Something Completely Different by Loxley

Lt. Kevin Nekohashi’s eyes creaked open. He lay in a daze for a moment as life returned to his body. The air was cold and very antiseptic. As soon as his brain chemistry restarted itself after its 20 year pause, he thought to himself What I wouldn’t give for a real blanket right now.

He drifted out of the hibernation pod and into the cold metallic ships air. Like himself, it had only just been freed from 20 years confined in a tank. He opened a foil bag containing disposable shipwear and an electrolyte drink, and gagged as he took a sip, forgetting to shake it up first. He dressed hurriedly, eager to get to his station.

As usual, he was the first one up, due to a lucky combination of choice of pod, his own physiology, and some judicious tweaking of the life support parameters. As the engineering officer of the little scout vessel, it was just as well he be up first anyway. All the telltales on his shipmates pods were safely indicating that everyone was waking up. He lingered over the State Commisioner’s pod just a moment, though, making sure that everything was okay. It was hard to see through the condensation on the pod cover, but he could make out the form of Commisioner Murrietta, as if she were merely in a deep, restful sleep, except that there was frost on her delicate still whiskers. Pushing off with his paws, he went to her locker and checked her foil package.

"Ah, nuts. I know she hates this fruit mix flavor," he said, reading the label. He swapped it for a package with a bannana-flavored drink from the next locker over, the one with L. DODSON stencilled on it. Dani and Lisa were similarly sized, so their shipwear would interchange, and he knew Lisa wouldn’t mind. She probably wouldn’t even notice.

Kevin kicked off, and sailed to the hatch in the far bulkhead, headed towards the bridge. In the dim, red glow of the powersavc lighting, he drifted over to his station, and started tapping the buttons and icons that would slowly return the rest of the ship to life.

During interstellar flight, the Seeker was a long, skinny cylinder, more or less. The more or less part came from assorted protruding instrument clusters, storage containers, tanks, and ramjet field generators long its length. But when the bright ramjet fusion flame died at a journeys end, she would unfold like a flower, adding the "Hab’n’Lab" ring, as her crew called the torus that girdled the ship. It would spin on magnetic bearings, providing something reasonably close to gravity, as well as a place for the crew to live now that they didn’t need to huddle in the core of the ship, away from the drive fields ludicrous energy levels.

Kevin watched as his systems continued to boot, and run their self diagnostics, then start on the rest of the ship. There was always something that lit amber; in the long dark nights, things inexplicably broke or drifted out of tolerance. They were usually easily fixed, though. Seeker was built for this, and she was only halfway through her two century, twenty solar system tour of duty.

What he was not expecting, however was the cluster of blinking red telltales floating in his display panel, telling him that 75% of the fuel they used for getting around inside a starsystem after turning off the ramdrive was gone. There were other warning lights as well, from a variety of systems, none related to the any of the others… except for having some portion on the outer hull.

"Ah, criminy," he said flatly, and dispatched a little bot to go survey the area. The video the little bot sent back wasn’t very spectacular. Apparently, some sensor array or other extrusion had succumbed to metal fatigue during the long night at steady accelleration. It had knocked some other comonents off, and wound up holing one of the hydrogen storage tanks. A frozen check valve had allowed the rest of the tanks to hemmorage hydrogen fuel through the breached tank, leaving them with only their reserve. Since there was precious little the crew could have done about it in flight, the ship didn’t wake them up until they were on final approach to the next star system.

Kevin was busy doing a complete inventory of the entire ship’s system tree as Captain Rydelle and Lt. Sorrell entered the bridge, followed by Lt. Hawthorne, blearily clutching his squeezebulb of coffee.

"Status, Mr. Nekohashi," Rydelle asked sweetly. She was a good choice as captain; strong, intelligent, and with a natural ability to lead.

"Not good, Skipper, There was-"

"Awk!!! I didn’t do it! Kevin!?!?! What the hell have you done to my ship!?!?" shouted Brad as his pilots console exploded into red telltales, clashing with his crimson plumage.’

"Secure that, Mr. Hawthorne!" barked the Captain. "We’ll keelhaul him later if necessary. Now then, is my ship dying, Lietenant Nekohashi?"

"No, Ma’am. But we are adrift. We’ve got our reserve fuel only. There’s some other minor damage, but the fuel is our main concern." Kevin explained, showing the video that the little bot had recorded. "Only one tank is actually ruptured. I’m afraid that we can’t simply patch it, though; that’s a high-pressure hydrogen tank. It’s a write off. The other tanks will hold hydrogen, but only once I get that checkvalve fixed."

