Chapter 01.4

“Carl; Jackie; make your way to the deck and prepare for rotation,” Tom ordered. “We are ready to release the clamps on the booster.” The rest of the crew was already strapped to a wall or seated at the workstations; their feet firmly anchored in the floor-mounted stirrups. Jackie took hold of a chair back and flipped herself over it slowly and gracefully, coming to land gently in the seat as her feet slipped into the stirrups. Carl, on the other hand, pushed off from the ceiling with a little too much enthusiasm and bumped the chair-back hard with his shoulder.

“Ouch!” he yelped and turned a bit red-faced, while righting himself in the seat. Tom looked over to Brandon, flashing a little grin. Brandon just raised an eyebrow and permitted himself a slight smirk in response.

Sally glanced around, checking to see if everyone was in place and in a very businesslike voice reported, “All is secure, Commander.”

“Tom,” he said. “Just call me Tom. We’re merely six people living together for the next two-and-a-half years in a vessel the size of a small yacht. No need to be so formal when we’ll all be getting so close, so to speak.”

Sally shyly smiled, becoming a bit more relaxed, “We’re all ready, Tom.”

“That’s better,” he replied. Then in his best Scottish brogue called out, “Release the Kraken! Er, I mean release the clamps.”

Brandon fingers danced quickly across the keyboard, entering the appropriate code. The ship shuddered slightly before jerking hard. “Whoa!! We must have developed a little slack in the tether,” he noted.

“That would be my guess,” said Tom. “Let’s put some tension on it and keep the slack out. We don’t want that tether to snap. Power-up spin to five percent and begin the reel-out.”

“Powering up to five percent,” Brandon reported, while he moved the joystick on his right, ever so slightly, and throttled it up to a setting of 50 meters. In a matter of seconds, the crew began hearing soft sounds throughout the ship, with the ring of an occasional screw or pen or thump of a shoe, slowly falling to the floor.

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