Falling Adalta Vol III. Chapter Four

(A work in progress)

“No. I will not allow you to go, Cedar. I cannot allow it. Astarte15 isn’t safe.” 

Cedar closed her eyes and took a long, slow breath. “This isn’t Astarte15, Mother. That was years ago. This planet is Adalta, and it isn’t the same at all. Galen is down there. And Marta. Glenn is going with me. And Assam. It’s safe.” She squeezed her mother’s shoulder. “I’ve been ordered to go.”

Truth be told, she’d begged and pleaded and coerced whomever she could corner to finally admit the ship had major problems. Not everyone was yet convinced it was failing, but at least they finally admitted the ship was never leaving Adalta’s orbit.

“You understand that. I’ve asked Amalie to come stay with you while I’m gone. She’ll help you start packing.”

“Pack? Why should I need to pack?” Marion’s voice rose higher with each word. Her thin hands, blue veins showing through translucent skin, traced back and forth on the folded coverlet at the end of Cedar’s bed, never stopping. “I don’t understand what I would need to pack for. You’e not going, Cedar. I won’t pack your things.”

“My things are packed, Mother,” said Cedar, her voice calm, her words evenly paced. “See? This is the last of them––” She tucked a jacket in an outside pocket of her soft-sided duffel. “Everyone will leave the ship over the next months, Mother. We discussed that.” She  took both her Mother’s frail hands in hers. “The ship is failing. It’s dying.”

“I’m not leaving.” Marion snatched her hands back. “I’m not. Not ever. I will not set one foot on another planet. You know that. I won’t. I lost your father, and you lost…you lost…you lost your foot on that planet.” She turned and walked out of Cedar’s room. “I will not go down there and neither will you.”

Cedar fastened her duffel and walked into the central room of the apartment. Marion sat in her chair, her body curled over over her tablet reader, locking reality away again. Cedar stood at the door to the hallway for a long moment. “Watch over my plants for me, Mother.”

Marion didn’t look up. Cedar opened the door and walked out, closing it quietly behind her. She leaned back against it, her eyes closed, her head aching. A frond from one of the plants that lined the hallways of the ship brushed her leg. What am I to do about her? Will I have to knock her out and wheel her to the shuttle on a gurney? What choice do I have? If she stays here she’ll die alone and afraid. If I stay with her I’ll die––we’ll both die with the ship. How can I make a new life on the planet when every time I look up into the sky I see my mother dying?

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Chapter 13 of Karda: Adalta Vol. I

Marta breathed in the brisk upper air of the foothills as Sidhari circled up the rising thermal. She'd fought to be the Mi'hiru for this expedition. Altan was taking Guardian Stefan's place in the annual trade talks with Restal, and Marta knew her assessment of the politics between the two quadrants, as well as the outcome, would be information Kayne would relish. Restal and Toldar were both her territory.

But it was difficult to keep her mental barriers up when she and Altan were together so often. She was still getting used to hearing Sidhari in her head. Altan's voice brought on vicious headaches—and the occasional doubt about her sanity.

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