“We are pregnant.” Gloria blurted out a few moments after Nye had arrived. As probably intended the gathered family members were confused. Not as to how, but which one of them was. “Both of us.” Jeannine tweeted as happily as possible.
Franziska snickered, watching the still confused family. The two had applied as a married couple, had both their implants deactivated by default and then went to have procedures taken. “A loophole in regulations.” She cleared up the apparent confusion, followed by the details.

After several, seemingly age long, hours Nye sat down on a cushioned seat in the quarters now occupied by Franziska and her husband, who was out with a friend. It felt good to sit again. “So, what else is new on 296?” Franziska put a cup of water down on the table for Nye and one for herself. “Species on that planet seem to be predominantly trisexual. We have had observations of the natives that supported that notion, but only recently have we had the chance to examine their DNA. Like most of the indigenous life there, they have three genders.” It had already been established that most species on 296 were trisexual, it came as a surprise to Franziska that the sentient natives were too. “Imagine that! Finding two partners to have children. You wouldn’t need to live with one other person, but two. Not two have to be in the mood, but all three of them. If one doesn’t feel like it, the whole thing’s off!”
Nye had to snicker at that remark. She very well knew the struggle.
Mostly it had been her who wasn’t in the mood, but still. “I believe that two of them can do it, but without any offspring resulting from that union. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn one day, that they have religious scripture forbidding a union of two as sin, much like masturbation, homosexuality and sex for anything but procreation were doomed evil by many religions in our past.” The water was infused with a hint of lemon, perhaps even fresh lemon juice. Nye sloshed the cool liquid around her mouth, savoring the delicious taste.
“Equatoria is remarkably void of any inhabitants, save for wildlife. Ericsson drones have found evidence of previous settlements on the north shore, but they were soon abandoned, probably due to the geologic instability of the region. They set sails again and went home.” Neither could understand. After a lifetime on the Explorer they would settle even on the quake ridden north shore of Equatoria. Franziska had been born on the ship, and Nye was one of the very few who had boarded the ship back on earth. She had finished her doctorate degree within the solar system, found love just barely outside it.
Some nights the fiery streaks on the night sky still haunted her dreams, although she found solace in what once was a nightmare.
In there she saw her father again, in that dream she was young again.

Weeks passed, turned to months.
Nye found herself taking a liking to the new quarters.
Crammed, small, functional.
A dream for someone who once worked in probe control, who liked having a multitude of things handy when you need them, in as little space as possible. Slowly but surely Jeannine’s and Gloria’s pregnancies began to show. Results from their implants showed that they expected a boy and a girl, just as planned, and that the fetuses were healthy.
Which was always good to hear.
Ever since their announcement Nye and Franziska met every fortnight to walk the gardens together. Ignoring the panting sounds from Franziska, Nye sat down on the bench next to her.
It seemed that these benches popped up everywhere in the ship’s gardens. The older woman figured it was due to the increasing numbers of senior inhabitants of the Explorer. The former Admiral rested her hands on her cane in front of her, catching her breath. “You’re in better shape than I am.” She admitted, with a tone of defeat in her voice. “If we were to do this weekly, you’d be in better shape too.”
Franziska was about to reply as she noticed that Nye began fumbling around her pockets, she pulled out a pair of glasses, put them on her head with a sorry expression. “What is it my dear?” Immediately Franziska knew that she was talking with Jeannine, even though she couldn’t hear a thing the young woman said.
“Is something wrong with the baby, you sound agitated!” Nye raised her voice.
After a moment or two the expression on Nye’s face grew pale. Worried Franziska motioned to be informed, Nye quickly shook her head, to let her know that the baby was fine. “I’ll be over as fast as I can, I’ll be bringing the former Admiral, she’ll want to hear this as well.”
After she ended the conversation Nye rose to her feet again. “Let’s get moving, nearest tube entrance is fifteen minutes,” she looked the former Admiral up and down, “let’s say twenty minutes away.” A healthy young person might only need ten minutes, Nye mused, but said nothing.
“What is that urgent thing?” Franziska panted as they sat down in the cab. To be sure that they were alone Nye looked around for a moment. “Antimatter radiation has been detected.” She whispered under her breath, put a finger on her lips as if to hush Franziska, who wasn’t going to say anything.
Something in her protested, and wanted official chains of command observed, but that would also mean she’d only get the minimum information from the news casts, not the full story. So her internal protest was silenced fairly quickly.

Upon the arrival of the two old women Jeannine immediately rushed them to a small room adjacent to the probe control room. She told them to remain silent, pointed at a screen and rushed out again.
Later she informed Nye that her eager colleague, Karla’s son, had passed on the information to the Admiral in the meantime.
The screen that Jeannine had pointed out to them, showed a video feed from the control room. Judging by the quality, the camera was a glasses device that Jeannine hastily set up. A mere minute after Jeannine had sat back down at her post, the Admiral entered, his first officer in tow. “What do you have for us?” His raspy voice was soothing to the ears, found Nye, but didn’t let that distract her from the information about to be revealed.

“Ericsson picked something up in the outer region of the solar system. ES-p296, a gas giant with three major moons and a bunch of tiny satellites, was pinpointed as the source. We sent thenprobe to investigate, but this is the first footage we received.” Jeannine put on her glasses and put in a command to show the information on one of the screens in the room.
Both Nye and Franziska felt weird, watching a screen, that displayed a screen displaying data. Magnification of the video footage showed an object appearing near one of the moons, and disappearing in its atmosphere. “ES-p296-1 is a moon that would classify as a planetary body on its own. It has a rich atmosphere, which would be breathable. Although far from the goldilock zone, it is kept warm by the gravitational tides created with ES-p296.” Jeannine paused shortly to elaborate that the moon was being pushed and pulled by the gravitational forces of its parent body and fellow moons, which caused enough friction to keep its interior hot.
Imformation that Nye and Franziska had since the probes originally passed through the system one by one,
“So this thing landed there?” Admiral Dean O’Neill raised his eyebrows, squinting at the screen. “Presumably.”
“It could also have moved off again, but there was no energy emission of such sort.” Karl also spoke with a distinct german accent, which baffled Nye. Schools were taught in English, and although all languages were endorsed, everyone from the younger generations Nye had met so far spoke accent free.
“Then we must assume this thing is still there. What can you tell us of it?”
Unseen to Nye and Franziska, Jeannine shrugged her shoulders. “Your guess is as good as mine. DEHumans, harpies, new aliens? Perhaps Ark2 fired up their antimatter drive and jumped ahead?”
“Unlikely, although they have the technology on the Kismet, they lack the antimatter. Keep this information under wraps for now, and aprise the Admiral and me if something new develops.” The first officer, Lucy Sandstroem, said in a stern tone, not blinking once with her blue eyes.
Recalling her name Nye realised that the names started to only give away the ancestors, but not the person anymore. Ever since the Destiny had started sending the infirmary based telenovela with a certain Dr. Lucy Hansen, and her love interest Dr. Frank Smith, who was later replaced by another actor as the original actor defected as a linker, many girls had been named Lucy.
With a shake of her head Nye pulled away from her thoughts. In age the mind becomes distracted again, she found, but concentrated on the screen again.
Admiral and first officer left, Jeannine excused herself, claiming to need another bathroom break due to the baby lying on her bladder, Karl just waved her off.