Lore Archive/2011-12-28a

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237 star cruisers and jumpers were ferried to the Sao Paulo spaceyard to use as parts to rebuild no fewer than 128 space-faring ships. Each final craft would be outfitted with newly calibrated engines, stabilizers, sensors, scanners, fuel hoses and crew quarters. 145 warehouses had to be sterilized and turned into makeshift clean rooms before delicate components could be unpacked from crates flown in from Australia, Asia, and Venus.

Some of the ships were working cargo vessels that could fly under their own power, but there were plenty of junkers that had to be shipped by hover-rail to Brazil. The Senate had cut some corners to fulfill Connery’s request in time. Hundreds of technicians were brought in to analyze which were in spacefaring shape, and which would be scrapped for parts. The Sao Paulo spaceyard was one of the largest on Earth, and all of it came under the supervision of foreman Liz Santiago, a fifteen-year vehicle maintenance vet whom Connery had asked to join the flight mission. She rejected the offer. She loved her job and had no desire to fly into space. Liz oversaw the construction of ships of various sizes, all designed for deep space exploration, but she preferred to keep her own two feet firmly on the ground.

Santiago sat in her office reading through the daily shipping reports before she established a comm link to Gettysburg Food, the contractor that won the bidding war to supply meals to the fleet. “Where the hell are they, Eddie?” she shouted. “The damn pods should be here by now!” Gettysburg was supposed to convert a fifth of the ships into hydroponic chambers in which fruits, vegetables, and grains could be grown. Dairy products would have to be artificially replicated. Water would have to be recycled from treated human waste. With only four weeks to go before the May deadline, less than half had been delivered.

“They’re almost done,” Eddie said. “There was a coolant leak with the cryogenics. I don’t think you want the seeds to ripen even before you pass Mars. We need two more days, but they’ll get there with plenty of time to spare. C’mon, have I let you down before?” Liz had worked with Eddie Abrams at least a dozen times in the past, and though he always pushed his deadlines to the limit, he only delivered the best.
“Eddie, you’re late, even by your standards.”
“We’re fine, trust me. And you’ll thank me later when nothing goes wrong.”
“Don’t count on that,” she smiled as she shut down the link.

The space journey was designed to take around 28 months, with a few weeks room depending on the shape of the slowest ships in the fleet. There would be three refueling and restocking stations as the ships made their way to Neptune. After that, they couldn’t restock goods until they reached Dosojin, Shiva, and Shangdi, the furthest three worlds in the Solar System, and the most recently discovered.

The comm buzzed again. President’s Connery’s name flashed. “No cursing,” she reminded herself quietly.

“Mr. President,” she said cheerfully.
“Liz, do I have to keep reminding you? It’s Tom.”

She nodded. “You’re right, Mr. President. You will have to keep reminding me. You’ll always be Mr. President to me, sir.”

He sighed, and quickly got down to business. “It’s already April, we haven’t much time left. We are going to make the deadline?”

“Absolutely, Mr. President. We’re finishing the crew quarters now. Room for about 750 on each ship. But you’ve seen them, sir. They’re not luxury starliner cabins, you know. Living space is going to be minimal. Even yours, sir.”
“You gave the President of the Terran Republic cramped quarters?” he smiled. “I thought you respected the office.”
“That I do, sir. And even though you’re actually only a former President, I made sure you at least got a private bathroom. How much more respect can you show a man?”

Connery laughed. “You sure I can’t get you to join us, Liz? It’s a pretty exciting opportunity, not to mention the fact you’d be indispensable.”

“I already am, sir. I most certainly already am.”

Connery smiled wryly, shook his head and ended the transmission.

Liz shut the comm down and began her daily rounds. Connery trusted her with the safety of nearly 75,000 people. She wasn’t going to let him, or any of them, down.

Liz Santiago was the most indispensable person in the Sao Paulo spaceyard, and everyone, including one former President of the Terran Republic, knew it.

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