her shoulders.

“Aydan, welcome home! You’re just in time for dinner.”

“Hey,” you say, giving her a short wave and instinctually tilting your head to the side in a cute gesture.

“I like your outfit,” she says, looking down at your skirt.

“Thanks.” You take off your heavy night coat to reveal your T-shirt prominently bearing the symbol of Mars, turned to point downward.

“Well... Let’s go find Yelena,” she says.

She’s waiting for you in the dining room, in her prominent seat at the head of the table. She must have just come from working, still wearing her dark black suit with the reflective silver stripes across the shoulders. Her augmented glasses are sitting atop her short dark brown hair, like she just pulled out of a virtual meeting.

“Hi,” you say.

“Welcome home. Come, let’s eat.” She motions to your seat at the far end of the table. Ælita takes her spot around the corner at Yelena’s side, the power couple of Redshift Security’s board of directors.

It isn’t every day you eat together as a family like this, not even often, between their packed schedules of meetings and conferences and, before now, your busy training and preparation schedule. A big meal has been set out. They’ve pulled out all the autokitchen modules they own for today. There’s even large roasted potatoes and turnips from the hydroponic garden, and a big serving of meat from the lab module. Even if home is a bit awkward, you can still enjoy this part after the repetitive selection of TLA’s autokitchens.

“So, how is the academy going?” Yelena says.

1) “Good, my first semester of training went well and I aced my mid-term exam.”: 3 (50.0%)
2) “Great, I’ve made some good friends.”: 2 (33.33%)
3) “It’s fine...”: 1 (16.66%)
Expired 1 years ago (2023-03-29 19:14:54)