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Chapter 2


-Zachary Brenth – 47 – Landing Compound

Zachary Brenth trudged through the knee-deep snow as he made his way through the early morning dawn to the Command Tent. The air was icy, and the man hoped that Kyle’s weather report would hold up and the day’s temperatures would climb above freezing. He wouldn’t be able to bring the Ambassador down to the surface if the weather didn’t clear up. He could see people already heading towards the dining tents and there was an orangish glow around the fire pits that Kim Sutherly had made some of her volunteers dig. The hunting parties had returned with a variety of fauna the prior evening, but it was still nowhere near enough to feed the seven-hundred-twelve people that had arrived at Soltan aboard the Ambassador. 

Brenth was surprised to find the interior of the Command Tent already warm, assuming that someone had remembered to turn on the space heaters. The man stomped his feet just inside of the entrance to the tent, making sure that the majority of the snow broke free from his clothing before heading towards the corner of the tent where the conference table had been set up. Zachary wasn’t surprised to find Kyle Corvan already setting out packets of papers.

“Good morning, Mister Corvan,” Brenth greeted the teenager as he shrugged off his coat and took his seat at the head of the table. “Did you sleep well?”

“Besides the fact that Cole snores, I slept quite well, Commander,” Kyle replied, making Brenth chuckle deeply. “It’s amazing how good you sleep with fresh air!”

“I know what you mean about Cole, ” Zachary told the brown-haired teenager. “Cole has always had a snoring problem, Kyle.”

“That guy can cut down an entire forest!” Kyle laughed before he took his own seat to Brenth’s left. Kyle used his data pad to turn on the monitors at the far end of the table. “I pity whoever he marries! She had better be a heavy sleeper!”

Brenth chuckled lightly again. The two men shared a brief conversation until the remaining members of the Landing Council streamed into the Command Tent. Kim Sutherly sat down to Zachary’s right, and proceeded to give the man her morning briefing, while Kyle took notes.

“I hate to be this quick, Zach, but it’s breakfast time,” Kim apologized.

“No, worries,” Brenth told the woman. “Go make sure that your staff doesn’t burn breakfast.”

“Thanks, Zachary,” the red-headed woman smiled at the Commander. “I’ll make sure that you get some extra eggs and toast.”

Brenth smiled as the woman slipped out of the tent, obviously going back to where her kitchens had been set up.

‘There’s always work to be done,’ Brenth thought with a grin. Then, he turned his attention to the council members. “Good morning, everyone. Let’s get started, shall we? I’ve got a busy schedule ahead of me today. I’ve already got the report from Kim Sutherly on the state of our rations. Let’s begin with planet-side logistics. . .”

-Zyan Brenth – 11 – Landing Compound

Zyan ran around the compound with Christian on his heels as the two boys started rounding up all of the children that were currently planet-side. The air was bitterly cold, and the wind was causing the snow that was already on the ground to swirl around in near white-out conditions. The children were going to form a workgroup to clear the snow that had fallen overnight from all of the different common areas. Zyan and Christian had gathered nearly sixty kids and teenagers to help clear the snow when the weather suddenly calmed, and the clouds cleared out of the sky. 

“This makes things easier,” Zyan told Christian with a giggle as the two boys led their group over to the Supply Zone to try to get shovels to clear the snow. Cole helped Zyan and Christian issue the shovels the work group needed, before the two boys gave everyone their assignments. Then, the work group went to begin their days. 

Zyan and Christian chatted happily with each other as they worked on clearing the ground around where the warehouse was being erected, making sure that there was a path wide enough for three grav-carts to make it through the space side-by-side. Both boys found it comical when Riley recruited several pilots to use the shuttles to melt the late snow. The roar of the shuttle engines filled the air around the compound as the shuttles hovered mere feet above the landing strip, making it safe for the expedition to resume space flight for the day.

“This will go by faster, once we have more kids to help us,” Christian suggested with a smile as he and Zyan moved down to where the Command Tent had been placed. 

