An excursion spaceship, the Dream Weaver 9 run by Astral Dreams, passes near the Hermagon Ultra and the passengers stare out at the supernova. A tour guide, Brian Norton, provides voiceover for the phenomena. Brian receives a report that the cloud density is increasing, and alters the color of the supernova through vis-augment to provide a more entertaining spectacle.
Once the excursion is over, the passengers disembark . In his cabin, Ed Andrews is looking out at the passengers. Brian comes in and gives Ed the reports and surveys. He notices Ed watching porn on his computer and Ed shuts it off and says that once they finish the reports, they can head home.
A robot brings an elderly woman aboard.
Brian and Ed review the upcoming tour packages. Brian says that he has to head home because Barbara is waiting for him, and insists that his transfer to Primo Central will be coming through soon. There's a knock at the door, and Ed irritably says that they're closed. The knocker persists and Brian answers the door. It's an elderly woman, Irma Louise Gordon, and Brian stares at her and remembers a bicycle wheel turning. He says that they're not open, and the robot with her, RB29, says that Irma is deaf. Irma says that she wants Brian to take her on a tour to Earth. RB29 says that Irma has traveled a long way from Riga II, and Ed tells the robot that Earth no longer exists. The robot explains that Irma is 342 years old and flew there personally. Ed gives her a coupon for a free drink coupon at the Primotel, and RB29 says that Irma is willing to pay two kilo positive for them to take her, and will pay in cash. RB29 has the suitcase of cash with him.
Ed looks up the coordinates for Earth, which was engulfed by solar fire in 2673. There are six similar planets, and Ed finds a near-match. Brian points out that it's a dead rock, but Ed figures that they can use vis-augment to make it look like Earth and they'll satisfy Irma. His friend says that he's not going to blow his change to get to Primo Central, but Ed points out that it's a two-man craft. Barbara calls and asks if he's heard anything about the transfer. She tells him to check his vidmail, and Brian finds a video from Linus Primo saying that Brian's application didn't succeed. Barbara points out that they've been there four years when she thought they'd only be there two years. She tells Brian that he doesn't mean anything to them so he can't deal with them, and signs off.
Soon, Dream Waver 9 is heading for the fake Earth. Irma sits at the viewing port as Ed describes their route to Earth. Brian brings Irma a drink and she talks about how her grandmother was 279 when she died. She describes how her grandmother told her about her father's log cabin on Earth. Irma says that her grandparents swam naked in the Elk River Falls, and wants Brian to take her there. Brian glances at Ed and then asks RB29 to tell Irma that they can't necessarily locate a specific destination. Irma anticipates what he's saying and some places don't, and she knows which one Elk River is.
Dream Weaver 9 continues on course and is two days away. Irma dozes off and as Brian tucks her blanket around her, RB29 asks if the ship always flies with such a small crew and with Ed aboard. The robot wonders why no paperwork was filed, and points out that Ed took all of their money. Brian insists that they're there and that's what Irma wanted. RB29 says that Irma trusts people and is very old, and has a heart condition that will kill her in the next two months. it says that it will be her last trip, and Brian excuses himself.
Later, Irma is in her cabin and Brian her a complimentary hot drink. RB29 is shut down, and Irma asks Brian to stay. She takes out a device so that she can "hear" him, and Brian talks about where he was born and his life. he explains that he and his girlfriend eventually want to get to Primo Central, and he plans to marry her when the time is right. Irma asks if he loves Barbara, and Brian insists that he does. He then hesitates and says that it feels like he's on the record because of the translation device. Irma asks him if he really loves her, and Brian finally says that they don't always want the same thing. She asks Brian what he wants, and he remembers riding on a bicycle. Irma tells him that he should leave, and as Brian goes RB29 reactivates.
Ed sets the helm to autopilot and lies down to sleep. Once he dozes off, RB29 goes to the bridge, takes the ship off of autopilot, and discovers where they're heading. He looks at Ed, his eyes turning red.
Dream Weaver 9 approaches its destination and Erma can feel in her body that it's Earth. Brian goes to the bridge and tells Ed that they're making Irma's dreams come true. He asks what Ed is going to do with the money, and Ed says that he might retire somewhere small. The man figures that Brian will move to Primo Central and marry Barbara. and Brian says that they should tell Irma the truth. He wonders if it's worth selling people predigested bits of happiness. Irma calls from her cabin and Brian says that he'll go. Ed tells him not to say anything to her.