"I see. Have we dropped to far below our critical velocity to re-engage the ramdrive?" she asked.

"I can’t tell. If we burn our reserves, we’ll be right at our minimum velocity… and if the interstellar medium is thinner out here…" he trailed off. "We’ll be out of fuel, and below our minimum speed to restart the ramdrive.

"Scott, I want you to get with Hopkins on this. We may have to cut our tour of duty short." Captain Cindy Rydelle did a good job of keeping her disappointment of her voice. The Seeker, and the ships like her, were the fastest, most expensive machines every created, taking a large portion of the planetary economy to build. But build them they had, in a one-time-only plan to survey the nearest stars, and wait until all the data was in before any sort of colonization would begin. Yes, it was conservative, but at least people of the world were finally going to make it to the stars!

Except now, they would never know what lay in those 10 starsystems that Seeker failed in her mission to reach. There may have been paradise worlds, or other races, or some kind of rainforest with miracle cures for the worlds diseases, but now they would never know, due to a fragile antennae, and a faulty piece of plumbing. Cindy tried not to think about how much it had cost her world to build the Seeker and train her crew. She didn’t want to go home empty handed if she could help it. And she wanted to explain her failure to Commissioner Dani even less. "Kevin, I want you to get out there and fix that valve. I want to be able to store hydrogen."

"Um… Aye, Skipper. But where were you planning on getting more H2? The tanks will only refill once we’re back under ramdrive, which we may not even be able to reach."

"I don’t know yet. We’ll worry about that later. Okay, let’s all meet down in the galley for breakfast. We’ve been broken for more than ten years, I don’t think we’re going to die in the next hour."


"And that’s our situation," Cindy summarized. "We may or may not have enough fuel to boost back to the minimum speed to engage the ramdrive. Kevin’s bots are getting our storage situation dealt with, so when, not if, we get back underway, we’ll have somewhere to put our fuel." Cindy nodded to where Kevin was sitting amongst the ruins of his breakfast, with a VR monacle plugged into an eye, and datagloves over his paws. Michael and Scott were poring over the spectroscopy data from their sensors, while Tony Durham, Brad Hawthorne, and even Lisa Dodson looked glum.

"Will this greatly delay our Tour, Captain Rydelle?" asked Commissioner Murrieta. It was her job to represent the State, which had gone to great trouble and expense to build the ships like Seeker, and train the crews. Just as this was a once in a lifetime mission for everyone else, so it was for her; without the State Commissioners aboard, there was no one to keep the crews on task and in line. The Mission was everything to Dani; it meant finally conquering the stars, if only she and her cohorts on the other scoutships could keep the crews on task and functioning.

"Um, yes, Madam Commissioner, I think it may. If we can’t get back up to speed, this is the end of the line for us, unless we can find a way to magic ourselves up some hydrogen to fill the tanks. And even if we can get going again, I’m afraid I’ll have to set a course for home. With the loss of the tank we won’t have the fuel to burn for much in the way of manevering, or even slowing down much. Our effectivness is greatly compromised; I think we should set a course for home and a refit." Cindy steeled herself for what she knew was coming.

"I see," said Madam State Commissioner Danielle Murrieta as she tapped her clipboard with a stylus. Her eyes narrowed on Captain Rydelle. "Returning home simply isn’t an option, Captain."

"But, Madam Commissioner…"

"No buts. We fly this ship until it falls out from under us if we have to. We are expendable; we all agreed to give our lives for this mission if necessary. If we have to rocket through each succeeding system like bulletts, then so be it, but we will finish the survey." Dani’s voice was ice cold.

"Even if it means dying?" asked Lisa. The psychologists swore that she was a vital part of the crew, from a social dynamics point of view. Maybe it was because a super-perky type like her would attract any animosity, and act as a sponge or buffer, whereas if she weren’t around, the crew would turn on each other. It didn’t make her any easier to deal with, though.

"Yes. We die trying. That’s our job, and it’s worth it," Dani answered flatly. Dani hated having to pull rank like this. She much preferred to be the "cheerleader" of the group, rather than the Voice Of Authority. But just because she didn’t like it didn’t mean she wouldn’t do it. She changed tactics. "But we’re not going to die, Lisa." She smiled warmly at the vixen/dachsund mix. "Lt. Sorrel and Mr. Hopkins there are going to make some measurements and tell us that we can keep going." The iguana and the kangaroo looked at the Commissioner as she tapped her clipboard on the table… WHACK! The little mouse kept smiling sweetly. She looked to Captain Rydelle. "Make it so, Captain."

