Year 2198: Starlight Voyager
The Starlight Voyager emerged from hyperspace, and the private space explorer gently cruised in the void. In the darkness of space, stars lightyears away twinkled, filling the emptiness with their light. Space rocks and debris drifted in the path of the rocket ship, but the forcefield of the large vessel simply repelled them.
Gerald flipped a switch in the ship’s cockpit, which activated the autopilot, and exited the cockpit . He moved to the observation room, which offered a more cinematic view of the vastness of space.
“Come quick, Gerald.” A blonde woman sat in the room and stared intently at meteors through a large transparent wall. She swung her legs and hummed. It was hard to notice, but if you looked close enough, maybe you could see there was an ethereal glow around her.
Gerald sat beside her, and she leaned on his arm.
“Look, shooting stars! Make a wish.” Aurora said, seeing a cluster of meteorites shimmering as they streaked across the sky.
“You have degrees in Astrophysics, Meteorology, and Space Science, yet you still want me to wish upon a group of rocks that may very well be the remains of a destroyed planet?” Gerald said, amused at her theatrics.
“The fact that I know what a shooting star is and its likely origin doesn’t make it is any less magical.”
“Besides, there’s nothing fun to do on this ship. So don’t be a killjoy, Gerald. Just make a wish,” She pleaded, pouting and fluttering her eyelids.
“Since you are so excited, you go first, Aurora. I’ll go after you.”
“Alright then,” A smile blossomed on Aurora’s face, and her eyes twinkled. “I wish…” She paused as the meteorites continued to streak across, and when the last one was about to disappear into the darkness of space, she continued,”…I wish that you find peace.”
Year 2187: The Oasis, City on the Moon.
“Wow!” The passengers on board exclaimed as the space shuttle neared the moon’s orbit. On the white desert surface stood a dazzling city: The Oasis.
“So aptly named,” Gerald thought to himself beholding it. The city was located in a way that it received the right amount of sunlight each day to keep itself running. When the ship approached the moon, the city spread out in front of them in clearer detail. The Oasis was covered by a yellow translucent dome that offered protection.
The ship landed just outside the city. A small yellow sphere the size of a soccer ball emerged from a mechanized sunflower-looking plant on the center of the landing platform. The sphere quickly expanded and enveloped the the ship. It continued to grow and covered the landing platform.
“You can now disembark from the vessel. “ A mechanical voice sounded overhead, pulling the students from their reverie. They descended the ship, and by the time their feet touched the landing platform, the sphere had grown to connect with the city’s dome.
“Look, the earth looks so small from up here.” A blond-haired woman pointed excitedly to the earth approximately 380,000 km away. Some of the students were excited, and a few shed tears. Gerald glanced at the blue planet indifferently. It had been his home for twenty years. Now, it was time to make his home among the stars.
“ Welcome. Please remain ordered and follow me.” A small hovering robot had arrived while the students stared at their former home. The blond-haired lady went to the robot’s side. “You’re so cute, Mr Robot.” she patted his head and walked beside it.
Gerald shook his head. Only the best of the best with several degrees could get admitted into the space program, so he wondered how someone who got in could be so childish. The students followed the robot into the city’s dome. For a brief moment, their vision blurred, but when it returned, they were greeted by the sight of the boisterous city.
‘Welcome to the Oasis,” The robot sounded. The crowd gasped, and even Gerald couldn’t maintain his stoic expression. He had read about this place and had seen hundreds of documentaries, yet he was amazed. What started as a simple mining colony with a population of only 20 had blossomed into this wondrous place after the Ministry of Space Affairs decided to build the Space Academy here.
Gerald eyed a vast, imposing building at the city’s center. Five hover trucks passed by, and circular discs were released from the trucks’ beds. The discs hovered over each student and levitated them onto their trunks while in motion.
As they moved, Gerald noticed numerous nearly transparent pappi. He only managed to see them because he knew to look for them. The blond-haired lady noticed them, too. She stretched her hand to hold them, but the wind blew them away. There were the pappi from a plant species that acted as natural and efficient air filters—removing CO2 and toxins from the area.
Gerald knew that what opened the intergalactic highway for man wasn’t just advancement in engineering but also in botany and genetic modification. The city was proof. He eyed the tall palm trees paired with the street lights. Every single plant here absorbed an amount of cosmic radiation, but the purple leaves of the palm trees absorbed the most. The creeping phlox that decorated either side of the roads and some houses glowed an azure blue when nighttime arrived. Even the thick brown roots that emerged from the ground here and there played a role. They were part of a network of rhizomes that channeled the absorbed radiation to the city’s power plant.
There were more strange plants and machines that Gerald did not know about in the city, but when they arrived in front of the Space Academy, he smiled. He knew he’d have all his answers soon.
Year 2189: Space Academy
Gerald sat in a lecture hall reading an article on the exploration of space. He was uninterested in the astrological gibberish the instructor sprouted. It had been two years since he got here, yet he still wondered why a school that taught about the inner workings of neutron stars and the infinite size of the universe would teach Astrology. There was nothing spiritual to big burning balls of gases that floated in space.
