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The Embargo III set off with three people aboard. One pilot—not quite a man but easily as dedicated as one— one other man, actually a man, who went beyond dedication, and one boy who, when the idea of trying came into his mind, simply couldn't.

None of the three would be loved, should they succeed. None of the three were loved in the first place, at least not by anyone outside of the ship. And, if the mission failed, none of them would survive, not in a world which, as Nathan had been told, was heading to decay itself.

Only one of them was happy to be going.

Nathan Briggs was a fifteen-year-old boy, and he wasn't the happy one. He didn't like random parts of the ship poking into him. He didn't like the way his legs squished together to avoid kicking anything important (on a ship that was barely ten times his size). He didn't like being hungry, or thirsty, or dizzy, and he especially didn't like the bag of vomit he had been adding to with every shake of the half-functioning ball his father called a ship

Simply put, Nathan didn't like this. Nathan wanted to go home to his doomed world. He wasn't loved in this world, but he wasn't vomiting, there was plenty of space, and on rare days when the well would give, there would be water. On the ship there was only alcohol. His father stirred around a glass of Le Chat Noir whiskey. His third glass in the last hour.

William had twice the bags under his eyes his son did, mostly stress-induced, and his green eyes bounced around frantically, as if he was constantly thinking. He hadn't taken care of himself in a long time, with his short raven black hair jutting out in a dozen directions. Dirt was visible on his face, though it was hard to distinguish from the stubble that was his beard. His entire body was moving in little ways, with his right hand going back and forth from fiddling with the collar of his charcoal black lab coat to wiping off things that Nathan couldn't see from his matching dark grey khakis. He tapped his shoes along the back of Renold's seat, slowly pulling and pushing them on and off against the rough surface. The last nonstop movement was in the other hand as he continued to spin his glass of Le Chat Noir whiskey.

Just a couple hours before, a shake in the ship made William spill his spinning whiskey, leading to him cursing and whining, commanding Renold to drive better despite knowing full well the shakes weren't his fault. The fault was William's for spinning the glass wildly in such tight quarters, but once the shaking stopped and another glass was poured, he span it again.

At the time, Nathan was fuming in his head. You're the one with all the leg room, the open window, the biggest seat, and you make the mess!

The only person who let out their frustrations then was William onto Nathan, who had just upchucked for the second time with the sudden shake.

"Nathan, I don't want to smell that! Did you really have to do it? Why couldn't you hold it in?"

"I don't feel like smelling an alcoholic either, but I guess we're both stuck."

"You little-!"

"Quiet, you two!" Renold had said.

William rolled his eyes and stuck out his tongue, then went back to his drink, muttering something unintelligible. Nathan wiped his mouth and folded his puke bag, so that it was sealed and wouldn't spill like the liquor, but still be easily accessible should he need it again. He knew he would. He'd keep puking until the bag filled up, or until his stomach ran out. Nathan grabbed his belly. It was rumbling for food and vomiting it out at the same time.

Nathan had not vomited again since, but his stomach didn't feel any better. He wasn't trained for this kind of travel like they were. He'd never set a foot off land. Off Sabyn. Outer space was far out of his comfort zone.

As he reminisced, another series of shakes and bumps rocked the ship. Nathan covered his mouth and closed his eyes. In his mind he was standing on the ground, dust flying by and staining his blue jeans, and the well was in front of him. The only chore worth doing was pumping water up that well. Something about the action was calming. It repeated. It was simple. The last time he pumped water was the morning before his father would unveil the 'Revolution of the world. Strongest feat of ingenuity. The key to eternity. My last child. The Embargo III!'.

The ship steadied, and Nathan opened his eyes. No vomit from him. His father held onto his whiskey tight. Everything was fine. He was fine. Nathan grabbed his stomach.

Nope...

He pulled the bag over and puked again. William groaned and covered his eyes at the sight of it, cursing, "Dammit, Nathan! I wanted this trip to be nice!"

