“What the fuck have you all done to my ship?”
“Skipper, it’s good to see that you’re still with us,” Jeremy responded as a silence fell on the rest of the survivors in the Kerwood’s escape trunk. Most of them looked as if they’d gotten caught trying to steal one more cookie from the cookie jar. Jeremy turned away from the fuming captain. Jessica and Old Vicky were tethered to the hatch bulkhead with Siebert clucking over them like a mother hen.
Adelaide frowned at a flashing indicator light on the jury-rigged panel. She pushed off the bulkhead, ignoring Captain Hayes in his silent raging impotence. “ChEng,” she called out, “come look at this.”
Jeremy floated to Adelaide as she worked the controls. It amazed him that she seemed to have more access to the system than she was supposed to. He decided that, in her own words, he should just “stow that shit.”
“Someone is popping hatches and moving atmosphere around this boat,” Adelaide commented.
“Look at the ship’s attitude,” Jeremy countered.
“Who the hell…”
“Report!” Captain Hayes barked next to the duo.
Adelaide rolled her eyes and looked to Jeremy.
“Well…” Jeremy began. “Miss Bähr will explain…”
“Someone is opening and closing outer hatches and allowing decompression to slow the ship’s roll.” Adelaide shook her head. “Each time the two remaining atmospheric thrusters are pointed at Egeria-13, they are firing.” She frowned. “Short bursts,” she closed her eyes and appeared to do some calculations in her head. “They’re pushing us into a trajectory back to Earth orbit, but…”
“But what?” inquired Jeremy.
“Well, the trajectory has us shooting well to the side of the Earth. We’ll miss it.”
Captain Hayes steel eyes didn’t betray what he was thinking. “Gauge,” he declared.
The two engineers stared at him.
“That’s why Gauge is my navigator, and you two are grease monkeys.”
Adelaide’s eyes narrowed, but she remained silent.
Captain Hayes brushed an invisible imperfection from the front of his suit. He narrowed his eyes and looked at the two senior engineers as if they were children answering classroom questions – cute, but utterly worthless. “Gauge is pointing us to where the Earth is going to be, not where it is right now.”