February 20th, 2018

_Space Marshal_ part 5


Spence grinned and leaned to check Fawn’s course calculations. “Good. A nice sensible trip out to the containers. Now you two implement it.”

Gerald forced himself to not twitch as small careful maneuvers, and then a long strong thrust from the main engines—almost a tenth of a g, whoop-de-do—caused no visible change, what so ever, other than the view of the stars steadying.

And a fuzzy circle . . .

Spence shook his head. “I didn’t notice any stabilizing exhaust plumes.”

He glanced at the radio. “And they’re not saying much.”

Fawn zoomed in again. They all studied the spinning ship, the vector arrows and numbers.

“Well, that did slow them down a bit more, pity about the spin.” Spence pulled himself over to the radio, reached and switched it to two way. “Sexy Ride, this is Greyhound. Cut off that racing program and use you maneuvering jets to reduce your spin. From here it looks like you need starboard down and port up, probably three each side and . . .”

He paused at a burst of profanity.

“ . . . ing ass! I have to get my brother back to the doctor fast! I don’t have time for slow shit!”

Spence sighed. “Calm down. Do you have your brother strapped in to prevent further damage? And strap yourself in. Especially if you’re going to pretend to be a racer, instead of a mining ship.”

Another flare of exhaust . . . Hysteria on the radio.

“Jason. Calm down. Take slow deep breaths.” Spence shook his head. “Look at the control panel. Flip auto pilot off. Program the maneuvering jets. Single bursts. Gang up S -3, S-4, S-5, P 3, P4, P5. Got that? The starboard negatives, and the port positives.”

Shaky panting breaths over the radio. Quick little flares on the holo. The ship’s rotation slowed.

“Very good. Now you’ve got it programed so give it a second shot”

A second bust, then a third.

“Good, now stop, you don’t want to start rotating the other way. Look at the control panel and turn all those jets off. Now. Is Mark strapped in?”

A shakey voice. “Yeah, yeah. He’s strapped in. He’s moaning. He’ll be all right, right?”

“Most likely. Now, look at your fuel. What are the pressurized tanks reading?”

“Uh . . . O2 35% . . . H2 . . . is at 5%?” His voice started rising at the end.

“You guys need either a tune up or a leak test. I’d advise against lighting up until you get that checked. Now, how’s your water reserve look?”


“Your ice box. If I remember that model . . . to the left of the pressure gauges there three numbers. Kilograms of ice, kilograms of liquid water, and rate of hydrolysis.

“Uh . . . fifteen, twenty-five, four. That’s . . . bad, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, pretty much. It’ll keep you breathing until you get hauled into Ganymed. So, no more main engines, and wait for instructions from the tug before you maneuver.” Spence looked back at the holo.

“I’m going to come out and spin you and send you back toward Ganymed. Stay strapped in, and whatever you do, do not turn the autopilot back on.” He reached and flipped the radio back to receive only. “I knew I’d end up rescuing those idiots. Fawn, plot a course to intercept them.”

Cody gulped. “But you are going to save them, right?”

“If they don’t do something else stupid. No guarantee of that.” Spence floated around behind Fawn. “Sorry, bit of a hurry. We have fuel to burn . . . “ he tapped away for a moment. “I’ll show you why this specific course in just a few minutes. Sarah, this orientation and then a nice long slow burn.”

A tenth g again, for nearly ten minutes.

/// Note to readers! I haven’t done the math! If this ever gets published I’ll drag out the text books and put some real figures in. For now, just go with the story///

“Now, if you look at the vector we’re on. We’ll pass them at about a kilometer’s distance, and shoot them with a magnetic harpoon. Clamp the cord and we whip around them, jerking them around with us, so we’re rotating around our mutual center of gravity.”

Cody grinned. “And you let them go when they’ll go flying off toward Gany!” “Exactly. The important bit is the radial velocity. Since we were both still getting further from Ganymed, we’ll have to reel them in until we’re spinning pretty fast.”

Gerald eyed the holo. “And we go flying even faster away from Ganymed.”

“Right. But since we’ve got close onto a thousand times more fuel on board, that’s no big deal.” Spence checked the vectors, zoomed out . . . “Dee, I’m going to want you piloting, and Gerald? Let me show you how to harpoon a whale.

“Cody, give me two way. Jason? You’ve read all about spinning, right?”


“Well, we’re going to spin you back to Gany. So sit tight, and save your fuel for making air. The tugs’ll land you and I dare say a doctor will be there waiting for you.”

A long pause . . . “Thank you.”

“Ah, we were all green once. Okay, five minutes to rendezvous.”