The Zara Explorer
By: Robin Gagnon
“You want to be a space explorer?” Toya had laughed at Zara, her giant fist banging on the table in the lunch room for effect. “You, a human, wants to be a solo space explorer?”
The room of aliens erupted into laughter, as Zara stood there in embarrassment. Her brown hair was tied back in a ponytail and her blue eyes stared down at the floor, as her fists clenched at her sides. She was only as tall as Toya’s knee, which, along with the laughter, made her feel awfully insignificant.
“No human could ever become a solo space explorer,” she continued, her widely parted eyes, becoming serious. “You’re race is frail. I could sneeze on you and you’d die.”
The room laughed again and Zara stormed off toward her room onboard the Scillia spacecraft. She couldn’t wait to get back home.
Ever since aliens had stepped in to save the earth two-hundred years ago, humans had learned that they were not alone in the universe and that they were looked down upon as an inferior species. The aliens had changed humanity’s technology, so that they would no longer destroy the earth’s atmosphere, and even allowed humans to reside on other planets, so that the Earth didn’t become over populated. Humanity struggled to learn the alien’s new technology for a long time, but, eventually, they learned how it worked and how to improve it. Even still, the aliens looked down on the human race because, to them, the technology that had been given to humans was primitive compared to what they used.
Hugging her pillow, Zara sulked in her room for the rest of her journey. She was going back to earth to see her parents after working at what would of been considered a vehicle scrap yard back before the aliens took over. It paid decent money, but what was even better, were the parts she stole off of the broken spaceships to use on the one her and her parents had been crafting for years.
Zara’s father, Hank, was considered a brilliant scientist back on earth. He was only part human, since his mother had been a humanoid alien that had broken rules to be with Zara’s grandfather, which made him smarter than average. Despite his alien side, the aliens still looked down on him and treated him just the same as everyone else on earth, like an idiot and a slave. On the other hand, Zara’s mother, Cynthia, was incredibly athletic and adventurous, which had been past down to her daughter.
Originally, the tiny spacecraft had been for Zara’s parents, but with the lack of technology and Zara’s mother becoming pregnant with her, their dream never became a reality. Not until Zara turned twenty, did their dream spacecraft begin to near completion because Zara started stealing parts from the scrap yard on another planet.
“What did you bring us this time?” Zara’s father asked her when she had reached home the next day. “Something good I hope?”
“Hank,” Cynthia scolded her husband, swatting him on the back of the head. “At least say hello to your daughter when she’s been away for a month.”
“Oh, right,” Hank nodded, turning back to Zara. “Hi, sweetie. How was the job? Did you find anything exceptional?”
Cynthia rolled her eyes. Her long brown hair was pulled back in a pony tail like her daughter’s and she was wearing a navy blue striped t-shirt and khaki shorts with running shoes; a style that was typical of an explorer years ago.
“Well,” Zara smiled, putting her suitcase on the ground and opening it. “I might have found a Zahonian data chip with an extensive database on the universe and I also might have found a rare cloaking system on a Casindea spacecraft.”
She pulled out the two pieces of technology from her suitcase and her mother squealed in excitement, while her father awed at her find.
“We can finish the spaceship with this,” he announced excitedly, as he carefully took them from his daughter. “I’m going to get started right away!”
Zara’s father left in a flourish, his white lab coat swishing as he went. He was heading to the garage where the small space craft sat. It was no bigger than what humans would of called a minibus two-hundred years ago, and fit a small bed and a bathroom inside, which was perfect for one person. If need be, there was a second seat at the controls for another person, which had been designed for when Zara’s parents had planned to go together.
“So, neither of you are going with me?” Zara asked her mother nervously that night. “I thought you really wanted to go and travel and dad wanted to see what other types of technology existed out there. I could stay home, you know, and you two could go.”
“Nonsense,” Cynthia dismissed with a wave of her hand. “This is your dream now. You go and be the first human to discover something new in the universe.”
Zara nodded and went to bed late that night with the sounds of her father’s tinkering from outside. Her mother had to go bring her father some food, since he had not stopped working since she had given him the spacecraft parts. Soon, Zara would be travelling through space on her own. The idea both excited and scared her all at the same time, causing her dreams to change back and forth from terrifying to blissful until the next morning.
“It’s done,” her father exclaimed, as Zara and her mom sat at the table eating breakfast the next morning. “The spacecraft is done!”
All three rushed out to the garage, where Hank unveiled the spacecraft by pulling off the sheet that was covering it. It was light grey in colour and had a very sleek design. The inside was cozy, but slightly cramped for all three of them, and Zara awed at her father’s craftsmanship.
“I call it, The Zara Explorer,” her father announced, running a hand through his black hair on his oblong shaped head. “I uploaded the Zahonian database onto the mainframe, so that you’ll have all the information you need. It also has a scanner to record anything new that you may find, and a GPS with a communication device that your mother and I can connect to, if you ever get lost. I also tweaked the cloaking system you found and turned it into something much more powerful, since it was made to be for a much larger spacecraft. I’m positive that it’ll make you invisible from even the most advanced technology that the aliens have.”
Zara stared at the spacecraft in amazement and replied, “When do I get to use it?”
“Well, right now,” Zara’s mom replied with amusement. “Why wait?”
Zara looked at her parents nervously. She didn’t think she was ready for such a venture. She had been waiting for this almost all her life, but now that the moment was here, she was getting cold feet.
“I don’t think I’m ready,” she tried to reason with her parents. “Maybe I should wait a little while longer.”
“You’ve already practiced flying it,” her father reminded her. “All I have to do is give you a rundown of the new controls.”
“It’s alright to be scared,” Zara’s mother replied gently, putting a hand on her shoulder. “But you’ll be fine. You’re my smart and brave little girl that’s grown into an amazing woman. You can do anything.”
Zara nodded seriously and then listened to her father explain the controls on the spacecraft. By that afternoon she was ready. Wearing the captain’s uniform that her mother had created for the occasion, Zara took off into the sky and waved goodbye to her parents.
Once in space, Zara marvelled at the stars. She had never had quite a clear view of everything before because most of the alien spacecrafts she had travelled on had little to no windows. It was incredible seeing space like this, out the giant window of her very own spacecraft.
Pulling up the map hologram, Zara viewed the different locations she could travel. Certain spots were marked off as war zones, so she decided it best to avoid those areas. One area seemed to grab her attention, though. It was marked in black and labelled as ‘The Dark Empty’. Pulling up the information on the location, Zara learned that there was simply nothing there in that part of the universe.
“There has to be something there,” Zara muttered to herself, punching in the coordinates. “Seems like the perfect place to explore first.”
Just before she was about to send the spacecraft into hyperspace, she hesitated nervously. What would she find out there? What if it was even more powerful than any of the aliens she had come across? Zara thought about going back to her normal life, which was essentially being a slave to the alien races and being looked down upon as pathetic. She looked in front of her and stared at the seemingly endless universe and all it’s possibilities. Anger and determination flowed through her and she launched The Zara Explorer into hyperspace and decided that she would go down as the first great human space explorer ever.