Friday, June 12, 2015

The Orbitals, Part XIII

This is Part XIII, the first part of the fifth chapter. Start at the beginning.

There were messages from everyone: the couple of school friends he had, Grandpa Pancho, Grandma Megan, Grandpa Will, five of his cousins. Parents of the friends he’d had as a child years ago. People whose names he didn’t recognize. His heart sunk even more. Nella. Dad. This was awful. Between his joyride plan, the accident, the diversion at Hermes, and the EVA, he had completely forgotten, or neglected to consider in the first place, that people he loved would miss him and worry about him. And why shouldn’t they? For all they knew, that diversion at Hermes pushed the ship out toward Mars, the Sun, up and away from the ecliptic, anywhere. For all they knew, there was a catastrophic decompression, or Spencer was kidnapped, or navigation had failed. For all they knew, his body was floating in space, never to be discovered.

He sent a message to his father. Dad, I’m alive, and we’ll let you know when we get somewhere safe. The ship is fine, and I’m with good people. Love you.

He looked at the computer’s clock. Six fourteen AM UTC. He got more than a nap, and it was now midnight in Albuquerque. So much for UTC minus six—he was now fully synced with Greenwich. Good thing he hadn’t tried to message Grandpa Pancho right away, he was fast asleep. He slid out of the chair, and stood up to go check on the situation outside of quarters, when he heard the ding of the text client. Probably Nella, he thought. She's the only one awake right now that would try this early. She's probably mortified. He looked at the blinking window; it was labeled 'Dad'.

Dad: Thank God you're alive. We were so worried about you. Where are you headed? We'll pick you up anywhere on Luna. We'll get someone to dock for you. Do you have a pilot?
Spencer typed in the box, and it appeared in the window proper, with "Me:" prepended.

Me: We don't have a pilot, there's only three of us, but we do have an EXAT aboard.Spencer waited the requisite twenty-something seconds for the signal to come back, bouncing off of satellites and stations thousands of miles away.

Dad: He's probably taken charge, huh? Guess if you can save dumbass asteroid miners, you can save smartass teens. :)

Me: She, and yeah. She's already fixed some stuff on the ship, and we should be just fine to make it to, well, somewhere on the moon.

Dad: You don't know where? Are they not telling you? Are you being taken somewhere against your will?

Me: No, it's fine. We just, well, we've had some issues with the ship and with the Orbitals, and I'm trying to figure it out.

Dad: Spencer, you can tell me anything you want. Don't hold back now, this is pretty seriouos

Me: Well ok. When we got to hermes, there were like eight orbitals there. Eight orbital cruisers, that is. The exat girl said that didn't seem right, like they were going to do something bad to us. So she swooped us out and we're headed to the moon.
Spencer waited for about three seconds, then hastily typed again.

Me: I know what you're going to say. She's not bad. She's not crazy, we're in good hands. I didn't want to go that direction, but like you always say: "play the cards you got dealt"

Dad: Oh wow.

Then a pause. He's not going to like this, thought Spencer. Dad is going to freak out and call someone, and then we're going to get Orbitals meeting us in open space. Then Zephyr's going to go crazy, and who knows what she'll do. I've done it. It's over.

Dad: No, no, I think she's right on the money. I've had my suspicions about OLO recently, and I'm not sure you can really trust the orbitals or really anyone with that badge on. They keep talking about closing stuff down, about needing more orbitals, about needing more security. Something smells wrong.

Me: You mean you, goodwill ambassador for the grand old Orbital and Lunar Operations Working Group itself, doubt the morals of your gracious hosts? Something is very messed up here.

Dad: Yeah, and I get the feeling you guys are caught up in the middle of it. I promise I won't tell anyone where you're going. Mom and I will keep it secret. Even from Papa.

Me: Dad, Grandpa and Grandma have no idea where any of this stuff is. They get lost in Rio Rancho. Anyhow, we're coming to see you. Our plan is to go to Shackleton.

Dad: I'd love to see you as soon as possible, but I really don't think that's a good idea. I'm sure the Orbitals will come to pay a visit this morning sometime, and I'm going to have to tell them something. I can't straight up lie to them, and I can't keep them from watching the port for Nella's shuttle. You should strongly consider going somewhere else. What about Glenn?

Me: Dad, the Orbitals go to the mining stations too. They'll probably be checking it out. I have an idea, but you'll really have to keep it quiet.

Before 23 seconds elapsed, there was another message.

Dad: Our story is that your nav computer died and you went to Peary or something. You got any Europeans aboard? I bet you could throw that in there, like this guy wanted to go to a Euro station.

Me: I think I'll take us to the museum.