Three other children were already there, clearing the road in front of the tent, so Zyan and Christian simply started working from the other end. Soon, both boys noticed that their small group had grew in size as many of the adults started assisting with the task of getting the compound clear of snow. Once they were finished with the main road in front of the Command Tent, Zyan and Christian went around to double check everyone’s work before releasing their group back to their normal duties. The two boys promptly headed towards the Dining Tents to see if Kim Sutherly had anything warm standing by for the crews working outside.

“At least, it’s getting warmer out,” Zyan observed with a grin, enjoying the feeling of the sun as the clouds slowly moved away from the area. 

“I think Kyle said that the winds were beginning to shift where they were mostly coming from,” Christian shrugged. “I’m just tired of being cold. Are you flying with Riley, today?”

“Yea,” Zyan replied with a quick nod. “He’s loading up the last of the passengers when we take my dad up to the Ambassador.”

“I wish I could go with you,” Christian said in a longing voice. “I have to help Kyle with the Orientation Class, though.”

“I’m certain there will be more trips to space, Christian,” Zyan tried to keep Christian being hopeful.

“Fingers crossed,” Christian giggled. Then, the brown-haired boy took on different tone of voice. “I’ve been thinking about what I want to do once the colony has finished settling in.”


“Yeah,” Christian said softly. “I think I just want to go live in Silver Ridge Valley, with you and your family, Zyan.”

“That sounds like a good idea to me, Christian,” Zyan agreed. “I was thinking about asking my dad if I could go check out the caves on the northern end of the valley once it warms up.”

“I’m going, too!”

“Duh,” Zyan replied as if it should have been obvious. “I’ll start pestering my dad after the first round of planting is in the ground.”

“Until then,” Christian giggled. “There’s always work to be done.”

Then, Zyan ran off to meet with his mother who had arrived earlier that morning with the first cargo shuttle drop of the day. She had sent a message along with Cole that she needed to discuss something with Zyan before he left for space. Really, the woman spent a solid ten minutes hugging the giggling boy, making sure that he still had all of his fingers and toes before she let him head for the landing field.

-Riley Combs – 23 – Angel-1

The shuttle’s engines roared to life as the pilot finished the pre-flight checklist, waiting for his last two passengers. Father and son would be riding with him up to the Ambassador, but only the son would be accompanying Pilot Combs back down to the planet’s surface, riding as his co-pilot. Riley enjoyed his flights with the soon to be twelve-year-old and was glad that Zyan had volunteered to serve as his co-pilot for the return journey. It was only fitting that Zyan rode with the pilot on Riley’s last flight to the Ambassador since the boy had taken the first flight down to Soltan with the young man. 

“Good morning, Pilot Combs,” Zachary Brenth greeted the younger man as he peeked into the cockpit. 

“Good morning, Admiral Brenth,” Riley replied, noting that Brenth had probably brought along a few extra unscheduled guests. “Is my co-pilot in route, yet?”

“I thought he would have been here, by now,” Zachary mused with a frown. Then, Brenth passed a small piece of paper to the younger man. 

“What’s this?”

“I had to bring along a few extra people, unfortunately,” Brenth responded. “They just want to see the Hull Separation up close.”

“I sort of guessed that you would have companions, sir,” Riley smiled at the older man. “Once Zyan is aboard, we’ll take off.”

“That works for me,” Zachary agreed. “I’ll be schmoozing with my guests.”

“Better you than me,” Riley countered with a chuckle.

“I’m here! I’m here!” Zyan called out as he squeezed past his father and moved to the co-pilot seat. “Sorry! Mom wanted to talk to me before we left. I think she’s worried that something is going to go wrong.”

“Don’t sweat it, Zyan,” Zachary told his son. “Your mother was always the one to worry. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have guests to entertain for the next two hours.”

Once Brenth was gone, Riley turned to the younger boy with a smile on his lips. “Are you ready, Zyan?”

“Not yet,” Zyan replied as he studied his preflight checklist. He read each of the subjects slowly, just so he could make sure that he understood everything that he was supposed to do. “I’ll be finished in a moment.”

“Take your time, Zyan,” Riley reassured the boy. “Safety is our number one priority.”