"Yes, Ma’am. Under protest, though," the mare said stiffly. For a moment, the only sounds were of the ventilation fans and the low grinding of the magnetic bearings which spun the Hab’n’lab ring.

Dani looked sad. "Cindy. I’m sorry. Your protest is noted, and is taken in the spirit in which it is intended. I don’t doubt your commitment to this crew, this ship, or the mission. I shall be in my quarters. If there’s anything I can do to help any of you, let me know." With that, the petite mouse stepped into the long, upwards curving corridor leading to crew quarters.

Nobody saw her tears as she vanished down the corridor.

"Okay, people. Nekohashi, Sorrel, Hopkins, you’ve got your assignments. Hawthorne, Durham, Dodson, get up to the observatory, and lets see what it is we’re flying into. If we’re going to be the Flying Dutchmen of space, we’re darn sure going to make sure that home gets all the data out of us they can get. Move it!"


Three shipdays later…

"You’re sure?"

"Yes, Captain," said Michael Hopkins. "There’s not enough hydrogen out here for us to scoop up and light the torch with. Even if we burn everything in the reserve tanks, as well as the shuttles, we’ll still be too slow to collect what we need."

"And we’re going too fast to stop, for darn sure. Too slow to start the drive, and too fast stop anywhere and pick up hydrogen, even if there were a truck stop out here. Damn. Doubledamn. I’ll tell the crew."


"Well that’s just great! I came a hundred lightyears to die out here in the middle of nowhere?!? I’m a pilot! I’m supposed to go out with a bang, not with a whimper!" shouted Brad.

"Home knows our position, and will know our situation. We could just ride it out in the pods," said Lisa.

"Sure. We zip through this star system and on out into The Night. We may never wake up. They may never send anybody after us. Besides, we’ll be poking along at sub ramdrive speeds. It would be like an jetliner trying to rendezvouz with a rowboat," said Kevin.

"But we can sleep a long time, Kevin," said Lisa. "Surely somebody would be able to come get us in a thousand years."

"Our reactors are only good for five hundred years, Lisa. And the broadcasts we’ve been getting from home are telling me that they’re nowhere near any kind of "warp drive."

"Those broadcasts are fifty years old, Kevin. Surely…"

"Lisa’s right, Lietenant," said Michael. The signals are old. Who knows? Help may already be on the way, before we even ask for it. You know the physics as well as I do. Reverse propagation waves, and the like." Michael walked over and hugged the frightened dachsund/vixen. "Right Kevin?" His look was imploring, and Kevin caught his meaning.

"Yeah… Right Michael. I think she has a point. There’s always the pods. Besides, we’re not out of options yet." Kevin looked at the stricken Dani. "We are definitely not out of options yet."

"You have something you wish to share with us Lietenant?" asked the Captain.

"No, Skipper. I don’t have any idea we can either slow down enough to stay in this system, or pick up enough speed to light our torch. We’re way too fast to use tethers to lasso some poor unsuspecting moon system, IF we could adjust our course to get close enough. Gravity assist won’t be enough. We don’t have enough superconductor to build a mag-sail, while I could fabricate a solar sail, we’re still going too fast for it to stop us."

"I see. In the meantime, I want you to see about rigging the ship for an Extra Long Night. I want those reactors to last us as long as they possibly can."

"Aye, Skipper. I’m on it."

With an uncharacteristicly jaunty step, the cat vanished down the corridor, and up the tubes to the Core, and Engineering.

Cindy watched him as he left, cocking an eyebrow. "Okay. I think the rest of you still have your assignments. We’re still closing on this system, and while we’ve identified a few gas giants, I want every rock in this place catalogued and charted. This may be our swan song, people, so lets make it count. Our duty isn’t to ourselves; it’s to those who come after us. Madam Commissioner?" She looked at the mouse, who was staring vacantly at her clipboard and the charts and schedules and protocols it contained. "Commissioner? Dani?" She continued.

"Y-yes Captain?"

"I need your help with some things. There’s a lot of paperwork to deal with and transmit back home."

"Yes. Yes of course. Paperwork… I’ll be glad to." The Mission had failed.


