Chapter 13.1

Monday, November 26, 2018 (Johnday, Aries 28, 0031)

08:40 – When Tom knocked on the door to the stateroom, Carl had been asleep for a mere three-and-a-half hours. Groggily he yawned, “Are we there yet?”

Tom smiled wryly and replied seriously, “Yeah, but we may be leaving soon. Get dressed and meet us in the control center. We have a sticky situation we need to discuss. Come on down and we’ll fill you in.”

Four minutes later, Carl popped out of the ladder-well on the first deck, his left cheek still red and wrinkled from resting on his pillow. “What do you mean, we’re leaving? What’s up, Doc?” he punned, lightly punching Jackie on the shoulder. She turned her head and gave him a weak trembling smile. He could see by the redness in her eyes and trail of tears on her cheeks, that she had been crying. “No, seriously, what is it?” Alarmed, he pulled up the empty stool next to Jackie and sank down to the seat.

Everyone was now here. Valerie stood up and, addressing the group, relayed the contents of the emails Jackie had received and explained everything that had occurred during the past few hours. “Has Mission Support been notified?” Carl queried.

Tom replied, “I’m not so sure we can do that… not just yet, anyway. In the message there was something mentioned about plans being made as far back as two years ago.” He turned and asked Jackie, “Do you know who it was that brought you into the program, maybe a sponsor?”

Jackie thought intently for a moment, her brow furrowing, “I’m not sure, but my dad said a friend of his was one of the mission developers, and he had suggested I apply for admission to the program. But he said if anyone found out he had said anything, it might look like he was playing favorites. So my dad never even told me who it was. But that was several months before the mission was even announced to the public.”

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