He awoke screaming. Jay tossed and turned in the bed, frentic. The dreams were always the same. Blackness. Infinite blackness. And then the world turned white. He sat up, arms wrapped around him, soft cooing in his ear. Amanda cradled his head, whispering sweet nothings.
“It’s okay, it’s okay baby.”
His screams gave way to sobs. Amanda was the only constant in his life. Her and the memories.
Eight million people called Luna home. The carbon and plasticrete domes were like ugly acne, covering the mines and habitats. There were no windows. Glass was expensive, steel cheap. Nobody saw what went on inside, only the refined deuterium that came out.
“… contagion has breached quarantine. Sector transit has been revoked. Request immediate medical assistance from Terra. I say again, Luna-One is declaring a medical emergency. A pathogen of unknown origin has broken out. The contagion has breached quarantine.”
“It repeats like that,” Ramirez said, cutting the feed.
The corvette was returning from an LP, slingshotting around the moon to save a bit of fuel. Six man crew on a six month patrol, all eager to get home. Ramirez was responsible for astronavigation and communications, which meant he spent most of his time strapped into the bunk seat listening to solar flares and old transmissions.
“Any word from GeoCom?”
Han pushed off from the wall, drifting over to the flight seat. Commander and friend, they had served together since enlisting.
“Negative. We’ve squawked our location to the local buoys, so they know we’re here. Hailey was gonna burn in about an hour, if we hold off we can be over Luna-One before anyone else.”
“Okay, let’s play this safe. Cancel the slingshot run and put us on an approach vector. I’ll get on the horn to GeoCom. We gonna be sharing the sky with anyone?”
Ramirez punched in a few keys, swapping the star charts for a map of local shipping lanes.
“A few cargo-haulers on approach, two already in orbit. Picking up backscatter, they’re talking to Earth, asking whether they should dock with the tether.”
“And the word is?”
“TTN issuing a hold. Nothing from Kruger & Yale.” Ramirez angled their own maser and the encryption and routing protocols. “You’re good for GeoCom.”
“Earth orbit command, this is Corvette Mirage, Delta-Three-Three-Niner. We are on approach to Luna and have received distress signal. Our current trajectory will put us over Luna in,” he glanced at Ramirez who held up three fingers, “thirty mikes. Requesting orders. Over.”
“Mirage, this is GeoCom Actual.” Ramirez’s eyes grew wide, and he mouthed ‘the admiral’? in shock. “Your orders are to approach at best speed. We read your manifest, we’ll get back to you with additional orders a-sap.”
“Was that the admiral of the entire frickin’ fleet?” Ramirez said.
Han scratched the stubble of his beard. “Yeah. And he said they know what we’re packing in our tubes.”
Breakfast was quiet. Amanda was busy, packing lunches and clearing plates. It was an amicable arrangement. Jay helped feed Jay Junior, while she took care of the schoolgoing kids.
“Don’t forget to pick up your scrip from the auto-spensary.”
“And you promised Katie you’d help her with her report.”
“It’s important to her.”
“Kids, lunch is on the table. Your father’s cooking dinner tonight.”
Hailey had sat in her throne, the entirety of Space before her. the Moon was but a speck in the distance.
“Five thou,” Ramirez said.
“Starting retro-burn, we’re gonna take this slow and steady.”
“Vector zero-one-zero declination eight-eight decimal five.”
Han watched the interplay between navigator and pilot. They were like a well-oiled machine, getting the Mirage from A to B, wherever B might be.
An alert popped up on all their HUDs. “Warning, you are entering a military quarantine zone. Reverse course immediately or flight controls will be overridden.”
“That’s our friendly neighbourhood fleet broadcast,” Ramirez said.
“Punch in the clearance codes the Admiral sent,” Han said.
“Done. You’re free to stick this thing where you want Hailey.”
“Always do baby.”
“Take us into geostationary and park at 20 clicks above the surface.”
“Sir?” Hailey said.
“That’s an order Lieutenant Maize.”
“Aye aye Sir.”
Han watched the two share a glance, but had other things on his mind. GeoCom had transmitted their orders for his eyes only and after scanning through, and then reading through properly, he understood why. All the codes had been authenticated. The orders were genuine.
“Well would you look at that.”
Han followed where Hailey was pointing. The Moon had grown to fill the viewport, the giant tether rising from the surface. As they watched, the running lights went out, one by one, until the tether could only be seen as it blotted out the stars behind it.
“They’re conserving power,” Han said from over Hailey’s shoulder.
“How the hell are we gonna get people off-rock if they can’t launch?” Ramirez asked.
“Not our job.”
“Status,” Han asked Hailey, cutting off Ramirez.
“We… are… parked. Thanks for flying Air Maize.”
“Good work people. Give me the deck.”
Han would normally have let the lack of discipline slide, but he needed this done quickly.
“Report to the mess now Lieutenant. You too Maize.”
Hailey had enough experience to know not to question orders, but Ramirez had past relationships on his side. He followed Hailey to the deck head before sealing it shut after she stepped through.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing Carlos?” Han said.
“Me? What are you playing at? Red orders, now you’re kicking us out. Why did the navcom start plotting trajectories?”
Han had forgotten that plotting a course would trigger an update in the navigation console. He strapped himself into the helm and brought up the executive controls. Ramirez drifted back towards his station.
“You gonna tell me what you’re planning?”
Prompt originally posted by anir9492 on reddit and received 1 upvotes.