A Solar Flare For Work: a Psi-Kicks story by: GF Willmetts.

February 28, 2016 | By | Reply More

‘Play the game, Mr….er…Jones. Lay flat on the centrifuge and let the force over-whelm you.’

Chris Lancier looked up. He was sitting cross-legged on the centrifuge as it spun at close to 10G. Reaching out, he could see into the space controller’s eyes and waved. Yuri Gorlov had been the biggest problem since he’d arrived because he needed proof that Lancier could pass all the astronaut training in a fraction of the time that baseline humans did and it had been difficult to show how without explaining the real why. It wasn’t as though he was about to do anything elaborate in space like doing an EVA. The continuous motion was enough to pulse the image at the man watching him like an animated flickbook or under a heavy strobe, so Lancier waved both hands much faster to compensate for image he could see himself. Unfortunately, he was now just hovering above the centrifuge, rotating with it and not even felt the need to lay flat. It would really piss Gorlov off if he suddenly stopped rotating or stood up. Neither would happen. Scooping depended on vectoring force and he had to so in the same direction as the centrifuge until it stopped.

‘This is more than enough gee-tolerance to get into space,’ Courtney Adams said in the control room, as they rewatched the footage. The one and only DVD would be back in her bag after this fifteenth viewing. Gorlov was hard to convince but then so would anyone not experienced with Psionics.

‘All from this Lancier device?’

‘The same device that will save the International Space Station from the solar flare, Gorlov,’ General Rurik rumbled.

This was the first of the tests Lancier had quickly undertaken since arriving in Russia and now they were on one of the last.

‘It took a while to prepare this chamber to allow you to test your…device against something like a solar flare, Mr. Jones. Mostly the particles are raw atomic particles we’re spinning out of a cyclotron. I presume you’ll be behind the shield and wearing the spacesuit provided?’

‘That’s the way it’ll be in space,’ Lancier added.

‘You shouldn’t be in any immediate danger as I understand you’ll be on the edge of the solar flare.’

‘Which is why the device should protect me. You’ve seen the effect on the centrifuge. It literally pulled me away from 12Gee.’

‘The solar flare travels much faster than that.’

Lancier sealed his helmet visor and walked down to the chamber, closing the door behind him. Looking up to the gallery, he saw Courtney Adams, Sheena Ramone, General Rurik and Gorelov looking down on him. This late at night, no one was around and of all the staff, only space controller Yuri Gorelov had been privy to the required tests. Of all the tests Lancier had done so far, this one was the most crucial. It was estimated that the flare would hit Earth space for about 10 minutes or so, most of it being either deflected by the atmosphere or absorbed where it could do untold damage to telecommunications before wiping computer memory. He had been thinking about this for a long time now and had opted to deflect than let the atomic matter come too close to him. To do it in this chamber, he would have to aim it at wall corner and hope it could absorb all the energy.

‘Let her rip.’

Gorlove nodded and pressed the button. A hole in the wall, sixty feet from Lancier opened up. Even in his spacesuit, Lancier heard the rumbling noise of the cyclotron as its energies opened up towards him. He closed his eyes and focused, feeling the energy in his mental hands, letting it gather before scooping it at the side wall.

<I hope you’re keeping count of the time, Spiky.>

<Two minutes, Lancy. You make it look effortless.>

<What do the monitors say?>

<Am I supposed to understand them?>

<Just look at them, I’ll see what you see.>

There was a pause.

<You all right, Lancy?>

<It’s not at full strength. Ask him what he’s playing at. Politely. No mind control.>

‘Hey, sport. Can you put the juice up? He says it’s not at full power.’

Gorlov turned, surprised. ‘How did you know that? His radio isn’t on.’

Sheena smiled. ‘We have our ways. Jonsey needs to test the device at its limit. It’s not even trying at this level.’

‘Do it, Gorlov,’ Rurik urged. ‘He’ll be facing these conditions in space.’

‘You talk as though he’s going into the middle of the storm. He’s supposed to be on the periphery observing.’

‘We have to take all possibilities into account. Put it up.’

Gorlov shrugged but turned the dial up. Down in the chamber, the energy was now being directed in a steady blast and was slowly peeling the wall Lancier was aiming it at. They should have had more lead placed in the chamber.

‘Eight minutes. I wish I had a device that powerful.’

‘Everything ok, Spiky?’ Courtney asked.

