As they were donning vacc suits Zora had snapped at Franz, which wasn’t a good start. He had fumbled with one of the clasps – a common enough mistake -and it had kicked off from there.
“Not again!” Zora had said. “I hope this isn’t going to be a rerun of the Tutellisimo?”
“Eh, what do you mean?” Franz had said, without looking at her as he checked again.
“Well. You spent so much time spinning round in freefall I wondered if you’d ever used a suit before.” she added tartly.
“Now wait a min…..” began Franz.
“Enough!” snapped Laura. “We need to focus on NOW.” The pair had subsided. Looking round she saw that Vic was staring ahead into space, paying no mind to anyone. Things could only improve.
Rackham bent down and helped Franz with his checks.
Once again Holly was their pilot on the shuttle, her shoulder still bandaged up. The Docking took place without incident.
A reception committee was waiting, and Laura was not favourably impressed.
The station had the ambience of an abandoned warehouse with ineffective emergency lighting, inhabited by vagrants. There were four of them, in dirty overalls, with a profound aura of self neglect and desperation. Rackham sniffed.
“Charmed, I’m sure. James Rackham.” he announced. Laura said nothing, but cradled her smg. He was greeted by a cacophony of jabbing fingers and staccato questions.
“What do you want?”
“What does that ship want to do?”
“Are you trying to force us out?”
“What is going on?”
But after a minute or two of this, they will calm down and begin to act in a slightly more Rackham let them jabber on for a minute. He could almost smell Laura’s impatience next to him. He raised his hands, palm forwards.
“Listen. We’re not connected with the Littoral’s mission, we’re here on a mission of mercy.” said Rackham diplomatically.
“How the Fuck is it,” cut in Laura sharply, “That on a station this size we have a reception committee, when the Littoral told us that your sensors were down?” She didn’t cock her weapon, but Rackham internally winced as he imagined that she did. It didn’t seem that diplomacy was her strong suit.
The apparent leader of the group – behind the dirt likely a young man in his early twenties had a convincing explanation.
“The ethereal body of the universe connects all things and we felt the ripples of your coming.” The man spoke with a dreamy, forgetful air, reminiscent of junkies and fairground mediums.
“Yeah right.” laughed Zola.
“You should not scoff, " said the man. “My name is Constantin, and it is my Gift to have revealed to me many things.”
“That’s awfully helpful Mr. Constantin,” said Rackham. “Because you see we’re here to look for a friend, Jim Segall. We understand he is here.” There was sshort silence, during which Rackham continued to show his best charming, if slightly diffident, smile. Eventually Constantin spoke.
“Please follow” he smiled lazily, and turned and headed off deeper into the station.