The flower-shaped ship moved slowly away from the dock, taking care not to hit anything in its ascent. The five white petals on the front were opened, drinking in the rays from the morning sun while the metal of the stem was slowly changing from a dull greenish-brown to a bright green. Sparkling white flames burst through the root-like tubes at the bottom, descending quickly into giant vents below. Between the sizzle of the white flames and the deep humming of wind against metal, nothing else could be heard. The audience sat as still as statues, watching the progress from afar with silent anticipation. Slowly, steadily, the ship continued to rise, the silver letters on the side pronouncing its name, Starbell. A few minutes after it cleared the dock, a voice came through the loudspeaker.
“Hollock, this is Starbell, we have reached the mesosphere.” A cheer went up from the crowd, quieting down quickly as another voice came over the loudspeaker.
“Congratulations, Starbell, time to clear the atmosphere.”
“Roger that.” From the crowd’s perspective, the Starbell seemed to grow smaller as it traveled through the atmosphere into outer space. But from the perspective of the crew strapped into the various leaf-like sections of the ship, space was getting closer, and bigger. The pale teal sky faded into black velvet with multi-colored sparkles, the many stars winking at them playfully to come explore their regions.
“Starbell, this is Hollock, progress report. Uh, Prosem, you there?” The dark-haired captain seemed to snap out of a trance.
“Uh, sorry, Mistoel, we’re here, we’re fine, but, you should see this.” He took his finger off the intercom button and glanced at the pale ebony-skinned female at the helm. “Wilora, can you send them the images we’re getting?”
“Yes sir,” Wilora replied as she pressed a few buttons.
Prosem pressed the intercom button again, “Starbell to Hollock, are you getting this?”
A few minutes later, the reply came, “This is Hollock, we are getting it. This, this is amazing Starbell, good work. Transmitting images to all screens on Rosca. And Prosem, we still need that progress report.”
“Roger that, give me a minute.” He turned to everyone on the bridge, “You heard them, stations, report.”
“Life support is stable,” reported an encantado.
“Shields and gravity are on,” reported the xana next to Wilora.
“Navigation and steering operational,” came Wilora’s report.
Prosem turned to a pixi with brown hair and morning glory wings, “Glorima, the crew?”
She replied with a grin, “They’re doing just fine, Captain.”
Prosem smiled, “Wonderful, thank you.” He turned back to the intercom, “Hollock, this is Starbell, we are a go, I repeat, we are a go.”
Mistoel came back over the intercom with cheers barely audible in the background, “Wonderful news, Starbell, you have the green light for the Magnolen system. Good luck, and may Marielle and Jescariah go with you.”
“Thank you Mistoel, we’ll report back in five months. Starbell, over and out.” Prosem flipped a switch and turned to Wilora. “Alright Wilora, set coordinates for Magnolen. Glorima, let the crew know we are on our way. Let’s see what beauties Magnolen has to offer. Let’s fly.”