It’s been a long time and finally I get a chance to come up for air and post the next piece of World’s Eye View.
Man that’s thin. How do you keep people thinking about survival and not about home? Answer:Keep them too busy to have time. Eugeni did keep us hopping like fleas on a hotplate. He was putting in twice the hours we were. Yeah I think he was trying to figure out the bombs when he died. So how do we figure them out? “I want to put a change of operations to a vote”, Thompson said. He stared at Kim. According to the rules, I something was offered up, everyone got to have a say. Kim had kept things in his favor by not giving anyone time. It grated, but neither Roels, or Thompson wanted to face Ingers if he got set off. That came under the ‘Really Bad Idea’ column in captial letters. “Very well, friend, David. What is your proposal?” Kim finally asked. “I vote we put someone on the Xian-Xi docking rings full time. That would give a person time and resources with the computers to figure it out”, Thompson replied.
“I will take up the task”, Kim said gravely. “I was thinking Roels should be the one to do it”, Thompson countered. “We can vote on it right now. We’re all here”, he finished smugly. Kim glared at him. Not something you can win this time. If you don’t vote, then this all falls apart. Then we’re all finished. The vote went Roels, Shukla, and himself voting for the idea, Kim and Ingers against it. Kim took the defeat with ill grace, and left after the three raised their hands. “You think he’s going to try something to get back at that maneuver?”, Roels asked him as they drifted down the tube towards Salila’s cube. “I don’t know. It’s best to think a little paranoid, so, yeah, I’m half-expecting something. Probably Ingers”, Thompson said. God I hope he just lets it go. The voting’s working, so far. I don’t like it, but we’re starting to settle into a workable setup. So maybe it does have something going for it.
The next few days were tense, with Kim answering questions with a surly reply, and the voting becoming more and more complaint sessions. Fortunately, the complaints stayed in the sessions, and no one tried to push things outside the sessions. Roels set himself to digging into the system software, slowly working through the code, trying to locate what controlled the docking rings and the charges. Thompson, Ingers, and Kim worked on clearing the debris from around the smashed panels section, then detached the damaged section, cannibalizing the pieces for use as spare parts for the surviving sections. Through it all, Thompson could feel the two men watching his every move. He’d been watched by them for a while now, but this was different. He could almost feel Ingers gaze, like a predator sizing up a potential victim. He spent a few long evenings in the machine shop making a reinforcing patch for the damaged hull. He started twice, and had to stop as his mind wasn’t in making the proper cuts.
What’s different this time about them watching me? They did it before. What’s diferent this time? Thompson snapped his fingers. Kim. Kim’s the difference. Ingers was just shadowing people, nothing really threatening, he was hanging back. Now, it feels directed, like Kim might be asking Ingers to watch. If he did, does this mean he’s pissed at the fast one I pulled? He looked at the badly formed patch. Maybe I should make some protection. He straightened an edge of the patch, and took the long piece, grinding the edge down to a semi-sharp edge with a thin point. He got out the high-speed duct tape, wrapping the unsharpened end to make a grip. Once finished, he got a small magnet, placing it in his pocket.
When he reached his cube, he looked around, and decide on hiding the knife under the shelf, using the magnet to anchor the knife. God forgive me, this is really bad if I’m paranoid enough to make a weapon. What does that say about me? Am I paranoid, or unbalanced. I don’t think so. Roels, I wonder how Roels and Salila are doing? His schedule said that both Roels and Salila would be on duty, with Ingers. Roels would be sifting through the system code, while Salila would be scanning for radio signals. Ingers would be doing the daily visuals on the panels, and checking the reserve for leaks. That doesn’t mean he will. If I’m unstable, he’s downright spooky. I’m gonna keep it close, just in case. I can hide it under the jumpsuit by folding the top down.
He shifted the knife to a spot with easy hand reach next to his hammock-net, then settled into an uncomfortable sleep, waking at intervals through the night. The next day was more fitting for the patch. The job would have been much easier with the 3-D printer, but the powders to make spares had long run out, so the fallback was knocking the patch out by hand, which was much more labor-intensive. Compunding this was none of them had any practical experience as cutters or welders. Thompson volunteered for the job, figuring that both Ingers and Kim would relax if he was in one place for a day or two.
The welding and cutting finally finished after twenty hours of work. The patch fit over the dented area with some rough overlap. It took Kim, Ingers, and Thompson to hold the plate in the right position to begin welding. “Friend David, how long do you believe this welding will take? The air recycler in my suit is beeping”, Ingers said. “Once we get the first few welds in place to stabilize it, I can handle it myself. I’m thinking about a half hour for that. Weird. My recycler’s fine. Dial shows another four hours before it might need replacing. “Friend David, my recycler is running low, I’ll need to go in soon.” Both of them, with the same problem? “I hear you, can you hold on for a half-hour? With you and Ingers helping we can weld hold spots down.” “I understand, friend David”, Kim replied. Thompson got the first weld in place, then drifted up and to his right, snagging the plate Ingers and Kim were centering. He worked on the spot weld as the station orbited out of the sun and into the dark.