by Marie Vibbert
Nanlee was a woman with the sort of past that necessitated moving to a non-extradition treaty country, but that didn’t mean she hadn’t planned on enjoying her “retirement” on Luna Colony. She was Facilities Manager – a polite term for the boss of all janitors. Her staff jumped anxiously at her every glance, and waste was down nine percent since she had taken office. She was still important; the life of the colony depended on her work. No one bothered her. Which was fortunate, given how she used to deal with people who bothered her.
Luna Colony concerned itself with maintaining the Ungodly Huge Array on the dark side of the moon and serving as a weigh station between Earth’s inconvenient atmosphere and the rest of the universe. Nanlee concerned herself with minding her own business.
She was at her desk when the alarms started. A male voice recorded long ago grunted “Evacuate. Imminent danger of decompression. Evacuate.” No doubt he had thought he sounded important and tough. Nanlee sighed and locked her workstation.
Vince, her assistant, fell to a halt against the door as she was picking up her cane. “Boss! The station—”
“Yes, I heard. I do have two working ears. Probably a drill, but gather everyone to the garage.”
Vince’s hazel eyes just about vibrated, so wide open she could see the white all the way around the iris. “It isn’t a drill! This is ‘we could all die tonight’ bad news.”
Nanlee paused, half on her cane, half on the edge of the desk, pulling herself out of her chair. She fell back into the seat. She could feel her hot-tub calling to her. “Metaphorical death or literal?”
“Literal. Two tons of titanium on a crash-course with our dome.” He tapped her desk surface, hurriedly typing in his password and pulling a document, which he rotated with a flick of his hand to point at her.
It was an orbit decay projection. They always looked the same. “And this is too big for the dome to handle?”
“It’ll crack us like an egg!”
Vince sounded excited, almost gleeful, at the prospect. He was young.
“What the hell is it?”
“The last stage of a Saturn V rocket. Sucker’s been orbiting Luna for a hundred years. Maybe it got hit by some other debris, maybe it’s just decided now’s the time to land.”
Nanlee stopped herself from asking “Saturn what?” because Vince was looking at her like he’d just won the lottery. “Does Trey know about this?”
Trey was the mayor of the colony, Nanlee’s boss.
Vince rolled his eyes. “Of course Trey knows.” Like that was any less valid a question than asking her if she had heard the evacuation announcement. Nanlee wasn’t going to waste breath pointing it out. “He sent me to tell you we’ve got a little less than a day.”
“Well pack shit up!” She poked her cane against the wall behind her to get a little boost forward. “Get Percy and take the organic filters off-line. They won’t survive decompression. Also—“
“No. We’ve got a day to try and save the colony.”