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The Room with a View

Posted on 12 Nov 2021 @ 9:23pm by Lieutenant Commander Reginald Hawthorn Jr & Commander Kylie Rhodes

Episode: From our Past
Location: Tether Climber, Above Montana
Timeline: Date 2075-11-10 at 2000

"You know what I hate about the MWR on this thing? The coffee."

Reggie held up the cup of coffee to the other Coasties around the table of the Officers Mess. The Marine and Air Force officers on other tables ignored the institute science lesson, probably because there were no crayons and the tether climber did not have table service.

"We're past Mount Everest by now, and as we get higher the Climber is gonna slowly lower the pressure on board. Easier to maintain a lower pressure in space than a full atmosphere, also no pre-breathing for suit work on EVA like they did pre-SpaceX," Reggie explained. "But that means boiling point of water gets lower. Suddenly waters boiling at half a kilopascal of an atmosphere is now 149F. Making this coffee tepid as all get out."

Reggie put the cup down and sighed.

"So yes. Yes I will have the creamer."

"I've heard about you," Kylie said, sitting down at an empty seat at the table. "We're going to be serving together. I'm Kylie, I'll be the Operations Officer," she said, her rank and last name evident on her ODUs. The ODUs that Coasties wore in space were just the same as the ones on the ground of course with some modifications to keep their blouses from floating upward.

"Reginald Hawthorn, or Reggie," he said. "Main Propulsion Assistant. And whatever you heard from wherever you heard it, lies and slander. Unless you heard I am wise beyond my years, in which case do not colour it false."

He poured some of the powdered creamers into his cup, string it gently with a roll of his wrist.

"So you assigned to the Antares? Or have they got you running Op's from Coast Gaurd Station Freedom?" Reggie asked. "Personally, I'm hoping you have a Cutter assignment because sitting in a control room is not as fun as it sounds. Not with tepid coffee and...whatever is in this sandwich."

"No, on the Antares also," Kylie said, with a small giggle. She found him delightful already something else that she had heard about the man. "I hear they call you the professor."

"That is because I am a wealth of knowledge and it is my duty, naysay it is my vocation to pass that along to any and all who will listen," Reggie said with an easy smile. "But then again I go out of my way to be noticed, I orate to the masses. But you, I would gladly know more about."

"I like your style," she said. "There's not really a whole lot to say... my family has been in the Coast Guard for so long it hardly seemed like a choice. I belong in these ODUs, and I'm excited to be back on the Sixteenth Watch."

"Jackie riding up her beanstalk," Reggie chuckled. "I like that. In all honesty, I dreamed in the shadow of this tower my whole life. Didn't want to bury myself in debt to some corporation to get up here, work the regolith stills on Luna or go prospecting on Mars for someone's bottom line. And in Montana, Navy recruiters don't exactly travel in style. Had to walk out of Bowsman and head on yonder 'till I hit this big old wet puddle of a thing. Reckon I signed up for the Coast Guard because I was on 'the coast' and they had billet's in space."

He looked at his watch, an old fashion mechanical movement polished by long years and scuff marks.

"Five minutes," he muttered to himself.

"Five minutes?" Kylie asked, catching his muttering. She was curious about how he ended up an officer in the Coast Guard but then his muttering sidetracked her.

"Four and change," Reggie said as he began to tidy away his plate and gulp down the truly tepid cup of coffee. He grimaced. "I should have gone for the tropical punch. Sure stuff looks like reactor coolant but at least its temperature doesn't make me regret my choices."

He gestured to her plate and cup.

"You want me to toss those for you? Times ah-wasting," Reggie said.

"Yeah sure, time for what?" she asked, still confused.

"No time," Reggie said as her cup and plate went into the rack for the stewards to sort through later. Then he was out of the officer's mess, the Chair Force lieutenant giving him the casual lower-class peasant scowl as he departed.