‘He isn’t sp..eaking.’

‘Maybe it’s taking his full concentration.’

‘Look behind him. There’s holes in that wall. They’re narrower than a guitar string. Cover for me, Cookie.’

‘What?’

Sheena was out and down the stairs. Rurik and the space controller looked aghast as the door below opened. More so as the secondary lock in the control room hadn’t been touched. Without any protection, she walked in behind Lancier and the marks behind him vanished.

‘She’s carrying the back-up device,’ Courtney quickly explained. ‘We weren’t sure if one alone would be enough.’

‘You said there was only one.’

‘It’s got finer controls for finer particles. Smaller range and it seems to be working. Let them complete the full twelve minutes.’

‘Her exposure?’

‘The device will protect her.’

‘This is all strictly classified, Gorlov.’ Rurik emphasised. ‘You are observing. No one outside of this room must know.’

‘The damage?’

‘A minor accident.’

‘Twelve minutes.’

Finally, he turned the cyclotron off. By the time they got down to the room, Sheena was helping Lancier take his helmet off. The Psionic was red-faced and sweating as Courtney helped undo the gloves. Gorlov examined the wall behind them with a Geiger counter. Radioactivity was confined mostly to one spot. Intense but confined. The wall behind the two Psionics was similar. Rurik looked on but Sheena put her finger to her mouth. Now was not the time to say anything.

‘Hey, sport, dontcha have the rest of the night off. You can get the room detoxed in the mornin’

‘I’ll have the rest of the night off and detox the room in the morning.’

The space controller turned and left.’

‘Mind control? You are full of surprises.’

‘Neat trick, General,’ Sheena said with a slight smirk. ‘The less he hears, the less he’ll have to forget.’

‘Sheena.’

‘It’s true, Cookie, don’tcha know. I’m gettin’ fed up playing this part of not doin’ what I do best when needed.’

Lancier pulled himself out of the back of the spacesuit, his composure returning. ‘Let’s talk but not in here.’ He closed his eyes. ‘There’s a room down the corridor.’

‘Get your clothes changed first, Chris. I’ll get something for us all to drink.’

By the time Lancier joined them, they were all around the table. Sheena was chewing gum, Rurik and Courtney had black coffee, a carton of milk had been opened and poured in a glass for him.

‘A glass?’

‘Had one in my bag. Didn’t think you’d swig from a carton.’

The Psionic sat and took a deep drink.

‘He can’t do it alone, don’tcha know,’ Sheena finally said.

‘Is this true, Mr. Lancier?’

‘It’s not a solid mass. I can only hold some of it.’

‘Enough to protect the space station?’

‘Mostly, but the finer material is just as destructive and its slipping through my…fingers. My skill is with large objects. Sheena can manipulate smaller material.’

‘I thought you could share…is that the word…share off each other.’

‘Not with kinetics. People like me are in short supply.’

‘What he’s sayin’, sport, is I have ta go, too. Put another seat inside the capsule.’

‘You should have kept Gorelov here. He’d have told you.’

‘An’ have to do the same tests as Lancy? We go in a day’s time. We don’t have time to mess with this.’

‘I saw the specs. You could lose equipment to make room.’

‘What equipment.’

‘I would have to check. Probably communications and guidance controls.’

‘Lotta good they’d be in the flare. We have our own way to use them. Just make sure the wiring isn’t tampered with.’

‘Extra oxygen.’

‘We also need to be much further out from the ISS.’

‘More fuel?’

‘You don’t ask much for such a short time, Mr. Lancier.’

‘Can it be done, General?’

‘It would improve our chances. We can’t bounce it off the atmosphere. Too much will get through.’

‘You do not ask much.’

‘Can it be done?’

‘We are used to working around the clock.’

‘It will not be comfortable, Miss Ramone.’

‘I’ve been to bigger rock concerts, sport. I like vibes. Always wanted to be an astronaut, don’tcha know.’

‘It will be done.’

‘Attaboy, sport.’

‘Thanks, General.’

 

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ o ///////////////////

 

The next morning, Gorelov fuming walked into Rurik’s office.

‘Who authorised these changes and who is the second passenger? It’ll never be finished in time.’

‘You needed the sleep, Yuri. My authority is enough. On shifts, they will be completed on time. It’s more a matter of stripping out weight and putting in a second seat.’

‘They’ll need everything on board.’

