Prior to the announcement of Westward, she had planned to join up with a mining crew bound for the Jovian trojans, her sense of adventure winning out over the fear of being confined in tight spaces for months on end with men of the roughest sort.
Constance scoffed quietly, folding her arms over her chest. “I’m always angry,” she admitted.
“What troubles you today?” Miss Anna asked.
“Do you mean besides the fact that we all feel like fish waitin’ to be flayed?” The girl asked, tossing her head in the direction of the sleeping children.
The older woman nodded serenely.
Constance took a deep and unrewarding breath. She turned toward the panoramic windows at the opposite end of the large, open deck. These afforded a view over the top of Westward, where a cloud of glittering white mist concealed the bow like fog. Beyond it, the soft outline of the Earth-sized moon radiated a subtle blue glow from the colossal planet around which it orbited. She remembered standing at the window with the other colonists as the ship made its way toward the pair of astral bodies. The smoky blue gas giant, with the moon silhouetted in front of it, had looked like nothing so much as an enormous eye, suspended in nebulous space. And the tower, a pinprick of light, a hungry gleam in that eye.
“I just keep wonderin’ what we’re doing here,” Constance whispered.
“I’m following a vision,” Miss Anna explained. “An old one. Until word went out about this mission, I had begun to wonder how it would ever be fulfilled. Now I know it’s only a matter of time.”
“It must be nice to feel so sure,” Constance frowned.
“Eddy never wavered in his belief in me,” Miss Anna said, her blue eyes softening at the mention of her husband. It was common knowledge that Edward Owens had died a month before Westward launched. “And now others believe as well. We all share the same vision, more or less, do we not? Open spaces, new beginnings. Second chances.”
Constance shrugged, tightening her grip on herself. She had been a wildcard among the applicants, a teenaged orphan with no formal schooling. She remembered her vetting procedures, tests of physical endurance and intellectual aptitude, as a hazy exertion of raw willpower. Prior to the announcement of Westward, she had planned to join up with a mining crew bound for the Jovian trojans, her sense of adventure winning out over the fear of being confined in tight spaces for months on end with men of the roughest sort. The extrasolar expedition meant salvation from that tradeoff, and it sparked an ambition in her that felt like a fusion reaction.
“I needed…” She paused, then chuckled mirthlessly at an unintended quip. “I needed breathing room.”