Earth: The Return (an excerpt):

The anxiety started in the bottom of his stomach. Mac tried to take a deep breath, but his head started to tingle. He got up and walked around the small spacecraft. He opened every door to see what was inside, trying to take his mind off the fact he was going to kill another person. He didn't find much of interest, so he went back to his table and picked up the letters from his children. Mac decided it would be nice to respond to each one, so he got his paper and pen and began writing letters. That would give him something to do for the rest of the flight to Earth. Mac never was good at writing letters before, but now the words flowed. He had so much he wanted to say, and put his heart into each one.

The speed of the ship changed. It was barely discernible, but Mac was becoming like the pilots; he could feel the navigation, just as Romas told him he would. Mac went to the controls, and looked out the window. He loved this part of the travel, when he could see galaxies, stars, and planets.

The Great Council had ordered the cleanup of the universe, and all planets were clearing out space debris and space junk to make travel safer. The goal was to have only natural items in the sky, as well as functioning satellites, communication ships, and the space travelers. Mac appreciated that because it meant he didn't have to sit at the controls and try to steer around debris. He could let the ship fly itself as it could detect the few obstacles in the galaxy that it needed to avoid.

All the magnificent lights in the sky made him smile. Then it happened. Planet Earth came into view, and a happy sensation coursed through his body. He saw the white swirls against the dark blue and vibrant green. Mac held his breath as the planet got closer and closer. The ship circled Earth and Mac rubbed his hands together. Now that he was here, there were so many places he wanted to go. A slight detour wouldn’t matter, unless the killing didn’t go well. He sighed and shook his head.

The intercom beeped and Mac turned on the screen. “It looks like I’m just about there.”

“Yes, you’ve arrived,” Ingiry said. “Do you feel any different?”

“No, I still feel the same way I felt when I was on Chasra.” Mac bit his lip.

“That is good news. I will let the others know.”

“Are you going to tell me who my mission is?”

Ingiry ignored Mac’s question. “There’s a landing strip cleared for your arrival, although the people at that airstrip don’t know that it’s you who is arriving. All they know is that it’s a ship from Chasra.

 They won’t pay much attention, as many ships and other aircraft land there.”

“Good," Mac said. “I don't want to be slowed down by anyone or anything, if I can help it.”

“Now, to answer your question.”

“Hold up, Ingiry. I want to take this in.” Mac sat at the window as he began to descend. He remembered what it looked like as they were flying away, and now as the planet got closer, a twinge ran through his body. He wasn't sure what it was and shook it off.

“What a sight,” he said. “I forgot how beautiful my home world is.”

He always made a point to look at other planets as they approached. Many were red, orange, and yellow. Others were marked with purple and green. But Earth, with its majestic blue, was unlike any of the others. The other planets had the resources that they needed, but not near as much water as Earth had.

“Okay, I'm ready to talk.” Mac felt the ship slowing more.

“Here is the most recent photo of the evil ancestor,” Ingiry said.

A photo of a woman with long reddish-brown hair came on the screen. Mac studied her face. She appeared to be in her mid-30s, and Mac shrugged.

“Who is she?”
Copyright Joanne Hirase.