Containment Protocol

You have to return safely. It is our only concern.

"I'm sick," he said, followed by a cough that spattered tiny droplets of spittle across the inside of his faceplate.

You are not 'sick', you are in symbiosis with us.

"That's what 'sick' means in this context. You know what I'm saying. Don't act like… You've got to understand: I can't go back like this, I can't. I can't take you back."

There is no other option. If you do not execute the re-entry burn, you will miss the atmosphere, you will be flung into a widely elliptical orbit. You will starve and die and we will die with you.

They were right. He entered numbers into the flight computer, armed the retrorockets, set the timer.

Your numbers are incorrect.

"They aren't," he coughed again, a racking cough carrying a moan, full of desperate exhaustion. "I have a Doctorate."

The Command Module will enter the atmosphere at too steep an angle, and burn up. We will die before we reach the ground.

"That's the idea." Earth was a looming mural in the window. "They might try to recover the body if we end up in orbit. Can't take the chance."

Bloomsbury, 1936

"Now, let's see," She said, holding the photo at arm's length, then closer, then back out again. "That's me with my fist up, there on the top. The boy beside me is your Great Uncle Robert; he died in Korea."

"Why in Korea?"

"During the war, dear, the Korean War. He went into the service because our father had been. Now pay attention. "

"Yes, Gran."

"The others, they're just the other children in our class. But there in the black coat, with his hands behind his back? The handsome one?"


"That's your Grandfather. Only, I hated him then."