"Gentlemen, we have a problem."
Ernie snorted. "What to do with us?"
"No. What to do with the asteroid that is going to hit the North Atlantic. And a weak radar return that might be a space plane that disappeared nearly a century ago, departing the vicinity of your not-very-secret base. Mr. Snead."
Ernie relaxed, smiling. "Good. If Will's alive he's probably managed to keep Mike and Kelly alive as well." He stopped to think . . . "Mind you, the asteroid is a problem. Was it aiming for the north Atlantic before or after Will reached it?"
A narrowed glare. "He hasn't reached it yet. NASA informs me that he hauled ass straight for the Stanford Telescope at L4, hooked it and spun, released when he'd swung 180°, and is now accelerating hard back toward us."
Ernie nodded. "The asteroid is coming in fast, he's hoping to match velocities as it comes up behind him . . . Damn, that doesn't give him much time to push it!"
They all pondered that for a long moment.
Cari swallowed. "Has he got enough time?"
A snort from Faulkner. "To aim it where he most wants it? Possibly. That's why we're sending up two space planes to stop him. Seeker, you will find him!" Her eyes moved to Scotch. "And you will kill him."
Ernie took a deep breath . . . and let it out. "Yes, sir." But before I do I'll take a good look at just what he's doing.
Scotch glowered. "What about these flying robots? Have you pinned down their origin?"
"Leave them to us. Your job is to kill Doctor Inferno."
Will looked over his shoulder. "Feeling better?"
Mike and Kelly exchanged wan smiles.
"Sorry." Kelly tried to smile. "That spin thing, with zero G before and after, was the last straw for my stomach."
"We should be fine so long as there's some acceleration." Mike climbed up the center aisle and peered out the clear plex. Then down at the 3D diagram, and it's color coded arrows. "So we intercept in three hours?"
"Yep. So catch some rest now, if you can. It's going to get busy."
Kelly pointed. "Those are new, aren't they?"
"Yes, Everyone has launched their space planes. The US first, then the rest." Will grinned. "Not that they'll be able to do much. Their relative velocity will be too high. And anyway, by the time they get here, we ought to have the asteroid deflected far enough north that it will miss."
Will leaned back. Fiddled with the seat controls. "I'll be napping."
All the seats could rotate from sitting while in the atmosphere, to forward while in space and under thrust. Likewise the aisle was set up to be walked in gravity, or climbed under thrust. Twelve passengers and a crew of two. Today all sorts of possibly useful stuffed was strapped down in and under the back eight seats.
Mike and Kelly both eyed the controls and displays. Exchanges shrugs and floated back to their seats.
Will set his watch to wake him in two hours, and settled down to odd dreams of Ernie trying to strangle him.