The massive form of Xinju now filled most of the window as Laura looked out through Janicka’s eyes.
“Isn’t it incredible?” Kenneth asked.
“Yes, it is,” she replied. “Where do you think we’ll settle?”
“Wherever the Ark ship set up their colony I suppose. I hope we’ll get to stay a little out of the town though. It looks like such an un-spoilt world from orbit. I think I’d like to take advantage of that. I had enough of city living back on Earth.”
Laura knew that Kenneth was going to be in for a big disappointment, but couldn’t tell him so.
“Well, I don’t really care what part of the planet we end up on, I just want to make sure that I’m nice and close to you.”
Kenneth grinned. “You will be Janicka.” He placed his arm around her.
Suddenly everyone looked up as the intercom sounded.
“This is the Captain speaking. We are about to enter orbit of the planet Xinju. Our first order of business will be to make contact with the Endeavour’s colony. We’ll let them know that we’ve arrived, and request instructions on how they wish us to proceed. This is their colony and we’re just new arrivals, so the next step will be determined by them, but I can promise you that we’ll get this ship on the ground as soon as possible so that you can get out of these close quarters. You have all been patient and I appreciate it very much. Not long now folks, your new life is about to begin.”
The Phoenix must have been a much smaller vessel than the Endeavour since the captain had indicated that it was able to land on the surface. Laura wondered how the Captain would react when he found nobody down on the planet.
“I can’t wait to get out there,” Kenneth’s face beamed.
Suddenly Laura felt very faint. Without warning, her legs began to buckle underneath her. This was not like before, when Janicka had turned off the necklace device – that had been more of a disconnection between herself and Janicka’s body.
As she hit the hard floor she vaguely heard Kenneth’s voice calling “Janicka!”
* * *
Neal woke early. The sun was shining through the windows of the boat. The fire had gone out while they’d slept but Neal felt much warmer. He felt Laura and she seemed to have warmed up as well. Once again he checked her pulse and her breathing. Both were normal. Neal shook her gently.
As expected, there was no reply.
Neal stood and hunted around in their bag for something to eat. If he was going to carry Laura all the way back to Moreau Town then he was going to need his strength. The trip would take hours. He quickly downed a ration bar and shoved another in his pocket. He would leave all of their supplies here in the boat. He could carry Laura but nothing else at the same time.
It was shaping up to be a dry warm day. That was good. Neal could only hope, with all his desperation, that the doctor could do something to help Laura when they got there. All his hopes were pinned on that.
He pulled the door open, then picked up Laura’s limp form and carried her outside.
Neal kissed her gently on the forehead and then started off, walking alongside the bank of the Euphrates River, back toward home.
* * *
When Laura came to, she was lying on her back in what appeared to be a medical bay. Her legs were elevated slightly. A quick glance down at her clothing confirmed that she was still in Janicka Bauer’s body.
“How are you feeling?” a gentle male voice asked. She looked over to see a doctor standing on her left side.
“Um, okay I guess.”
“Good, good. You just fainted that’s all. Your friend brought you straight in. He was pretty worried about you.”
“Can I see him?”
“In a minute. I’m just looking over your obs. Everything seems okay.”
“Why did I faint?”
“To be honest, I’d say it’s just a side effect of your prolonged time in stasis, added to the strain waking up to a ship full of people, with nowhere decent to rest. Did you eat anything yesterday?”
“Yes. I had a meal in the mess hall.”
“Good. Well try to take it easy but I think you should be fine. Now I’ll go tell your friend that you’re awake. You just rest there okay?”
Laura felt her head nod.
A few minutes passed and then she heard Kenneth’s excitable voice as he breezed into the room.
“Janicka, are you okay?”
“Relax Kenneth, I’m fine.”
“That’s a relief. What was that all about? You just collapsed. You really scared me.”
“The doctor said it’s nothing. Just my body getting used to being awake again after our trip from Earth.”
“Well I hope that’s all it is.” He looked down at her necklace. “You sure it isn’t that thing?”
She took hold of it. “This? No, the doctor didn’t say anything about it.”
“It’s just that,” Kenneth hesitated, clearly looking for words. “Look I just don’t like you wearing it okay. It’s a very new technology and it worries me.”
“But it’s important Kenneth. This is a crucial time in human history. I’m doing this for future generations.”
“But is it worth risking your safety over?”
Janicka laughed. “I’m not risking my safety Kenneth.
He sighed in resignation. “Have it your way.”
She slowly sat up in her bed. “So how do you know so much about this anyway?”
“My company invested a little money into the research that led to its invention.”
“I thought you built boats.”
“I did, that was my main business. Some finance gurus convinced me that technology would be a good investment. It was purely a sponsorship deal. I kinda regret it now though.”
“Don’t. I’m glad you helped. Our grandchildren will thank us for this.”
Kenneth smiled. “Oh, so we’re gonna have grandkids are we? I’d think we better start on kids of our own first don’t you think.”
Janicka smiled shyly. Here we go again, Laura thought to herself. “I didn’t mean us specifically, I meant the future generations of humanity.”
“Now isn’t that a pity.”
“Don’t worry,” she winked at him. “I’m not ruling anything out with you.”
Give me a break, Laura thought.