Globe picture of the solar system.

PART 3 

 

Rob looked at Katherine and smiled.

“Your bedside manner still needs a little finesse Doc,” he said to her moving up to her desk.

Katherine ignored his comment and looked at Jonah.

“You look a little green,” she said getting up from her seat.

Jonah coughed suddenly.

“It’s nothing, I don’t see what all the fuss is about,” Jonah said looking at Rob.

Katherine walked over to Jonah and put her hand on his chin.

“Look up,” she said flashing a small light in his eyes, “and left.”

Jonah complied reluctantly.

“We hit something hard down there and got some blowback from the bore hole, it got kinda hairy there for a minute but young Jonah here came springing to the rescue,” Rob said taking a seat.

“Is that right? Open your mouth,” said Katherine

Jonah muttered something, which made no sense.

“Ok close it, I’m going to take some blood,” she said taking a hypo out of her jacket and pressing it against Jonah’s neck. The vile filled up and she removed the device.

“This will take a second have a seat Jonah,” she said.

She looked at Rob.

“So, you broke another rig then yeah? Stalland is goanna have your head.”

“Your concern is touching,” Rob said.

Katherine shrugged.

“I’m just saying, you keep breaking things,” she said.

Rob could feel his frustration beginning to build. She knew just how to goad him. He was not entirely sure why she always seemed to be pissed at him. It could possibly have to do with him going over her head and destroying one of her reclamation labs while running a weapons test a few months earlier. It had to be done. There was nowhere on the base with a secure enough containment area where he could test the fusion grenades without blowing them all out of existence. She was still convinced that there was some way they could all communicate with the aliens on the surface. Typical egghead thinking. The exact type of reasoning that would get them all killed.

“Yeah, well if my breaking things keeps us all alive, than that’s the way it’s gonna be Doc, you need me for anything else or can I hit the road?” Rob said tired of her attitude.

Katherine sighed and put the hypo up to his neck.

“Let me take some blood while you’re agitated and make sure you haven’t inhaled anything toxic. Wouldn’t want to lose you cowboy,” she said half smiling.

Rob let her take the sample and turned to leave.

“Eh, shouldn’t I go with you?” asked Jonah.

“Stay here kid, when the Doc clears you, I’ll meet you at core analysis and we’ll check out those readings,” he turned to Katherine, “give me call if you find out I’m dying.”

Katherine mock saluted him. He turned and exited the medical bay and made his way along the corridor back the elevator. He punched in the code for level one and let the doors close.

“Fuck sake,” he whispered to himself.

 

Thirty seconds later, the doors opened, and Rob stepped off into the main Deep Core control centre. He gripped his hands into a fist and took a breath. This was not going to be pretty. He rarely came to the control centre since they had all been trapped down here. It had become a grim place. The room itself was circular with several rows of computer consoles manned by Deep Core personnel at all times. Large screens were placed high above the room showing various camera feeds from both above ground and deep within the mine itself. It was the cameras showing the activity above the ground that drew most of the attention these days. Rob made it a point not to look up. He had seen the creatures far too often and was not really in the mood to see what they were doing today. He looked up at the second level to where Max Stalland’s office was and sighed. He moved around the perimeter of the control room over to a metal staircase and began to ascend. He looked down and caught the eye of James Wright, and atmospheric environmental specialist who basically lived in the control room. He was a quirky man. Thin, lean, and at six foot three, one of the tallest members of Deep Core. He was a timid man who tended to keep very much to himself. He quickly glanced at Rob and then turned his attention back to his monitor. Rob smiled; it was like school kids watching someone being sent to the principal’s office. He reached the top of the staircase and walked over to the double glass sliding door that led into Stalland’s office. He looked up at the camera that was pointing directly at him and tipped his forehead with his finger. The glass doors slid open and Rob moved inside. There, sitting behind a glass desk, with his potbelly showing profusely through a white shirt that was clearly straining to contain its contents, was Max Stalland. Rob stood at the doorway and waited for instructions. Stalland leaned back in his mesh recliner chair, which towered over his short torso. He always wore a scowl on his large rounded face and seemed to be in a constant state of perspiration. He calmly looked at Rob and raised hands up placing his index fingers together so that they came to a point.

“Sit down Mr. Kirkland,” he said in a raspy voice.

Rob hated it when he called him Mr. Kirkland. He had to restrain himself on more that one occasion from punching his lights out the little condescending prick. Rob took a breath and walked calmly across the carpeted floor to his desk. He swivelled the metal office chair around and took a seat. Stalland looked at him.

“It was my understanding, Mr. Kirkland, that you were instructed not to drill in that location for more then six hours without performing a full core analyses,” Stalland said still holding his fingers to his mouth.

“Your understanding would be correct, Max,” Rob replied purposely breaking with last name protocol bullshit.

“Then you’ve cost us another rig on purpose then?” Stalland replied glaring at him.

“No, the rig hit something and got jammed. It happens when you drill,” replied Rob.

“I see,” Stalland replied, “I obviously know nothing about off world drilling, please enlighten me with your all knowing wisdom about how it works, I wish to educate my ignorant self,” Stalland replied.

Rob felt his pulse quicken and wondered how to get out of this office before he resorted to strangling the little shit.

 

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