‘Not all. The team did the calculations last night. They’re compensating for extra fuel and oxygen. They need to get higher than the ISS. I saw their calculations and all verified by computer. Mr. Jones says returning to Earth uses less fuel.’

‘They are supposed to be observing.’

‘Parts of this mission are classified, even from you. I told you that from the start.’

‘I need to know, General. I am supposed to be in charge.’

‘Of the launch. Not the actual mission.’

Gorelov sat down. ‘All right, so its classified even beyond me. Don’t give me that guff that those little boxes this team carries are the answer. I am not a fool, General. What do these two have that none of the cosmonauts we have don’t?’

‘Ah! Mr. Jones. Miss Smith. So nice of you to join us.’

The space controller turned. The two English, one dressed in black and the other in what they called punk, stood there patiently.

‘I can make him forget, don’tcha know. I didn’t give long enough last night.’

‘No. He’s smart, Spiky, he’ll only ask again. The last thing we need are questions at the control while we’re up there.’

‘What are you people?’

Lancier turned to the door and watched it close before sitting down and spread his hands. ‘You’re right, we don’t need the boxes.’

‘They’re a distraction?’

‘An explanation’, Lancier corrected, ‘for the unexplainable…or rather that which would give too many questions that people have been denying for too long.’

He looked around on Rurik’s table before picking up a paperweight and throwing it up in the air. The paperweight remained in the air. Sheena took the chewing gun out of her mouth and flicked it at the paperweight leaving it stuck to it and gave a wink at Gorlov.

‘Pick anything off the General’s desk and throw into the air,’ Lancier offered. ‘This is light stuff compared to what I normally throw around.’

‘You remember that near miss with the meteorite a couple years back?’ asked the General. ‘Mr…ah…Jones made the near miss possible.’

The controller looked at the paperweight before passing his hands all over it before Lancier started to cause it to spin. There was nothing supporting it.

‘I’m not defying gravity. What you’re seeing is me vectoring momentum with the Earth’s spin. There’s a lot of vibration around here. I’m just taking advantage of it. Everything is in motion in some way. I’m just directing kinetic energy that already exists. You’d call it telekinesis. We call it scooping. You saw a demonstration of it last night or rather my failure to hold everything.’

The paperweight continued spinning and then into a larger orbit. It was joined by a paper dart, folded and thrown by Sheena. Gorlov picked up a book and threw it up in air only to see it stop higher than the paperweight and also spin.

‘I couldn’t contain all the energy. Miss Smith here can control finer energies and she helped last night. If the mission is to be successful, she has to come with me. We showed last night that I couldn’t do it alone. I thought I could.’

‘Not to observe. You’re actually planning to save the ISS.’

‘Got it in one, sport. You can’t send anyone else. Not unless you Ruskies been hiding Psionics all these years. It’s a rescue mission, you’ll love it.’

‘General…?’

‘You are on the edge of alpha classified. Need to know only.’

The space controller nodded. ‘Can Miss…Smith at least prove she can tolerate the centrifuge.’

‘Tell ya what I can do, sport. I’ll do it standin’ on my head.’

‘And we really do have to go in less than two days.’

‘But you’ve taken out half the navigation gear and coms.’

‘Once we’re accelerated, I can take control of that. Coms won’t be much good in a solar flare. Miss Smith was going to relay information to you but we haven’t decided upon alternatives yet. Bringing in a fourth person means another identifiable face.’

‘Can’t the other Miss Smith do this?’

‘Nope. Just plug into your coms gear and we’ll use other means. Monitor the devices recording the solar flare. You just have to be clever in sounding like you’re anticipating our needs up there.’

‘Trajectories and such.’

‘Wouldn’t want to collide with anythin’ on the way down, don’tcha know.’

‘That Miss Smith is sorting out a larger mobius box for appearances sake. Something that will convince your team of how you’re hearing from us.’

<We have to make sure you can hear us…>

<Can you hear us, sport? One or both of us?>

‘That is telepathy?’

‘Spaking. Sounds enough like speaking to be misheard. We’ll call if we need anything. As far as the rest of your team are aware, the capsule is unmanned and you’re picking up data.’

‘You people are very smart. I hope you don’t out-smart yourself.’

‘Part of the fun, sport.’

