allringsfinal2.png“Two years on this tub and I still have bad dreams.”

“Nye, you need to find yourself a man.” a dark haired woman with a heavy German accent barely looked up from her screens. “Thanks Karla, I figured that out too.” Easy for you to say, you’re married. “Something else, can you check the telemetry from Leif?”

Nye sat down at her terminal, her screens came to life after her pressing her subdermal implant against the scanner to log in. “What is the matter with that probe?”

There was no response from Karla. Instead Nye too watched the data from the last probe launched. “Leif is in interstellar space too, how can this be?” in the raw data transmitted by the probe were images in the data stream, conversion to viewable images would take a few moments. “Better call the blockheads.” from out of her desk drawer she pulled out a contraption for ear and eye, with a powerful microphone.

“Commanding officer please.” she mumbled as the pictures were taking shape before her eyes.

Slowly both her and Karla’s jaws dropped, their eyes widened.

 

“This interstellar body is of similar size and composition as earth.” pacing in front of the viewscreen Nye pointed at the dark marble that showed a color of basalt, probably due to the lack of a powerful source for light. It was barely distinguishable against the dark backdrop of space. “Leif shows that there are signs of a decayed civilization on the surface,” Nye showed charts of sensor readings the probe had transmitted. “we nicknamed it Ericsson, in honor to the probe’s name patron. We could harvest raw materials from the Planet, although we would recommend robotic probes for that, we can also send teams of humans.” she closed the presentation.

Her intelligent glasses told her of the time, again dying a little inside, she cursed the probe for not transmitting that data at a later time.

“How should we mine these materials?” the commanding officer, Admiral Steve Anderson, shifted in his seat. “We could send probes to mine them years in advance.” Karla stepped in. “Three months before we reach the planet a team of people can be dispatched to the planet, they’ll arrive about two months later using maximum acceleration. Then there is a tiny window of opportunity for them to rendezvous with Explorer.”

First officer Commander Brenda O’Learey also shifted in her seat. Nye died a little more, time was out.

She would miss out on her date with Jacob. “How tiny is that window of opportunity?”

“Minutes. We’re talking minutes here.” Nye admitted ignoring her urge to bring the meeting to a quick end. The elected officials from the three separate rings started mumbling in agitated fashion. “Order!” the Admiral barked. “What if they miss rendezvous?”

Uncertain Nye and Karla exchanged a glance. “Horizon.” was Nye’s short reply. “If they miss out on them, there is still Destiny.”

“And if they can’t make that, they’ll be marooned on that desolate rock.” Commander O’Learey leaned back in her seat.

“Yes.” Karla stepped toward Nye.

 

While the elected ones and the military commanders debated the subject further, Nye and Karla had been dismissed, more than an hour too late for Nye’s liking. As she had thought there was not a trace of Jacob at the tube entry where they were supposed to meet.

Still wearing the glasses with the built in heads up display on her head, she turned around to the door when the words “Authorization confirmed.” flashed before her. Augmented reality messages. He’s smart. Nye waited a moment. “Doctor Monroe.” Jacobs voice rang in her earpiece. “I’ve waited for the entirety of my lunch break for you. Sadly you didn’t show up. I’m leaving this message in the hopes that you are still interested in grabbing lunch together. Meet me here tomorrow at the same hour.”

The words vanished together with his voice. “Dear Doctor Charles,” Nye began after starting to record. “I am very much interested in lunch with you. Or dinner.” I should delete this bit. It seems desperate. “If I should be kept from coming here tomorrow again, please do not assume it as disinterest.”

Forgetting to delete the embarrassing part, she saved the message to the mainframe with authorization to Doctor Jacob Charles only, just as the message reached her that a decision had been made.

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