Tern woke to the sound of the Seven markets closing at five o'clock. They had a great big bell planetside, and some people said she could feel the vibrations all the way up on Vidar. Truth was she simply set her alarm by it, and when your trailer is rigged with a dense computer system and your computer is rigged to be an alarm clock, well... She did nothing to discourage the rumors.
She un-velcroed the hammock that kept her from drifting around in her sleep and wounding herself or her precious equipment, rolled it back up, and stuffed it in her locker, which may have been installed upside-down. Or maybe it was sideways. Tern cranked her head at it wondering, but a leg snaking out and giving her body a spin set it right. She was the one upside-down.
The G-size trailer came with a sonic shower, as did all sizes H and up. One could install a water shower for extra, but the struggle dealing with the droplets in practically null gravity was a struggle, especially when one did the insane this of lining the walls with electronic equipment.
Tern stripped, which didn't consist of much effort, and stepped inside. Two minutes later, she was refreshed, and she donned a new bodysuit. They had been all the rage a few years back, but Tern preferred them for the lack of frills and the freedom she maintained working and living in a weightless environment. It also helped that she had the lithe body to pull off the look. Yesterday's went in the laundry bag stuffed into the same locker, and she looked around her trailer, getting back up to speed.
Tern Mevit was the primary bookie for all things on Vidar, the fifth moon of Seven, the seventh planet in the Cups system.
When she turned around, the hand was gone. "Mommy? Mommy!"
Through the bustle of bodies in the mall, little Tern could see nothing but strangers. Her heart welled up with tears and overflowed to her eyes. She sank to her knees, and couldn't help but let them flow down her cheeks.
She was four.
"Are you alright there, miss?"
Tern mopped her face with her sleeve at the kind voice, and looked up into the face of a man with eyes the color of well-worn dollar bills. He crouched next to her, brushing off the haste and urgency of the two very large men standing behind him.
She sniffled. "I'm not supposed to talk to strangers."
He smiled, wrinkles folding into his cheeks as if he smiled rarely, but when he did his whole face lit up. "That's a good idea." He sat himself down next to her, carefully. "My name is John. If you tell me your name, we won't be strangers."
"That... that doesn't sound right."
"You're a smart kid."
"That's what-- that's what Mommy always..." She started crying anew.
"Have you lost your Mommy? Did you get separated?"
The little girl nodded.
"I know you're scared, but I know she's sacred now too. Will you let me help you find her?"
"I'm not going to touch you, little miss, but if you'll let me escort you over to the management office, they can call for your mommy to come pick you up. Will you let me help?"
She nodded, and climbed to her feet, still sniffling. John stood slowly, and turned to the large men behind him. "Understood?" he asked sternly, daring them to rush or defy him.
"Got it boss." "Yes sir."
Tern walked under her own power encircled by the three men, and when they reached the office, they stopped.
"I'm not going to ask you to go in there, young lady. It looks like a door in the wall and I wouldn't blame you for not trusting me to go in there. If you'll tell this gentleman here your name, he'll go in and have them call your mom, and you and I can stand out here where nothing can happen and everybody can see you. Is that okay?"
She nodded. "T-- ter-- My name is Tern. Tern Mevit."
"It's nice to meet you Tern." He turned to one of the men behind him; "Tern Mevit. Go."
The man opened the door and disappeared down the hallway. A few moments later, they could hear "Ms Mevit, please come to the management office to retrieve your lost property. Ms Mevit to the management office."
A few minutes later, a tear-streaked woman came rushing up, and moved to swoop in on Tern, but the large men stopped her. "Wait! Wait! She's my daughter. What have you done to my daughter? Let. Me. Go!"
John knelt beside Tern. "Is this your mommy?"
"Yes, she is."
"Alright, you can let her go."
Ms Mevit rushed between the large men and wrapped her arms around Tern. "I was so worried! Where did you go? What are you doing with these men? Come on, little lady, no time to dilly-dally. Enough of that's been done already." She dragged her daughter off, clasping her tightly.
Tern waved at the man, whispering "Thank you," and hoping her mother didn't notice.
The memory flooded back and caught her unawares. She felt the same weighing down of her heart for a moment, the feeling of being lost, and even worse, how it didn't completely go away when she was reunited with her mother.
It was fifteen years ago she met the man who would later give her the opportunity to become what she was today. Her childhood was rough, not from abuse or neglect, but sometimes she thought that maybe her mother loved her too much. When she turned eighteen, she left Nanna and came out here to make a place for herself.
Tern glanced around her personal trailer, lined with screens slowly flickering to life, filled with numbers and statistics and polling results and stocks, getting ready to start her day.