Lesley Alexander and her partner stood hand in hand in the field, staring across the vast construction zone below to where the Starship EOS loomed on the horizon. The early morning breeze ruffled their hair and clothes as Lesley's eyes filled with tears. Soon she would be on that magnificent ship, zooming towards the stars; but her beloved would be here, watching as the EOS became a faint speck in the sky and then disappeared.

It was hard to reconcile the tumult of emotions that seemed to simmer in her soul at all hours of the day and night. On the one hand, stomach-clenching excitement at the prospect of heading up the Engineering team on Earth's first-ever interstellar starship. On the other, sorrow at leaving behind all that she loved, all that was familiar, all that she lived for.

But she was aware that she lived for more than this one person who intimately shared her life. She lived to save Humanity, as unworthy as she sometimes found them to be.

Lesley thought of her parents, devoted hippies long after the 1960s had ended and become legend. They had joined the commune nestled at the base of Tasmania's Great Western Tiers before Lesley and her sister were born, and there they remained to this day.

But Lesley had not been back there for 30 years. The communal life that her parents loved, and her sister had seemed comfortable in, had been a continual prick under Lesley's skin. All that Human contact! So much mushy stuff going on! It was all way too emotional for her.

She could never find her way into what she thought of as "that circle": she was always the outsider looking in. And it was with great relief that, after high school, she chose a career that would carry her far from any such lifestyle. She became an aeronautical engineer.

After studying in Australia, Lesley found her career carrying her far and wide to countries with space programs, and it was easy for her to find reasons (she suspected they were excuses) not to return to that tiny community for a visit. Her parents seemed to understand; and her sister, who had become a high-end model in London, didn't seem to care.

At long last, Lesley thought she had found her place. Her career was fulfilling, and more often than not her colleagues not only understood her discomfort with Human interactions, they shared it. Lesley found herself able to pursue research and development of more and more sophisticated structural designs for spaceships, until at last she had ended up here in Florida, working on a genuine interstellar ship.

It was here also that she'd met the love of her life, at long last someone who truly understood her, another Human with whom she could genuinely connect. Now she didn't just think she was happy, she knew it. It seemed that all her dreams had come true at once.

Lesley put in her application to head up the Engineering team almost as an afterthought. Her partner had encouraged her to do so, knowing how much Lesley had fallen in love with the gears and conduits and systems of the Starship EOS. 

And Lesley was astonished when her appointment came through. She was uncomfortably conscious that she, nearing 50 years old, was older than the other team leaders. However, she consoled herself, she'd remained fit and healthy and at least her physical genes were good.

Sometimes she felt guilty at having neglected her family for so long. But she consoled herself with the thought that the work she was doing, and the adventure she was about to embark on, would contribute to the broader family of the GCF in a way that she could never have achieved in her own nuclear family.

She was a part of the team that was going to, quite literally, save the Human race.

Lesley had never been subject to bouts of homesickness. But she did miss, sometimes, the clean, fresh air and pure tannin-enriched mountain streams of her childhood. She missed the animals, and the wind making the eucalyptus dance, and the sun shining more strongly than anywhere else she'd ever been. 

She sometimes wondered what, if any of it, was left, now that the Planet was in its final death throes. In her darkest thoughts, she thought that maybe Tasmania would be one of the last places to succumb to the coming destruction and extinction. It was, after all, remote: a tiny island in the deep southern reaches of the oceans, far from the teeming masses that overpopulated much of the rest of the World.



She was a part of the team that was going to, quite literally, save the Human race.






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