Eden was cruising through the nebula at half the speed of light. She was a Wanderer class starship – a fully self-sufficient, highly mobile, sentient, micro-world – that had flown the galaxy for 100 thousand years, precisely. For today was her birthday. She was braking hard now, gathering trace raw materials for the next sowing.
Things were progressing well, she thought. She would need to overhaul her engines, but there would be time for that. Malcolm, dressed in a long white robe which matched his unruly hair, stood silently on one of the many balconies of the pilothouse, looking out at the frozen swirls of backlit gas clouds they were now cutting through. The shades of colors – many reds, yellows, oranges, even blues – were beyond number.
The pilothouse was really more the size and shape of a mountain. Before this massive construction extended the main deck of Eden for kilometers. The balcony gave Malcolm a view of the city, where the residents of the ship lived, with its buildings and lights. Over the city, stood the awesome central arch, a full kilometer in radius, and part of the all-important field generation and manipulation that the ship used to slice through space and make this world their home. The arch, being highly reflective, stood in contrast to the black of nearby deep space.
“You needed to see me, Malcolm?” asked the ship. The sultry feminine voice was a projection from nowhere in particular.
“No, not really. The new designs are going well, as you know. We will have to tweak on-site, of course. The usual.”
“Yes, of course. I am intrigued by the new designs, if I may say so. I think your protege, Madeline, has some very interesting ideas on the high altitude biomes.”
“I’ll tell her that you said so. She’ll like that.” Malcolm paused and looked to his left. “This is most impressive.” He meant the nebula.
“By design, as you no doubt guessed,” she said. “Today is my 100 K birthday.”
“Oh, I knew it was a new year today, but … well, you’ve given yourself a memorable present, Eden.”
“I’ll be too old to visit, won’t I?”
“Maybe, Malcolm. Field work is difficult as you know. And, your work here is important. You know how I feel about your designs. You’re truly one of my favorite artists. But…”
“But, what, Eden?”
“Oh, I was just thinking, Malcolm. I am not just about the sowing. I am a collector.”
“I don’t follow.”
“I am a collector of experiences and my most cherished collection is my travels.”
“Haven’t I been fair to you, Malcom?”
“Oh, yes. Of course.”
“Well, I think I shall continue to be. I want you to develop and be a collector as well. Consider it a gift from me.”
Malcolm grinned like a little boy. “Thank you, Eden.” He felt choked up and cleared his throat. “And, happiest of birthdays to you, my friend.”
Copyright © 2014 Eric A. Schweitz