To Escape Grief
Back when the ship was still considered the pinnacle of space travel technology, Shuttle AE-912681 was dubbed the Imperza by its the original crew and captain, after his beloved ex-wife. Now, the Cajaran made shuttle traveled a dry ten-month route from the boonies of the Lond solar system, to the bustling hub of Nol's capital, occasionally making a stop on Zental and Ceis if chance allowed. Their route was so remote and obscure, that the large passenger ship was usually empty, and this trip followed a similar trend. Save for the crew and five passengers from Granda, the ship was unoccupied, making Liva's job as a hostess incredibly easy and horribly boring.
She had accompanied the Imperza four times on its long-suffering Journey, attending to a variety of passengers. Mainly young intellectuals from Granda hoping to gain deep knowledge by wandering the galaxy, some gluttons from Frild searching for their next delicacy, and once, a reserved and quiet Dargian. There were never any passengers going from Central to Lond, at least not on the Imperza. Anyone traveling from the galaxy's hub of power to Lond would be wealthy enough to own a private vessel, or to afford the popular cruise shuttles with live performances, large private suits, and silver-plated food. The Imperza could only offer its passengers patchy sheets, stale bread, watery soup, and a communal holo-screen by a bar that served cheap alcohol.
Over the long years traveling on the Imperza, Liva had grown weary and tired ancient ship’s drag, its loose panels, peeled paint, uncontrollable temperature fluctuations, faulty gravity modulator, and the incessant whining noise from its bowels that seemed to constantly weep in mourning of its former glory. She was fond of the crew, and captain that had welcomed her when she was young, broken, and had nowhere to go, but now she felt an itch in her heart that signaled she had lingered too long. The air of the ship had become stale, and frustration clogged her throat and dimmed her sight. Her depression was so severe that even the Captain's announcement that they would be making a rare stop on Ceis hardly lifted her spirits.
In the month leading up to docking on Ceis' Moon, where its Intergalactic Travel Station was located, the meager population of the Imperza was abuzz with barley constrained excitement. Although no one actually expected to receive a passenger from Ceis, the mere thought of being in the proximity of one of the galaxy's most mysterious planet was enough to make the dull ship pulse with unusual life. It was no surprise though, that when the captain later announced that they would indeed be receiving a native of the enigmatic planet, the mood slowly shifted. The passengers who had been chatting excitedly about the observations and sketches they would make, while getting drunk at the bar, soon fell into hushed whispers; looking over their shoulders as though some invisible being were listening in on their conversations. Even the crew had grown tense, jumping at the smallest sounds. Liva, still in the grips of her depressive state, felt a silent terror. None of them had ever encountered a Ceisite, but the rumors of their wise and peaceful natures, went hand in hand with those that spoke of infinite lifespans, and powers that could unravel the universe.
When it was time to welcome the passenger, Liva's skin crawled, and her breath came out in short gasps as she began opening the shuttle's door. With each completed unlock sequence, panic filled her lungs, rising to a climax when the door finally opened to reveal the Ceisite. Her eyes were downcast, but slowly, being urged by foreign boldness, she raised them and beheld the being before her. When she saw him, it wasn't fear that made her tremble, it was shock. The shock of her senses being awakened. White light assaulted her eyes, heightening the purity of the colors around her, crisp air was forced into her body, and the lethargic depression that had been an ache in her soul was enhanced to a crippling pain.
In the presence of the Ceisite, every potent memory she had ever felt was brought to recollection: Her fourteenth birthday, when her mother bought her the young inventors kit she'd been longing for, but they could never afford. When she got accepted into the Cajaran college of space engineering. When she got married, too young, and the five years of bliss she enjoyed before her greatest love died in a shuttle accident. When she was held by her mother as her swollen belly deflated, releasing her only remaining connection to her lost love into the all-consuming universe that always wanted more. When her mother died, and in resignation was buried along with any false hope Liva had for future happiness, in the cold ground of a planet she’d tried hard to forget.
She stood frozen, emotions rolled through her, crashing against her heart, forcing her to confront them, forcing her to feel. The Ceisite, Aleion, watched her patiently, silently observing with his featureless face as more emotions, and revelations passed through the woman.
With another wave, Liva understood. She was not tired of the Imperza, and its drag, noise, ancient smell, watery soup, stale bread or its comfort, its warmth, and its accepting crew. She was terrified of them, because they too could soon be taken away, and she would be alone and even more broken. But here before her, was a being that was infinite, and in him she found salvation; knowing that she and everything she’d ever known would die long before he ever tasted the bitter poison of age. He alone would never abandon her to time.
So, after its exhausting journey, the ship landed at Galactic central to deposit its five passengers, and Liva left the Imperza with Aleion.