Girls Horse Club Blog

Story Relay: Wild West

Published by • Dec 27th, 2010 • Category: Story Relays

PROLOGUE

Story Relay: Wild WestWith Valor comfortably settled into his chamber, Cassidy closed the heavy door and secured the latch, then ran her palm over a scanner to activate the onboard computer. It was programmed to control air quality and dispense precise quantities of food, supplements, and exercise for the long flight.

She breathed a huge sigh of relief and anticipation, then made her way to the front of the pod where she settled into her seat before pressing a button on the control panel that opened a door between the two chambers. The musty-sweet smell of horse scented the air.

“Well Vee, there’s no turning back now. For both of our sakes, I hope I made the right decision…”

Valor poked his head through the small door and released a soft, reassuring nicker. Destiny is not a decision, it’s a journey. Now begins the journey.

The voice in Casssidy’s head was as clear as if Valor had spoken to her. Ah, the wisdom of Equus, she thought.

Valor nickered agreement.

With a soft whoosh, the shuttle pulled into the air dock and a woman’s voice echoed inside the chamber. “Welcome to Intergalactic Shuttle flight 1075. Release your hitches and prepare for departure.”

Cassidy quickly scanned the hundreds of controls on her dashboard before pressing a yellow button. She had been operating flight vehicles since she was five, but was still getting used to her new pod. A robotic arm descended from a side panel and attached to the shuttle. The woman’s voice echoed again. “Pod A-45, hitch secured. You are ready for departure heading due West to the Moon of Eroq.”

Read the comments below to see how this relay unfolds! Contributors will continue the story in the following order:

  1. Toppyrocks
  2. HorsesForever
  3. icehorse
  4. Zanzibar the Great
  5. catscowgirl
  6. DianaLUV
  7. LuckyHorseShoe
  8. Peanut
  9. huskyhorsegirl
  10. Madelaina

We’ll go through the list twice — total 20 comments continuing the story (2 from each contributor). Click here for the Contributor Guidelines.

No additional contributors will be added once the Story Relay starts, but sit back and enjoy the fun! Click here to learn more about how our Story Relays work, or if you have questions/comments during the relay.

17 Nickers »

  1. * * * * *

    Several hours into the flight, Cassidy stood up to get something to eat. She flicked a switch on the dashboard first to set the pod on auto-control. Cassidy stepped up to a silver panel in the back of the chamber and waited for a moment.

    “What would you like to eat?” A silky smooth voice asked her.

    “Pizza. Oh, and an apple.” Cassidy glanced at Valor and smiled. The silver panel opened and a piece of pizza appeared inside. It was genetically made to have a perfect amount of nutrients, but still delicious. Cassidy reached in and took the food, and the silver panel closed again.

    “Here.” Cassidy held the apple out to Valor while she walked towards him.

    Thank you. The big horse took the apple carefully and crunched it, letting a trickle of juice drip down his horsey chin. Cassidy laughed and wiped it off. She walked back to the dashboard and sat down. She left the pod on auto-control while she ate, but turned it off when she was done.

    “What’s this?” she asked herself. A yellow light was blinking right in front of her. She hadn’t seen it before, and it hadn’t been on before, either.

    What’s what? Valor leaned forward from his chamber and perked his ears.

    “There’s a light blinking that wasn’t before. No label, either.” Cassidy frowned, not sure what to do about it.

    I don’t know. I’m not the pilot, you are. Valor replied in his laughing thought-voice.

    “Thanks. That really helps,” Cassidy said. “Computer, what is this?” she asked the pod.

    “Pilot, that is the engine light. It flashes when there is a problem,” it replied.

    That doesn’t sound good, Valor thought to Cassidy.

    “No, it-“ Cassidy was cut off from her sentence when the pod lurched and let out a very loud, high-pitched squealing sound from beneath the floor. “What was that?!” she yelled when the noise stopped. When she turned around to check on her beloved horse, she saw that he was leaning against the wall of his chamber to keep balance. Another lurch happened, and the pod was thrown into darkness.

    “Vee?” she called.

  2. He nickered back gently.

    Cassidy studied the control panel in hopes of finding something to help solve this problem, but she knew there wasn’t anything. After all, you can’t pass the Pod Pilot Training Course without knowing about an emergency button.

    Valor waited for a solution patiently in his chamber. Then it looked like a spark in his eye had been ignited and he snapped his head up.

