I was in the cryo room with Emily, as she raised herself shakily, overwhelmed with the situation. I held her. “Dearie, we’ll just take it one day at a time, and all of us will be at your side.”
Slowly, she said “Grandma, we had it all planned. At my 17th birthday party, Jace and I were going to announce that we’d been secretly married.” “I remember Jace from the barbeque. I liked him, and he took time to speak with your ol’ granny! That was nice.”
“Jace’s dad got suddenly transferred to Australia. So instead of waiting a couple years and being separated, we just upped our plan. Then everything happened so fast. I’m pregnant, and worlds apart from him …….. Will I ever see him again?”
“Well, what do you want to do first, Emily?”
“I want to talk to Mom and Dad as soon as possible.”
“I think your Dad’s in the Communications Center. I’m not sure about Linda, but I’m sure she’s nearby. And for some privacy, you could meet back at the family cabin.”
“Good idea, Gran. I’ll track down Dad, and would you please find Mother.” Emily went to the Comm Center and found JJ. “Hi Dad.”
“Hi Honey. What’s up?”
”I have a problem, er …situation, and want to talk it over with you and Mom. Could we go to the cabin? Gran is asking mom to go there too.” Affectionately JJ put his arm around Emily, and they strolled down the corridor.
In the meanwhile, I went to the lounge and saw Linda. “Hi,” she said.
“Do you have time for a cup of coffee?”
“Sure, especially for you, Mom.” I always warmed when JJ’s wife called me ‘mom’. She quickly began, “My head’s swimming. … Finally, I get a chance to actually run a lab and I get to do it my way. All Mariana is interested in is results and as she says ‘Forget any political crap, there’s no government yet!’ So pulling all stops, we’re off and running. What a challenge, and opportunity - no rules, no boundaries!”
“Now Mom, what about you”
I was still numb from Emily’s announcement of her marriage and pregnancy. How could I help prepare Linda, and my son, for yet another new dimension to life? How could I ease into it?
Stalling a bit, I started off on another tangent, “Well, I’ve got myself a new career – I’ll be running the lounge and diner! Right now, I’ve more questions than answers. I’m trying to imagine it all: floor plan; furniture and hard goods; supplies: current and how to replenish; barter system. Hmmm, I’ll have to come up with a good name for my robot staff too. All I know for sure is that I don’t want a leaky roof, the ice to run dry, or to run out of toilet paper. But, how to begin?”
Linda stared at the roof, “Well, I could ask Dave. He’s great at putting things in place! You should see how he has the whole Lab in racks, and ready to go down to the planet, but still running where they’re at. He has nothing to do at the moment, and says he needs “Mr. Dr. Stuart”, whatever that means?
Hanna laughed, “It means, my dear, that you have a great deal to learn about our resident Commando Couple. Capt. Travis told me about the portion of their classified files that Mr. Hamilton obtained. You may be surprised, as will many other people. Let’s just say that they live by the phrase ‘Those who can, Do!’ to the max.”
Linda laughed, leaned forward and gave her mother-in-law a quick peck on the cheek. “Right Mom, but gotta run to the Lab, check on a few things, and then be back to finish that coffee.” And she was off before I could tell her of the real priority.
Entering the Lab, Linda was able to hear the end of a conversation between Dave and Andy.
“Don’t beat yourself up, Dave. You’ve done great here, there is just no common protocol in this marvelous lash-up you built. The fun part is that it will only take me about 2 hours (Earth) to have this thing up and humming. So find yourself something constructive to do!”
Dave just shook his head, “I was so sure I had done something wrong!”
Andy laughed, “Wrong, are you kidding? This place is one step short of a miracle, now go; I really do have to think to do this.”
As he turned away, Linda saw her chance! “Dave, Mom’s got a problem about how to ship the consumables down to the planet. Think you can give her a hand?
He looked puzzled, “Like what do you mean?”
Linda was surprised at his genuine confusion, “You know like bottles, frozen goods, refrigerated foods, fragile containers and bulk stuff like TP.”
He slapped his forehead, “Oh yeah, there are about a zillion empty ore containers that I can rack up and pad in a couple of hours. I’ll find somebody that has a robot up and get them toted to your Mom’s place by lunch!”
“Great,” she grinned, “ask Bartlett, it will get his mind off Janie for at least 10 Min.”
Dave Looked Confused Again!
“Never mind,” Linda laughed, “just go solve Mom’s problem!”
She turned and asked, “How are things going, Andy?
He grinned, “A whole lot easier than it’s going to go when you and Mariana breech your pet plan to get DNA samples from everyone before we land!”
Linda grimaced, “I know, but we really do need that database. Good grief, that’s going to be one hard sell! But if you don’t mind, let me tell Hanna that Dave can handle the transport problem.”
Returning to her cold cup of coffee, Linda said, “Mom, good news! Just spoke with Dave Webber and he said he could organize it all for you. He’ll stagger, if you pardon the term, the stores. Leave enough here as things wind down, another for commodities waiting, and a third segment for start up.
“That’s great, Linda. Thanks! Sure takes a load off my mind. Now I can organize this lounge, the Last Stop, here on board, and the First Inn on planet!”
“On another note though, Linda, there’s something else. Emily’s troubled. We abruptly yanked her out of her life, away from her friends, without warning. She needs your ear, yours and JJ’s.” Linda listened attentively as I continued, “Emily and Junior are back in the cabin, waiting to talk with you…… I’ll keep an eye on Karyn before she hides again!”
Linda turned to leave. Would our trust be breached? Then she turned around, gave me a hug, and said, “Thanks, Mom. We’re family. We’ll do fine, whatever the problem is. Together. ‘love you.” And, head held high, Linda went …..