 

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ ^ ///////////////////

 

The launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome was completed on time. As described in the literature, the Russians didn’t rely on countdowns and the lift-off was just slightly odder with the rocket doing a slow spin in its ascent. Inside, Lancier was reaching out and feeling the control wires, gently moving fuel consumption to feed more energy as the Soyuz finally broke away as they left the atmosphere. It brought a whole new dimension to flying by wire. Sheena, just reduced the volume of her walkman when they reached free space, although it would only reduce her concentration a little as she spake. Both of them had reduced the inertia being forced on them when taking off and hadn’t felt anything.

<I’m glad they supplied us with a window. Nice to see a view.>

They had decided from the start it would make more sense to spake than use the radios. After all, as far as anyone was concerned, this was just a cargo rocket sent up to gather information about the solar flare that carry freight to the ISS. There was still some sensors on-board to fulfil that part of the mission and Lancier wasn’t going to touch those.

<We can take off our helmets and gloves now. Just tie yours down to something and don’t use chewing gum.>

<I could do with something to eat. How long before it happens?>

<Didn’t you read all the details? A couple hours. It would be longer if we were docking with the ISS but we don’t have to match orbits which is a bit more fiddly manually.>

<You juiced up enough?>

<I was expecting a plateau.>

<Could be anytime in the next few days. This is the closest I’ve been with you, Lancy. Cookie should be jealous.>

<How would we know. We can’t scan her.>

This time, they both laughed aloud. Neither of them knew their Blank’s inner thoughts and focused on task to hand..

<Do you really want to play the Blue Danube as we reach orbit?>

<You never saw 2001.>

<Of course I did. I’m not that young.>

<The film.>

<The one with the black brick that everyone wanted to touch?>

<Monolith, but that’s the one.>

<Scan for the solar flare. We’ll only have 8 minutes once it’s on its way.>

<You timing them?>

<Speed of light. Still not as fast as the Farsighters seeing the event ahead like they did but there’s nothing likely to get in the way of it happening.>

<’Cept us.>

<Look. I’m going to manoeuvre us a bit higher now. We’ve got enough fuel and it’ll give us a bit more of an edge to divert the energy.>

<Well, I didn’t think you were going to waste it. How much space debris do you think you’ll be able to get?>

<You had the same thoughts as me on to do with the flare. Seemed to be a shame to waste all that energy. I’ll target anything I can scan. It’ll be gone in the flash of an eye or pushed into the atmosphere to burn up.>

<And we’re going to be in the line of fire that’s going to make your meteorite removal service light in comparison.>

<I didn’t have the advantage of you keeping me continually boosted last time.>

<How we doin’?>

‘<Synchronising now. You should see the ISS below us. Enjoy the music?’

<It’ll never catch on.>

<We’ve got a couple hours. Get some sleep. We’re in the ISS’s sweet spot so we won’t stray or them spot us if they weren’t waiting it out in the escape capsule.>

Sheena pulled out a food bar and began chewing it, scooping another bar in his direction.

<Not before we both eat.>

 

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ – ///////////////////

 

From below, the sky lit up with multiple sparks as the solar flare touched the atmosphere, much of it taking small bits of space debris with it. The Earth would only be in its way for a few minutes but enough to cause all kinds of problems. Above the International Space Station, Lancier was playing an elaborate game of ‘Asteroids’, using his mind to redirect the solar flare’s energy. Sheena could only catch and throw a small amount compared to Lancier, letting it bounce off the atmosphere and watching a small aurora form, creating her own private light show. Below them, the ISS was protected by the bubble they had created. The solar flare might be thirty Earths wide but they only took three of those and a quarter of an hour later, it ended or at least as far as the planet below was concerned.

Sheena turned to Lancier, who suddenly slumped over. Immediately she scanned but he seemed exhausted than hurt but had flaked out. Even so, he’d need to be on top form to fly them both back to Earth. She reached out beyond the rocket. In the distance, what was left of the solar flare was hitting empty space now and it sunk in just how much work they had just done. It only appeared to have been one burst and nothing else heading this way. Presumably, the next one wouldn’t touch the Earth.

She turned her attention back to rocket interior, immediately focusing on a pressure gauge on the wall reading half full. Her senses detecting a very slow leak on one of the walls. Sheena rummaged through their bag and drew out a tube of what appeared to be liquid cement, unscrewed the top and then rather than undo her seat belt, scooped it across to the spot and dolloped some over the flaw. There were a few bubble bursts before it finally settled and she added another layer. Scooping it back, she put the top back on. A further scan revealed that the hull wasn’t breached any further. The outer hull was intact.

