We were in line to board the Lancer when the sirens went off. Me and Jules, with Junior and Linda and their girls. About 20 people were ahead of us, with more than double that behind. Suddenly the StelCo agents yelled, “Everyone board now!”
Emily and Liza realized immediately that this was not the family outing they’d expected. Glimmers of panic and teenage rebellion quickly flashed across their faces. Jules and JJ each grabbed one of their hands, and a moment later they were safely swallowed up through the entry. Linda and I got separated. A tall burly guy with a rucksack had barged between us. The weight of his pack knocked me off balance, and little Karyn eluded my frantic grasp. I knew the surge into the ship would propel her forward, so I shouted, “Karyn, hide.”
I was lifted by someone’s strong arms, and carried with the momentum of the crowd flooding into the ship. I heard the ruckus outside, yelling and gunfire, and prayed for our safe departure. Then the hatch closed. We all breathed a deep sigh of relief. I tried to orient myself, searching for a familiar face.
I was nearly certain that my family had made it inside, but now to find them, especially Karyn. My right ankle was throbbing. I must have twisted it quite badly. Again, the same arms steadied me as I limped forward. I turned to my rescuer, “Thanks, my name’s Hanna. I sure appreciate your help.” “No problem, lady” he said as he quickly moved on. I wished that I’d caught his name.
Then from the wall-vid, came the news about R.J. Hamilton’s death. I couldn’t believe it! I was in shock. It must be a ruse; surely RJ used it as a decoy for an earlier exit. He just has to be alive!
Suddenly the first jolt hit. I had to find my family — right now. One of the men saw my increasing anxiety and pain etched on my face, and yelled, “Medic.” Sure enough, word spread, and that’s all it took to find my daughter-in-law Linda. She ran towards me with her first aid supplies; close on her heels was JJ. While she deftly examined my ankle, I asked about the others, and told her I’d instructed Karyn to hide. She assured me that Jules, Emily, and Liza were safe.
Junior organized a search with a few of the other colonists to look for Karyn. Being only three years old, it was entirely possible that she had nestled into some corner, got comfy, and nodded off to sleep. Even the jolts wouldn’t be too alarming to her, as she’d ridden out a couple earthquakes.
Everyone was helpful. The colonists got to know our family, even though their faces were a blur to us. Finally, from one of the berths came a tiny plaintive cry “Momma?” The search was over. Safely behind a stack of towels and pillows was our Karyn.
…..and then my dear Jules brought a glass of velvety red wine to me. Salute! We’re off…