    “What is it, Vee?” she asked.

    I know what to do if the fuel is low. Fuel is just energy. We need to link energy and get the engine running. The words rang clearly in her mind.

    Cassidy remembered something from her training course, and Valor was right about pure energy running the engine of a pod.

    “Okay. How do we do it?” she asked anxiously.

    Just focus on projecting energy from your body toward the engine. Imagine it happening, believe in it happening. That is what my mother told me when I was just a colt.

    Cassidy unlatched her horse’s chamber door and stepped inside, placing her hand on Valor’s dark bay coat.

    NOW. Valor spoke mentally to Cassidy.

    She did what her horse had told her to do. She felt something swirling inside her, closer and closer to the outside. Eyes squeezed shut, she imagined her energy surging into the engine. Then her body felt lighter, almost faint. She felt like she was in another world, and then she jolted back. She opened her eyes and looked at Valor, who seemed tired but healthy.

    “Did we do it?” she asked hopefully.

    I think so, her horse replied.

    Cassidy embraced her horse in a great big hug and then went to check the engine’s fuel level. To her delight (and surprise) it was full! She took hold of the wheel and continued flight westward, back towards the Moon of Eroq.

    A couple hours later she noticed a faint orb in the distance. If it was the Moon of Eroq, they would arrive soon!

    Valor whinnied excitedly and Cassidy realized just how lucky she was to have such a special connection with such a special horse.

  3. Since the Moon of Erog was at least a full day away, Cassidy walked to the back of the pod, where there was a small air mattress. She snuggled into the blanket, then drifted off to sleep.

    * * * * *

    Cassidy was awoken to a worried whiny.

    Cassidy! We have a problem! Valor said in her mind.

    “Are we out of fuel again?” she asked. Cassidy had double-checked all of the pod’s vitals to make sure that it was capable of making the long journey.

    No. Before you went to sleep last night, you forgot to turn on autopilot. We are now headed towards an asteroid belt.

    “No, no, no! How could I have been so careless?” Cassidy moaned.

    No one is perfect. You were just tired. This could have happened to anyone.

    “Valor, I know that you’re just trying to help, but I need to concentrate now,” Cassidy snapped. Valor backed away, and went back to eating.

    Before Cassidy could do anything, an asteroid hit the pod, and the pod was plunged into darkness.

  4. Cassidy blinked her eyes, her mind whirling as she tried to reprimand the situation. In her chest, Cassidy could feel her heart fluttering with dread. She lay on the cold floor of the pod, her cold fingers clutching the sleek metal floor. The girl attempted to soothe her shaky senses by focusing on her breathing, drawing deep, even breaths.

    “Vee?” Cassidy called.

    Silence.

    Cassidy managed to prop herself up onto her elbows, her body feeling sore. When the asteroid impacted the pod, Cassidy had been flung to the floor. She had lost consciousness, but for a time span she was unaware of. Panic overtook Cassidy as she scrambled to her feet, feeling her nerves screech with protest as she stumbled through the darkness-engulfed pod to where Valor’s chamber was.

    “Vee!” Cassidy called, this time sharply. Her fear was conveyed through her tone, her fingers fussing with the door of the chamber.

    Gazing into the chamber, even through the darkness, Cassidy could see a large gash in the wall of the pod. Pushing forward, Cassidy realized they were on solid ground.

    No, Cassidy thought to herself, SHE was on solid ground.

    She was somewhere, perhaps on the Moon of Eroq, perhaps on another small moon that orbited the mother planet Eroq. There was nothing certain, whether she was safe or if the pod was repairable. But there was one thing that was certain: Valor had been separated from Cassidy.

  5. Cassidy was scared. She had no idea where Valor was or if they were even on the Moon of Eroq. She started to panic — he could have gotten horse-napped or he could be hurt or…

    Cassidy shook her head. No, none of that. She had to go find him, but first she went to the front of the pod to see if it would start. She turned a switch on and pressed a button. Nothing. She did it again and again. “Come on,” Cassidy muttered. That seemed to do the trick. The light flickered, then came on. She could hear the pod rebooting. She got her backpack and went to the back of the pod.

    “Would you like something to eat?” A woman’s voice asked her.

    “Yes. Four apples and two peanut butter sandwiches.” She waited a moment and a little door opened. She got the food and put it in her backpack.