Zyan went through his portion of the checklist before he signaled to Riley that he was ready to begin the take-off procedures by fastening his flight-harness. Riley fastened his own harness before he entered the commands for the shuttle’s thrusters to begin powering up. Zyan giggled as he heard the roar of the turbines whine to life. Then, Zyan made the call to the Control Tower. It was time for the duo to fly.

“Angel-1 to Landing Command,” Zyan spoke clearly into his headset. “Requesting permission for departure to destination Ambassador colony ship.”

“Angel-1, you are clear for departure,” the deep voice replied from the Control Tower. “Climb vertical to three-hundred meters, then turn due east and begin your ascent to orbit.”

“I copy, Landing Command,” Zyan replied before he repeated the instructions he had been given. Then, Zyan flipped the channel on his headset, and began addressing the passengers in the cabin. “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,” the boy stated with a grin, barely containing his laughter. “This is your co-pilot, Zyan Brenth speaking. Your pilot for our flight today, is Captain Riley Combs, one of the youngest pilots involved with the Soltan Expedition. There is no in-flight movie, nor is there an in-flight food service. If you have any complaints about the matter, please speak to Admiral Zachary Brenth of the Association of Colonization and Exploration. We have been cleared permission for departure, so please, sit back and enjoy the ride.”

Zyan quickly flipped off his headset before he busted out in a fit of giggles. The black-haired boy had tears in his blue eyes as he struggled to regain his composure. Riley just shook his head in silence at the boy.

“You’re a goof, Zyan,” the young man finally stated with a chuckle. “Are you ready to get this show on the road?”

“Let’s make it happen, Captain!” 

Zyan began to giggle again as Riley started pressing different switches around the cockpit. Then, Riley pulled back on the joystick slightly, making the shuttle lift free from the ground below. Zyan instinctively grabbed the joystick and held on to it as Riley continued to raise the shuttle higher into the air. Once they had reached their designated altitude, Riley pointed to one of the levers. 

“Push that all the way forward, Zyan,” he told the boy, “but just do it slowly.”

“What does it do?” Zyan asked as he reached forward and grasped the lever with his fist.

“You’re sending us to space!” Riley told the boy.

“Sweet!” Zyan exclaimed as he started pushing the lever forward. A grin spread across the boy’s face as the shuttle started moving through the air towards the, newly named, Brenth Mountains.

“Now,” Riley instructed the boy once the task was complete. “Grab your joystick, and pull back just a tiny-little bit, Zyan.”

“Yes, sir,” Zyan replied seriously, quickly noting the importance of what he was doing. The boy focused his attention on the joystick and started to pull back slightly. The shuttle immediately responded by tilting further towards the sky.

“Good job, Zyan,” Riley commended the boy. “Do you see the little dial in front of you with the orange bottom, and the blue top?”

“Yes, sir,” Zyan told the brown-haired man.

“Good,” Riley said. “Continue pulling back on your joystick, just as slowly as you were, until the digits read seventy-five on the display.”

“Yes, sir.”

‘This kid is a sponge,’ Riley thought with a grin. ‘It’s a shame that we won’t be using the shuttles for very much longer.’

As the sky in front of them grew darker, Riley settled in for the long flight ahead of them. He would let Zyan take them out of the atmosphere, that was the easy part, anyway. 

“Just hold us steady at that reading until you reach ninety-thousand meters, Zyan,” Riley told his co-pilot. “I’ll take over then and fly us the remainder of the way to the Ambassador.”

“Thanks, Riley,” Zyan stated without removing his eyes from the dial. “I’ll never forget this.”

“Neither will I, buddy,” Riley told the boy. “You’re an awesome pilot. I wish you had a chance to fly longer than a year, though. It’s a shame all of the shuttles are going to be turned into housing materials.”

“All, except for two of them,” Zyan corrected the pilot. “My dad wants to keep them around in case of emergencies.”

Riley chuckled to himself. ‘No surprise there, I guess. I wonder what else Zachary has up his sleeves?’

