The next morning at breakfast I felt numb. Not like my body was numb. I could feel the muffin in my hands, and I could definitely taste it as I took a bite. It was my mind that was numb. I had cried the entire night before and now I had no tears left. Now I did not want to feel anything. So I mechanically ate my breakfast, alone at the table.
"Carlee." Blaue suddenly appeared in the room with me. "Ven wants you in the cockpit. He wants you to see the necessary protocols for landing." I nodded and took my half eaten muffin with me, knowing that Blaue would report it to Ven if she didn't think I was eating properly.
In the cockpit, Ven was standing in front of the main viewscreen. Dominating the screen was a multi-colored planet. People generally describe Earth as green and blue - green for the land and blue for the ocean. This planet could not be described in any two colors. The poles were purple, the oceans were blue, one continent was red, and another was green. I really was not sure what would make the ice at the poles purple - if it was ice - or what made the land red. It was very much not like Earth, though pretty in its own strange way.
"Contact has been made with the planet," Blaue said from where she was standing beside Ven. Ven nodded absentmindedly and then glanced back to me.
"Ah, Carlee, come here." He motioned to his other side, opposite of Blaue. I obediently came forward. A frown touched Ven's face as he looked down at me, but it quickly cleared.
"Landing on a planet is far more complicated than it might seem," Ven lectured. "You can't just pull up and land. A ship must park at a certain orbit - like we are - and then contact the planet's Space Traffic Agency. Every civilized planet has one. They have to according to the Space Travel Acts.
"It sometimes takes a while, but once the Space Traffic Agency is contacted, a landing spot, trajectory, and time slot are given to the waiting ship - like us. The ship must obey everything the STA tells them - within the law - and stay in constant contact as they land. All this communication is generally done by Artificial Cognizant, so Blaue is currently handling it for me."
"We have a time slot and a trajectory," Blaue said, and as she spoke a trajectory appeared on the screen. We would be landing on one of the green continents.
"How long?" Ven asked and then frowned when he saw the times scroll on the screen. "They're going to make us wait two hours? I don't see any other ships in orbit."
"There are two others ships currently in orbit, but neither is headed for the continent we are," Blaue said. "This planet does not receive a lot of traffic, therefore, they spread out all of their landings." Ven was still frowning, but he nodded.
"That's not unheard of," he explained to me. "The human colony for example has very little space traffic. I land there and a few other cargo ships, but they rarely see more than a ship a week. It sometimes takes less trafficked planets longer to prepare for an arrival." I nodded, that I was only half listening.
Two hours. In two hours John would be leaving. I wondered if I could muster up enough feeling to be upset, or if I would just be relieved that the anticipation was over.