Lanie's eyes shot open and everyone was clapping. The stage was filled with the ten new Captains and everyone was shaking hands. She looked around her in horror, this couldn't be happening! Lanie was top in her class!
She looked at the floor, and watched her shoes become wet as her tears hit them. Hearing them call her name, she wiped her tears and walked with her head down to receive her assignment.
"Congratulations Miss Romein, your scores were one of the highest. You will find you have a very important job on the bridge." The man said smiling and handing her orders to her.
Lanie murmured under her breath, "Captain Romein." snatching her orders from his hand she turned and left the stage, and then she kept right on walking.
No one seemed to notice that she didn't rejoin her classmates. Lanie went to her room and collected her things.
"Lanie? What are you doing? Moving so soon? Did you really get the commendation?" Cleo was full of questions.
Lanie said nothing and continued to methodically collect her belongings. Her parents came by her room once they realized she wasn't in the auditorium, and they got much the same silent treatment.
Cleo and Lanie's parents watched as she put the last item in a bag. She turned towards them and said, "I won't be back." Pushing through them to the door, she never looked back.
Everything she owned was in the bags, one she threw over her shoulder. They were heavy, but she dragged them along with determination. Using her parent's money for the last time, she spent the day preparing for her future.
Stowing her bags in lockers at the spaceport, she started to ask many questions leading her from one person to another. By mid afternoon, she was on her way to see a guy about a spaceship.
Starships were too new at that time to have any being decommissioned; smaller ships like the shuttle weren't available to the public yet either. What were left were spaceships that were made for the very rich. After the newness wore off, they usually were sold back or abandoned and refurbished. Only a few hundred were made.
Lanie negotiated a fair price as long as she could get a full tank of fuel. The man agreed he knew it would be a long time before anyone would come along again with an offer to buy one.
"When you're ready to take off I will have this taxied down to where I can open an air lock to let you out. You sure you know how to handle his thing?" He asked.
"Just have it fueled and ready." Lanie answered him, "I'll be back in an hour."
Retrieving her bags and doing a little shopping for food and supplies, she arranged for everything to be delivered to the used transportation yard.
Already having disengaged herself from anyone human, she was ready to leave. She stopped off at random bar, and ordered two shots, then quickly downed them. Her next stop was to acquire Captain's attire, deciding on skin hugging black leather, she looked in the mirror and nodded. Reaching over to the sales desk, she grabbed a pair of scissors, and quickly chopped off her reddish hair in a jagged pattern.
"Any hair gel?" She asked.
Without a word, the sales lady dug in her purse and handed some hair gel to Lanie.
Lanie spiked her hair to stick out in all directions, "There." She said to her reflection.
She took public transportation to where she bought the spaceship. Lanie saw everything had already been delivered.
"Let's get this show on the road." She spoke to the man who had sold her the ship.
"Where's your crew?" He asked.
"Ain't got one."
"He shook his head, "You should have at least one other person!"
"Look, I just came from the academy. I know how to pilot the damn thing!"
"Well, don't go very far. Keep an eye on the fuel! Before you use more than half, you had better head back. There's a lot going on up there, a lot of things to consider, it's not as easy as it looks."
"Who are you? My mother? Get me to the fuckin' airlock!"
The man shrugged and motioned for her to follow him.
The ship stood ready for her to take command. The man helped her load her supplies onto the ship.
"You aren't gonna need all this. The fuel will only last a few days, even if you conserve it. The air will last as long as there is fuel to run the purifier."
Lanie stood looking at him for a moment, and then she dug around in her bag. Finding her red nail polish, she went to the side of the ship near the door and began to write:
Captain Lanie Romein
A.K.A. The Ice Queen
The man quickly threw the remaining items in the ship, hoping she would leave as soon as possible.
Lanie boarded the ship and before she closed the door, the man called to her, "Blink your landing lights when you want the lock opened.
She gave him a thumbs up. Lanie closed the door and sat down at the console. It looked familiar, sort of. Finding the important things, life support, fuel, etc., she turned her attention to the rest of the ship. The bathroom was stocked, check. Sleeping quarters, check. Mechanical room, check. Sitting at the console again, she took a deep breath, and then started the engines. The panels came alive with lights blinking. Lanie took a few more minutes, and then blinked the landing lights. Doors in front of the ship parted, and she taxied the ship forwards. Once she had cleared them, they closed behind her, then seconds later the ones in front opened and she looked out at the darkness before her. "Just like the simulator." she said in a whisper. The ship rolled forward and lifted, she was airborne. She was going to the stars to find Azano.
By the end of the first day, she was comfortable enough with her ship to relax and enjoy the view. What she once saw as a young girl, she now looked at closer and with a purpose in mind. The crazy part was she didn't even know if she was going the right direction. It's not as if Azano had left his address for her. This was the quadrant, however, that signals came from, leading scientists to believe life could be found in this direction. It was a job for the Starships, and they would leave in droves to comb the area and beyond. Lanie knew she didn't have any chance in venturing far enough to reach Azano's planet. Her disappointment and anger drove her into the heavens.
The second day was upon her and she looked at the fuel gage, she had used almost half. Looking out of the panoramic window above the console, she sighed. Distant stars and the blackness of space returned her gaze. Her eyes dropped to the console, and she shut the engines down. Life support still used fuel but not nearly as much. The spaceship cabin grew quiet.
Leaning her forehead against the window she said, "Azano, I don't know where you are... I thought you would come back for me. You didn't..." Slumping to the seat in front of the console, she sighed again. Lanie wanted to cry, but she couldn't; maybe she was the Ice Queen, everyone said she was. Her hand came up slowly and she stuck one finger out, purposely starting the engines, but not changing course.