The Seeker whistled through space, both too fast and too slow at the same time, in a strange, paradoxical state. A steady stream of information was coming in and keeping everyone busy that wanted to be. Brad barricaded himself in his quarters and refused to talk to anyone. Hopkins, true to form, was as hyper as ever, though, performing analysis after analysis of the star systems resources in meticulous detail. With the irrepressible Lisa helping him, he was working on some sort of magnum opus of planets, asteroids, moons, and comets. Treasure of treasures, one of the gas giants close in to the primary had a large life bearing moon! Tony spent his time figuring out the orbital periods of a pair of shepherd moons with a thin ring of ice between them.

Kevin had finished preparing the ship to be what was in all likelihood their coffin, lost between the stars. Like Brad, he holed up away from everyone. Engineering was very much his place. He only came out for short trips to the observatory, or to deal with some bot which had gotten confused in one of the tasks he had assigned it. They had certainly been busy lately.

Tony Durham, ordinarily just a scientist, helped the Captain with getting the ship squared away, as well as keeping Dani occupied with whatever beauracratic make-work that they could invent between the two of them. The entire crew had considered the Commissioner to be a pain, but they had never actively disliked her. With The Mission A Failure, she was becoming more and more withdrawn and meek. "This really is my ship," Cindy thought to herself. "Not the State’s, or the People’s. Mine. And these are my crew, and I’m not going to let any of them lose hope. Even if I have to make it up myself." Her responsibility weighed heavily upon her shoulders. She was glad to have Tony around to help her through it.

A few shipdays later…

"WARNING! FIRE IN ENGINEERING!" the alarm shouted, repeating itself. Throughout the ship, lights turned red, blinked, or otherwise made sure that all aboard were aware that Something Important was happening, and would they please attend to it.

The entire crew swarmed up the tubes, dropping what they were doing, and headed to Engineering. A heavy pressure door was closed between the Core and Engineering. There was an incongrous sign painted on the door saying "Keep Out" that Kevin had added soon after they had begun their journey together. And Kevin was nowhere to be found; he was presumably on the other side of the pressure door.

Tony and Brad leapt to the door and tried to pry it open, a task made difficult by a lack of purchase, since they were in freefall here at the Core. Cindy was shouting into a comm panel for Kevin to answer. "Nekohashi! Are you okay!? Answer me, dammit! We’re coming! Hang on!" Hopkins and Dodson were there too, together it seems, and both terrified of what what happening, and for their friend the engineer. Even Dani was looking more engaged, rather than the shell she had been. Lt. Sorrell kicked his way in through the hatch, and caught a handhold to stop himself.

That’s when the hatch behind him slammed shut.

And locked.

The sudden silence of the fire alarms was deafening. Nobody moved for a crystalline moment that seemed like eternity.

The Captain was the first to recover. "Durham, Hawthorne, I want that hatch open yesterday! Kevin?! Can you hear me? We’re almost to you! Hang on!"

"I can hear you just fine, Skipper. No need to shout," came Kevin’s reply over the comm panel.

"Smartass! Are you okay? We can’t get the door open to get to you!"

"I don’t think you understand, Skipper. I’m fine. There wasn’t a fire. And I don’t want you to get to me."

Again, nobody moved. Everybody looked to the Captain.

"Lietenant. Open. The. Hatch. That is a direct order."

"I’m sorry, Dave, I can’t do that…" Kevins laughter was tinny over the comm panel.

"Nekohashi, you are so going on report! Open this door right now!"

"I’m sorry… your signal is breaking up…." Kevins voice dripped with sarcasm.

"Nekohashi, if you don’t open this door and come out of there and explain yourself, I swear that if any of your family are still alive when they find us, you are going to shame and dishonor them!"

"I’m afraid that’s where you’re wrong, Skipper," quipped the cat. "I think my ancestors will find me most honorable. Why don’t you try the video feed from the Bridge?" Cindy reached out and tapped the screen.

"Oh my god…" Cindy heard herself say.

Lt. Kevin Nekohashi, Ship’s Engineer was on the Bridge, sitting in his usual position, but dressed in a kimono and headband emblazoned with the Rising Star. The katana and wakizashi he had paid heavily with his personal luggage allotment to carry aboard were tucked in his waist.

"It is time for you to all get in your pods," said Kevin flatly. To punctuate his words, the air pumps came on, and began to draw the air out of the Core.

"Nekohashi, I am not having a mutiny on my ship! Now you stand down! I am not going to let you kill us all!" Rydell railed at him.

"Sorry, Skipper. It’s not your ship though. It’s the People’s. It’s The State’s. It’s Dani’s."