-Darren Adler – 28 – Landing Compound

Adler read off the commands and listened as the tiny voice repeated them back. While Darren Adler may despise the Brenth Family, he still took pride in his work and would not slack at his duties. He watched with an unreadable expression as the grayish-colored shuttle lifted off from the ground and out of his sight. Once the roar of the shuttle had passed, Adler turned his attention back to the radios. The sky around the Landing Compound had to be clear within three hours, or the Ambassador wouldn’t be able to make its landing flight. The man made quick work of going through the flight schedules for the day and had things rearranged to keep the Ambassador’s landing window open within a few short minutes. Then, Adler sent the new schedule out to the designated planners to be finalized. He was rather surprised to have the approval from Admiral Brenth nearly one minute after Adler had sent the transmission. 

With his job done for the day, Adler took a few minutes to send another encrypted messaged to Alexander before he finally, retired to his tent for the remainder of the day. The air outside of the tower was crisp as the last remaining icy chill from the morning still clung to the air. Darren pulled his jacket tighter as the wind caused the snow to swirl up around him with every step he took. The man glanced up to see that the skies above were clear of clouds and the sun was shining down on the snow below, creating a shimmering affect across the ground. The man couldn’t help but smile as he squinted his eyes against the bright light. 

The roar of another shuttle shooting towards the atmosphere drew Adler’s attention. He thought about the contract that had brought him to the planet located in the backwaters of the galaxy, and for a moment, Darren didn’t resent the contract that he had signed. 

Adler turned his report into the Command Tent before he continued towards the Tent City. Though the man’s job wasn’t physically demanding, he was mentally exhausted and was ready to go to sleep. The man grumbled to himself as a group of kids ran past him, each of them carrying shovels as they worked to clear off different areas around the compound. Adler had always believed in the mantra that children should be seen and not heard. Unfortunately for the bitter fool, he wouldn’t be able to have his life of solitude until after the remainder of the colony arrived in ninety days. There were still three ships on their way to Soltan with over six thousand people between them. Then, the colony would be able to move forward. The reason for the separation in arrivals was so the advance crew would have time to get fields and crops planted, and the colony wouldn’t have to worry about keeping seven-thousand people alive from the beginning. If the advance crew failed or suffered an unforeseen fate, the other three colony ships were to change course for another Earth-like planet that was to be colonized instead. Being part of the advanced team; Adler wanted the colony to succeed. He just wanted Zachary Brenth to fall from power. 

The Tent City was relatively quiet as everyone was down by the Landing Field to help prepare for the arrival of the colony ship. Adler wanted to wish ill on Brenth’s flight back down to the surface, but the obese man knew that it would spell disaster for the colony if anything happened to the forward section of the Ambassador. No. Adler needed the ship, or at least, one small part of it, if his plan was going to succeed.

-Admiral Zachary Brenth – 47 – Ambassador Colony Ship

Zachary Brenth walked the halls of the colony ship one last time as he made his way towards the bridge of the vessel. The Ambassador had been given to him by his own father, after the ship had been in service by the different Space Fleets of Earth, for nearly three decades prior to the ship being retired from military service. Now, it was destined to be broken down, and used for spare parts for the Soltan Expedition. The ship was too large to fly down to the surface in its entirety, so Zachary was being forced to leave two-thirds of the colony ship floating in space for eternity.

“Hey, dad,” Cole greeted the man as he stepped out of a side door. “Is it time, already?”

“We’re going to begin the maneuver in ten minutes,” Brenth told his son with a pleasant smile. “Are the cargo bays secure?”

“Yes,” Cole replied with a nod. “I was just heading to grab my backpack before catching my shuttle down to the surface.”

“I’ll see you in a few hours, Cole,” Zach told his son. “I’ll see you planet-side.”

“Fly safe,” Cole told him in return.

“Always,” Brenth replied before the duo separated. Then, Brenth continued towards the bridge, where he would begin the separation procedures before piloting the forward section of the Ambassador down to the surface of Soltan. The man’s mind was a jumble of thoughts as he walked through the near-empty corridors, silently saying goodbye to the ship. It had done its duty, and the Ambassador would become the legacy that Brenth’s father had meant for the ship to become.

