Angeleyes - eARC

Free Angeleyes - eARC by Michael Z. Williamson

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Authors: Michael Z. Williamson
stationed themselves.
    After they were all queued, I checked both pods, and scrolled through as their phones logged them offboard. A couple had theirs turned off, but I was able to get them from memory.
    Astrogator Jones was on duty at the lock. He had his own small daughter with him. I wondered. A lot of ships are family businesses, and I could guess why they wouldn’t risk their kids running around the refugees.
    “Hi!” I said to her. To him, I said, “Sir, that’s everyone as far as I can tell. You’re clear.”
    “Thanks, Spacer,” he said officially. “We can’t pay for Distressed passage, and we’re short fuel and op cost for this anyway. If we could we would, but . . .” He paused and I nodded. Then he said, “We appreciate it, Angie. You took a lot of the load off. Safe space to you, and good luck with Juletta’s family.”
    “Thank you. And same.” I reached into the tube. “Hang on, Juletta, it’s time for that ride.”
    I hate long tubes, but I went hand over hand and built up a good clip.
    Juletta went, “Wheeeeee!” and seemed to enjoy it a lot.
    Then I ran up against the rear of the habitots. That term so often fits them. I slowed to a crawl as they figured out how to get out of the tube and into the station. The tube swayed and shifted and felt entirely unsafe, even though I know they are. An entire ship can move and I’m fine. This was a shifting deck. The floor is supposed to be solid.
    Once in station we had to go up from the cargo level to the docking level proper, then through another field lock, and finally into the dock itself.
    Which had about a million people in it.
    “Hold my hand and don’t let go,” I told her. She could get lost here and never find anyone, including me. I took a few moments to unpack her leash.
    There were station crew around with floating banners that said, “LOCATOR.”
    I found the nearest, then looked for one further away. I hoisted Juletta up under my arm, with my bag swinging around me, and pushed through the crowd, never letting up, and moving forward inch by inch.
    Once I reached that one, I had to wait for several others to finish asking about their families. The crowd was a loud, shouting, crying mess, and there was no line.
    But he saw Juletta, and that she didn’t look much like me—she was pretty much Anglo all through.
    “Juletta. She’s not good with her last name.”
    Juletta said, “Pkason.” I was surprised. I didn’t know she knew it at all. I guess she was being private and safe, even with me.
    “There’s a Parkerson,” he said.
    “Yes!” she said.
    “That way, third alcove.” He pointed along the pax terminal.
    It wasn’t a terrible shove to get through, through, but gods, my arm was tired from carrying an eighteen-kilo kid, even in reduced G. I made it to that alcove, and there were actually gaps between clumps of people. That was as organized as it was, though. I joined the milling about, listening to shouts as people were reunited.
    Then suddenly—
    “DAAADDY!” Juletta screamed, yanked loose and ran across the bay, dodging and shoving past legs. I followed as best I could, bumping people with my pack.
    A man stopped and turned, stunned. The woman next to him came around to see what was going on. As soon as she was visible, Juletta yelled, “MOOOOM!” and quickened her pace to a sprint across a small clearing. I was running to keep up, trying not to batter through people.
    They both looked thoroughly in shock, and he dropped to his knees. Juletta launched herself from three meters back, and landed like a cat, all four limbs wrapped around his neck and torso. “DAD! I’M GLAD TO SEE YOU!” she shouted.
    Her mother threw herself around the side, and there was a veritable river of tears. “Oh, I love you, little girl!” he said. Her mother couldn’t speak. I just stood back for now. This was going to be awkward.
    “Lovey too!” she said, a bit calmer. They stayed like that for a long time, and I

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