    “Anything else?” The woman’s voice asked.

    “Yes. Four bottles of water.” She put the water in her backpack and got a few other essentials, then went outside.

    Cassidy looked around. She saw Valor’s tracks and followed them. About two miles away she saw other tracks mixed with Valor’s. She started to panic again, but shook it off and kept going. An hour later, she came to the dark side of the moon, and she thought she could see some rock formations in the distance.

    * * * * *

    Two hours later, Cassidy was climbing a big rock formation. She could hear some noise, but couldn’t see anything. She got to the top and saw Valor! But he was surrounded by a lot of people. She couldn’t tell if they were human from where she was, but she was pretty sure of one thing — they were not on the Moon of Eroq.

  6. Cassidy looked around in panic and spotted a small path that led down to the bottom of the rock formation. The foot of the path ended about five meters away from the group of people and Cassidy knew that if she managed to get there without them spotting her then she could hear them talking and therefore find out what they were planning to do with Valor.

    She flattened herself against the rock and edged slowly down the rock formation, her back pressed against the rough stone. When she reached the ground, she lay down on her stomach and crawled forward slowly. The chatter became easier to hear the closer she crawled and Cassidy stopped moving when she could just about hear their conversations.

    “I’ve never seen a horse like that before,” one woman said to a man who stood beside her, “His coat is sort of… eerie. Like he’s a horse crossed with a robot, or something.”

    Cassidy looked at Valor carefully. His coat was a silvery dapple grey, with a metallic sheen. Years of artificially created food, water and exercise had changed horses from Cassidy’s world to resemble robots more than horses, due to how natural vegetation could not influence their looks anymore — it was simply never consumed by them as it was proven artificial substances were safer and had less of a chance of giving horses serious illnesses such as colic.

    Valor shifted uneasily as the group of people moved closer to him. He let out a high pitched whinny that echoed around the rock formation.

    Suddenly, a roar coming from the top of a large rock made everybody freeze and turn. Standing on top of the rock was a wildcat.

    “This is impossible,” muttered Cassidy, panicking, “Wildcats died out years ago along with the lions, tigers and pandas!”

    The wildcat leapt off the rock and landed softly on the ground. It hissed at the group of people and they retreated hastily. The wildcat suddenly saw Valor and hissed with delight before pouncing.

  7. The hungry creature stared at Valor with narrow topaz eyes, growling and slinking like a snake towards him. Valor squealed with terror and reared up, thrashing his legs. His hooves came down with the hollow clinking of his shoes, narrowly missing the wildcat. In response, the wild animal growled angrily and leaped onto Valor’s back, hooking himself on with his claws.

    “Vee!” Cassidy screamed, her voice shaken with tears.

    She grabbed some loose stones and hurled them at the attacker. Two missed, three hit the wildcat’s side. He yowled in pain, but didn’t quit attacking.

    Valor fell to his side, pinning the wildcat onto the rough, rocky surface. It screeched in pain, and when Valor rolled over, the wildcat fled, probably to find smaller prey.

    The poor horse lay still on the ground, heaving and marked up with deep scratches. Cassidy rushed to his side, tears flooding her eyes. She couldn’t speak, she was too choked up.

    I need help. Maybe the natives can… Valor said.

    The words were fainter in Cassidy’s mind than before.

    “But Vee, you can’t walk. You won’t stay here, will you?”

    I have to. Just go, find the people and be careful.

    Cassidy reluctantly stroked her horse one last time and turned, bravely walking back down the rocky path.

  8. As Cassidy walked and walked she began to get very tired. “Where are the natives?” she said to herself. She turned to go back to her horse when an old man with a long white beard grabbed her shoulder. She jumped away, startled.

    “Who are you?” said the man.

    Cassidy turned to face him. She got a better look at the stranger. He was no bigger than her, with thick black frames perched on his long nose. “My name is Cassidy, I need your help. My horse was attacked by a wild cat a few miles down the path. I need immediate help.”

    The old man eyed her suspiciously then began in a husky voice, “Go back to your steed, he is up and walking.”

    Cassidy, failing to believe that this old stranger was nothing more than a crazy person, opened her mouth to speak.

    “Don’t talk! Now be on your way,” said the old man.