The Commissioner gasped.

Rydell changed tactics. "Yes, you’re right, Kevin. It is hers. Now can we just talk about this?" She wasn’t sure how long it would take the pumps to evacuate the Core. Some time, but not a long time…

"Nope. This is my time. I’m calling the shots for the moment, Skipper. For once, people are going to listen to me, and take me seriously, rather than take me for granted. I suppose this is the part where I tell you my evil plan, as the air is slowly sucked from the room you are in, no?" There was a rumble as Kevin halted the spin of the Hab’n’Lab ring, and started folding it back into the ship’s hull.

"Kevin. Please. You’ve lost it… you need help…"

"BUZZZZ!!!! Wrong! But thanks for playing, Skipper! I’m beyond help now. I think my ancestors will judge me fairly, though. Now shut up and listen. I am going to save you. I’m going to save the ship. I’m going to save The Mission."

"Kevin, you can’t!"

"Do NOT tell me what I can’t do, Skipper!" shouted Kevin. "I am sorry. I did not mean to get so angry. Yes, I can save you all, and The Mission as well. Not to mention accrue enormous amounts of honor. I think you have maybe 6 minutes of air before you all begin to pass out. Don’t you want to hear how? I’m quite proud of it."

"Sure, Kevin… but if you run on too long, you may have to shut off the air pumps.. or we won’t be concious to hear your plan… isn’t that right?"

"Don’t worry Skipper. I’ll be brief. I’m going to execute a slight course correction which will aim us more towards the sun. Then I’m going to crank up the ramdrive field and use it as a magsail. With a high enough energy level, we can push against the solar wind and slow down. I’ve got a nice little orbit all picked out. As it happens, you’ll wind up only a few thousand miles from a comet going the same way, in the same orbit. Pretty lucky, eh? Get your hydrogen from there, and go on with The Mission."

"Kevin, you can’t be serious. The electromagnetic field from the ram drive will kill you with hard radiation! Quickly, no less! Besides, if your idea will work, the computers can just do it…"

"I’m afraid not, Skipper. Yes, it will kill me, but not instantly. I will be able to stay alive long enough to keep everything running. You see, the computers were never programmed to handle this, so I’m going to have to sort of babysit them all the way through, and adjust as things break.

"Okay fine, now you’re dead, and we’re off to the next star system, with no engineer!" countered the Captain.

"True. But we’re all crosstrained. And I’ve modified the programming of the computers and the bots to make it easier for y’all. I’ve even left instructions on how to handle most problems. What did you think I was doing after I rigged the ship for the Long Sleep?"

"Kevin, I will not let you do this. Period. Stand down. I am not going to give up my ship and get in that pod."

"Dani’s ship, Skipper." Kevin smiled. "And I’ll just wait till you’re passed out and then come back there and stow you away myself. Checkmate. Now put Dani on."

"Oh, come on, Lieuten-" The air pumps increased their whine. Cindy felt her ears pop. "Okay, okay! Relax! Fine, Kevin, whatever you say!" The pumps turned completely off, stopping the evacuation process.

Kevin looked down at his panel as Dani’s frightened face swam into view. He smiled at her. "Don’t worry sweetheart. This is going to work. It isn’t going to end here. We’re going to keep going to the stars. We’re going to complete The Mission, and blaze the trail for all to come after us. And I’ll be right here with you."


"Dani, don’t be afraid. Please. I love you. I’ve never told anyone that before. But I do. I love you, and I will die for you, for my friends, and for all those people that we undertook The Mission for. I’ve loved you since we were all candidates at the academy together. Danille Murrietta, will you be my wife?"

"B-b-but Kevin…?" The shock on the mouse’s face was echoed around the room. The Captain wondered at what point it was exactly that her ship had entered the Twilight Zone.

"I know what you’re going to say. But the Skipper can marry us. Isn’t that right, Skipper? So how about it, Dani? I’m going to do this regardless, but it’s ultimately for you."

"Kevin!" shouted Rydelle.

The cat ignored her. "Well, Dani?"

"Yes, Kevin. I’ll do it. I would be honored to be your wife! Just please don’t do this!" cried the mouse, tears forming lenses over her eyes that she had to shake away. The floated around her face like diamonds.

"It’s the only way, Dani, my love. And the Skipper knows it, I think."

"Kevin!" sobbed the little mouse.

"Please don’t cry, Dani. I don’t like you like this. I like the tough strong Dani. That’s’ why I’m doing this. Keep going, Dani. Finish The Mission."

