He looked up at the pastel shaded sky, subtle hues of purples, blues and reds. The sweet scent of pine trees danced around him, the warm glow of an afternoon sun bathed his face and arms.
None of it was real. When he opened his eyes, he would be back to where he now found himself. Back to the sound of a million conversations, to the numerous souls that flitted about and around him. All had a purpose, everyone with somewhere to be, someone to talk with.
Don’t open your eyes.
He wondered where Niko was, what planet his feet had landed upon, the people, species and enemies he had met. The last time that they had met, three summers past, Niko had aged. He seemed to carry an invisible burden about him, slowly crushing him. Even when he laughed or smiled, his eyes betrayed him. He was haunted. He wondered if Niko knew he was even here, that he had signed up. No word had been heard for over a year now. All attempts to extract the slightest hint or clue as to his whereabouts or safety were met with stone cold, bureaucratic silence. Confidential, classified.
Don’t open your eyes.
Had he met the correct choice? He seemed to ask himself this question upon the opening of his eyes through to when slumber took him. But here he was and no amount of wishing or pleading could wrench the hands of time back to that moment of choice. Even for someone of a young age, a sense of fatalism had been growing within him through the years. His parents had been lost many years ago and if something happened to him, where was the harm? Some called it reckless, stupid, foolhardy. That sixty foot leap into the sea, taking on seven meat heads all at once at Dina’s birthday party, climbing Mason’s Point without a rope. He’d taken a beating each time, but he was still alive. Nothing had killed him, broken bones healed, cuts left scars and he yearned for the odds to be stacked against him. The merchant fleet had claimed Yevgeny and Miralim but it simply did not appeal to him. He wanted to mirror the steps of Niko. There, he had said it. He wanted to forge his own tales, his own future but he knew that his own fate was to be intertwined with that of his brother.
Don’t open your eyes. Don’t open…..
Eyes open. Gone were the sky and trees, replaced with the monochrome grey of his quarters within Starbase 118. Forty eight hours had lapsed since he had disembarked the shuttle craft and he had stepped inside a new journey.
Time to go Niko, time to go.