“Five-minutes until hull separation,” a mechanical voice echoed throughout the corridors. “All non-essential personnel are to be clear of the forward section at this time. All shuttle traffic is to remain one-thousand meters away from the Ambassador during hull separation and during the landing flight. Any personnel found in violations of any of these restrictions will be held accountable to the full extent of the Soltan Charter.”

“Admiral on deck!” Commander Lisa Knox called out as Brenth stepped onto the bridge.

“As you were,” Brenth responded, permitting the bridge crew to return to work. Lisa snapped a quick salute to the man. He promptly returned the officer’s salute before he took his seat at the center of the bridge. “Report, XO.”

“The ship is ready to perform the separation maneuver, Admiral,” Lisa reported dutifully as she moved to her station on the bridge. The slender woman entered a few commands on her terminal before a report appeared on the display. “All systems read nominal for separation and atmospheric entry, sir.”

“Thank you, Commander Knox,” Brenth acknowledged. The man entered a few commands on the terminal beside his chair before he gave the next order. “Seal all decks and begin the hull separation procedure.”

“Aye, Captain!” Lisa replied before she started calling out orders around the bridge. 

The remaining crew members set to work following Commander Knox’s orders. The excitement was palpable amongst the crew members, each one excited to finally taking the journey towards their new home. Once everything was ready, Admiral Brenth smiled proudly at the crew.

“Begin separation.”

-Kyle Corvan – 17 – Landing Compound

Kyle went over his notes for the next orientation class, refreshing himself on any of the minute details that he had stumbled over during the last session. His biggest issue at the moment, was the ever-changing weather system around the western coast of the Northern Continent. Kyle suspected it had something to do with the ocean currents, but there was also to ever-looming presence of Terra, the giant gas planet that swung in close enough every few thousand years that the people of Soltan would see the planet as a distant moon during the winter months. The gravitational pull of Terra could already be messing with the atmosphere of Soltan, but Kyle lacked the proper equipment to run the tests he would need to perform just to get an inkling of an idea of what type of forces were occurring between the two worlds.

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better, Kyle,” Christian stated dryly, breaking Kyle from his thoughts.

“I’m sorry?” Kyle looked up at his brother in confusion. The twelve-year-old was pulling off his thick jacket that had been given to him by Zachary Brenth when the man invited the two brothers along on the expedition. “What are we discussing, little brother?”

“The snow, Kyle,” Christian replied with a brief smile before he shook the snow off his knitted hat onto Kyle’s head.

“Christian!” Kyle protested with mock annoyance. Kyle quickly snatched Christian and pulled the smaller boy onto his lap. Then, Kyle began to tickle his brother mercilessly until Christian announced that he was going to piss himself if his brother didn’t stop. To prove his point, the moment that Kyle had relented, Christian shot out of the tent in a flash, leaving Kyle laughing hysterically at the younger Corvan brother. It also left Kyle thinking about how Zachary Brenth had stumbled into the boys’ life nearly five years earlier.

Kyle was a few months away from turning thirteen when his and Christian’s parents were killed in a shuttle accident on the moon of Earth. The boys were sent to live with their elderly grandmother, but the living situation wasn’t the best. It was Christian that had saw the ad for the Soltan Expedition and the tiny boy took it upon himself to write a letter to Commander Zachary Brenth. That was the moment that changed the lives of the boys. Three days after the letter had been sent, Kyle was called to the principal’s office without any knowledge of the letter’s existence. The shy boy was shaking with fear until he saw his little brother sitting with another little boy outside of the door.

“You can go inside, Mister Corvan,” the elderly receptionist instructed with a pleasant smile. “Mr. Eldridge is waiting for you.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Coster,” Kyle replied before he glanced at his brother and the unfamiliar boy. “Christian?”

Christian looked up at his older brother and grinned. “Don’t worry, Kyle. Nobody is in trouble.”

“I hope not,” the boy said miserably as he thought about his ailing grandmother and how this would affect her. Then, Kyle went through the door and froze when he saw the man dressed in an A.C.E. uniform sitting in one of the chairs across from Principal Eldridge. Kyle was trembling as he greeted the two men. “Hello, sir. You requested to see me, Principal Eldridge?”