The Commissioner fought back a sob, and chewed her lower lip. "Okay… okay, Kevin. I realize how badly you want this… as much as I want it. I’ve always felt connected to you to…as if we’d known each other in a past life or something. So yes, I’ll keep going. I’ll get out and push this ship with my bare paws if I have to. That’s a promise!"

"That’s my girl. Feisty! If you’ll open your locker you’ll find a kimono, and squeeze bulbs wth some rice wine. Ideally, we should do this in person, but I don’t think the Skipper would let me follow through on my plans. So, just put on the kimono, Skipper, you pronounce us married, and everybody drinks a toast! What do you think?"

Back in the Core, Dani kicked over to her locker, where she found a delicate silk kimono, and the squeezebulbs of rice wine that Kevin had mentioned. The flowing kimono was hard to deal with in freefall, but she got it on, and passed out the wine to everyone, despite the shock and surrealness of the situation.

"Okay, Skipper. I think you know the drill." To punctuate his words, Kevin blipped the air pumps twice.

"Have it your way, Lieutenant. Do you take Dani to be your wife, for as… do you?" Strangely, Cindy was having trouble controlling her voice.


"Dani, do you take Kevin?" Again, she struggled to keep her voice from cracking.

"Yes. I do."

"Then by the powers vested in me by The State and as Captain of the Seeker, I pronounce you married." Captain Cindy Rydelle finally lost her composure when the cat and mouse touched hands on the comm panel. She buried herself in Tony’s arms.

"I love you, Dani. Now get in your pod. All of you, so I can do this. We’re coming up on the zero hour if I’m going to drop you off next to that long period comet.

Brad: "Kevin… you are the cockiest and bravest sumbitch I think I have ever met."

Tony: "Kevin… you’re a good friend."

Scott: "Dude… thanks. I mean, thanks times e to nth."

Lisa: "Waaaaaah!!!!!!" Kevin grinned at that.

Michael: You’re a smart aleck, Nekohashi, but I’m proud to have known you.

Cindy: "Okay, Lieutenant. I want my ship out the other side of this maneuver without a scratch on it, do you hear me?"

"Aye, Skipper. It’s been a pleasure serving under you, Cindy."

"And one more thing… I think you may be right about the whole honor thing."

"Kevin?" asked Dani.

"Yes, dearheart?"

"I think you’re the most noble man I’ve ever met… I will tell your family of your sacrifice…. And…. I… will be strong for you." Rock hard control clamped down on the quaver in her voice.

"Thank you. Now go."


"It was a hell of a ride. Deceleration tugged him against his harness. Hard radiation sleeted through him, since he wasn’t in the protective confines of the Core. He could even see flashes as fast moving particles excited the atoms in his corneas. The radiation gauge was off the scale, but still he held on, fighting the crashing systems as they died, bringing them back to life again, so that he could continue this suicidal run and still have a ship at the end to show for it. Finally, though, it was over. There was not so much damage that the bots could not repair it, and we were right in the orbit he had wanted us to be in, so that we could get all the hydrogen we needed from that comet. I like to think that the last thing he saw before he died were three pictures. One of this place, his ancestral home. One was of the crew, with "Friends" written on it in kanjii. And one was of me. We finished The Mission because of him. So here I am, to return his katana and wakizashi to you." Danielle Murrieta-Nekohashi bowed to the many-times greatly removed grand nephew of her late husband.

"Arigato, Nekohashi-sama. You are our honored ancestor as well. Please make your home with us. I know that none of us knew your Kevin… he lived so long before our time. But I am sure his spirit has found its way here. Won’t you stay?"

"Thank you,… but no. I think his spirit is somewhere else. And that’s where I’m going to find it. There are some newer, faster ships they’re building, and they need crews. I’m going out there, because that’s where I’ll find him."

"As you wish. But you are still part of our family. Come back when ever you can."

Dani Nekohashi made her leave, and headed back into the Long Night.






News report: June 3252

It is a sad day. The worlds oldest realtime living woman is presumed dead, along with all hands of the Breckenridge when she suffered an Alcubierre Drive failure. Danielle Murrietta-Nekohashi spent more time aboard deep space relativistic exploration vessels than anybody has… over a thousand years of real time, and only hundred for her. And in case you missed her name, it’s Nekohashi; the same name as the hero engineer who saved the Seeker, allowing it to find some of the richest worlds in this part of the Arm. It’s fitting that the crew of the Seeker should all be reunited at last.