<Hello, sport. Just tap the earpiece as if you’re receiving a message. Which you are, don’tcha know. Just think your words. The way when you talk to yourself. You could say it aloud but this needs to be kept out of the ears of the rest of the people around you.>

<The instruments show no apparent damage from the flare. Is there a problem?>

<The gauges say we don’t have enough air for the journey home. Do I need permission to dock with the ISS?>

<What’s happened to Mr. Jones?>

<Jonsey’s sleeping. He did most of the work and needed a rest. If I wait for him to wake up, we’d have less air, don’tcha know.>

<The autodock control was one of the things removed.>

<That’s not important. Your people only removed the controls, remember the wires. We need to top up the air supply before we go home.>

<The CPUs and memory were with those controls.>

<So it needs finesse. Got loads a’that, don’tcha know.>

<You want me tell the crew to help? They’ll know you’ve docked.>

<As long as nothing is recorded, I can handle the rest?>

<How? Maybe I shouldn’t ask. The General is nodding assent. Are you doing this telepathic thing with him as well?>

<Saves duplicatin’ the conversation don’tcha know.>

<What about your descent window?>

<If I can dock, that’s child’s play an’ I have an inner child. Just record what you see. I’ll be in contact if we need you. Tell Cookie…the other Miss Smith she can go home.>

<Miss Smith isn’t here. She left just after you reached orbit. One of your other teams called her back.>

<Communication with the space station will be off the air until we leave. Just put it down to flare interference. Have to go. Need that air.>

Sheena pinched her nose. Lancier was still out cold and she was tired herself. Couldn’t just be the reduced air pressure. Helping herself to another food bar, she chewed as she reached out to adjust wires to the autodock software and found Gorlov was right. Shrugging, she examined the thrusters wires, confident that she could manoeuvre them. Lancy had been right. Things were easier by being already in orbit. The minor-thrusters clicked on and they began to descend to the space station.

She looked at the fuel gauge. There wasn’t enough fuel to stop them bouncing off the atmosphere and without Lancy to boost things, it could get awkward. He could also do a controlled landing so they needn’t bail out. Who could she talk to on Earth? The Stable mates weren’t expert in this and she and Lancy were the only telekinetics.

Sheena threw the food bar wrapper into the air and scooped it into a ball and spun a few times before releasing control. The air wasn’t as good as it could be but at least it wasn’t leaking out of the cabin.

 

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ z ///////////////////

 

The next thing Sheena knew was someone releasing her helmet and she was feeling cold.

Were they back on Earth?

She reached out and then gave a smile. ‘You’re sights for sore eyes, boys’, she addressed the astronauts facing her. Russians, American and one Brit. All smiling.

‘We saw your approach and locked on. Your air pressure was nearly gone.’

‘Why didn’t you put your visor down?’

‘We haven’t been able to contact home to ask what you and your friend are doing up here.’

Sheena sat up and saw that they had also released gloves and rubbed her nose. ‘Anyone got any chewing gum? Nah! Didn’t think you would. A big secret but we were controlling the device that kept you boys from harm from that solar flare. It hit us for six instead. We’re knackered, don’tcha know.’

‘Your Russian is very good.’

‘She’s speaking English. She is English.’

‘I have a way with tongues. How’s….my partner.’

‘Still out cold.’

‘Shame. He’d have loved to have met you, don’tcha know. Your earth controller, Yuri Gorlov, will sign this off later but we need some air and could do with a little fuel ta go home.’

‘I don’t think either of you are fit enough to travel, even in this modified baby. Your…partner is icy cold.’

‘We’ll ferry you both down in the emergency capsule.’

‘Then what do you do if you boys need it? Fuel my rocket up and see if I did a good patch on the inner hull. You want ta help me, dontcha? I’m going to take a proper forty winks this time. I need my concentration. Warm my partner up if he’s that cold but leave him in his suit, ‘kay.’

‘Fuel her rocket up and see if I did a good patch on the inner hull. Warm up your partner.’