When Brian arrives at the cabin, Irma complains that she's having trouble with a dress she's put on. She explains that it's her grandmother's, and asks Brian to help her get it on. As he does so, Irma says that grandfather Bill would do it for her grandmother. She wonders if they can reach God, and Brian says that he used to dream of breaking into new universes. Now it's all charted and there's no mystery. Irma touches her heart and says that there will always be mystery there.
Ed says that they're entering the Solar System and will orbit Earth before completing their homeworld journey. Irma tells RB29 to go because she has a personal question for Brian. Once the robot leaves, Irma tells Brian that she's nervous and asks how she looks. Brian tells her that she's beautiful, and Irma tells him that she hears him because she hears some people better than others. She kisses him on the lips and says that he's a gentleman, then shows him a photo of her grandparents. Bill looks just like Brian, and Irma says that she dreamt him in her heart and thinks that maybe Brian dreamt her as well.
Brian goes to the comm and contacts Barbara. She finally answers and he says that he doesn't want to live on Primo Central and never has. Brian only wanted it for her, and asks if Barbara wants him or the life. He finally asks if she dreams about her, and realizes that she doesn't. Brian says that it's okay and he doesn't dream about her anymore, either. Barbara orders him to come back there and a brief image of Irma kissing Brian appears. When the connection comes back, Brian tells Barbara that it's fine and cuts her off.
Brian escorts Irma to the viewing gallery and they pass what Ed claims is Mars. She says that it's wrong and Mars is red, not green like on the viewport. Irma tells Brian to tell Ed to stop fooling her, and Brian stares at her. RB29 tells Irma that 60 years ago there was an electromagnetic event that damaged several of the planets. Saturn lost its rings, Mars turned green, and Venus turned yellow and gained a ring. Brian agrees and says that they didn't tell her earlier because they didn't know how she would react. When Brian says that Earth is no longer the blue of life, Irma tells him that it doesn't matter as long as it's Earth.
Dream Weaver 9 approaches "Earth" and Irma demands that they take her closer. Ed warns Brian that they can't go too close, and Irma takes Brian's hand and tells him to look at it. She insists that Carolina is blue and green, and RB29 looks at Ed. Brian warns Irma that they may not see Carolina, but she tells him to close his eyes with her. Ed turns up the color and Irma tells them to take her to Earth. Ed refuses, but Brian says that Ed said that they can land. Irma calls Brian "Bill" and stares at him, enraptured.
The ship descends through the atmosphere and the turbulence shakes it. Ed warns that it's not safe, and Brian tells Irma to get ready. They strap in and plummet toward the planet's surface... and crash. Brian wakes up and sees RB29 standing near Irma's couch. He goes over and wakes her up. The screen is broken and the color has gone, and RB29 says that they've landed in the wrong area and need to lift off and land again. Ed refuses and tells RB29 that it's the only Earth Irma is going to get. He tells the others that they leave in one hour.
Brian looks out the viewport and tells Irma that it isn't Carolina. He gets two spacesuits that Ed doesn't know about, and tells RB29 that he knows what he's doing. Brian tells Irma to get one suit on, and she asks Brian to put on Bill's old outfit before they go.
RB29 watches from the viewport as Brian and Irma go outside. Ed asks the robot if it knows the truth, and it says that for Irma, the planet is Earth. The pilot says that the planet is toxic and sterile, and complains about a headache. He realizes that the temperature has gone up, and Brian reports that they're making steady progress. Ed realizes that they've left the ship and warns that the suits only have auxiliary tanks. When he tries to warn them, RB29 says that Irma can't hear him and reveals that he knows Ed stole Irma's money. Ed demands that he get Brian and Irma back.
Brian and Irma continue through the murky atmosphere and hear birds chirping. Ed warns that they only have 30% oxygen levels, and Brian tells him that they found a forest. Their oxygen continues dropping and Ed tells Brian that he's taking his share of the two kilos. The oxygen runs out and Ed glares at RB29, which stares at him.
Irma removes her helmet and becomes a young woman: her grandmother. Brian finds himself standing next to Elk River Falls. He removes his suit, and Irma removes her clothes and gets into the water. The bicycle is standing nearby, and Brian/Bill swims to Irma. Irma says that she knew that they would make it and they kiss.
Written by Gadfly on Jan 20, 2018