Archive | May, 2013

Proof of Life: April 4, 2121, late evening (EGT)

1 May

April 4, 2121, late evening (EGT):

Captain Hidaya Tsuvecki twisted slowly in space, carefully drawing the titanium-alloy netting around the clusterroid she’d found. The asteroid was too big to fit into the cargo hold of her ship and too valuable to leave behind. She worked carefully so as not to break up the conglomerate of space rubble loosely held together by its own weak gravitational force. As she slowly eased the netting around the cluster, she hummed a Swahili lullaby from her childhood to keep herself calm, her heart rate low, and her breathing steady so that she could finish the job before having to retreat to her ship to refill her air supply.

Thirteen years working the refueling stations and six years as an asteroid prospector/miner had made her a nimble worker, even in a bio suit. She finished netting her find in a little under three hours, then snapped one of her signature beacons off her tool belt. Very slowly she plunged it elbow-deep into the middle of the clusterroid. She’d never lost an asteroid during transport back to Deimos, but she’d known prospectors who had. The ones who hadn’t bothered to tag their finds often lost them to the vastness of space or to other miners who’d found them.

After she finished and returned to her ship, the ISS Motherlode, her AI chimed softly, then announced, “A voice message from your brother Nassor arrived 2 hours 13 minutes ago. Would you like to hear it now?”

        “Yes, please, Memre’.”

        “Jambo, Hidaya!” The deep mellow voice of her younger brother filled the small cabin area of her ship. “Everyone in the family is fine, hakuna matata! I’m not calling with bad news. In fact, I have a serious business proposition to discuss with you. Can you be available at 5:00 Earth Greenwich Time tomorrow to discuss this?” Nassor’s voice hesitated, then continued, “My, um, backer for this venture is a man of status, and he wishes to join in the video call.  You may want to wear your burkha….” He trailed off for a moment.   “Either way, message me about the time. I’ll talk to you soon, Hidaya. Tutaonana!”

Hidaya appreciated that Nassor had reassured her of the family’s wellness. Otherwise, she would have spent the intervening hours with her stomach slowly tightening in worry about her nieces and nephew. “Memre’, how long until 5:00 Greenwich tomorrow?”

“Eight hours, 13 minutes.”

“Do we have time to move into a better location for a video call in that time?”

“Yes. In four hours, 26 minutes we can move to intercept a direct beam from relay buoy 1G7-B76 if we are not towing that asteroid. I calculate that its mass is sufficient to prevent the rapid acceleration and deceleration required to meet the time window.”

“Hmm. Okay. Well, I’ve finished tagging and netting it, so I guess we can leave it for a day or so to take this call. Send Nassor the confirmation, please.”