In the companionway Reggie took a right, walking at speed around the curving circular corridor that ringed the tether climber's habitation deck. Mess facilities for enlisted and non-com's, recreation rooms, lounges and berthing units. Even a well-equipped gym to give the Marines and Army grunts something to do to burn off their eager energy.

And in the case of the US Army officer, a distraction from wondering why he was going to space in the first place.

"Ahh here we go," Reggie said as he walked up to a hatch, with had a collection of logo's on it. Some were well known, NASA, JPL, Boeing and Advanced Orbital Systems. But next to them were other logos. Logos that did not belong to scientific or industrial powerhouses.

Danger: Radiational Hazard.
Danger: Hard Vacuum Hazard.
Danger: High Voltage Hazard.

And Reggie very casually undogged the hatch, and gestured Rhodes inside.

"Best view in the house for this," Reggie said. "They call it the copula, they rent it out for scientific experiments that require various states of being. Not in use this trip, but it does have the biggest vacuum rated view port on the climber. Which..."

He looked at his watch.

"Will be mighty useful in about a minute and change."

"Should we be going in there unprotected?" she asked, grabbing the hatch before he could push it open.

"That room is as safe as this whole Climber. In fact that one room's probably the most over-engineered place here apart from the traction section. Also it is only unsafe when they are using it for vacuum experiments, which requires the entire outer panel to be removed from the outside by technicians in exo-lifters," Reggie said soothingly. "Also, if the room was rigged for anything that door wouldn't have opened. It would have logged the access with the climber's crew and we'd be neck-deep in folks keen on teaching us why you do not play in vacuum."

He glanced at his watch.

"45 seconds."

"Alright then," she said, with a grin. "Lead the way, Professor."

Reggie hustled her inside, and closed the hatch behind them. The room beyond the hatch was cosey, to say the least, being as big as two phone booths side by side. Its walls were riddled with sockets for racks to be installed on, and universal power adapters. But the far wall, as Reggie has stated, was a clear sheet of transparent aluminum thick enough that there was an evident optical illusion of being able to see 'the surface'.

"Get close to the port," Reggie said. "You're gonna want to be looking about forty degree's up, and twenty to port."

Out beyond the viewport, the curve of the Earth was just beginning to appear on the horizon. It was night, and the light spattered face of the Earth stretched out below. Clouds lay as a fuzzy carpet above those lights, and further above the inky darkness speckled with more lights than could possibly be counted.

"I've been missing out," she whispered as she looked toward what was indicated. Kylie looked intently at the view as he continued to count.

"And three...two...one..."

A clutch of stars suddenly seemed to glow brighter, the tight knot of them soon becoming the brightest points of light in the sky. Slowly over a few seconds, the stars began to grow sight tails, stretching out until they glowed with a faint blue iridescence.

"Hot damn," Reggie grinned. "Ain't nothing beats that. That'll be me one day. Power of a star burning under my heels on the way to Jupiter. Don't get me wrong, Mars is one hell of a pit stop but it's Jupiter for me."

"Why stop there?" she asked, her gaze still on the view. She was curious as to why that was the big stop for him and not other places. After all it wasn't like you could really go to Jupiter...

"Jupiter's gonna be the big thing for our generation. Ganymede has a magnetic field, an ideal place for a colony. And Jupiter's just a big old ball of helium three just waiting to be tapped. Not to mention the mystery that is Europa and all that water under the ice. The moon was the taste, but Jupiter's gonna be the next gold rush, And I intend to be there," Reggie grinned. "Oh, don't get me wrong. The old Proffessor's working on solving that pesky relativity problem, don't you sweat it. Faster than light, easy as pie."

"Well just remember us little people in the Coast Guard when you figure it out," Kylie grinned. "Thanks for showing this to me."

"Reckon being out here in the dark's a might easier if you recall there are moments of wonder like this to look forward to," Reggie grinned. "Now let's scoot, I might not have been incredibly forthright concerning the level of authority needed to be in here."

"If we get caught we tell them we just pulled the closest marine out of here," she said, mischievously as she moved to the hatch and exited as quickly and inconspicuously as she could manage.

 

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