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Voyage (Ch. 1)

Chapter 1

Neb

“Passengers, please make your way towards the Jump Room and fasten yourself into your assigned seat. In approximately 45 minutes, we will be passing through Amnite Jump Portal. Intense turbulence will follow the passing of this portal for roughly five minutes until we exit out of the Milky Way Jump Portal. Please stand by for further instructions.”

There is an immediate buzz of excitement throughout the main cabin of the ship that I’m sure is shared with the rest of the occupants in other areas. It almost seems as if there is an immediate shift in everyone’s direction as we all make our way to the Jump Room. This ship’s Jump Room is quite large, as there are about 2,000 people on board, and shares a slight resemblance to old timey airplane cabins. There are rows of plush seats with thick straps and buckles to ensure that you don’t move much during takeoff, landing, or portal jumping. There are three columns with six seats in a row. Unlike old timey airplanes cabins, we only spend a small amount of time sitting in these seats.

I follow the large group headed for the Jump Room, not bothering to look for my family beforehand. Our seats are altogether, and I’ll meet up with them there. As I walk, I hear bits of conversation around me. A lot of other passengers are excited for their first—and possibly only—trip to our Motherworld. It’s an expensive trip, and a lot of people never get the experience of seeing where our ancestors thought we came from, so for a lot of these people this is the chance of a lifetime.

Not for me, however, or my family. I’ve been to our Motherworld—planet Earth—at least 20 times. My parents are both part of the cleanup and restoration crew for older, humanoid inhabited planets. That means these expensive vacation trips for most people are covered for my parents, as their tickets are comped by the company they work for. The job doesn’t actually pay well, but it covers most of our living expenses. My parents slave away their lives to a clean up company, and in return we get to travel the universe. It sounds like a fair trade, but it’s not as glamorous as it sounds, and our family normally gets stuck in the slumps.

I push those thoughts out of my mind and just try to enjoy the next part of our journey through space with everyone else. Most trips through space don’t normally require going through a jump portal, even though every galaxy has one. However we’re coming from a pretty newly inhabited stellar system, about 630 KPC from the Solar System. That’s more light years than I know how to comprehend. The Jump Portals in each galaxy allow for travel from that far away to be shortened significantly. Trips that would maybe take a few years are shortened to just a month or less. The portals themselves were originally made when scientists created technology that allowed us to harness the power of these portals, and gain control over where they spit us out. Since then, they have learned to recreate these portals’ energy and make man made portals for ships to pass through. The Amnite Jump Portal happens to be on original portal scientists found just within the Amnite Galaxy, and the Milky Way Portal a man made one.

Within 40 minutes, everyone is sitting in the Jump Room. My parents chat quietly to themselves about where we will be staying for the next six months, while my two little brothers play on their handheld games, fighting over who will get to play which game next. As I look around the room, I see a mix of anxious and excited expressions on people nearby. Most of these people have never experienced a jump through a portal, and aren’t sure what to expect.

“Passengers.” The loud speakers overhead boom to life, ready to give us more instructions. “Within the next five minutes, we will start to feel the pull of the Amnite Jump Portal. There will be slight turbulence as we are pulled towards to portal, and it will pick up dramastically as we pass through the portal. Please, make sure you and everyone around you is safely secured into their seat harness. This turbulence will last about five minutes. To ensure your safety during this time, please double check now that everyone around you is securely fastened to their seats.” There’s a pause in the instructions to give everyone time to double check. My mom tells my brothers, Jace and Miles, to put away their games, and she pulls their straps a little tighter. “Passengers, sit tight and we will return after the jump with further instructions.”

A hush falls over the large room, with only quiet whispers from those who aren’t as anxious about the jump. Those whispers quickly fade away once the ship gives a small shutter, the first indication of the jump through the portals. Thirty seconds later the ship gives another slight shudder and I can hear a collective sharp inhale from everyone in the room. Another, stronger shudder, and I feel my hands involuntarily grip my seat's armrests. After that, the real turbulence starts.

The ship begins to shudder and shake, becoming more violent as the seconds pass. The further into the jump we get, the more it feels like what I can only describe as a plane crashing down from the sky. I can’t get a great look around, but from what I can see on other people’s faces are looks of terror or grimes as they fight the fear with logical thoughts. I’m snapped out of my own thoughts about the jump as the ship gives the biggest shudder I’ve ever felt on trip, and all the lights in the cabin go out unexpectedly. A few screams ring throughout the room, and some younger kids start crying loudly. The ship continues to give with the same aggressiveness for a little longer than the jump to the Milky Way Portal is supposed to take. Then it stops altogether, and slowly the lights come back on.

“Passengers, please stay seated until further notice.” The speakers leave us with that ominous message. I can’t help but feel uneasy. Normally they tell you it’s okay to unbuckle and return back to the main cabin or your rooms. Never have they asked us to stay seated. Something isn’t right.