    Cassidy began walking back down the path. She walked, and walked, and walked, until she reached her horse. When she arrived she could not believe her eyes…

  9. Valor was indeed standing, his sides and back gouged with red gashes, but was standing nevertheless! “Vee!” Cassidy cried with joy, embracing him. “I thought you’d…” She was too emotionally drained to say more, but instead held onto Valor like she’d never let go.

    In her mind, Valor laughed weakly. Did you think I’d died while you went to find help?

    “Oh Vee, don’t even say such horrible things!” Cassidy gasped. “Are you really alright?” She stepped back to look at her horse. He looked as exhausted as she felt, with his head hanging low, but he was alive and standing, and that was all that mattered to Cassidy.

    My scrapes and cuts burn like fire, and my legs feel shaky. But I don’t think my wounds are life-threatening.

    “Oh, thank goodness,” Cassidy breathed with relief. She saw that his wounds were still bleeding, but not heavily, and they actually didn’t look as deep as she’d thought at first.

    Without warning, her vision began to blur, and she staggered against Valor.

    Cassidy! Are you alright?

    “No, I’m not,” she groaned as the world began to spin in front of her eyes. “Take us…to the natives…”

    And everything went black.

  10. Cassidy awoke to an irritating buzzing in her ear, but her eyelids were still weighed down with fatigue. She tried to decipher the vague, flickering forms that she could see when all of a sudden something poked her cheeks and forced one of her eyes open.

    She screamed, scaring away the toddler who had prodded her. Valor was lying next to her, seeming to have just been awakened by her scream. He was well, but still very tired. A small crowd of Natives gathered around her in anticipation.

    Cassidy looked around. “Who are you? And where am I?”

    She was responded with silence before a young man spoke up. “My name is Izaren of the Asteroid Natives. You’re on one of our floating asteroids.”

    Immediately Cassidy’s knowledge associated these inhabitants with thriving, nomadic lives, quite the opposite of the meagre campsite she was in. “But,” she started, unsure of how to speak her confusion, “what happened to you, to all of the Natives?”

    “Our horses,” said a woman, “something happened to our horses.”

  11. “What do you mean?” Cassidy asked as she sat up. “Where are they — are they nearby?” Cassidy glanced over the woman’s shoulder to see if there were any other horses behind the Natives. Cassidy shuffled sideways over towards her beloved Valor and reached up to him. Shakily she stood up, her limbs a bit sore and tired. Cassidy and Valor stood close together, just glad that the other one was okay.

    “That’s the problem,” the women told her, and before she could finish another Native, a girl just a few years younger than Cassidy, butted in.

    “They’re gone. Only Asker’s little pony is left. Asker, bring the pony,” the girl called. As she waited for the pony, she turned back to Cassidy. “My horse is gone, too. We woke up this morning, and they were gone. They had vanished.”

    Cassidy stroked Valor’s nose again before stepping forward to meet the scruffy little pony and the small boy that led it. “Where are your horses normally? And was this pony with them?” Her problem solving gears were already turning, and she was already trying to think of what might have caused the disappearance.

    “Usually they stay in an enclosure outside our camp. They never try to leave, and often they are allowed to wander freely through the camp. The pony was tied outside Asker’s home the night the horses disappeared,” the first woman replied.

    Cassidy, are these the same people we saw earlier today? They don’t seem the same to me. Valor thought to Cassidy. His thought-voice held traces of concern in it.

    “Oh. Valor just remembered something. Were any of you out of the camp and gathered close to a rock formation earlier today, when a wildcat attacked Vee?” The women looked to an elderly man who stood next to her, and then the younger girl. Both shook their heads.

    “No. None of us have been out there for the past few days. I don’t know who they could have been.”

    Then who were they? Vee asked, asking the same question that Cassidy had.

  12. A thought fleeted through Cassidy’s mind. Could those people have been the horse thieves? Is that why they had surrounded Valor, to capture him? Maybe she had really dodged a bullet in finding her horse that soon!

    “What is it?” the bold little girl asked, probably noticing Cassidy’s thoughtful look.

    “Well… I was just thinking… maybe… maybe, those people are the horse thieves,” she finally blurted.

    It was very silent, everyone clearly thinking it through. One boy nodded, and some Natives joined him in agreement.

    Do you think we should look for the other Natives, and try to find the missing horses? Valor suggested in Cassidy’s head.

    She looked thoughtfully at him, and nodded.

