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By John Gary Youker All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Horror

Outpost 31

   Harris knew she was in for something. She could always tell when a situation was going to be a grind. Even without the fact that the call came in the middle of the night, the fact that Abdi was as unclear as possible on the other end, and that they would be leaving in less then 7 hours all pointed to one of those days. Daniel got up with her and helped her get ready. This was not the first time their sleep was broken and wouldn't be the last. He knew what he was getting into when he married a crisis control officer. Especially one stationed at Outpost 12 off Europa.

   The last thing she needed was another marathon emergency; like when the plasma core on the S.P.V. (Space Patrol Vessel) Concord had a slow leak. Everything about that day was slow and pondering.  Most of the time was spent waiting to see if the transmorph aluminum grafts would hold, the longest three hours anyone had sat through. All this was swirling in her head as she arrived at Outpost 12. Abdi was there and was just as mum as he had been on the phone. "You'll be briefed when you get to 31." he said. "Wait, wait. Outpost 31? Why the hell are we going out there?" Harris asked. Abdi shrugged his shoulders, she now knew everything he did.  Harris got into the shuttle, confused and unsure of what would call for this much secrecy.

   Outpost 31 is located in orbit of Pluto, is the furthest space station within the solar system, and the limit of long range shuttle travel. Any location past it requires a deep space cruiser. When she got off the transport, Harris was greated by Commander Florence, the head of Emergency services. There was a second person whose presence was not understood; Dr. Mathias Rotor, the head of Deep Space Exploration. "Cheryl," said Florence, "I'm sorry to drag you out to the hinterlands, but...". Harris wasn't paying attention, she was looking at the long range scanner.  On the screen, about 6,000 miles away, was a ship. It looked the same as it did when it vanished 21 years ago; it also explained why Dr. Rotor was there. The E.D.S.V. (Experimental Deep Space Vessel) Yuri Gagarin had returned home.

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