You Had One Job

Elsinore Corona didn’t look nearly as wavy as it did from orbit. Guy squatted and leapt off Miranda’s surface. The rock and ice receded below his feet. Five meters. Ten meters. He’d be up here awhile, but at least the view was nice.

The distance between Miranda and Uranus was only a third of that between Luna and Earth, and given the differences in the size ratios of those two systems, from the Mirandan surface it practically felt like you were skimming Uranus’ atmosphere. The swirls and currents of the high clouds were well defined up close; the flat robin’s egg images most people saw really didn’t do it justice.

It was some time before Guy felt solid group beneath his feet again, but even so he still had time to kill. It felt like the surveyor team as turning over every damn rock on the moon one at a time. They were just going to cut it all up into big cubes anyway, like Europa, carving out checkerboard patterns so they could supply the ever-expanding colonies with water. Pick a spot and start digging already.

Officially, Guy’s job was to shuttle the team from the surface to the orbiter and back again. Shift change was every 10 hours, and they were running three-shift days. So a third of his time was spent sitting on his hands on Miranda. Unofficially, he was being punished for something. He hadn’t yet quite worked out what exactly he’d done, but short straws like this don’t just get handed out without a—

There was a hiss in his earpiece. “—ack to the shuttle, we—here!”

Guy was so dumbfounded he initially forgot to respond. “This is Guy, say again.”

“—over the rim of—before—the hell out—”

The radio cut out, but Miranda took over. The ground began to quake, and the tremors intensified quickly. Guy acted fast, and perhaps without enough thought. But thinking could get you killed. He had the shuttle airborne in seconds. Without the team aboard.

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