The next morning, the girl inventor headed out the door, luggage in hand. She climbed into the car with her parents and then they all drove into the Maxxim Campus to the dedicated airfield. A Maxxim Starcraft 170 waited on the Tarmac. Toby, Austen, Denise, and the two Valeries were all waiting to say goodbye. Christopher, who would be making the trip to Antarctica with Astrid, was there with his parents, as was Denise’s brother Dennis, who would be piloting their flight to Los Angeles.
“Hello Nerd,” said a familiar voice from behind Astrid. The girl inventor turned around to come face to face with her cousin Gloria and Gloria’s parents.
“Be nice to your little cousin, now,” said Aunt Lauren.
“Indeed,” said Uncle Carl. “She’s going to be an important part of the new company.”
“What company is that?” wondered Astrid.
“The new Maxxim.”
“Hello Carl,” said Dr. Maxxim, smiling.
“Roger,” responded Uncle Carl, tersely. “Kate.”
Aunt Lauren turned her head, ignoring her in-laws.
“So, did you guys come to see me off?” Astrid asked her cousin.
“Oh no. I’m going to Cali to spend a week with Aunt Penny,” said Gloria. “It seemed a shame to charter another plane, when you’re already headed that way anyway.”
“Gloria’s very cost conscious,” added Aunt Lauren.
“I’ve always thought that about her,” said Astrid with a straight face.
Once everyone had said their goodbyes, the travelers stepped across the tarmac and up the steps to the plane’s hatch. Astrid had hoped for a moment alone with Toby before she left, but she didn’t get it. She shot a quick look back to see him watching her through the glass wall of the terminal building. They gave each other a quick wave. Dennis Brown and Marty Crockett, one of the Maxxim pilots, took their places in the cockpit, while Astrid and Christopher sat down together near the front. Gloria walked all the way to the back of the cabin and staked a claim to the seat directly in front of the small restroom.
“The view is better up here,” Astrid called back, thinking that Gloria’s window view would be obstructed by the rear canard wing.
“Survivability in case of a crash is greater in the rear of an airplane,” said Gloria. “I would think a nerd like you would know that.”
“The joke’s on her,” Astrid said to Christopher. “If this plane crashes we’re all going to die.”
“That’s it, Astrid,” he replied. “Always look on the bright side.”