Day 81, evening
The sense of anticipation inside the First Inn was palpable as most of the colony crowded into Hanna’s new digs waiting for the new arrivals. Not that it was all that crowded, what with the rebuild and all – JJ and John had seen to that. The feeling in the room was mostly excitement, but there was a definite, if small, undercurrent of…let’s call it ‘resentment waiting to happen.’ We all feel a real sense of belonging and pride in Liberty, and some of the more narrow-minded among us (you know who I’m talking about) seem to have twisted that pride into the sort of xenophobia that I would have hoped we had left behind. Me, I was just excited to meet the newcomers to our little modern day Wild West. When you’re 49 light years away from Earth it isn’t every day you get to meet new people.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but as the new arrivals streamed in it was almost like a family reunion. Everyone was hugging, shaking hands, clapping strangers on the back like old friends. It was a truly amazing display of humanity’s better angels coming out to play. As Kara put it later in the evening, “It was as if, just for a little while, everyone forgot about suspicion and distrust and just let the best of what people can be shine through.”
Then, as the last of them came through the doors I saw a face I never dared hope I would see again. Gabriel Benjamin, my big (huge, actually) little brother, strode through the entryway, half filling even the newly built double doors. And right behind him, though they didn’t tower over the crowd, came my two other favorite people in the ‘verse.
“Oh my God! Gabe! Kat, Chavez! I don’t believe it!” I started forward just as Sinopa saw her younger brother, Chavez. His real name was Okanai, but he reminded everyone in the rebellion so much of the character from Young Guns (we loved watching the old classic westerns and action movies) that the name stuck. Sinopa is pretty much the only person that calls him by his real name anymore.
“Okanai!” she shouted just as the girls blew by us, barreling towards their uncle and the two other people (besides Sinopa and I) they consider family. That was a sight for sore eyes. Jai looked almost heartbreakingly happy. I haven’t seen a smile that big or that real on her since she was nine. She hurled herself the last five feet through the air, meeting the biggest bear hug this side of the galaxy. The twins arrived a couple seconds later, just in time for Gabe to scoop them up along with their big sister. They looked like just about the four happiest people in the universe just then.
I waded through the crowd, grinning like a fool. My big little brother. I still can’t believe he’s here. As I reached him he slowly stood and grasped my shoulders for a second before we lunged in and hugged, squeezing each other and laughing. Then it was hugs all around, the crew back together again. And the evening was only just getting started.