ISS Artemis 24 in synchronous orbit with Elli's Chance in orbit planet 6 system 612-744

Date 1185-270 Imperial Standard

Time 0645 Shipboard

Val sat in the pilot's station watching Elli's Chance driftingabove him. Nothing had worked and so the crew began preparations to mount another expedition. Val wracked his brain trying to think of another option; he finally admitted to himself that he was scared. If he were in command, Val thought he would take the chance and try to jump even with the malfunctioning parts. Unfortunately that option was gone as the attempt to make repairs had damaged them to the point of uselessness. They now had no choice but to attempt to salvage what they needed.

Ishyn stepped into the bridge and took the seat next to Val. "Ready to suit up?" the commander asked.

"All set, sir. Just doing a last status check."

"Poni cachu" Ishyn smiled, "I would be worried if you were not a little worried. I'm so scared I am not going to wear an under-suit, I would just have to clean it."

Val laughed despite himself, "Data overload sir, way too much."

"We are going in full combat load. All lethal rounds. Armor as well. Anything gets in the way we shoot it."

"Do you think it will be that easy?"

"Of course, if my ex-wife were on board then I would really worry." Ishyn looked back down the corridor to see that the others were busy. "But just in case I am going to preset our distress beacon for six hours. We are going to declare this system quarantined. During docking I will take the controls. You go to the airlock and space that sample. Also drop a Red Zone beacon, set it for a one day delay. Any ships are to refuel and leave the system immediately. Give the reason as unknown contagion; no aid is to be given to any other ship in system."

Val felt an unpleasant tightening in his lower abdomen. "Yes sir"

"Don't look so glum lad. I plan on us all jumping out of here and taking a two month leave when we hit port. I just don't want anyone else falling into this mess." He placed his hand on the young pilot's shoulder, "I'm only telling you this because I know you can handle it. Keep it between us; I don't want to spook the engineers."

"No problem sir, I'll get it done and keep is quiet."

"Good lad, go get yourself ready. I'll start docking maneuvers."

Val left the bridge to set up the beacon and prep the airlock. He encountered Vrain near the common area.

"Val, have you seen the commander?"

"Yes, he is on the bridge. He said he will dock us and I should get ready."

"Good, I have a quick question then will get my gear on as well."

Val continued to the airlock as Vrain went to the bridge. The engineer sat in his station behind Ishyn.

"All good," the commander inquired.

"Green board boss. Val is moving around to do his part, not a peep about what it was."

"And Mel?"

"She is getting the special tools together for the problems you 'bridge boys' won't be able to handle. She won't ever let on how we engineers always have to be solve the problems you non-engineers get us into."

"Sounds good, it will keep the kids busy and focused. We will be aboard before they have time to think about it."

Vrain run an unnecessary life support diagnostic. "So Daryl, do you think it will work? Will we actually get out of here?"

"Or die trying old friend. I'm declaring the system interdicted. I will have our log encoded so any other scout will be able to pull it and learn from us if we make the last jump. I still plan to die of old age in my bed."

"Ha, you know you won't go quietly like that."

Daryl punched the engineer softly and smiled, "Did I ever say I was alone in that bed?"