    “I think we should further investigate the issue, maybe check the rock formation for them and try to figure something out. Then maybe we could see if we can return the horses,” Cassidy said tentatively. “That is, if you would like Valor and I to help.”

    The group glanced at each other, unintentionally making Cassidy feel uncomfortable.

    “Excuse us for a moment,” the elderly man said politely.

    They turned away and murmured back and forth for a while, then faced Cassidy and Valor once again.

    “We would appreciate you and your horse’s help in returning our horses, and agree with your plan,” the man announced. “You may stay with us for the night in an empty dwelling, and eat with our tribe.”

    Cassidy was excited to embark on such an adventure, but a little scared as to what living with these people for a day or so would be like. She suddenly felt out of place.

    This is going to be fun. Don’t worry, Valor reassured, sensing her tension.

    Cassidy quickly thanked her horse with a rub behind the ears, feeling better, and then thanked the Natives.

    A little while later, after she had been introduced to her temporary dwelling — a makeshift sort of tent covered in animal hide of some kind — she went to Valor and led him to the enclosure he would stay in, with the pony.

    “There you go, Vee,” she said, as he made friends with the little pony, sniffing and blowing, then romping and bucking like young and carefree colts.

  13. Dawn came upon a clear, blue sky. The sun had not risen in the east when an elderly woman awakened Cassidy, beckoning her to ready for the day. The girl consumed the food set out for her, a simple bowl of rice with a factor of unknown meat mixed in. Cassidy gulped it down, not accustomed to food that was not heavily processed and mixed with added nutrients.

    There was a small congregation gathered in the small village. Men and boys were readying themselves, taking spears and bows in case of a brawl.

    They’re ready to fight for their horses if needed, Valor commented.

    Cassidy nodded, her hands quivering with anticipation.

    Izaren was leading the party to the rock formation. Upon gestures, Cassidy swung herself onto Valor's back and followed the band of nomads from behind. The trek was listless, and Cassidy couldn't stop but wonder about the situation for these people. They were nomadic people, living by the purpose to travel from place to place, too insecure to settle in one designated area. Without horses, they had no sufficient way of travel.

    These people were desperate to get their horses back.

    “We have to get their horses back, Valor,” Cassidy murmured to her steed, running her hands down Valor's neck. "I can't fathom how I would feel if you were gone for good."

    We will do anything to assist these people, Cassidy, Valor replied, his voice steady as a river flow.

    Suddenly, the rock formation came into view. There was a murmur among the men of the nomadic people, and a spark of fierce determination arose in their eyes. Cassidy felt her heart skip a beat, knowing that they had to be advancing to finding the tribe’s horses. Just as hope arose, a shrill whoop echoed through the air.

    Yards away, a group of battle-savvy people stood with weapons in hand. They all were mounted upon horses, looking poised like a striking snake.

    “It’s them,” Cassidy uttered.

  14. “What should we do Valor?” Cassidy asked. Valor didn’t answer for a moment. Cassidy looked down at her horse; he looked thoughtful.

    I don’t know Cassidy. I will need your help in coming up with a plan.

    Cassidy sighed. It worried her a little that Valor had no plan. She guessed she would just have to live with that.

    She looked up at the other people, coming toward them looking hostile. How will we ever win? Cassidy thought except for her all the Natives were all on foot and the enemy is riding all of the Natives’ horses.

    Cassidy! Valor spoke in her head, Ask one of the Natives if they see all of their horses.

    Cassidy gave Valor a questionable look, but did what he asked.

    The man she asked look surprised by such a question, but looked for a moment. His eyes grew big. “No, I count at least ten horses missing.”

    Cassidy got the same idea that Valor got. “We sneak around the battle and try and find the other horses, then we charge them here to the battle, and it will probably spook the other horses,” Cassidy said with excitement. “Oh Valor, you’re a genius.”

    Well I am intelligent, but you gave me the idea. There is one thing — you will have to do it alone. They will notice me right away, but they may not notice you alone when the battle starts.

    Cassidy gulped. He was right, of course, but that did not make it any easier.

    She went to Izaren, who was leading them, and told him her plan. He smiled and nodded his head in agreement with her plan. He told the plan to the rest of the Natives.

    Cassidy got off Valor and hugged him. “Be careful Valor.”

    He ran his chin up and down her back, giving her a horse hug. I will. I am more worried about you.

