The pause that followed was....gravid. Electric. I had made my mind up to head back to the shop and even in the process of unbuckling and standing, I heard the Third Officer's inhalation, "..."
--Interrupted by Big Tom's voice over the 'comm, "Your number five monitor, EVA, on her way to S8." Saved by the intercom!
"Oh! Okay. Emily? Just get Ess Eight shut off and get back to the safepoint. I'll give you a count from, um, two and a half, mark."
...At the three-minute mark, by my wristwatch. I'm a sucker for drama; I sat back down. Hull-crawling is not my strongest skill; if I'm in vacuum, I'm working around the 'Drive mast and ion engines, mother-henning riggers who think they're baby-sitting me. Even to do that much, you have to have had the classes on what's where, especially airlocks, safepoints and landmarks. The dear ol' Lupine is, after all, larger than some counties; suited up, with a radio, plenty of air and the safety lines secure, there are still plenty of ways to die on the hull, inches away from air and light and people inside, if you don't know what you're about. The graywater plant and the fat pipes that feed it is a landmark (if you'll pardon the term!) because there are safepoints all around it. The thing's one of many retrofits, installed with E&PP's typical dour pessimism. Cutting to the chase, Em couldn't have far to go.
Russ spoke up, "Load preset five-A, Navs; that'll buy us another half-minute. I'm going to need quiet on the bridge from here on out, even if your hair is on fire if it's not on task it can wait."
EVA: "Two minutes, Em. --I think she nodded, Russ. Em? Remember, big gestures."
"Two-and-half away, on vector and tracking. We will go with five-alpha; give me six, six-baker and ummm, 8 on my C, D and E; set up B for a full abort. DQ, Insystem Drive, you copy? Might get a little busy."
"Wha--? Guh, In-Sys, okay." Oh, that Jonny Zed, would you not just know he'd be on-duty for this one. Good of Russ to wake him, really.
"Em's at the valve! She's... Oh. It doesn't look like it's moving-- Okay, there it goes."
(TO BE CONTINUED)
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
9 months ago