“Go ahead and have a seat next to our guest, Kyle,” Mr. Eldridge said reassuringly. “Commander Brenth would like to present you with an opportunity. If you’ll excuse me,” the brown-haired man stood up from his chair. “I am going to treat Zyan and Christian to some apple crisp in the cafeteria. I hope you make the right decision, Kyle. Your entire future is at stake,” the man added ominously before he left Kyle alone with A.C.E. officer.

“Hello, Kyle,” Brenth greeted the boy softly. “Let me just begin by saying that I was amazed when I read your brother’s letter, and I had to come meet you, right away!”

“Letter?” Kyle asked in confusion.

“You can ask him about it, later,” Brenth dismissed the boy’s questioning gaze. “I’ve got something else to talk to you about. As you know, Earth is dying. I doubt that it will even be around long enough for your little brother to grow up to adulthood. There are chances that you will see the end of our beloved planet before you reach the age of fifteen.”


“Everywhere you look, the skies are covered in clouds of pollution, there hasn’t been any normal rain in this area for weeks, and the greenery is dying, Kyle,” the man explained sadly. “I had hoped that I wouldn’t live to see this day but alas, here we both are. There is hope, though.”

“For Earth?”

“No,” Brenth corrected the boy with a frown. “There’s hope for you and your little brother.”

“What about my grandmother?”

The man with the black hair and blue eyes, reached over and calmly placed his hand on Kyle’s shoulder. “I spoke with your grandmother before I came to see you and Christian, Kyle,” the man told the brown-haired boy. “She is in agreement with what I am about to offer you and your little brother.”

‘He doesn’t look like he’s lying,’ Kyle thought suspiciously before he finally nodded at the man. “I’ll listen, but only if you tell me who you are.”

Brenth laughed loudly and patted Kyle’s back. “I guess I did forget something. My name is Commander Zachary Brenth, and I am the leader of the Soltan Expedition, Kyle.”

“The Soltan Expedition?”

“A one-way trip to another world,” Brenth said with a nod. “A world that we won’t destroy like we did Earth. A world that we can be ourselves, and push towards an agrarian society that lives solely off of the land and refuses to partake in technologies of the modern world.”

“What do you need me for?” Kyle asked nervously. “Wouldn’t a colony be filled with experts that could help improve the colony?” 

“I also want young minds that are eager to learn,” Zach told the inquisitive boy. “Children like you are the future of Soltan, Kyle. The colony isn’t even going to depart for almost four years. That’s plenty of time for you to divert your studies to the world that I plan on calling home. The same world that your grandmother wants you and Christian to call home.”

“I don’t think that I would be capable of handling the task you want me to perform, sir,” Kyle responded respectfully.

“You don’t even know what I want you to do yet, Kyle,” Brenth said with a chuckle. “Hear me out, first.”

Zachary Brenth spent the next hour going over the different details of the future colony and how Kyle and Christian were going to be involved. Then, the man told Kyle his plans for his own children, and how the expedition had already hired tutors to begin the process of familiarizing everyone with the survey reports of Soltan. 

“Fine,” Kyle finally agreed once Commander Brenth had sworn to make certain that Christian and Kyle’s grandmother would be taken care of. “I’ll talk to my grandmother about it, Commander.”

“Good,” Brenth nodded with a sigh of relief. “I’ll go warm up my car, while you go get yours and Christian’s personal belongings from your classrooms and lockers. Leave your schoolbooks. You won’t be needing them, anymore.”

“Why not, Commander?”

“Your schooling is going to be completely different, now, Kyle,” Brenth informed the boy. “Everything you do and learn from here on out, will be focused entirely on the Soltan Expedition. You will still learn the basic courses from hired tutors, but there are going to be specialized training sessions geared towards our survival.”

“Let’s go find my brother, then,” Kyle stated with a grin and a nod. “I want to learn everything I can about Soltan.”

Kyle and Christian made quick work of saying goodbye to their classmates before they departed the school building for the last time. Kyle was distracted with his own thoughts and didn’t hear a single word of the conversation that was going on around him during the car ride to his grandmother’s apartment. Kyle’s fear didn’t set in until he was standing outside of his grandmother’s apartment.

