Ok, here it is: the long awaited first piece from my little fiction project. I'm not sure how well it will go over in this form, but it's worth a shot. Many of the names and important words will be linked, in the final version, to pages that elaborate and explain characters. Also there are a couple of links that go nowhere in this page, will be linked to other stories and pieces. Including the "letter," which is mentioned.

This snip, is set in the late 24th century, aboard an explorer/survey ship bound for a nearby star system at very fast (sub-light) speeds.

It's all below the fold...

"Oh hey, what brings you this way, Stu?"

"You know, I was just wrapped up in what I was doing and had to come over and check on you, because I didn't want to get too excited and blow something up." Stuart was grinning, expecting Frank to laugh at the joke. He didn't.

"Right," Frank said. Distracted, he turned back and began to sift through another digital stack of files. "You know, if they didn't write this system so you could make data piles, I wouldn't have this problem."

"What's this 'they' that you speak of. You wrote it--in spite of my warnings--didn't you?"

"Tertiary, Stuart." Frank sounded grumpy.

"Whatever. I'm not kidding, you seem embarrassed or shaken. You alright?"

"Yeah, yeah, sorry, I was just going through my files and I found a letter to my sister that I wrote right before the mission started. Never sent it."

"You don't talk much of her. What'd it say?"

"Not important." Frank was quick shut down that direction of conversation. "We were always really different. She had settled down on one of the Io outposts, she has a family and a job as a school teacher. We didn't talk much. Ever really, I guess,"

"Io? Really? That takes guts these days. You grew up on Europa?"

"Mostly. Dad took us to Titan pretty regularly for a few years there, and there were, of course, school trips to the other Jovian outposts. I liked Titan and traveling more more than Kate ever did, and Io is hard, but home is home it seems: for some people at least."

"I suppose it is," Stuart said. "You going to send the letter now?"

"I don't think so, I mean, I don't really know how it would go over with her, after this long, hell with how things were going when we left, who knows if Io still has an outpost? And what' she'd be pushing 60? by now?"

"No way. She can't be that much older than you, and we haven't been gone that long," Stuart said. "Did you even pay attention during the relativistic physics class during the training?"

"You know the answer to that one. If the number matters that much then you do the math. The truth is I forgot about it until now, and it doesn't bug me much. Maybe that's what's getting to me. At any rate, no matter what year it is out there, if I did send it she'll have had a lot more life between her and when I wrote it. If she got it."

"Fine, fine I just don't want you to regret it later Frank."

"Thanks. I'm fairly content with what happened before we left, but sometimes its too easy to forget that were so far out and going so fast. When I do remember, it's kind of jarring. Creapy that it can still happen. 'Suppose it's one of these things about being on an Explorer Ship that you just have to talk about, Right?"

"Right." Stuart said. "We all know about that."

"So, hows that 'project' of yours coming along?" Stuart asked, after a moment.

"You know, slowly," Frank said. "I'm still not going to tell you about it yet, so don't think you're getting smarter or anything."

Stuart sighed. "Whatever, everything on this ship is going slowly--"

"--except the ship,"

"--so why should I expect you to be any different?"

"Because you don't have any patience for waiting?"

"You'd think I could have discovered this before we left?" Stuart asked.

"What, and deprive me of a friend, for next twenty years?" Frank asked.

Stuart flinched.

"Just go start you're own surprise project, it'll keep you busy, me entertained and remember that it's the chance of a lifetime." Frank's words echoed the recruiting videos for the Explorer Corps that began airing right as they were leaving the system.

"More like a chance for a lifetime," Stuart quipped. "Maybe you're right, though, I need to come up with something,"

"I will tell you some day, you know"

"Of course," Stuart said, "But I should jet, I'm still on duty after all, and so are you." He stood up and made for the door "Catch you around," he said before he walked out.

"Weirdo," Frank said under his breath. He was smiling again. "Back to the program."