If you’ve just joined in, start at the beginning here.
Two hours later, Lucas floated just behind the pilot’s seat. Over the top of Werner’s head, he watched the grey of the lunar surface stretch to the horizon. Behind him, Ash and Paxton crowded onto the small bridge.
Werner twirled a tennis ball between his fingers, his gaze also fixed on the landscape. He held the yellow ball up to the moon view. “If this was the moon, I’d need a basketball to be Earth.”
“You’re an endless font of random trivia.” Lucas pushed off the back of the pilot’s seat and grabbed hold of the bar right in front of the port window.
The lunar surface rushed by, creating the illusion he was looking down. Shimmering habitat domes punctuated the undulating surface of craters as they approached the outskirts of Lunar City. The density of human habitation increased until they were above the main domes. Staring down at the bubbles of breathable atmosphere, he could see the chaos of humanity below.
“Ever been to Lunar City?” he asked no one in particular.
“Yeah, just once.” Werner started tossing the ball from hand to hand. “Shit there was too expensive for my pay grade.”
Lucas twisted to look at Paxton. “How about you?”
“No,” she said without moving her head. Her hair floated outwards in all directions creating a dull halo around her green-hued face. Space sickness had hit her hard.
“Still mad that we couldn’t find you a stateroom?” Ash tilted her head and smirked.
Lucas sighed before turning to his first officer. He shared her frustration with their passenger, but couldn’t let it show. “We’re all stuck here together for the next few days, let’s be civil—we’re professionals.”
“Aye aye, Captain.” Ash’s flat tone suggested defiance, but he let it go. He trusted that she wouldn’t take it any further.
“How about you go find Dr. Paxton some anti-nausea meds?”
“Right.” Ash rotated and pulled herself off the bridge.
Lucas let himself drift until he faced his pilot. “And Werner, why don’t you take a break?”
“Sure thing boss.” He undid the buckle holding him in his seat and rotated to face Lucas. “We’re on autopilot.” With a single motion, Werner launched himself off the bridge.
Once he was going, Lucas turned to Paxton. She remained stationary against the back wall of the bridge. With a grimace, she met his gaze.
“Is this your first time in zero-g?”
“Of course not!” Her chin quivered in juxtaposition to her words.
Lucas nodded and assumed this was her first trip without gravity. He didn’t call her on her lie. The scientist appeared to be trying very hard to appear tough and in control of the situation. All he hoped was that she didn’t vomit on the bridge.
Part of him was sympathetic to her plight—she’d been given some super secret task by The Conglomerate and didn’t dare fail at it. The Conglomerate were not kind to any of their employees who failed them. Stakes were high for her, but they were also high for his ship and crew.
“Now that we’re on our way, I need some details of what we’re looking for on the asteroid.”
Paxton seemed to steady herself. Then she removed a small tablet from her pocket. “I’ll send the ship the coordinates.” As she interacted with her device, her skin went a shade greener. “There.”
Lucas leaned into the nav console and brought up the coordinates. “These are very precise.” The position’s accuracy went down to a millimetre.
“What we’re looking for is small.” She lifted her chin and frowned. “Is that going to be a problem?”
He scratched the back of his neck. Paxton presented him with contradictions he struggled to deal with. “No, but it would help to know what we’re looking for.”
“Just be ready with the grappler,” she said. “It’s critical to my success.”
“I’ll get Ash to set it up when we get close.”
“No.” Paxton drifted closer, fists balled and jaw clenched. She glared at him. “She needs to focus on it now.”
Crossing his arms over his chest, Lucas stared at her. “I assign the tasks here.”
“It seems you and your crew just lallygag around making dumb jokes. There’s work to be done. So far the lot of you appear incompetent—no wonder they have assigned you to such a shitty ship.”
“Well...” In that moment, Lucas wished the Angler had a stateroom he could confine the scientist in—or a brig. He took a deep breath— lashing out at her would not solve anything. “We’ll have the grappler ready before we reach the asteroid.”
Paxton pushed forward, stopping herself by grabbing the hand hold near Lucas’ head. “Everything is riding on my success.” Her eyes seemed to bulge out as she stared at him.
For a moment, he thought he saw a look of panic wash across her face. Something more than just success for her employer was riding on this mission for her. He almost felt sympathy, then her expression hardened.
“Just get it done!” She spun, too fast for someone suffering from space sickness, then propelled herself off the bridge.
Lucas let her go without further comment—hopefully Ash got the anti-nausea meds to her before she lost her last meal.
“Humph,” he said as he pulled himself down into the nav console’s chair and buckled in. He pulled up the coordinates on the asteroid where Paxton wanted to go. There didn’t appear to be anything special about the spot.
“Why do you want to go there?” He scratched his head, then stared out the window at the twinkling lights of Lunar City.