Jules murmured into my ear, “Dear, time to get up now…” I felt woozy as I rose from the cryo chamber. Almost four years had passed, but he said it was the equivalent of nearly a month for us. I said to Jules, “You need a shower, darling. And a shave. And a haircut.” With a chuckle, I added, “And I need a manicure!” So on that happy note, we emerged from our cocoon.
My mind was groggy, but racing. First, Jules seemed fine so his ticker must be none the worse from the nap. Aside from our having sea legs, I basically felt allright too. What about JJ, Linda, and the girls? How soon til we’ll reach Alchibah? Then what?!
“Let’s find the kids and go to the lounge. Maybe they’ll let me tend bar again. You know, that’s a job I’d like to keep.” Sure ’nough, there was JJ. Giving me a warm hug, he said, “Linda’s in seventh heaven. She linked up with Mariana Stuart and they’re gonna get a lab going. Ran off to have a look see. They’ll get Emily up shortly, but wait a bit longer for Liza and Karyn. Dad, Mom, have you met Tim, and Jack, and Marty.”
Soon Jules and Hist were in deep discussion. Jules talked about wanting to teach, really teach. Not the jaded facts and theories spewed by the UNWG. Maybe a one-room school house in combo with distance learning - the old with the new. Build from both. Maybe have Liza as teacher-in-training. And he thought to himself, “need time with Hanna, too. That’s what our retirement was supposed to be all about. Time together.”
I felt a surge of emotion in seeing the colonists again, like a mother hen. Glenda came over, “You seem like such a natural. How about being our permanent barkeep?” A far cry from dealing with the facts and figures of population control, to serve the populus itself. “Sure!” I replied. “I’d love to run the First Inn. I’ll have a lounge and gaust haus where everyone could come — to hang their hat, quench their thirst, and down home visit. The guys, they need food and grog, not just guns and equipment. All of us, need a place to come to.” Janie said, “That’s for darn sure.”
As I stood up, I nearly careened into a 6½ foot mass of metal. A tin man. “Oh my gosh. Excuse me.” Do I talk to a bot or not? “Pardon me, ’mam or sir. I am R.-J.P. You may call me Jeep.” Flustered, I turned to JJ and said, “What’s that all about?” He said, “We’ll each get one. Most of them are named after sci-fi authors. This one is Bart’s, and named after Jerry Pournelle, a co-writer with Larry Niven. You can dub yours whatever you choose.” “Who would have thought that the sci-fi Jules read, we would live out in real life!” Silently, I thought, “Oh my Lord, be with us in this journey into the unknown…..”
As I gazed into my wine glass, Dave Webber and Sally Kellerman came over. Dave’s an Electronics Technician with Communications experience, and Sally’s an RN who managed Emergency Room Co-ordinations. Dave said he needed JJ to set up protocols for a Communications Center.
“I know how to build a Comm. Center” Dave said “and Sally knows how to run one, but neither of us knows how to design and implement a whole new set of protocols. We’re going to have to communicate with exploration teams, new settlements, and who knows what. All of that data has to get funneled to Mariana and Linda in a cohesive manner or somebody’s gonna die for no good reason!”
JJ nodded and said, “I can handle that!” The plans began in earnest.
“Emily’s waking up” Dr. Kellerman announced. JJ interrupted his discussion, and I quickly offered, “Let me take care of Emily.” ”Thanks Mom.”
I sat alone in the cryo room. Emily was restless as she began awakening, with deep furrows across her forehead. I recalled waking up more serenely; having Jules at my side, I’d been glad to emerge from deep sleep. I whispered, “Emily, honey. It’s Grandma.” She half raised her eyelids, startled and confused. Softly, I reassuringly said, “Emily, everything’s okay. Don’t be afraid. Mom and Dad are just down the hall. We’re all okay, and so are you.” “Oh Granny,” she cried, “What am I going to do? I’m pregnant!”