Being in space, it was a constant night, which threw Meg off. Montressor orbited near the sun and there was night and day. Meg kept a clock in her quarters that was set to Montressor time and also displayed the tarehe so Meg would be able to keep track of the days.
The first night on the Legacy, Meg had trouble sleeping. She wasn't sure why, but nonetheless she found herself wandering the ship's deck at eleven o'clock p.m., Montressor time. She walked over to the edge of the ship and peered out at the vast blanket of stars around her. The airlocked dome around the ship truly was invisible. She couldn't see anything that would even remotely suggest it was there.
Meg wondered how far the ukuta of the dome was and if she could reach it from the deck. And if she could reach it, what would it feel like? She leaned mbele and held her hand out as far as she could.
"You can't reach it."
Meg retracted her hand and looked up at Captain Smith. She hadn't heard him approach.
"The walls are ten feet from the ship in all directions."
"What's it made of?"
John shrugged. "Metal; just like any other ship."
"Yeah, it is." John hoisted himself up on the ledge and jumped off of it. He landed on something solid two feet down. "Invisible beams connect the walls to the ship," he exclaimed.
"How do wewe know where they are?"
"I've spent the last ten years on this ship. I know every inch of it." He held his hands up to Meg. "Come on. I wanna onyesha wewe something."
Meg climbed over the ledge and let him lower her down to the beam. Her breath caught as she felt something solid beneath her feet, yet saw nothing but stars.
John hopped a foot over to another unseen beam and held his hand out to Meg. "The beam is about six inches wide. Be careful; if wewe fall wewe will definitely break something. It's a long way down to the bottom of the dome and it's pure metal."
Meg took John's hand as they walked across the beams, further and further from the ship.
"Okay. Stop," John instructed. Meg did as he said. "Now reach your hand out in front of you."
Meg reached out her free hand and was surprised to feel cool metal against her palm. "Wow," she breathed. "This is unreal." She let go of John's hand and pressed both hands against the wall. She couldn't help letting a small, excited laugh escape. She was floating in the middle of the sky. She was flying.
"I upendo it out here," John said, leaning against the wall.
"It's absolutely breathtaking."
They stood in silence for a while as Meg marveled at the sight around her. She found herself wishing she knew the names of the constellations she was seeing and the mythology behind them.
After a few minutes, John cleared his throat. "I have to apologize."
Meg looked over at him. "For what?"
"With everything that was going on this morning, I never got your name."
"Oh. It's all right." She held her hand out to him. "Meg Korso."
John's grip tightened around her hand. "Korso? You're not related to Joseph Korso, are you?"
The sound of her dad's name pricked her moyo like a needle. No one's really talked about him since he died. Meg slid down the ukuta until she was sitting on the beam. "He was my dad."
"I'm so sorry." John sat down as well so he was level with her.
"You don't have to be sorry. No one ever talks about my dad. It's been a really long time since I've heard his name."
"Is it true what people say about him?"
"What do they say?"
"That he and Sam Tucker had a way to save humanity and recreate Earth."
Meg's head whipped towards John. "What?"
"I grew up in a drifter colony. People always talked about them and how they were going to save all of us. There were stories told- and written- about them; about how they were heroes." John smiled to himself. "Your dad was- is- one of my heroes."
Tears pricked at the corner of her eye and she flicked them away with her finger. Meg had never heard any of this au the stories he was talking about. But, zaidi than anything, she hoped they were true.
"I don't know if it's true," she confessed. "The last time I saw my dad was on Earth when I was four-years-old."
John leaned back against the ukuta and brought one leg up on the beam to rest his arm on. "I was devastated when I heard about his and Sam Tucker's deaths. I mean, obviously it was nothing like what wewe experienced, I'm sure. But, it felt like hope died with them, ya know." He pressed his lips together. "They still tell stories about them. Every time we dock at a drifter colony, I hear a new one. They're still Heroes in everyone's mind." He looked over at Meg. "None of them mention Korso's daughter, though."
"What about Sam's son?"
"Sam has a son?"
Meg nodded. "His name is Cale."
John furrowed his brow. "Not the Cale Jim mentioned this morning? The one we're going to TAU 14 for?"
"That would be him."
John's eye lit up, somehow making it appear even bluer than before. "Holy shit. I can't believe I'm gonna have the descendants of my Heroes on my ship."
Meg smiled at him. "I can't believe how excited you're getting."
John ran his hand through his blonde hair. "You have no idea how much of an honor it is just for me to be sitting here, talking to you. But, it's so much zaidi than that. Everyone thought humanity's hope died with your dads; but what if it didn't? What if wewe and Cale are humanity's new heroes?"
