Quinn studied the seemingly lifeless body of Scott Draper inside the chamber saturated in yellow light. He had his self-doubts but unlike his old friend he was sure the crew could see them clearly. He touched the shield and felt it vibrate. Somehow like him they were still alive, but for how long?
“He’s doing remarkably better you know,” Dr. Schenckler said catching Quin off guard.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to be sneaking around the med lab in the dark.” Quinn stepped forward into the light.
“No, don’t apologize. I was actually coming here to take the Captain to the shuttle bay.”
“What, how come?”
“We’re transporting him to the surface, let’s just say for safe keeping. Dr. Samuel has offered to house him during our ordeal.”
“Is that wise?”
“Turns out the Khad have no qualm taking care of the sick and wounded. Some macho thing. They don’t fear those ailing and won’t attack anybody that can’t fight back.”
“And what about you?”
“In exchange, I will make our technology accessible to the settlers who could get injured.”
“What about the Horizon?”
Just then Ruth arrived in the lab. “Don’t worry you’ll be in good hands with Dr. White and Warrant Officer Nichols.”
“Don’t worry sir, I’m had combat training and have been in some skirmishes before.”
“That’s good to know,” Quinn went to shake her hand but she pulled away. “Something wrong?”
“Sorry sir I’m just not used to being treated with respect.”
“I’ve read your record, you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. We’ve all had our adventurous youth experiences. I can admit to doing some indiscretions myself. I just didn’t get caught.” Quinn let out a laugh that surprised Ruth. After an awkward moment, she shook his hand. “Good luck Doctor.” He said to Schenckler. “Take care of our boy.”
“You take care of this crew and this ship. Both of you.”
The Atmospheric shuttle sat on the docking pad warming up. Alison shifted her seat to fit her shorter legs. She strapped her harness across her shoulders and reached over to see if she could touch all the controls. She wore a blue flight suit indicating her as a Pilot. Tatiana in dark gray suit waited beside Alison firming up last minute details on the navigation system while she laughed and joked with the command crew at the other end of the COM link.
Alison envied her aloof indifference which others must have seen as cockiness. Confidence was necessary for pilots, it allowed them to weigh options and make decisions with a degree of faith when facts and figures were completely out of their reach. On the other hand, overconfident could only land them in a lot of trouble.
Jetsenia stood waiting by the cargo hold. She quietly waved for Tati to come talk to her. Tati stopped what she was doing and went below where she stuck her head out the side hatch.
“Hey girl,” Tati said. “We’ll talk. Promise.”
Jetsenia reached over and gave Tati a hug. “Damn you these people are counting on you.” Jetsenia whispered in her ear.
“Don’t worry I know.” Tati went back into the shuttle. She took one last look at Jetsenia through the window then swung herself into the co-pilot’s seat.
“What happen to us?” Alison asked.
“Shut up Alison.”
Eric called in, “Recon one your moniker will be Bad Boy at Dawn and I didn’t come up with it. You are cleared for takeoff. Remember to always fly toward the sun. Good hunting.”
The engines kicked into high gear and they were ready for takeoff. Alison flicks the switch for the green light to flood the cabin. “We have the green to go.” She informed the crew.
“Take us out.” Shenckler communicated back.
Alison hesitated; glancing up to see just about the whole crew of the Horizon had shown up to see them off. Then she spotted Jetsenia and the others. “Tati look.”
Tatiana smiled and waved to them. Jetsenia smiled back and blew her a kiss, that was all Tati needed to get back on track.
“Jealous.” Tati said placing her hand on Alison’s.