At least that aspect of her ability was working. Sheena scanned them and corrected the thermostat in her suit up higher before doing the same to Lancier’s and scooped the leads into the ISS electrics to preserve their own batteries. There was a water bottle on the shelf above here. She reached out and it came down to her. Fruit juice. She drank it down, between chewing on another food bar, before closing her eyes. They were too busy to notice. She left a thought in their heads that they were to rest when they were finished. No sense them thinking too much. At least in space, she didn’t need to make a pillow to rest her head.

Shena woke an hour later. The five astronauts were sitting around her, waiting. The quiet of the space station only broken up by the air purifiers whining softly in the background. As much as she would want to play some music, the less of a memory of themselves she left, the less she would have to spike from their minds. She’d have loved to have a look around and even scribble a Ramones symbol on one of the walls but that would cause enough trouble.

Sheena clapped her hands. ‘Everything OK?’

‘You should have enough air and fuel to get back to Earth.’

‘The air supply has a slow leak but you won’t lose enough on the way down.’

‘You did a nice job repairing the capsule.’

‘Your partner’s still out of it. Is he all right? He’s a lot warmer but nothing we did.’

‘It’s been a busy day. Gimme a minute to think.’

<Lancy. Kin you hear me?>

She paused and then repeated the message before doing a full scan. He shouldn’t be that exhausted this long. Maybe her presence was boosting his power and maybe too much. Every time she’d done it before was for a few hours. She’d been around him for over a week. They could hardly go back to Earth separately.

‘If you boys can strap us in, we’ll be out of your hair and you can contact Earth, don’tcha know.’

‘We’ll strap you in and then we can contact Earth.’

‘No. You’ll let the cycle release for this rocket first and give me ten minutes start and forget we were here. Then you can contact Earth.’

‘We’ll cycle release for this rocket first and give you ten minutes start and then forget you were here.’

‘You will not remember me or my partner ever being here. There will be a supply rocket with fresh air and supplies in the next week.’

‘There will be a supply rocket with fresh air and supplies in the next week.

‘And repeat?’

‘After ten minutes we will have forgotten you both.’

‘That’s good of you, boys. Lead on.’

They re-kitted both her and Lancier with their helmets and gloves and then back inside the capsule and safety belted to their seats. They worked silently but professionally, treble checking everything.

Professional level, Sheena decided. They were so well trained that their autonomic systems took over. No wonder her control was so absolute so quickly. The shit would have hit the fan had any of them had any Blank potential and she couldn’t spike them.

Shit! I should have asked to use the loo.

‘Boys, I need to take a piss.’

‘Won’t you miss your launch?’

‘Do it in your suit. The nappy will absorb it.’

‘No shit!’

‘That, too.’

‘I’ll take your word. I’ll probably be too tight now anyway. ‘Kay, boys. Let’s do a launch.’

Her microphone clicked on. They were obeying their own instructions as they closed the hatch.

‘You do realise you have to do a high altitude bail out, Miss?’

‘Why?’

‘This capsule was designed to burn up in the atmosphere.’

‘This one was modified but thanks for telling me of an alternative route down.’

‘Don’t forget you’ll need to be free of your seats and your partner isn’t conscious once you’re in the lower atmosphere.’

‘’Kay, fine, fine.’

Now they tell me. Oh, Lancy, I could do with you awake right now.

Sheena reached around the cabin, her mind gently scooping and feeling the wires leading to the thrusters. She didn’t need to turn them on because the automatic controls undocked them and began the descent.

<Hope you all are listening in. Where am I supposed to land, don’tcha know?>

<We’ve avoided contact because we knew you were busy.>

<Why isn’t Chris answering?>

<Unconscious. Not sure why. Might be prolonged boosting. We’ll need to be split up when we get down.>

There was a brief quietness as Sheena felt them turn their attention to Lancier and then she felt them spaking again.

<Can you land this rocket, Sheena?>

Sheena squeezed a control flow and the capsule did a rotation.