Meg held her hands out in front of her. "Whoa! Slow down, Captain. Up until a week zamani I was a waitress. And Cale's been working at a salvage station for the past two years. We're not heroes. I don't even know anything about how our dads were planning on saving humanity and recreating Earth." Meg got to her feet. "I'm sorry if I disappointed you."
"No. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. How 'bout if we talk about something else?"
Meg contemplated just going back to her quarters, but she just wasn't ready to give up this view, yet. She nodded and sat back down. "How 'bout we talk about your dad?" Meg suggested. "I mean, he designed and built this ship; that's really impressive. Not to mention, awesome."
"It is," John agreed. He didn't say anything more.
"What's he up to now?" Meg pressed.
"He died last year."
Meg winced. "I'm sorry."
John looked down at his jeans. "Thanks."
"How did it happen? If wewe don't mind me asking…"
"I don't mind," he replied. "But, I'm not ready to talk about it."
"Fair enough." Meg could tell it was time for another subject change. She looked down at all of the stars beneath her. "Ya know, Jim would upendo this."
Meg motioned around her. "Being out here like this. He and I don't see eye-to-eye on, like, anything. And we rarely get along. But, I gotta admit: that kid's got a brilliant mind and an incredible imagination. For him to be out here and feeling like he was truly flying…" Meg took a breath and exhaled. "Words couldn't describe what it would be like for him. Jim was only three when we left Earth and five when we left the drifter colony for Montressor. I don't think he remembers anything other than living on Montressor." Meg smiled to herself. "He's probably lying awake right now, all excited about traveling through space in this ship."
John smiled. "Yeah?"
Meg nodded. "You should take him out here sometime. I mean, he's the one in charge of all of this; it'd be a good way to get on his good side. Maybe he'll put in a good word for ya with the professor; get wewe a pay raise."
Meg made that last bit up as she went. The truth was, she'd been thinking about Jim since she talked to him this morning. It was Meg who clearly needed to get on Jim's good side and she was hoping this would help. She had met enough of Jim's boyfriends and flings to know his type- and John Smith was his type to a T; from his intense blue eyes; to his handsome, rugged face; to his hard, muscular body. The eye patch, scar and black leather gloves John always seemed to be wearing gave him an air of danger that Meg knew drew Jim to him. Physically, John was perfect for Jim.
Meg had no idea if John was into guys au not, but if she could somehow set them up, maybe Jim would see that she's trying to better the relationship between them and maybe they could actually be friends.
"I'm not in it for the money," John said, breaking into Meg's thoughts.
"Then what are wewe in it for?"
"The adventure. When wewe grow up idolizing Heroes like Sam Tucker and Joseph Korso and hearing stories about the things they've done, it gives wewe the desire to go out there and do the same. Have adventures, live life fully and make the universe a better place at the same time."
"I'd really like to hear some of these stories."
John smiled at her. "I'll do wewe one better." He stood up and helped Meg to her feet. "Come with me."
Meg and John carefully made their way across the beams back to the ship. He then led her up to his quarters. John lit a lantern near the door and walked over to his desk. He rifled through one of the drawers until he found what he was looking for. He then grabbed a pen off his dawati and brought both over to Meg.
"I don't know why I didn't see it before," John said, holding a book out to Meg. "You look just like him."
Meg was completely taken aback to see a picture of her dad on the cover of the book. The book was titled Dog Tags.
"What is this?" She whispered, taking the book from him.
"There isn't a whole lot of entertainment in drifter colonies, so we had to make our own. A lot of people wrote books. Some of those vitabu are about your dad and Sam."
Meg ran her fingers over the cover of the book. Meg didn't have any pictures of him. She had had one of the two of them from her fourth birthday (which she had found sewn inside Mr. Fuzzyfinkles a couple years after moving to Montressor; Sarah told her her dad must have put it in there, knowing they would be separated when they left Earth), but the picture was Lost in the moto at the Inn.
"That one's my favorite," John told her. "It has excerpts from what's believed to be a journal written kwa Korso."
Meg blinked back tears as she looked up at the captain. "There's a journal written kwa my dad?"
John shrugged. "I honestly don't know. Your dad died so long ago, it's hard to know what's real and what's fiction."
Meg nodded. "Of course." She hated that she had no way of knowing the difference between what was true about her dad and what was made up for entertainment.
John cleared his throat. "At the risk of completely embarrassing myself…" He held the pen out to Meg. "Would wewe sign it?"
Meg laughed in spite of herself, happy that John managed to lighten the mood. She took the pen from him and pulled the cap, herufi kubwa off with her teeth. She quickly scrawled out a short message to John and then signed it. She held the book up to him so he could read it.
Thank wewe for giving a little piece of my dad back to me.
-Megara Josephine Korso
"I didn't mean to upset you."