44 – Bounty

He had just liberated his people, and they would probably kill him when they found out.

They had been running for so long that children had been born on board the ship, children who’s whole world was nothing but steel corridors filled with recycled air.

But no matter where they tried to settle, their old masters would always find them. Every time they found a promising planet the hunter ships would appear out of nowhere, forcing them to flee.

There were rumors spreading down the cramped corridors. Even he had begun to think they must have magic powers… until he checked the comm logs.

Everybody on board had left someone behind –family, friends, lovers– each one a single thin thread of a huge rope pulling them back into the masters’ grasp.

A single furtive call, that’s all the hunters needed to trace them anywhere they went.

He had shorted out the main comm relay circuit and set the ship on a new course, away from any charted routes. They were truly alone now.

Two months later they found this tiny system. The fourth planet circling around the binary was almost perfect.

They fixed an orbit, waiting for the hunter ships. They never came.

A couple of scout missions confirmed what they had hoped, the planet’s atmosphere was not only breathable, but its flora and fauna were compatible with their biochemistry. They could drink, breathe and eat from it. It could become their home.

The ship landed, and they began to build a life here… but deep within, the rope kept pulling back.

Everyone kept thinking of those they left behind. Some wanted to send back probes to guide their loved ones here, or even go look for them with the ship.

It was then he knew then what he had to do.

Just like the comlinks before it, the ship was a bridge to their former life. It too would  have to burn.

The first rays of the double sun painted the ship’s hull in gold and reds as it slowly took off, empty. He had set the course straight into the heart of the larger star.

He could hear the voices from the nearby camp, some were angry, others despaired.

He stood there, watching as the ship became a tiny gleaming dot in the sky. The voices kept getting closer, and louder.

He didn’t care.

Whether they knew it or not, they were now truly free.

• • •

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