A heavily-cut-down version of this chapter is still in The Angel Brings Fire Book 2, Doubt Me Not; this version, however, provides a little more background information about what the space-goers were up against, in making plans for coping with the aftermath of the “Lucifer” incident, not to mention what to do with the already-desperate situation on board the ISS2 space station.
Doubt Me Not – Reminiscing
““Just out of interest,” continued Cohen, “How many people do you think that Infinity and Eagle, together, could accommodate? Shivani?”
“It all depends on how long a trip we are expecting them to make, while in these ships,” said Parmar. “My calculations indicate that if we do not offload any of the Eagle or Infinity’s air supply to ISS2 – something that I would remind you we had planned to do, to maintain our life-support on the station itself – these two ships could probably support up to fifty or so people for a trip of, say, two to three days. Or six to ten for a trip of a few weeks. Or somewhere in between, for intermediate-duration trips. These estimates all assume that the individuals in question are basically sedentary; if they engage in any strenuous activity and therefore start breathing more rapidly, they would exhaust the available supplies more quickly. I could give you a precise estimate if I knew exactly how many you wanted to transport.”
“Taking Li’s point in hand,” continued the Israeli, “The difference between the last time and what we would be doing here is, an explosion within the engines of either the Infinity or the Eagle could render both of them unusable, whereas at least the previous booster was external to ISS2’s main structure. Even at that, when it blew, it made part of the station uninhabitable. If we do that to Commander Jacobson’s ships, we would then have no obvious way to get anyone off the station, except for a few emergency egress-modules and space-suits. I don’t need to explain what might happen, then.”
“Commander,” replied the East Indian woman. “I suppose I should start by saying that as far as I can tell, the crew is in fairly good shape, considering… considering how they might have been, had the eventual outcome of the incident been the way we had expected it to turn out.”
“The way it would have turned out, the way it inevitably must have turned out,” interrupted Jacobson, forcefully, “Except for… her.”
Tanaka hung her head, tears suddenly in her eyes.
“Yes, Commander Jacobson,” replied Shivani Parmar. “Except for your ‘Karéin-Mayréij’. There is nobody on this ship who does not understand what we – everyone on Earth, need it be said – owes that alien.”
“It appears,” impassively commented Chen, “That not everyone on Earth shares your assessment of this sequence of events, Madame Parmar. I have a separate channel to Beijing and have received a few messages from them. In fact, there is considerable confusion about what actually took place. Some parties are speculating that the comet was, in fact, destroyed by the ‘Salvador Two’ ship. We must recall that it had a substantial payload of nuclear devices, and… possibly also by some new kind of weapon, previously not revealed by any of the major powers. I asked my superiors if this weapon was Chinese, but they did not give me a definitive answer. Other parties say that the comet disintegrated naturally, due to the weaknesses that had been introduced into it from the previous attacks.”
“That’s nonsense, you know it, and she’s – she was – not just an ‘alien’,” quietly countered Tanaka, wiping a tear. “She was our crew-mate… our friend. A sister to me.”
“I am not voicing an opinion on this matter, Madame Tanaka,” replied Chen. “I am only reporting what I have heard. But if I assume that your theory regarding the alien’s contribution to the destruction of the comet is correct… then I share your regret. Even if not, in fact. The loss of scientific knowledge to mankind caused by her death is great. No doubt we could have learned much from this ‘Karéin-Mayréij’.”
You’ll never know the magic she could have taught you, thought Tanaka.
Maybe that’s as it should be, after all.
“I never met her, you know, except for seeing her floating out there, in front of ISS2; now that was quite a sight, I’ll have to admit,” mused Humber, with a far-away look in his eyes, “But I know what you mean, Cherie. I feel it, down deep in my heart, somewhere, it’s like I knew her, for only a second or two, but I did. I really did.”
Jacobson arched an eyebrow and shot a quick glance at Humber, then Tanaka. “Do you think he –” Jacobson whispered to his Science Officer, but then another spoke up.
“Anyway,” stated Parmar, “There will be time to discuss that affair, later. Maybe a memorial… that would be my suggestion. But regarding the crew, Commander, I have not yet finished my interviews with all of them – I am maybe three-quarters of the way through – but other than for a few who have needed additional rest due to the after-effects of the stress of the last few days, they are holding up quite well. The most serious problem appears to be communications with loved-ones and family back on Earth; Michael Theodikas has been trying to re-establish all the up-links and down-links, but much of the Earth’s communications-infrastructure appears to have been either destroyed or damaged. Michael has, in fact, been able to access some of these channels but when he does, he is being told that all transmissions of a non-essential nature are still prohibited. We asked when this situation would end, but did not get a firm answer – all they would say is ‘maybe in a few weeks’.”
“I was able to get through to Charlie,” interjected Humber. “But then, I had to bend the rules a bit, assisted by Mike poking around in some channels he’s not supposed to touch. I owe the bloke one for that.”
“Ordinarily,” replied Cohen, “As station-commander, I’d have to tell you to stop that kind of thing, Alan. For now, my orders will be, ‘write what you did, and how you did it, down’, so that the top five or so from the rest of the crew who need the same kind of access, can get it.”
With a knowing smile, Jacobson said, “Ah… the art of command. Well, Devon told me that Mike Theodikas was a lot like him. I suppose the purpose of a communications-officer is to communicate, whether or not the powers that be want you to.”