Author: Morrow Brady
Stavros mooned the earth like the asshole he was. Jacob, the calm, perfunctory overseer AI, had never seen such a thing in its operational life but understood that showing one’s personal point of evacuation to a whole planet, meant something emotional had happened and that it might be mildly amusing to keep an eye on things.
Pulling up his lower torso, Stavros secured the seal to the rest of his spacesuit and climbed across the remains of the lab for the airlock. He ignored all requests from Earth Command and commenced the long walk.
“I’ll let him know myself” and “Bastard!”, the latter repeated thirty-nine times, was the only thing Jacob heard from the helmet mic as it followed the feeds.
After 8 hours, with oxygen tanks nearly depleted, he arrived 30 kilometres away at Peary Crater mine. He removed his suit and stood momentarily naked in the recently re-oxygenated annexe, steam issuing from his bruised body. Grabbing a handful of energy bars, Stavros ripped one open to gnaw vigorously at its chewy strip.
The synthetic underwear and subsurface crib suit pried from the battered old storage unit were one size too small. But beggars can’t be choosers when you’re the dumb Lunartic whose hand had been forced to do the dirty work. He entered the dome’s lift core and activated mine environments. Sensors detected a minor leak at level 959, but nothing of great concern, so he cracked the lid, hooked up the descent harness and fell 9 kilometres underground. The controlled fall, lit by a red LED strip-light that descended into hell was hypnotic. His bitter rage pulsed inside.
Stavros, being one crazy son-of-a-bitch, had arrived with time to spare. Four minutes in fact. And being down here, completely clear of that asshole by-the-book AI, he could do what needed to be done and get his ass off this goddamn rock. The pod ejector assembly, stretched in both directions down the laser cut mine tunnel, for as far as he could see. He knew the schematics off-by-heart but knew mining crew gamma left it fully operational before they abruptly departed in the only remaining rocket 10 hours earlier. All he needed was to load an empty class 1 pod with enough oxygen for the three-day journey back to earth.
“I’ll bust his jaw. The bastard” Stavros spat, gulping water from a dirty rehydrator.
With the ejector charge at capacity and the pod locked and loaded, he set the auto-launch countdown and climbed in. Haunched down in the base of the pod, he held the oxygen cylinders in place and braced. He didn’t brace enough. No-one with any sense could have. The acceleration needed to launch a pod fully laden with moon ore was far beyond human tolerances. The instant surge in momentum had him out cold before it had reached a quarter of the way out of the launch tube. Not that it would make a difference, he was after all inside a windowless capsule, flying through a darkened tube, about to be launched through space at a dust mote sized target located in South America – aptly titled the Podcatcher.
At the moon surface, the shaft lid automatically slid back and the pod flew through a plume of gas into space at great speed directly toward earth.
Jacob, barely saw the pod pass by the sensors but the scanner told it pretty quickly what just happened. Stavros had launched and was heading home. The psycho did it and there was nothing anyone could do about it.