The door slid open before he could come to terms with the conversation that he was about to have, and several tears fell down his cheek. Christian didn’t notice his hesitation as Kyle was the last to enter the tiny two-bedroom suite. The apartment sat on the thirty-seventh floor of one of the tallest buildings in Old New York, with all of its windows facing the smog-filled eastern skyline. The eldest living member of the Corvan Family was settled in her rocking chair, knitting a blanket as the television played quietly in the background. The woman moved her work to the side as Christian slid onto her lap. Margaret Corvan wrapped her arm around the tiny boy on her lap, but her gaze settled on Kyle.

“My dear grandson,” the woman said in a gentle voice as she held her arm out for Kyle to join her. The boy hesitated before he climbed up next to his little brother as gently as he could. “You were never meant to be raised by me, Kyle. You were meant to be with your parents. With them being gone, though, that changes everything for both of you. You’re not supposed to take care of me, little one, and I would rather if you didn’t have sad memories of me for the remainder of your lives. Just like I want to be able to remember that beautiful smile of yours.”

“I’m going to miss you, though, grandma,” Kyle replied tearfully. “I don’t want to leave you behind.”

“And I don’t want you to watch me die, Kyle,” Margaret stated bluntly, making Kyle look up at her in shock.

“What’s wrong, grandma?”

“Nothing that you need to worry about, little one,” the woman had replied. 

Their conversation continued for a little while longer before the woman finally bade the boys goodbye. There wouldn’t be much time for them to visit with their grandmother over the next few years before the colony left Earth behind forever. Kyle and Christian were immediately adopted by the Brenth Family, giving them the family that the two boys were in desperate need of. Margaret was brought to see the boys several times until the trips become too much for her, as cancer slowly ate through her body. When the woman had to be moved to a specialized nursing home, she forbade the boys from ever visiting with her, again. The last Kyle and Christian had ever saw of their grandmother was one year before the colony’s departure, which was also the day before she moved into the home. The woman had put on a brave front for Christian, but Kyle could see the changes in the woman’s figure. He had to bite back tears as he hugged the woman goodbye, and he could feel her ribs through her blouse.

“I’m proud of both of you, boys,” the woman told her grandsons before they departed each other’s company for the last time. 

The seventeen-year-old quickly brushed the tears from his eyes with the sleeve of his uniform when he heard voices approaching the Orientation Tent. ‘My next class,’ he thought with a shake of his head. ‘There’s always work to be done.’

Christian returned a moment later and started handing out packets to each of the newcomers. As the last of the seats filled up, the younger Corvan brother moved to the projector and powered it on as Kyle went to the podium with a smile on his face.

“Good morning, everyone,” the young man greeted the class pleasantly. “Welcome to Soltan-101. . .”

-Zyan Brenth – 11 – Landing Compound

Zyan nearly skipped as he headed towards the Orientation Tent. He had barely waited for the shuttle engines to power down before he darted from the craft to fetch his friend. Christian would never let Zyan live it down if he missed the landing of the Ambassador. 

“Christian!” Zyan called out happily. “Come on! The Ambassador is coming.”

A crowd of people were just beginning to pour from the entryway of the tent and Zyan pushed his way through the morning afternoon class, still calling out for his friend.

“I’m right here, Zyan!” Christian called back from one of the tables sitting next to the podium. Christian was sitting on a stool as he wrote a few things down on his clipboard. Then, the boy handed the clipboard off to his brother before he slipped from the stool and ran over to me. “Is it on the way?”

“It is,” Zyan replied with a wide smile. “Come on! We don’t want to be late!”

“I’ll be back later, Kyle!” Christian said to his brother before he followed after Zyan.

Together, the two boys ran for the Landing Field where the Ambassador was going to land in a few minutes. It was going to be a day in the history pages of their small world, and neither boy wanted to miss the event. Zyan found his mother and Cole standing near the entrance to the Warehouse.

“Mom! Mom!” Zyan yelled out gleefully. “It’s coming!”

“It’s about time,” Cole replied with a roll of his eyes as he joined his mother. “Sorry, mom. It was a long flight.”