"You should've built a better ship," He said, wiping his mouth.

"Shut up, or I leave you out there."

"I didn't want to go. You could've let me stay home. I told you, I can't handle this. I can't focus or rest, and I'm hungry..." He trailed off, "And tired, I don't even know what the hell we're doing..."
"Saving everything. I've gone over this."

"With a barely-functioning ship?" Nathan questioned, "Without any safety features, and food or water, or even room to stretch out?"

"You're a baby! We don't need those things for this plan."

"You call this a plan?" Nathan continued, "Without knowing where we are going? With the hope that a stupid myth is true?"

"It's not a myth!" He protested.

Nathan groaned, "We aren't planning, we're winging it. There's a thousand variables. Nothing about this is safe, to me. Nothing about this sounds like a plan. Nothing about this sounds like humanity's last hope. And if it is, then we have no hope! Even if what you say is true..."

"You don't know what you're talking about!" William exclaimed, "You're a kid. You can't build a potato clock when I explain every step. You're a simpleton. I made this! I made a ship! This is my ship! My ship!" He repeated, "I am the boss. I know what I'm doing. I say, shut up. I say, if you puke again, I'll make you eat it. I say, get over it. The world turned its back on life, but I won't."

"How noble," Nathan muttered.

"What did you say?"

"Nothing..."

"Damn right," William grunted. "Renold, how close are we?"

"A... ways away, sir. I project about two more hours until arrival. Until then, I say we all just take a look out into the stars. There's so much to wonder with them, is there not? You two have a lot of hostility from being in here, so tightly next to one another. It would be better if we sat and relaxed. We'll get there soon, sir."

Nathan didn't say a word, but William protested still, "Why am I taking orders on my own ship? I can do what I want!"

"Sir, I-"

William put both his feet up on the back of Renold's seat, raising a finger in the air, and said, "I think—no, I believe— we can do it in one hour! I say we can get in there, get that damn cube, and get home in time for supper!"

"Sir, pleas-"

"I can do everything! I don't take orders from anyone! You think Nate could do what I could? You think he deserves a right to say what he thinks, when he doesn't care about the fate of his own life? His own universe?"

"Well, Sir..."

"I am not dealing with any of this!" He exclaimed, "I am doing great things! Great things! And I-"

"William!" Renold interrupted.

Nathan flinched at the unusual burst. He looked at his father, who looked down and clenched his fists, biting his lip, but holding a solemn expression.

Renold broke the silence, "We will be there in two hours, give or take a bit."

"Two hours?" William asked in a whisper.

"Two hours."

"Okay..." William licked his lips and turned to his window. He started spinning his whiskey again.

Nathan folded back up his vomit bag and set it to his right. He turned to the other side and looked out a much smaller window than what his father had.

The stars were more apparent in space. That was the first thing he noticed. They were more visible in his remote house in the middle of nowhere than most of Sabyn's bustling cities, but they were the most rare in his part than any other, and even that sky sprawled out with stars didn't compare to what was just a sheet of glass away. He put his hand on the window. When on the ground, more often when he was younger, he wanted to touch the stars. His father had told him some stories, not many, but a few about what was past the atmosphere. Up there in the sky, to Nathan, was an endless sea of potential. He used to wonder if one of those stars were a portal to take him away to a place where they weren't running. A place with some full trees. Somewhere better. A place where he could lay on the grass in barely any clothes, listen to the wind, sleep the whole day away. Peace.

Now, when he looked at them, after learning they weren't portals, Nathan wished they would explode. Take him away, and everything with him, so he could stop worrying, and go to sleep. Eternal sleep. He never had a good night's rest.

He hadn't slept since the morning before they took off. It had to have been a whole day since then. Nathan needed some rest before all of this world-saving and adventuring began. He thought it would be difficult with the bumping, but as he closed his eyes he felt an immediate slip of consciousness. The sounds around him dulled down. His breathing steadied. The world went black.

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Brandon Erickson
Author
Author Works

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