He shook his head and eyed the blonde girl beside him; Aurora paid a keen interest to the lecturer’s words. She scribbled everything on her holographic tablet as he talked about Zodiac signs and constellations. Feeling his gaze, she turned to meet it.
She gestured to Gerald to pay attention, but he just rolled his eyes and focused on his article. The lecture soon ended, and Gerald exited the hall.
“Hey Gerald, wait up,” Aurora bellowed, but Gerald continued to walk. Not to be defeated, she ran over and intercepted his path.
“Yes, Aurora. Can I help you?” Gerald offered a fake smile.
“No, but I can help you.” She poked his chest and smiled like she had found a new toy. Gerald raised an eyebrow, curious about how someone who believed the sun determined her love life could help him.
Aurora folded her arms and circled him, studying him. She continued, “ You don’t think Astrology is real science, do you?” Gerald shrugged. It was just a load of bull to him. There was much to learn about the infinite universe, but his time wasn’t endless. Yet, he had to spend an hour every day listening to crazy people who thought the universe had some grand plan.
“Well, That’s why I’m here. To prove to you the universe has a way of connecting us. We are all made of stardust, you know?” Aurora chorused, her eyes lit up in reverence to some unseen force.
“I know that the atoms in my body came from stars.” Gerald quipped. She was free to believe in whatever mystical force was out there; he knew the truth, and that was enough. She pouted at his response and glared at him with her blue eyes. Eyes he just noticed were beautiful. “Let’s put that to the test then.” She asked, sensing his lack of interest.
“If I can accurately guess your Zodiac sign, you’ll have to start treating Astrology like a real science.” Heavy laughter emerged from Gerald’s mouth, “Sure,” He managed to say.
“I’m not done yet.” She blushed a little and looked away.“ You’ll also have to take me out on a date,” Gerald’s eyes widened with surprise. A smile crept upon his face; She was bold. He liked bold. He nodded his head.
“And if you’re wrong?” He inquired as his eyes studied her figure.
“ I won’t be.” Her eyes twinkled, and she began in earnest.
“Hmm, let’s see now.” She squinted and circled him. “You’re free-spirited: You probably have a love for exploration.” Gerald rolled his eyes. Of course, he did. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be here.
“ You’re philosophical. You like to think deeply. You refuse to believe anything unless you’ve questioned it and found the answers you seek.” Gerald got bored of just staring, so he decided to play along. His eyes widened, and Aurora gave a smug smile, thinking she saw through him. She pressed on.
“ You think you’re better than most. You’re prideful, and you don’t try to hide it.” She stopped circling him and closed the distance between them.
“ You are a Saggitarius.” She said triumphantly, grinning from ear to ear as she poked her delicate finger at his chest. Gerald’s mouth went agape. Then he sighed.
“ I guess now I have to take astrology seriously?.” Aurora jumped in victory
“ And I also owe you a date, sometime?”
“ Not sometime.” She shook her head and grabbed his arm. “Now”
“We’re both fire signs, which makes us compatible. So, what’s the wait?” She said and led him away. She was wrong. He was a Cancer.
Year 2199: Starlight Voyager
Gerald walked into the large recreational room on the ship. The smart room was configurable, and Aurora had configured it to serve as a ballroom. The light gently alternated between cool colors and slow music played in the background. She was dressed in a flowing black gown with diamonds embedded in them, mirroring space and the stars they held. They twinkled as she swayed to the gentle rhythm of music. And like a black hole, Gerald was pulled towards her.
“I’ve always loved that gown.” He kissed her. The kiss was a long one, a desperate one. as if she would slip away. Like he feared the moment would pass and forever be irrecoverable. He finally let go of her lips, but held on to her.
“So what’s the occasion?” He said, studying the room. There were decorations and a table that held a cake, a party horn, and a plate. A single plate
“You don’t know? ” Aurora shook her head, and Gerald gave a wry smile. She pouted and picked up a party horn and blew it.
“ Happy tenth anniversary! Or it would have been–”
“Oh, It’s our Anniversary! Happy anniversary, Aurora. Cheers to more of us.” Gerald hugged her and spun her around.
“ You dummy,” Aurora quieted, but her smile remained. She rested against his chest, and they swayed with the music. Silence stood with them as they savored the moment. Gerald snapped his fingers, and a view of the stars appeared. Aurora eyed the stars intently, trying to find her place among them.
“Gerald Smith.” She said softly. Gerald felt a tinge in his heart,
“ You only call my full name when you’re angry or hungry. Which is it?”
“Both.” They chuckled and stood silently. The smile on her lips disappeared, and she turned her gaze towards him. He met her gaze, but her eyes were distant. There was a longing in it; to be somewhere.
“I love you, Gerald,” She said.
“I know that Aurora, C’mon, tell me something I don’t already know,” Gerald whispered and kissed her forehead.
“ You need to let me go, Gerald.”
Year 2192: Space Academy.
