6. Leaving NASA 6

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Having regaled his two patiently listening crew members with heavily embellished tales of smuggling, high speed space chases and narrow escapes from intergalactic law enforcement (all of which were taken with a large but good natured pinch of salt by all concerned, storyteller and listeners alike) Toes left the bar and headed back to the ship, allowing Diaz and Carli to relax slightly and Diaz once again considered whether she should voice her misgivings to her new friend.

Carli had been telling her about the childhood she’d spent on her parents agri-barge, travelling the immense waterways of her homeworld, the ocean planet Chloros, supplying the far-flung islands with grain and vegetables from the central, terraformed mainland farming zone and Diaz impulsively decided that she could trust this enigmatic but friendly new colleague.

“Carli, why do you think that hatch failed?” she asked, unable to think of a way to introduce the subject casually, “Do you really think it was caused by corrosion?”

Instead of the snort of derision she was expecting, Diaz saw that Carli was carefully considering her question before replying; “I hadn’t thought about it to be honest, but I take it you have doubts about what caused it,” she studied Diaz, those mismatched eyes boring into her, “is there a reason that corrosion is unlikely then?”

“Well…”, Diaz paused, gauging her friend’s expression, “I don’t think the patterns on the broken pin reflect slow failure by deterioration, more like a sudden stress fracture. But it did show signs of extreme changes in temperature, as if it had been heated from a very low to incredibly high temperature in a very short space of time.”

“Hmm, like the pulse from a blaster, whilst the ship was orbiting in the freezing vacuum for instance?” Carli raised that quizzical eyebrow again, something Diaz was beginning to recognize as her trademark expression, “you know, just as an example, I’m not suggesting…”

The two women looked at each other in silence for a few seconds, then quickly finished their drinks and hurried back to the ship.

The call had gone out and his crew should all be checking in within a couple hours. They had be docked on NASA 6 for 3 days now, offloading methane and some crates and also reloading some supplies. Captain Toes walked down the central connecting hallway and onto the jetway headed for his ship. He had lists and inspections to sign off on, and the NASA 6 overseer needed a escort to the bridge . He also had to review his email for possible contracts; money was always the prime motivation for choosing his designation. Captain Toes stepped into his office and got a soda from the fridge and turned on computer and began checking his emails.

“Capt’ the pilot is awaiting an escort.” Well, damn, thought Toes, start one thing and something else comes up,

“On my way”, as always, they would be leaving a place without a designation set.

They dropped the pilot and blasted off without a hitch. Well, there was the Open Hatch alarm but it was cleared since it was in the ladder well, had been checked and was now secured.
Captain Toes reviewed his emails and decided they needed to head for an ice planet about 6 weeks travel away via hyperdrive. He instructed the olefins crew to prepare the catalyst for polypropylene development and set course for the ice planet. They were to meet a customer, who wanted 200,000 pounds of the polymer and was waiting there in orbit for the Alice Marie to join them.

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