Zyan ignored his brother’s comment and focused his attention on his mother.

“Can me and Christian get on the roof of the Warehouse?” The blue-eyed boy begged.

Jessica Brenth laughed lightly before she motioned towards the stairs that were mounted on the side of the prefabricated building. Zyan hugged his mother tightly before he motioned for Christian to follow him. Both boys reached the top of the building just as there was a loud popping noise from the distant west. Zyan and Christian started scanning the horizon for any sign of the ship.

Christian spotted the gleam of light before Zyan did, and quickly pointed it out to his friend. Both of the boys started jumping around excitedly as they started shouting to the crowd below.

“They’re coming! They’re coming!”

The distant glimmer in the sky began to grow larger as the massive ship came into view. It was only the forward section of the Ambassador, but it was still a formidable sight as the ship sliced through the air above the Western Sea. Several shuttles flew ahead of the ship and claimed their spots on the Landing Field before the brick-shaped colony ship came in behind them. Three sets of wings were sticking out of the side of the one-hundred-meter-long ship, and there were pivoting boosters all along the body of the Ambassador that were keeping it steady in the air. The air was filled with a loud roar as the different thrusters maneuvered the ship into position beside the runway. 

Zyan and Christian both ran for the stairs and passed by Jessica with barely a wave as they headed towards the ship. Yellow lights started flashing along the ship just before it touched down, making the ground shake from the force of it. Then, the engines began to power down as the cargo doors facing the runway slowly began to slide open. Sirens echoed across the field as ramps started to extend out from beneath the cargo bays, not stopping until they touched the ground below. Then, the only sound coming from the ship, was the creaking of metal as it settled into position on the grassy field.

A roar of cheering erupted from the gathered crowd loud enough to make a flock of field birds shoot up into the air. Zyan and Christian ran up the closest ramp and made it to the massive cargo bay doors as they slowly lid open. 

“Welcome to Soltan!” The duo called out as the people inside the cargo bay began streaming out into the sunlight with hesitant steps. The sunlight glistening off of the fields of snow was blinding to the newcomers and the boys added warnings to people to make sure they were buttoned up against the cold. Zyan turned to Christian with a grin on his face. “Now, we just have to wait on the other three ships to get here.”

Christian nodded in agreement. “I hope the time goes by fast!”

“I don’t,” Zyan disagreed. “There will just be more work to be done when they get here.”

“There’s always work to be done, Zyan.”

“We could ask dad to let us go to the valley. . .”

Christian snorted in disbelief.

“What?” Zyan demanded. “It could work. Besides, we need to get our own claims handled, as soon as possible!”

“Don’t want your father to take up all of the valley?” Christian asked.

“I want to claim the northern part,” Zyan informed his friend with a smile. “What about you? Have you been studying the maps, at all?”

“Have I had time?”

“You’ve seen the map enough times that I figured you would have decided on one, by now,” Zyan prodded. “Why are you holding back?”

“You’re gonna’ laugh if I tell you, Zyan,” the twelve-year-old replied. “Let’s just drop it, for now. I’ll pick one. I promise.”

Zyan’s blue-eyes narrowed before he finally relented to give Christian a break.

“Fine,” Zyan stated coolly. “I’m not going to drop this, though.”

“Like I’d expect any less,” Christian mumbled dejectedly. Then, Christian effectively distracted his friend by pointing out Zyan’s father in the crowd. “Look! There’s your dad!”

Zyan and Christian met up with Brenth before spending the remainder of the day helping to unload the cargo bays of the colony ship. By the time the sun had set for the day, everybody was exhausted and ready to call it a day. Both of the boys were too tired to carry on much of a conversation as they settled into their cots.

“What’s on the agenda for tomorrow?” Christian asked with a yawn.

“I’m going to be helping out my mom and brother as the ship gets unloaded,” Zyan replied. “What about you?”

“Orientation, like usual.”

“Fun,” Zyan replied sarcastically. “There’s always work to be done. . .”

“Goodnight, Zyan,” Christian whispered sleepily a few moments later. When Zyan didn’t respond, Christian rolled over and let himself drift off to sleep.