This story isn’t part of official Days Until Home
canon or anything. I just wanted to write something today, and felt like writing more in the DUH
universe. There are minor spoilers if you haven’t read the entire web serial, so you’ve been warned. Chuck’s doing a one-word title
flash fiction challenge, so here’s “Permanence” at 1190 words:
* * *
“I’m worried about her.”
Adelaide closed her eyes for a moment. She breathed in through her nose and out through her mouth. When she opened them, she locked her gaze with Old Vicky’s. “Viktor,” she began, but Helena appeared on screen and smiled at Adelaide.
“Adel,” Helena pleaded, “Viktor would check on her himself, but you’re so much closer.”
Adelaide rolled her eyes. Viktor and Helena were still on Luna Station. The notoriety of surviving the destruction of the Kerwood made Viktor a minor celebrity. Adelaide was counted among the Kerwood Nine as the media dubbed them all. She hadn’t talked to her any more or less than she talked to the Kerwood Chief Engineer, or the rest of the survivors. Since returning to Earth, Jeremy regularly sent recorded messages to them all, and personal messages to Adelaide. He wanted her to help him on conglomerate jobs he performed “in system.”
Adelaide was a pretty hot commodity. Everest and Matsue both tried to recruit her. The offers started with the same position she had on the Kerwood: Main Propulsion Assistant. She spent too many years aboard the Kerwood as an MPA, and she didn’t want a lateral transfer… she wanted to reach for the stars. Eventually some of the smaller corporations started offering her the position of Chief Engineer.
It wasn’t that she was unqualified; she just had a new lease on life, and wanted to weigh her options before accepting permanence. The sound of Old Vicky clearing his throat brought her out of her reverie. She sighed. “ChEng is closer, you know.”
Viktor’s eyes narrowed. “That may be the case, but you know why it should be you to see her.” His eyes softened. “Jeremy has tried…”
Adelaide waved her hand at the crotchety retired miner. “I’ll go see her,” she finally relented. “I guess I could use a holiday.”
Viktor nodded, leaned forward, and the image winked out. Adelaide leaned back in her utilitarian chair and fingered a pendant of schorl tourmaline around her neck. It was a gift from Jessica, and when Erika saw it, she broke off all contact with Adelaide. Adelaide was at first offended that Erika would act in such a manner. It wasn’t as if accepting the black gem meant that Adelaide had chosen one over the other. She walked to the Lexan portal and stared at the sidereal landscape. Her gaze was blank until a piece of debris flared past her view.
Adelaide turned from the portal and consulted her panel. It was bizarre that she had to perform so many supernumerary steps to get anything done. She was used to having her way with the Kerwood computer systems. She located a fast jumper with the annoyingly alliterative name of “Juniper Jumper.” If she hurried, she would make it to landing pad Charlie before the Juniper Jumper left. She wished she had time to visit with Matt Siebert who lived in the same section as her, but he was on Earth practicing his bushcraft searching for a lost ossuary in Austria. Adelaide smiled remembering the rotund Siebert brandishing his chemical welder so long ago in the Kerwood’s escape trunk. She saw a photo of him on the cover of an e-magazine specializing in outdoor life. Siebert had toned up since his stint on the ill-fated Kerwood.
Adelaide stepped out of her quarters and into the undulating flow of foot traffic toward landing pad Charlie. She was not looking forward to seeing her.