0227: Principles in Practice
Ed’s voice was grim. “If you want to take over the controls, be my guest.” He lifted his hands from the control board, holding them open-palmed near his collar.
“How is that possible?” Lamont asked incredulously, unfastening his harness. “He can’t have flushed himself down the loo.”
“That was just a ruse, obviously,” Ed remarked, his eyes fixed on the control panel in front of him. “He must have rolled out the cargo hatch just before we lifted off.”
“That’s hard to believe,” Said Rosemary.
“It’s possible,” Ed confirmed. “Damned risky. When the hatch closes, it closes hard.”
“Well, we’ve got to go back,” Lamont said, turning back toward the front of the cockpit. “If he’s still being affected somehow, Lord knows what he’ll do without supervision.”
“Not going to happen,” Ed shook his head. “I’ve already been away from Westward too long.”
“We can’t just leave him!” Rosemary objected, working her way past the rear bucket seats to lean over Ed’s shoulder.
“That’s exactly what I’m doing, doll.” Ed’s voice was grim. “If you want to take over the controls, be my guest.” He lifted his hands from the control board, holding them open-palmed near his collar.
Lamont watched Rosemary’s round green eyes flash over the inscrutable conglomeration of buttons, dials, knobs and switches. Within moments, her expression changed from anger to resignation. Something Ed had said to Lamont not long ago passed through his recollection: An interface should be overt in proportion to its consequence. Well played, he thought moodily.
Rosemary slumped back into the seat beside Lamont, strawberry strands of hair falling over her face. “You’re an ass,” she muttered.
“I wouldn’t have brought him back to the tower if Monty here hadn’t assured me that he was back to normal,” Ed noted smugly, returning his hands to the controls.
“I said he seemed normal,” Lamont protested. “What am I, some kind of expert?”
“Now that you mention it,” the Chief Technician smiled, “I guess you aren’t.”
The rest of the trip passed in uncomfortable silence as the cloud-encompassed bulk of Westward grew slowly larger in the bulbous windows of the asteroid pod. They seemed to be inching toward the slowly rotating ship, but Lamont knew that they were in fact likely to be traveling several miles every second. Beside him, Rosemary closed her eyes again, folding her arms over her chest.