Back to the Federation High Command and Admiral Jelna. Commiserations for the loss of Commander Grainne and confirmation that Eleanor was now captain of Mother Knows Best.
And then something new.
“Latest reports from your home planet show they are ready to join the Federation. It seems apposite that you, originating from that planet, should lead the delegation opening formal negotiations. You are to depart at once.”
There was the Earth on the viewscreen. It was odd seeing it again after all these years. Indeed, Eleanor hadn’t really seen it when they left. They’d been on the far side of the moon when they awoke and it hadn’t been visible as they departed. Eleanor wondered if that was deliberate, just in case new recruits suddenly got homesick.
Jane was with her, her new Number One. Jane was still not fully over the loss of her lover and had fallen into a relationship with Beena. It seemed to Eleanor that Beena was still infatuated with her and was settling with the next in line. Whether the relationship would last, time would tell. Given the longevity of the crew, it amazed Eleanor how long relationships lasted. She had long realised that relationships were not for her. Too complicated. Commanding a spaceship was much easier.
“It’s going to be odd, going back after all this time,” said Eleanor. “The old familiar sights. People wearing clothes. Men! By my calculations, we’ve been away forty years! Much must have changed. I wonder if anyone we knew will recognise us. My mother must be in her eighties now.”
“My mother more or less disowned me when I came out,” replied Jane. “So me turning up after all this time stark naked will probably confirm all she feared about me.” She thought for a minute. “I wonder if we’ll be on television. I wonder what television is like after all this time. Do they have proper three-d or is that something they going to trade for it? Will they invite us onto chat shows? Have you decided where we’re going to land?”
Eleanor had seen The Day the Earth Stood Still but didn’t realise the person she was about to meet would be thinking of that film too.
“It has to be Washington. We’re going to meet the president.”
“I’ve always wanted to visit America, but I was expecting to do it as a tourist.”
“Well, I’m sure if we want to do the tour, they’re not going to stop us.”