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Contents Copyright by Bruce Durham unless noted otherwise
The spaceport was at the far end of the bay – a collection of steel and concrete buildings, metal towers, loosely strung communication wires and rusted antenna arrays.

Charcoal-grey clouds obscured the mid-day sun while a stiff breeze blew across the rippling blue water. Fishing sloops rocked gently in the distance; gulls circled lazily overhead.

A well-worn shuttle was the port’s lone occupant. It sat like a crouched insect, the dull ceramic shell scorched from a lengthy history of surface to space hops – routine trips to the myriad collection of starships waiting patiently in orbit, ships that voyaged to the far reaches of the Terran Commonwealth.

Two ramps sloped gently to the ferry doors. Both were open, providing a glimpse into its sterile interior. Power cables and fuelling hoses sprouted from the hull to drop and lie like thick vines across the concrete platform. They disappeared into white-washed buildings humming with machinery. The ground crew worked with well-practiced, unhurried purpose.

Passengers waited in an aged departure lounge, families chatting casually to pass the time, strangers reading wivi-books or accessing the days’ news.

The boy asked, “Will it be much longer dad?”

“No, son. Those maintenance guys need to make sure the shuttle’s safe for travel. We don’t want anything to ruin the trip, do we?”

“No. You nervous, dad?”

“Not at all, you?”

“Nope! Sis is, and I bet mom is, too.”

“Bet she isn’t. Don’t get too close to the edge, son. It’s dangerous. We don’t want an accident, do we?”

“No sir! I’ll be careful. Promise.”

“That a boy. Now why don’t you keep your sister company while mother and I talk?”

The boy left to bother his sister; waved as he passed his mom.

Beyond Centauri #11

may be purchased by selecting the cover graphic.