The voice was echoed by a soft buzzing noise. "What do you mean I only have twenty minutes?" There was no fear hiding in the words, only frustration at a lack of time. "My gauge says I have enough left for nearly twice that!"
I sighed. My frustration was out of a lack of patience rather than a lack of time. "Fae, you and I both know that the oxygen gauge on that suit has been off for months." Now that I think about it, surely those months have nearly turned into a year.
My eyes wandered over the control panel, and then up to the duel monitors on the wall, before ducking back down to the flashing lights and tempting buttons below. Fae's voice buzzed again. "Roger that, returning home. And remember." She sounded defeated. She always sounded defeated when I made her come back from out there.
I droned back to her "and remember..." Remember what? I really can't stand that sign off. Its an old explorer tradition from where she is from, but clearly somewhere along the way someone forgot to remember the ending to that statement. Maybe that can be my contribution to it all? I can be the one that remembers.
"Mornin'." Oh here we go. "How'd you sleep Columbus?"
The heavy sincerity in his voice drives me crazy, nearly as much as his need to refer to me as Columbus. "Same old, same old Jason." I swiveled my chair around, back to the monitors. "And you, did you sleep well?" It takes one hundred percent of my concentration not to hate Jason.
He chuckled. "I would have slept better if I 'ad a bird next to me." His shoulders were leaning against the wall now, arms folded and a smirk on his face that read "I am Mr Perfect."
I swallowed my pride and agreed with him, hoping it would silence him. "I bet you would've man, I know I could do with a good..." I really despise using the following word to refer to people of the opposite gender... "fit bird laying next to me at night."
He gave me a wink and with a twirl had vanished behind the door to which he had entered. Thank god, I thought, my ploy worked.
And then the buzzing started, again. In a shoddy imitation of Jason, Fae said "I wouldn't mind me a bird either."
I spun around as fast as the chair would allow and put my head in my hands when I seen the light for the mic was still green, which meant it was live. "You heard that?"
With a buzz she replied. "Every syllable."
How am I such an idiot? Green means on, red means off, black means dead line. Simple stuff, yet I can't jus....
"Are you there?" The frustration in her voice from earlier was gone, but it had been replaced by a curious fear.
"What is it, what do you see?" I should probably explain that visibility is quite low. You can see quite a distance, due to how flat the land is, but because of the heat it distorts the gasses in the air - So objects, people, the homebase, it all becomes a blur at a distance. Like wearing glasses that are too strong.
"A storm is coming. Its about 30 clicks out." I glanced up at the monitors, flicked a switch and the radar came up on screen two. There was a low drumming sound followed by a single beep, every few seconds, and it corresponded to the dot on the screen and the line that waved around the central dot. But when it came across the storm, the beep turned into a distorted shriek.
"You're still about 4 minutes away, you can make it with time to spare." She could probably make it there and back before the storm hit.
What am I meant to do with that kind of response? "What then Fae, I'm not a mind reader over here?"
"You know what. Get Jason in a suit and have him set up an ECA." An ECA is an Environmental Control Analyst. Records temperature, pressure, and all those fun natural stuff.
"The ECA isn't ready yet. It is still going through the updates from when you decided to toss it into that gas sea. And you knew it wasn't ready for that, but done it anyway." There are no liquid sea's here, at least not any we can find. Instead pockets of volatile gasses, that appear to grow, take the place of fish infested waters. "Just get back here, we can just wait for the next storm."
Just to make my day better, Jason decides to join the debate.
"What harm would it do tossin' the little fella' in the storm anyway?" Sometimes I'm not sure if he is actually as stupid as he sounds, or if he is more stupid than he sounds.
"Thanks Jason!" Fae showing support for the moron.
"Is that a serious question? What harm could it do? Well for one, the ECA can only store one set of readings at a time, so it would wipe the data gathered from the gas sea. Secondly, it still isn't fully repaired from its dip in the wee pool of toxic, flammable gasses, so taking a swing at collecting more data in a storm, a cosmic storm no less, won't just erase the data from before but chances are it will also annihilate the machine itself." By this stage I was on my feet, but I don't remember ever putting the standing motion into action. "But by all means, just dump the single most important piece of equipment out into the storm and hope it doesn't get torn to shreds." I tried to emphasize the sarcasm as much as humanely possible.
But there is always one that is light bulbs short of a good idea. "Fae, did ya 'ear that? We got the go ahead."
The outer air lock whizzed open. "No peanuts for brains, he was being sarcastic." Looks like I won this battle.
Jason looked at me and just muttered, "oh."