    Cassidy smiled at her horse. “Don’t worry I’ll be fine.” She smiled one last time at Valor, and headed to the back while Izaren got on Valor.

    “Surrender!” the enemy cried.

    “Never!” the Natives cried.

    And with that, they charged.

    As soon as the battle started, Cassidy snuck past them. All the enemy was so busy fighting with the surprisingly determined Natives that they did not notice her. She made it to the edge of their village and looked around. Seeing no one, she kept going.

  15. Cassidy snuck behind a large rock, there they were — a beautiful herd of horses were tied to a fence. There they were, so easy to get.

    She snuck over to the herd and began untying knots when one of the horses whinnied very loudly. The enemies charged and Cassidy was stuck between the paddock and the crowds.

    Just then Valor appeared and they charged off with the herd behind them. They ran triumphantly past the horseless enemies and into the village. Every native in the village cheered. All but one…

  16. Once back in the village, a rousing cheer came from the natives as they surrounded Cassidy and her horse. All of a sudden, there were people shaking her hand and thanking her for helping get their beloved horses back to them. Cassidy slid off Valor and shyly bowed in reply.

    Tell them their regards from me, too, Valor urged her.

    Cassidy did so. Then she said, “Thank you all for letting me and Valor stay the night and taking care of us, but we probably should be getting back to our ship by now.”

    The villagers turned and began to mutter amongst themselves again. Then, they turned back. “Yes, you and your horse probably should, since it would be a dangerous place for two untrained warriors if the enemy troops attack again,” Izaren answered her. “We cannot thank you enough for helping us get our horses back and wish you the best of luck in your adventures.”

    Cassidy smiled and waved, and Valor neighed. “You’re welcome! Good luck with everything. Come on Valor, let’s go and see if we can get back home. I’ve had quite enough of unplanned adventures!”

    I agree! her horse answered with a toss of his head.

    Cassidy managed to pull herself onto Valor’s back, and the two made their way back along the path towards where their pod had last been. After about twenty minutes or so, Cassidy eagerly looked for the pod, but she didn’t see it.

    That’s strange. I thought the pod was in the exact same spot where we left it, she heard Valor saying in her head. But I don’t see it. Do you?

    “No, I don’t,” Cassidy worriedly answered, scanning the area. But no matter where she looked, she didn’t see the pod anywhere—no signs of where it had possibly disappeared to.

    Well, this is just great. The pod is GONE!

  17. “The pod is pretty big, it has to leave some form of tracks. I swear, this is getting ridiculous.” Cassidy sighed defeatedly as she surveyed the untouched landscape.

    Look, Cassidy, over there! Valor’s thoughts remarked. It’s a native, hiding behind those rocks.

    The man realised his discovery and hurriedly retreated, but Valor’s speed meant they caught up very quickly. Panicked, the man pressed his back against the boulders and watched in fear as Valor cornered him.

    Valor snorted. Wait a minute, he’s from the village. I saw him walking off when everyone else was cheering.

    “You did something to our pod when nobody was paying attention!” Cassidy reasoned. Valor stomped his hoof at the man in an aggressive manner, ears lying flat against his head.

    “P-Please,” he spoke, “don’t hurt me. I only wanted you to stay, so I set the pod on autopilot and…I don’t know where it is now. I’m really sorry.”

    Cassidy and Valor looked at each other, deciding that this man seemed genuine enough. “It’s alright, I’m sure we can get to the Moon of Eroq another way,” Cassidy reassured anxiously, “but how?”

    I’ve got an idea! Valor’s voice seemed to have perked up with excitement. Remember when the pod ran out of fuel and we projected our energy into it?

    “You’re not saying we can track the pod down because we’re linked to it, are you?” Cassidy concluded, the same excitement gradually creeping into her eyes. “Let’s try it.”

    One hand on Valor’s neck and the other on his forehead, Cassidy closed her eyes and pictured her pod. She felt as if she had remembered a forgotten dream as she tried to draw the pod back to her. For a while it felt like none of it was real, but then, so clear and present that it couldn’t be imagined, came the familiar whirring of Pod A-45’s engines from the distance.

    Valor nickered in joy. Yes, we did it!

    Cassidy opened her eyes and smiled back. She joked, “But the real question is, do you think we can make it onto the pod without something else happening?”