The alarm buzzed. Sparky shouted. Andromeda groaned.
She had to be up two hours earlier than her normal schedule to join Dad at work. Her excitement from last night didn’t feel as powerful when she really wanted another few minutes in bed.
“Time to GO!” Sparky shouted and liked her face. He needed to be let out so she could get ready for the morning. Andromeda turned over in her bed. “A few more minutes.” But sparky wasn’t having it. Hewas jumping on her and sniffing in her hair, making it so uncomfortable that in fact she was very much ready to rise.
“Gettof Sparky” she said. They both got down and their morning flew by. Andromeda took Sparky out. She changed and helped her mom get breakfast ready. At one moment her dad made some comment but Andromeda didn’t hear. She was a mix of too tired and excited. She drank her cappuccino, a special treat from mom.
“Alright daughter of mine, let’s head out.” Dad said. His wrist com buzzed with incoming messages from his team. He touched his ear.
“Danny, I’m on my way. Bringing in my daughter with me. Show her the ropes that kind of thing.Okay. Andi? It’s time to go.“Dad said. At that moment, Maffei walked sleepily into the dinning room. Dad caught him up in his arms, gave him a squeeze and set him down. He headed toward the door with Andromeda and Sarky close on his heels.
“Ani,” her mother called. “You really going to bring that dog?”
Andromeda and Sparky looked back but her dog responded first “Of course I am going! I’m going to see a tree today!” Andromeda shrugged her shoulders and they were off! She and her dad (and Sparky of course) went to the large elevator on the base. This was new territory for her and she couldn’t wait to see more. In her short time on the base, Andromeda had been able to explore only very close to the family unit. That meant she had seen the hallways, her neighbors and even the unit garden area where she took Sparky. But beyond that, she hadn’t been allowed to go any further. Since the base was an outpost, there were certain protocols that had to be followed. Andromeda noticed that certain rules felt like old rules from the days when the military was in charge of the base. Currently, the Scientists of the Allied Nations (SAN) were in charge of the base.Hence why her dad was given the opportunity to work there for a year.
The three of them worked their way through different hallways and rooms. It seemed like a maze. Sometimes Dad would use his ID to access different doors or stairs. By the time her father said, “We’re here” Andromeda had lost all sense of direction and couldn’t tell which way was up. She blinked.
“Here” referred to the large farms that her father helped maintain. It was the largest room she had seen on the base yet. She and her father stood in the doorway of a huge open space. It reminded her of the gymnasium at her school on Earth except this space was at least 4 times that size.
“Dad! It’s huge!” Andromeda said. She loved how high the ceilings were here.
“Yeah, I thought you might like how big this place is,” he said.
Sparky couldn’t contain his excitement. With a quick “The TREES!” He had bolted from the door and was wandering through the rows of vegetables and crops.
“Sparky!” Andromeda started to chase after her dog. He had just snuck between two rows of tomato crops. She heard her dog start to growl. A voice from farther down the row said, “Now look what the cat dragged in. Oh come on pup, you don’t think you can hurt me, do’ya?”
Her father laughed from behind. “Hey there Danny!” he called out. “That’s my daughter’s dog Sparky and this is Andromeda.” Danny had come into view between the rows and was smiling down at the dog who was circling his feet.
“Hiya there Miss Andromeda. Welcome to have you.” Danny said. He was a big man with a friendly smile. Andromeda didn’t believe that it was possible for humans to be that big, but there Danny was standing in front of her. She smiled up and noticed a slight blue tint at the tip of his nose and ears. She wondered if it were the effects of the antiviral medication that everyone on base took. Apparently if your skin was light enough and you took the medicine long enough, you could develop discoloration in areas where there was low blood flow. On people with darker skin, such as her family, you wouldn’t see such results. Andromeda had read about this happening in books, but it was a surprise to see it happening in real life.
“Hi Danny. It’s nice to meet you.” Andromeda stuck out her hand for a handshake. Danny looked at it a bit confused and then awkwardly shook her hand.
“Don’t worry Danny, you didn’t just sign your soul over to be cursed for a thousand years. It’s just that on Earth we still do handshakes for greetings.” Dad said.
Danny smiled and said “Yeah, I remembered your Earthen ways. I find myself to be a cultured man. So here I am shaking your daughter’s hand. Now that we’ve done the Earthen greeting let’s do the 678 one. Come-on Philip, let’s show her.”
Andromeda didn’t know there was a separate greeting for this planet. She watched as her dad and Danny faced each other. They lifted both hands , palms facing forward. Then they each bowed their heads and lowered their hands.
“Comes from the old “I see what you are holding in your hands, you nasty bastard.” Danny said and her father laughed. Then motioning to Andromeda he said,“Let’s go an-get round this old place so we can show you everything.”
Andromeda realized something. “You were born here. Weren’t you.” she said
Danny sheepishly shrugged. “Caught me red handed, miss. Born ‘n raised on 678 It’s why I got a touch of the ‘blue’ and an accent that I’m told sounds like I’m from a place on Earth called ‘Tex-ass’.”
Andromeda giggled. She had never heard someone pronounce Texas like that. Hearing Danny, the biggest man she’d ever met say it, made it all the more funny.
Her dad, Danny and Andromeda walked through rows of crops. Every few yards, her father would inspect the robotic sprinkler arm. Sometimes he made notes into his wrist com. Sometimes he and Danny discuss mechanical things that didn’t really make sense to Andromeda. Luckily Sparky seemed a bit spooked by the large expansive space so he stayed close to her. Andromeda marveled at the rows and rows of food. Each crop had its own irrigation system and monitors that helped maintain the quality of the food. It was a huge operation. She had not thought about how important it was to make sure the food for the base was properly maintained.
“Who picks the tomatoes when they are ripe?” Andromeda asked. Danny turned and said “Luckily we have robots who do that. We might even meet one later today. Bez-ez, I call ‘um. Cause they are busy Beez.”
Sparky barked. Then Andromeda felt a buzz from her wrist com. Both Danny and Dad were looking at their wrist com’s too. She tapped her ear.
“Attention all residents of base 678. Code AGAVE. I repeat Code AGAVE. Return to your family units until further information can be supplied.” Andromeda gasped. Something was wrong. The message in her ear repeated “Attention all residents-” it said. She looked at her Dad and Danny. They were both still listening to their message, apparently given a longer explanation due to their security clearances.
Danny swore. Her father swayed.
“Alright, Cap” Danny said. “We’ll expedite the harvest Beez and let you know the total. Not sure there is much else we can do. Over and out”
Her father looked at Andromeda then glanced at Sparky. “I need to get you home asap.” he said.
“But Dad” Andromeda said as she and her dog followed her father back to the entrance. “What’s happening?”
Danny had followed along. “Something that shouldn’t have happened for another 500 years. There’s an asteroid on a collision course with 678.”
Her Dad looked back at Danny. “I’ll leave it up to you boss. I’ll take Andromeda home and then back to help.” he said.
Danny clapped a hand on his shoulder. “This is a first for you Philip. Make sure your family is safe. Come back when the Captain announces the code CAPER.”
Her dad shook his head and they headed out the door.
An asteroid headed to crash into Planet 678? Andromeda couldn’t believe it. Sparky followed at her heels, aware of some sort of danger. He had said nothing. What did this mean for everyone on the planet?