As the low whine of the engines of la Vie en Rose turned down, the silence that Sophia Rose had known for the past week was revealed to be a lie. Sophia leaned back in her chair and looked out the broad, angular window of the spaceship's bridge. Before her, she saw the cloud of brown, red dust stirred up by her landing slowly roll away from the ship. As the dust dissipated, it revealed the skyline of JADE Propulsion Industries' large factories and silos.
Sophia swirled around in her pilot's chair twice before jumping out of it and landing on her tip toes. As her short brown, red hair slowly fell back onto her soft features, she stood balanced on her toes measuring the gravity that this new location was forcing upon her. About a quarter G, she thought. "A rock this small shouldn't have that much. I wonder if they buried mass reactors when they terra-formed this place." she said to no one as she slowly lowered herself off her toes. Sophia skipped down the short hallway from the bridge to the small combined kitchen and living space. With and outstretched left hand she caught the grab bar of a door.
With push of a button, the door slide to the right without a sound and revealed her private room. This room, when the ship was built, was originally intended to be used as berthing for a crew of six, but with Sophia being the only one on the ship, has partially been turned into a work shop. The two bunk beds that stood next to the opposite wall were now the resting place of a multitude of gizmos and gadgets, mostly broken, and the tools to fix them. Only the bunk on the left wall was still being used for its intended purpose. Sophia quickly changed from her pajamas she had been traveling in into the dark red skin tight one piece meant to be worn under a envirosuit to prevent chafing. Pushing a cluster of gadgets on one of the bunks to the side, she grabbed the red and yellow tool bag that is customary for Galactic Universal Technical Service members to carry. Sophia scurried around the room grabbing a potpourri of tools and cables stuffing them into her bag before leaving the room.
Back in the kitchen, she grabbed her phone which was laying on the counter and pressed small button on the bottom of it. The phone lit up with a dark blue light and projected a colorful hologram of the Hello Kitty cat six inches above its face. "You have seven unwatched messages!" a speech bubble said from cat with the bow on its head. Sophia popped the floating bubble and viewed the resulting spread of names before selecting VERONICA VALLEY. The names moved back out of focus and the face of a middle age woman with long black hair appeared and began to speak.
"Hello Sophia, I just wanted to inform you that you have just received your security clearance from upper management to enter the Amalthea facility. When you get here, Dr. Manelski and I will meet you at the landing site and transport you to area with the problem. Good travels."
After the recording's last words, the woman's head shrank down and the seven names from before came swirling back into focus. Sophia pressed the bottom button again and the hologram and blue light vanished. I'd better hurry up, they're probably already out-side waiting for me, she thought as she turned towards the storage bay of the ship.
There she found the rack of two envirosuits hanging up next to cargo lift to the outside. She took the dark red envirosuit with the GUTS insignia off its hook and grabbed the helmet from the rack above it. In the storage bay, Sophia worked her way into the envirosuit, which fit like a tight pair of clothes to allow her to move without interference. With the helmet thrown over her head, it was rotated a quarter turn to lock it into place, the translucent face shield only an inch off her nose. The right arm control panel was flicked open and the button which powered the suit was pressed. Instantly the fans in the helmet wicked away all the fog from the inside of the face shield and a variety of heads-up display information including air supply, location, and environment statistics appeared in the corner of Sophia's vision.
Sophia gave a quick smile. She liked being in her envirosuit. To her, it was a cozy place; a way to isolate herself from the rest of the solar system. She grabbed her tool bag and slung it over her shoulders, then moved over to close the airlock to the living quarters and lower the loading ramp. While the ramp lowered silent, there was a loud hiss as the pressure between the atmosphere on Amalthea and inside the La Vie en Rose's storage bay equalized. The air escaping the ship caused another small cloud of dust to radiate away from the loading ramp as Sophia walked down it. She quickly took a look back into the ship. See if I can score some free water.
As she reached the bottom the dust dissipated, revealing a small pickup truck with two people clad in green envirosuits standing out next to it. They started to approach as Sophia finally set foot on the hard dusty ground.
"Howdy." a woman's voice emanated from one of the green suites. "We weren't expecting you for another six hours or so."
"I made good time. The Belt was in my favor this time. It was clean flying for the most part." Sophia replied heartily. "But I burnt up a little more water than I was expecting to." she lied, "But I guess that's the trade off to get here earlier."
"Well I'm sure if you can help us with our little problem quickly we could probably get you a couple of kilolitres." the woman replied with a knowing voice. She extended a gloved hand, "Veronica Valley."
"Sophia Rose." Sophia stated confi-dently as she shook the green gloved hand.
Veronica extended her free hand towards the other envirosuit with her, "And this is Dr. Manelski." Framed by the helmet was a young man with short blond hair and thin metal glasses.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Ms. Rose." the doctor said offering Sophia a handshake. Sophia accepted and looked at the man behind the helmet and saw the discomfort on his face.
"Nice to meet you Doctor. Don't get out in a envirosuit very often, do you?" she joked.
"It's my first time. We never really had much envirosuit experience at Mars." Dr. Manelski replied, referencing his time at the prestigious Mars Institute of Technology. "Ever since its one hundred percent terraform was completed sixty years ago, there's been no need for them. And with most of the work at MIT being theory there weren't many field visits. But I did have one professor who-"
"I'm sure there will be enough time to talk to Ms. Rose about your college days Doctor on the car ride back to the factory." Veronica interrupted. She turned back towards Sophia and gestured toward the pickup, "I hope you don't mind. It's a bit archaic, but big wigs back on Earth don't give us enough creds to get a hover truck."
"Not at all. I grew up in a small mining community on Iapetus. It's fixing trucks like these that got me into GUTS." she attempted to mention as humbly as possibly.
"Great, so I won't have to apologize for the ride back. It's going to be a bit rough." She said as she held open passenger door of the Toyota U92 Atomic Pickup Truck for Sophia. "Oh, Doctor, there's only two seats up front. Would you be a gentlemen and ride in the bed for the ride back?" she politely ordered. "I want to make sure she's in the front with me when we pass security."
Veronica closed her door of the truck and started it up with the outdated metal key as Dr. Manelski climbed into the bed. "He can be really chatty. You'll thank me for this later." She pushed her foot down hard on the accelerator and the Toyota took off going faster and bumpier than it probably should be going. Cries of pain could be heard from the bed of the pickup.
"Really chatty." Veronica whispered.