<It only needs a little finesse an’ I got stacks of that. Lancy would have done a controlled landing. I’ll just get us down. The ISS crew think we might have to bail out.>

<Your…finesse won’t hold Chris.>

<I know that. Can you get me some numbers so I know which ocean.>

<Courtney says the North Sea. Do you think it’ll be easier floating up from the water than skydiving?>

<Problems, problems. ‘Kay. Got the numbers. Now leave me alone until I call.>

As she lost contact, Sheena felt the underlying emotion of ‘she’s worried’ and ‘Sheena never gets worried’. It might have been easier to contact Gorlov for more information but now he had to be outside of the loop. At least they weren’t expecting this rocket to come back. She began to reorientate the capsule, counting three orbits as she spun around the Earth dropping lower. It needed to cut speed but not enough that it wouldn’t enter the atmosphere. From the manual she had scanned on the ground, the trick was aim and not to bounce off the atmosphere. To do that she would have to go in at speed and let the atmosphere slow them down. To go in too gently wouldn’t work. Lancy might do it but he could handle bulk. For her, it would be more a matter of controlling the speed. Sheena turned on her Ramones album, ‘Rocket To Russia’. Anything to drum out the quiet and stop her hands from shaking.

 

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ v ///////////////////

 

Far below, a British submarine in the North Sea was watching the skies with half of its crew relying on sight. There was a lot of gesturing as a burning light was seen diving down from the sky early in the morning. The consensus in the com was it was going too fast. The ocean wouldn’t absorb the impact and certainly not deep enough where it was targeting. It’s angle was shifting as someone on board was making out it come in at an angle. It was also getting close to the submarine but not likely to crash into it.

In moments, the capsule crashed into the sea, leaving a cloud of bubbles in its wake.

‘That, Captain Harlow, is the official version. No survivors assuming anyone thought it was carrying any. We better check the water,’ Courtney Adams said firmly.

‘They wouldn’t have survived that. The parachutes didn’t open, Miss Smith.’

‘This capsule was never designed to have parachutes. It recorded the solar flare, sent info back, you should have a copy in a flash file now and was supposed to have burnt up in the atmosphere.’

‘How did you expect this non-crew to have survived?’

‘My…associates are good at it. Can you tell your men to check the skies as well. They might have jumped out. They’ll be coming down a lot slower…with parachutes.’

‘Lieutenant.’

‘Sir. Check the skies for parachutes. Miss Smith says there should be two.’

‘Sir? Yes, sir.’ The disbelief was cordial.

‘Who does ballistics or parachuting? It’ll take more than a couple minutes to come down from high altitude.’

‘We have a transponder signal. Just came on.’

‘I think that’s a message that they’re in the air, don’t you?’

One of the hands called out. ‘Parachutes.’

‘And now for her next miracle,’ Courtney muttered under her breath and then called out, ‘Better give some room, I suspect they’ll land on the sub.’

‘No one can be that accurate. They’d need extraordinary skill even in this calm. How long have they been jumping?’

‘Long enough.’ Courtney could hardly tell them the truth and Sheena’s joke about them using a correspondence course wouldn’t help.

‘Clear the deck…just in case.’

A minute later, two people in spacesuits came to a walking stop on the deck, the parachutes clicking loose so they wouldn’t be swept into the sea. It held two people together.

Some of the deck crew returned but the Captain and Courtney got there first and helped unlock the helmets. Lancier was smiling and music coming from the sound channel in Sheena’s helmet before she turned it off.

‘Hiya, Cookie. Can we get below? Got any chewing gum?’

‘Chris?’

Lancier squinted, looking up at the sky, before giving a thumb’s up.

‘Captain. We need to talk alone a moment.’

‘Only a minute, Cap’n,’ Sheena re-enforced. ‘See if you can pick up what’s left of the capsule. We want evidence.’

Harlow nodded and went away, saying, ‘Pick up what’s left of the capsule.’

‘What happened, Sheena? The others said Chris was unconscious.’

‘He was. Thought it was too much boosting. Turns out capsule’s heating cut off. Only had a brief look, being busy an’ all, but wires were cut when they added my seat. They probably thought the spacesuit heaters was enough. I was eating but getting my energy that way. Stopover on the station helped us both. I drifted off a few times. The capsule warmed up on the way down and Lancy woke up. I woke up. He said we should both jump an’ here we are. We worked together for a dry landing.’

Lancier gave a wry grin. ‘Missed most of the fun stuff. Did enough to stop Spiky taking us into the drink and bailed us out. Rest was just a matter of scooping in on the sub.’

‘I coulda done it.’

‘Maybe but we were better together. Can we get inside? I’m getting cold again.’

‘It was a rush job. We didn’t have to rescue any virgins from their virginity.’

 

End

(c) Psi-Kicks, Christopher Lancier,

Sheena Ramone, Courtney Adams 2016

GF Willmetts

All rights reserved

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Category: Scifi, Short fiction

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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