Jack woke up and fed his pet fish. He had a cot where he slept that was in a room near the cockpit of his shuttle. He walked out the door and into the main room. The central room where he walked now had a few rows of empty chairs—chairs for passengers during trips that involved up to 60 passengers. The room behind that held the cargo that the shuttle was now carrying, which included a variety of things: chemicals, monoclonal antibodies, ELISA kits, food rations, electronics, and also a box of dry ice containing cells that had been isolated and expanded from Billy's umbilical chord nearly twenty years ago.
The cells from that vial would be used by technicians at the hospital on RC35 to regenerate a pair of eyes for Billy. The entire process would take approximately a year. After all, the nerve fibers would need time to adjust to a surrogate microprocessor before being transplanted into Billy's head. In the meantime, though, Billy would simply have to make the best he could with a pair of prosthetic eyes that would be installed this week.
Technically the tissue regeneration could have preceeded with one of his skin cells, but for the most part umbilical chord cells were still much easier to work with than the iPSCs (induced pluripotent stem cells) derived from adult tissue.
Jack had once heard that thousands of years ago there had been a major political conflict between proponents of embryonic stem cell research, and those who opposed it due to religious convictions. In the end, though, the entire conflict proved pointless for both sides because the technology for using an individual's own cells to regenerate tissues advanced in a way that made the potential use of cells from unrelated embryos simply irrelevant.
Jack entered into the cockpit right as the shuttle came out of hyperspace. He could now see beautiful Kanangar Prime as well as its three moons from a reasonable distance away. He could see the North Sargasso Ocean, as well as part of the southern ocean. RC35 was still on the dark side of the horizon, but and it would be at least six hours until morning.
He longed to see Barbara again, although he knew she wouldn't be there when he landed at the colony. After they had dropped off Billy at the hospital they had spent some time together, but he had to fly out a day later, and soon after Barbara had regrouped with the research scientist and flown out to the subcontinent Mossterra, where they were currently tracking Trillaglazers, as well as obtaining samples from flora in that area.
The shuttle landed at midnight. It was too late to pay Billy a visit, and he had only a few hours to kill before his next trip out, so he simply took a walk through the central boulevard of the colony. He could see two of Kanangar's moons in the sky, as well as a few bioluminescent SpaGGetti monsters in the distance beyond the colony walls.
He reached into his pocket and took out his phone. He walked by the fountain of the central plaza, stopped, and then took a picture of the vista in front of him. It would be at least a week until he saw Barbara again. Perhaps the next time they saw each other his room would have a decoration more impressive than just a simple aquarium with a lonely exotic fish.