“What am looking at?” I asked the dock mechanical.
“A hole that shouldn’t be there.” it replied succinctly.
I tore my eyes away from hole that shouldn’t be in the shipping pod strapped to the rocket in the middle of the docking station floor to look at the robot. The station AI was in control of all the mechanicals. It may look like you were talking to different robots but it was always the same entity. Did the station AI have the capability to be this facetious? Apparently so.
This rocket arrival had interrupted my sleep. First there had been the proximity alarms, the cacophony of sound through the hull and the high pitched scream of the hydraulics as the exterior landing pad was transferred into the dock area. Then I’d rolled over and stuck my head under a pillow but the long reverberating screech of the exterior dock hatch closing ended any possibility of extra sleep.
And now I’d been called down to see that there was definitely a hole in the ‘O’ in the large ‘H2O’ letters emblazoned on the fuselage of the delivery pod.
“This is a scheduled delivery?” I asked.
“Yes sir. This is the station’s operational delivery of water from Earth for start up.”
“And it’s all gone now?”
“No sir. A cursory inspection shows that despite the ballistic shell there still remains 20 units of water left for station operations.”
“Well that’s a relief.” Wait a minute. “Ballistic shell?”
“Yes sir. Ballistic.” the AI responded. A holographic arc of red light started from one wall, slashed right through the rocket, emerged from the ‘H2O’ and arced again into the far wall. “The round hit dead centre of the container package, causing maximum damage with very minimal deflection of the shell.”
Staring at the glowing red line carving through the source of the power of the satellite -- my satellite -- I was struck with a new dread. At least the red line did not extend through a hole in the satellite instead of just a supply rocket. “Are we sure it wasn’t a stray rock and a lot of bad luck?”
“Minimum deflection and trace elements indicate the shell was made of depleted uranium. Not a common element of space debris.” the AI responded. “We are not certain exactly when the ship was struck, but if we back trace the shell the majority of the possible flight paths come closest to Green Corporation satellite.”
Food for thought. Not much I could do about it. I didn’t have the evidence or authorization to retaliate right now, not to mention the will. I hadn’t had my coffee yet.
“Fine. Offload the remaining water and set it up for processing. Anything else?”
The AI chimed the standard order acknowledgement tone, then it added, “You have a shuttle warming up to take you to the ECM Executive meeting in two hours.”
I gave myself a laugh by thinking, ‘that was today?’ and said out loud, “Lay out my best business suit, my breakfast and my deodorant.”
I took one last look at the gaping hole. The dock area was left in very low artificial gravity to assist the loading and unloading of heavy materials. The glint of floating water drops softly streaming from the hole and hanging momentarily in the air before slowly cascading to the floor caught my eye.
“Looks like I won’t be taking a shower for a while yet.”
SEE CHAPTER 5: MAY THE BEST CORPORATION WIN
GET ON OUR MAILING LIST HERE TO RECEIVE CHAPTERS DIRECTLY!