“So are you going to Observation Night, Munji?” she asked.

“Ugh,” was all the tall dark-haired scientist could manage. He had both hands in a tub of viscous fluid. Tracy couldn’t tell if he was reacting to her or the fluid.

“Is that no?” she wrinkled her nose.

He pulled out his hands, thankfully revealing gloves and began to rinse them off. “I don’t know,” he sighed. “It just seems like a cruise ship sort of thing to do. I wouldn’t have done something like that back on Earth. Why change?”

Tracy shrugged. “I think it’s nice. Our first chance to all get together and see the star we’re headed to.”

“Our descendants. Our long distant descendants are headed to. We’ll be recycled a million times over by then,” he corrected, taking off his gloves and starting to put away his tools.

Tracy took a seat up on one of the counters across from him and watched him work. She giggled, “Yeah OK. But you make my point. We’ll be part fo them sort of. It’s the whole reason we’re here.”

Munji paused. “It’s true. I wouldn’t have signed up for this one way trip to the grave in space if I didn’t believe in it. But I can go look at the stars anytime. The trains run several times a day you know. And then I can stop at the park along the way. Take it at my own pace instead of on somebody else’s schedule.”

“I don’t like the park. There’s a bear there. Why’d they put a bear in the park? Anyway you wouldn’t be looking at the stars alone this time. That’s the point! Imagine if all 10,000 people on the Primavera show up! It might be the only time we all stand together as one. Certainly the first time. We’re the founders of a new society Munji. Don’t you want to feel a part of that?”

Munji finished putting away the last of his things. “I feel a part of that every day. Besides, won’t it throw the ship out of balance if we all stand in one place?”

She knew he was kidding. “Oh please. Even if we all crowd together and jump up and down at the same time, it might register as a seismic event ont he Bridge but it wouldn’t do anything to this ships course and trajectory. You know how much non-human matter there is in this behemoth. What about that?” she pointed at the tub of fluid.

Munji made an ‘oh right’ face and picked up the tub to put it in a storage compartment. “Thanks. That would have spoiled and I’d have lost a day of work.”

“So thank me by taking me to Observation night,” she grinned.

Munji shrugged. “Fine. For one night I’ll surrender myself to the plans of the most gigantic cruise ship int he known universe. It will be fun to see it along with everyone who’s fathering this future race. Who knows if they’ll ven be humans still by the time they get there.”

Tracy slipped her hand in Munji’s as they left the Lab.

Some time later

Trella sat on the edge of the metal road on the boarded of the north Wildlands. Everyone told her she was nuts to venture out there alone. All manner of wild animals and mutants roamed the wildlands from North to South. Many people had been injured or killed there. But she couldn’t help herself. Those people had ventured into the wildlands. She just sat on the edge. She loved climbing the metal road where it rose in the air like a bridge over nothing. And nothing could get up there to get her without her seeing ti coming far away.

And the real treat was getting to see the skyline of Fisher Heights. The abandoned city stood on top of the highest point in the wildlands, separating north from south. She longed to visit there, but she wasn’t headstrong enough to go there alone. That would truly be dangerous. But someday. Somehow, she’d find someone as intrigued as her and they’d venture in to find the secrets. Some folks talked that the abandoned tunnels under her hometown of Vash somehow connected to Fisher Heights. Agains, not something you wanted to investigate on your own and without proper defenses.

“Excuse me,” a voice said shocking her so much she almost fell off the bridge. “Is this the way to Vash? I’m headed for the Hope Night festivities.”

Trella was on her feet almost screaming. “How in god’s glass did you sneak up on me like that!”

The man looked suddenly very embarrassed. “I’m so sorry. You were so lost in thought, I should have realized. My apologies Lady.” The man gave a bow of formality. Trella finally noticed he wore a white coat and the braids of a Captain’s Man.

“You’re a priest! Are you from Thelb?” her eyes widened. Vash had priests but they were all from Vash, ordained in the far away priest’s city of Thelb, and returned home to serve. A visit from a real priest of Thelb was a rarity. And this one had braids which meant he was in the Captain’s service! A high-ranking priest indeed.

“From Bridgeton actually,” he stammered. “I was ordained in Thelab though, of course. I’ve been there many times. The train still runs there.”

She noticed he pronounced Thelb funny with an extra syllable at the end. She tried to rememebr that so she could say it right and impress people in the future. Who it would impress, she hadn’t thought through.

“Pardon my manners,” she returned his bow of formality and held her head down waiting for him to say the words to release her.

“It’s OK. I’m not very good at being a priest. They warned me about that when I got them to let me travel here. Told me I was foolish and likely get killed. Um, so you can look at me again.”

Trella slowly looked up. He was an odd priest. She risked a question since he didn’t seem to follow the usual priestly rules. “Did you say you actually saw a train? A real train? Did it really run underground?”

He laughed a little. “Not only saw it but got inside and rode in it. A few times actually. But it’s all overland on that route. No tunnels for me. I wasn’t ill.”

She didn’t know what to make of this last bit but didn’t want to appear ignorant, so laughed at what she hoped was some kind of jest.

“I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to startle you. But I hope to get to Vash before dimming. It is Hope Night, yes?”

She nodded. “Yes, you’re just in time. Dimmings not for a few rotations yet, and we’re less than a half rotation from Vash. I live there. I should probably be getting back anyway. I can show you the way if you like?”

“I’d like that very much,” the priest smiled. “I was hoping not to have to view Hope Night alone,” he ventured.

She looked at him again. Was he asking her? “well nobody ever views Hope Night alone. That’s the whole point. We gather to give the hope point our energy so that it grows bigger. But I’d be happy to accompany you there too,” she got nervous and almost whispered, “if you wish.”

The priest just nodded as they began the walk to Vash.