“ And there’s the Great bear,” Aurora said, pointing at some group of stars. Somehow, they had managed to sneak a large telescope to the roof of the building. The city’s protective dome became completely transparent during the designated nighttime, affording them a view of the stars. The stargazing on the moon offered an entirely new perspective. It had become one of Aurora’s favourite things to do. Staring at the stars was also a welcomed retreat for Gerald. At least, the ones that found refuge in Aurora’s eyes.
“You’re not looking.” She said
“Oh, I am.” His eyes remained fixed on hers. Despite his initial dislike of Aurora, She had managed to carve her space in his heart. She chuckled and adjusted the telescope to another group of stars in the sky. They all looked the same to Gerald. He wondered how she could tell them apart.
“Now look.” She pulled his face towards the telescope. Reluctantly, he pried his eyes away from hers and found a group of stars he knew.
“I know that one. It’s Andromeda and Perseus.” He said with a slight excitement.
“Looks like someone’s been paying attention in class,” Aurora snickered.
“It’s hard not to when the teacher looks like this.” His hands traced her image. Aurora’s cheeks burned red. “Besides, all you talk about is the stars and how they determine my dislike for potatoes. Which obviously makes no sense.”
“Unfortunately, you’re stuck with my nonsense.” She showed her tongue to him.
“Fortunately for me, I have learned to block out the words and just listen to your rather charming voice.” Gerald let go of the telescope and tried to hug her, but he was pushed away.
“You’re not done just yet. How did they get up there? ” She smiled sheepishly. It took Gerald a while to understand what she meant.
“You do realize that’s rubbish, right?”
“Humour me, my dear.” Aurora winked.
“Fine.”He sighed and began to tell a tale Aurora had sung so many times
“Well. Andromeda was the most beautiful woman–”
“More beautiful than me?” Aurora inquired.
Gerald sighed. “I’m the one telling the story here. Don’t interrupt or question me.” Aurora placed her hand on her chest and feigned pained.
“But you weren’t born yet, so she held the title.” Gerald patted her head, and her smile returned.
“One day, a monster threatened to destroy her kingdom, and her father, the king, thought it’d be a nice idea to sacrifice his daughter to the monster to save his kingdom. Perseus, returning from having slayed Medusa, saw that the monster was about to eat her. He killed the beast, and then the two lived happily ever after. Now, their love is forever etched into the stars.”
“10 points for you, Gerald.” Aurora hugged him. She let go of him, laid down on the roof, and stared into the emptiness of space. Gerald joined her, and they stared at the stars unaided. She turned to him.
“If a monster ever came for me, would you fight for me?” Aurora said with an uncharacteristic seriousness.
“Monsters don’t exist, Aurora.” Aurora rolled her eyes at his response. She turned her back to him.
“ But, if they did, I would. Even though I’ll probably get eaten.” Although she didn’t turn around, Gerald knew she smiled, satisfied by his answer.
She stretched out her hands and reached for the stars, holding them in her hands, she said, “It’ll be nice to be immortalized among them.”
Year 2192: Space Academy.
“How long?” Gerald’s voice trembled. He rushed to the hospital immediately after he received the news that Aurora had collapsed. He was in no way prepared for the shocking news he received.
“2 months.” Aurora was dying. Cancer. The advancements in science allowed them to travel through solar systems, but they also increased exposure to Cosmic Radiation.
“Why didn’t you say anything, Aurora?” Gerald yelled as tears threatened to flow down his eyes.
Aurora took his hands and forced a smile. “It was already too late when I found out. I didn’t tell you because I wanted to spend my remaining time with the Gerald, who looked at me with love, not pity. I didn’t want him to hate himself for being powerless.”
“It’s okay, Gerald.” She cupped his hands and wiped the tears that flowed.
“I’ve lived my life. It was fun, and I thank the stars you came into my life, Gerald…” Tears fell from her eyes, but she quickly wiped them.
“ It’s now my turn to go. It’ll be my Supernova. I’ll go out with a bang.” She spread her arms, demonstrating an explosion, and he forced himself to smile
“Besides, I’ll still be with you. In here.” She poked at his heart. “And in this thick head of yours.” She knocked his head, and he chuckled.
“From stardust we came, to stardust we’d return.”
Year 2198: Starlight Voyager
The Starlight voyager had arrived at its destination: The Altar and Vega constellation. Gerald found it to be a suitable place for a farewell. He switched the ship to standby mode and exited the cockpit. Making his way to the ship’s airlock, he held an urn in his hand.
He stepped through the first door of the airlock and locked it tight behind him.
“You picked a nice spot.” Aurora smiled. Gerald tried to voice a reply but failed, so he nodded. Tethering himself, he made slow steps to the second door. He took a deep breath, and his hand reached for the open button. His hand stopped. It quivered and became lead.
“I can’t.” He voiced feebly. Aurora placed her hand on his, and he felt her warmth. Real warmth. She nodded and smiled more brightly than any star could, and his hand gained strength.
He pushed the eject button, and they floated in space. The urn’s lid slowly came undone, and stardust emerged. The stars twinkled, welcoming their own. Aurora had taken her place in the cosmos.
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