“How long now?” Mays didn’t wear a watch, with screens on every wall and ELLE to kick him out of bed before every shift.

Three hours overdue,” came her voice, from all speakers including his subcutaneous earbud. “We have sent numerous hails in the clear on all bands: no response. Company policy is—”

“I know what company policy is.” He flipped the primer switches up, and started the intermix injectors running.

Rebbo, at his shoulder, rumbled: “Where will you begin searching?”

“They were coming from Fwalbach. At least that’s what Dixie said: they had a big-money contract from Fwalbach to Zunnis, that’s why they could afford to meet us here.”

We are to wait a further two hours in the absence of a distress signal,” Elle said. “I have contacted Corporate, and they are monitoring the situation. Search action will likely be approved, in two—”

“We’re going now.” Mays pushed the ship’s nose over to point at the pale blue gas giant’s horizon and lit the reaction drive.

The Company—”

“Dixie rescued us before that moon broke up under us. We owe her.”

The fine may approach the entirety of your share in—”


Just in his earbud: “…I agree.”

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