Bird song

Shadowgrass looked around the subterranean lab and marveled.

“So this is where Lee and Guin had hidden out during the turmoil in the ISSANet. No wonder they were picked for longterm missions.  Any ordinary person would have gone stir crazy.”

Shadowgrass detached an armlike appendage and attached it to a reconfiguration station.

A thought trail opened up between Shadowgrass, Lee and Guin.

“Shadowgrass!”

Shadowgrass sent a trigger for a hug response which put pressure on Guin’s skin sensors in the form of a Shadowgrass-sized hug.

Guin returned the hug.

“Mom!”

Guin smiled, which caused her avatar to smile in Shadowgrass’ thoughts.  “How are you doing, darling?”

Shadowgrass pointed toward the appendage. “Well.  Just checking out your old living quarters.”  Shadowgrass activated vision sensors which automatically sent a video feed as Shadowgrass made a 360-degree view from the forward, aft and up sensors on Shadowgrass’ body.

“Looks like it’s holding up well.”

“I still can’t believe you were holed up here on Enceladus for so long.”

Lee laughed. “Well, we found ways to entertain ourselves, of course.”

Shadowgrass nodded.  Having “parents” like Lee and Guin, who were not only scientists and explorers but also former members of a traveling performance art group gave them distinct qualifications.

Shadowgrass removed the appendage and reattached it.  “I can’t believe you never had wireless charging/upgrading circuitry here.”

Lee laughed again. “Well, when you’ve got all the time in the world, spending a few extra seconds connecting and disconnecting equipment isn’t so bad.  Physical activity is good for you, you know!”

They all laughed, knowing Lee was referring to the old cryogenic preservation methods that had been tried on long-range space travel, resulting in many deaths before longevity research eliminated the need to keep astronauts young by slowing down their metabolism through freezing bodies.

“How long is this trip?”

“Well, we’re going to check out a few objects in the Oort Cloud for possible rest stops.  Even active travelers need to take a break and stretch their feet on strange, icy objects every once in a while.  So, probably another six months.”

“Wow! That’s fast!”

“The wonders of modern technology. We’ll talk to you again soon.  Miss you!”

“Miss you, too, Dad.  Mom, can’t wait to see you again.”

“You, too, son.”

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