== 2064: lunar surface near lock #473, Aristillus, Lunar Nearside
Darren scratched ineffectually at the side of his suit. His glove brushed against the fabric over his torso, which barely moved over the cooling undergarment, which only lightly touched his skin. The end result was that the itch wasn’t assuaged at all. Damn it. He needed a shower, some food, and a break. – but as long as his men were on the surface, he was going to stay with them.
Even as that thought occurred to him a yellow icon popped up on his screen. He glanced at it. The PSO in the air-pack was over 80% saturated. He pursed his lips. His own safety regulations said that he had to replace the primary pack or go back inside at this point – the second rebreather pack in his suit backpack was only for true emergency use. “Pierrick, do we have any spare PSO canisters on hand?”
“Darren, it’s Jan. Pierrick went back inside six hours ago.”
Darren grunted. “OK. Just hand me another PSO canister.”
Darren saw Jan turn and look at him. “Boss, how long have you been awake?”
“What? I – don’t worry about me.”
Jan shook his head. “How long?”
Darren looked at the clock in his display, did a quick calculation, and –
Finally he nodded. “OK, I’ll go get some sleep.”
* * *
Darren stifled a yawn as he paged through emails. He’d finish a first pass by the time the car drove him home, and then he’d get to the rest when he woke up.
The first six messages were Vosloo and van Heerden reenacting their monthly fight about extraction and purification techniques. Wohlwill process this, Miller process that. The fight was ostensibly about technologies, but it was really personality conflict that drove it. Despite being CC-ed by both men, Darren had been sitting this round out. Now, though, tired and irritated after fifteen hours in a suit, he dashed off an irritated note directing the two men to stop debating the technological merits and tell him the financial implications.
Only after he sent the email did he look up and realize that the car had stopped moving; he was home. He should get out of the car, walk from the garage to the bedroom, and sleep. Or maybe take a shower first, and THEN sleep.
Instead he turned back to the slate. Just a few more emails. He opened the first. The daily update from Reggie Strosnider, head of his security team. It was the usual stuff, with a note about the Earth kids who’d been trespassing at the battle site. Any reason they shouldn’t be held for two days then released as per the usual trespassing protocol? Darren shook his head ; the topic was beneath his pay grade and whatever Security decided was fine with him. He archived the message into the “low priority” folder and moved on.
A few messages later – was that email from state.gov.us ?
He blinked, then chuckled at the very idea. It was a joke. Or spam with a fake return address.
He tapped the delete key. There. Inbox zero. He unbuckled his seatbelt and stepped out of the car. He could FEEL the hot stacatto of the shower on him already.
He let himself in from the garage to the kitchen, then walked through the master suite to the bathroom. He turned the water on high – damn the cost – and shed his clothes. The mirror started to fog and he was about to step into the shower.
But something was nagging at him.
This was stupid.
He looked at the shower. He wanted to climb in it right this second. Then he looked back at his slate. He sighed. This was stupid, but it would only take a second.
He opened his email, then dug into the trash folder. He found the message from state.gov.us and looked at the headers.
– and was immediately surprised. It hadn’t just sent to him; Mike Martin, Javier Borda, Albert Lai – the CC list was long. Could this message be real?
What was this message? Saber rattling threats about economic crimes? Or might it be an attempt at negotiation?
He reached out and shut the shower off.
He opened the message and read it with growing incomprehension. Why the hell was the State Department looking for a couple of kids? And why the hell were they spamming CEOs – people who were basically war criminals, from their point of view – asking for favors?
He shook his head. This had to be a joke. He reached out to turn the shower back on, then froze. An odd thought struck him. These college kids State was looking for – these couldn’t be the two trespassers his men had found shooting video of the PK invasion outside his warehouse, could it?
HE flipped back to the Reggie’s email and checked the names and blinked, his eyes crusty with fatigue.
He had the two kids that State was looking for.
These two assholes were important to someone. But why? And to who?
He calledup a search engine and copied in the names from Reggie’s message. “Hugh Haig”. “Louisa Teer”.
His jaw dropped. Hugh Haig. Senator Linda Haig. This couldn’t possibly be true, could it?
On the other hand, it would explain why the State department was reaching out to him.
He looked longingly at the shower enclosure. He wanted – no, he NEEDED – hot water and then and a long rest.
He pulled out his phone. “Pierrick, meet me at the office – I’ll be there in ten minutes.”