The rumors were true. The whole colony had been dreading it would happen again, some day, and it had finally happened. Scouts and explorers coming in and out of the Field confirmed the destruction of an entire planet. According to them, the explosion was still visible in the nearby sectors and it was impossible to pass through the area. Many freighters had to take longer routes to rich worlds nearby, as the rocks that were floating around were sampling to big for such slow ships to handle.
For the colony, this was especially difficult news. After all, it had been established many years ago precisely because a mad man had destroyed their former planet and they had to resettle in an asteroid field. Somehow they were the only ones, or at least had that idea in mind, that understood how real war felt like and how scary fanatics could be. That’s why they knew it would happen again and it did.
Some of the colonists cried when they heard the news of the destruction, even more when they learned it had been a planet with a very large population and that had no why of responding to an attack of that magnitude. They had just died, with no way of even knowing they were going to die. The small room that served as temple to all religions in the colony was filled with flowers, one for each inhabitant. The guy that owned the flower shop was both happy and sad.
Younger colonists, like Gregor, were not as hurt by the destruction of the planet as their parents. They understood it was something awful but hadn’t been old enough to feel their planet been destroyed in order to have something to compare the feeling to. Besides, Gregor’s parents had been mining in a far away planet when theirs was destroyed. According to them, it was something they felt deep in their hearts and it their minds, but Gregor was too young back then and did not remember feeling anything.
Young colonists also worked and had responsibilities like helping around in the cargo area or in the commercial zone. The idea of the colony was that everyone could give something of themselves to make it all better for all inhabitants of the colony. It was a nice sentiment but difficult to handle as many passers by came in their lives for a few days and even a few hours. Ships came and went from the colony, used as a stopping point to refuel or have a decent meal before preceding their journey.
Pilots were normally very talkative people and the colony was rather closed to the outside world so every piece of news came from them. It was often boring to hear them talking about the same old subjects but sometimes they did have very interesting insights about the other inhabited planets in the galaxy and the power players beyond the Field.
Gregor was always interested in hearing the pilots talk. There was something in the way they told their stories, something so intimate and also universal, that made him want to leave the Field and get to know the world for himself. Once, sitting around fixing a machine in his family’s quarters, he decided to test the waters and get a conversation going with his parents about pilots and what they thought of them.
His mother was a bit scared of them, not only because some of them were aliens, and she wasn’t still very used to that, but because they took so many risks when going from one place to the other. In her mind, the galaxy was a very dangerous place, filled with villainous creatures. His dad was, on the other hand, very interested in them but knew that their job was very difficult and sometimes even deadly. Pilots took many risks and not everyone was built to be one of them.
Silence followed the conversation and Gregor broke it, by announcing he would love to be a pilot someday. His parents reacted in horror, dropping what they were doing, and looking at him as if he was sick. It was the first time they told him to go to his room and stay there doing nothing. They always wanted him to be helping, to be doing stuff, but now they just wanted him to be isolated and locked behind a door so he could think about what he had said and they could think how to counter that.
The thing is, of course, it wasn’t and idea he had elaborated on that day. Gregor had been thinking of becoming a pilot for a long time. He even discussed it with a couple of pilots that told him that new blood was always needed but that it was essential that he had the courage to do what they sometimes didn’t have a choice of doing. Some of them had killed people, defending their cargo, their crew or their passengers. They were skilled not only in flying ships but also in different kinds of combat.
It was a difficult thing for Gregor as any type of weapon was forbidden in the planet and any fights meant jail. The colony had gone out of its way to ensure that its inhabitants could live a life better than the one in other places. They thought that by banning violence, they would avoid it altogether, forever. But that wasn’t the case. After all it was a spaceport and fights always broke out and authorities couldn’t just arrest pilots transporting important cargo.
That night he spent in his room; Gregor used it to think about what he was going to do with his life. He really wanted to go away, to leave the colony and get to know other places and he was sure he could be a great pilot, even if he had never even tried to pilot anything.
Decided and realizing his parents would never let him to do what he wanted, Gregor decided to just leave one night and try his luck in the outside world. He knew he could die or something worse but he didn’t mind. He was sick of staying behind, of just waiting for things to happen in his life. He wanted to be amazed by the galaxy and to see all that every planet had to offer with his own two eyes.
One night, he went out of his room and left home with only a small bag with clothes and other essentials. His parents had not talked to him after their failed conversation and he was still hurt by it so he didn’t left them any kind of letter telling them what he was about to do. He just left and ran through corridor and hangars in order to get to the cargo area, were ships were refueled and taken care of.
Gregor hid behind some crates containing food and waited until the workers left. It was well known that no ships could leave for some hours in the night, so he just waited there for all the workers to leave. The flight prohibition was only good for a couple of hours but it was more than enough for him to sneak into one of the ships and hide inside it. Once they realized he was there, it would be too late and no pilot would go back just for a kid escaping his parents.
He entered the nearest ship, a typical cargo freighter, and hid between the tanks it was transporting. As he was not very tall and skinny, he could easily hide sitting down among all those tanks. After some minutes, he realized those were fuel tanks and decided it was maybe not a very good idea to travel near any of that. After all, it could blow it in any given second and his journey would be over.
The ship next to that one was transporting cages and something made an awful noise inside of them. The third and last ship carried the typical crates and he went for it but wanted to go back as soon as he felt the awful smell in his nostrils. It was really awful, probably some kind of food considered a delicacy in another world but certainly not in the Field. He was about to leave when the ship closed its back door and he was trapped.
He hadn’t realized the prohibition was over and all three ships departed at the same time. He had to hide there, among the stench, and try not to be detected. But after a while he just couldn’t hold it and started coughing like a lunatic. It was too loud for the pilot to ignore it. The door to the cockpit opened and Gregor was surprised to see a very tall women look at him and say: “You’re gonna die if you stay here. Come”. And he did and that’s how his big adventure started.