Britain marched his recruits through the terminal and on into the Gateway’s main launch bay.

“Everything is prepped for delivery.” He said as he ushered them in, “The delivery pod contains fresh supplies for the existing survival dome as well as prefabbed structural elements for the expansion work you will be doing.”

He stopped on the main platform and turned to face them. They were clearly nervous but he wasn’t the sort of man who would share an empathetic word. He took great pleasure in their discomfort and would have no qualms of making things worse for them.

“Guam, I’m assigning you as the squad leader for this tour.” He smiled inwardly when he saw Chad’s pained reaction, ” You are the primary driller. Chad is your primary welder and Mali will collect. The prefabs and supplies mean we could only leave room for three passengers in the delivery pod on this trip. The rest of your squad will follow with three other squads on the next delivery.”

He paused to tick off a task on the active to do list on his clipboard. It chimed softly as it relayed the info back to the Overseer’s operation centre.

“Your visor units have been updated with your itinerary, job details and time-lines for completion.” He turned slightly, focusing his attention on Chad, “If you two love birds can keep your hands off each other for longer than five minutes, I expect you to have rehearsed and memorized the steps to completion for your assigned jobs by the time you reach the survival dome.”

Mali snickered at this. To Chad it felt like she had stabbed him in the heart and he clenched his teeth in anguish.

Britain nodded briefly at Guam and with that, turned away from them marching off back the way they had come.

“What better way to spend an afternoon, than on a trip with my bottom bitch.” Guam turned and smacked Chad on the rump, “All aboard my precious. You too Mali, can’t think why the boss saw fit to include you in my squad but I’m sure I’ll find some-way to make use of you.”

“Touch me again,” Chad spat at him, “Touch me again and I’ll…”

Guam casually slapped him across the face with an open palm. It seemed such a slow and lazy swat that the force of the blow took Chad completely by surprise. Guam’s palm caught him across the ear, compressing air into his ear drum with a loud pop that deafened him momentarily, sending a sharp spike of pain through his head. He collapsed to his knees in front of Guam holding his hands up to his wounded ear.

“…you’ll what?” Guam finished for him. “Better get used to that position bottom bitch. Now that I’m in charge you’re going to be spending a lot of time down there.”

Mali was about to interject when they were all interrupted by Britain’s angry fat face appearing on their visor units.

“Launch sequence will begin in one minute, get on that pod now you imbeciles.”

The tension evaporated and they all scrambled through the open pod door. There was very little room inside the pod. It had been configured for maximum transportation capacity leaving the bare minimum of space for human passengers.

The pod door closed behind them and the pressurised seals hummed into life. The artificial temperature controls became active, detectable to them as a sudden tingling in the skin that gave way to the sensation of coolness in the air. There were three g-chairs, one for each of them and they quickly took their seats and strapped themselves in.

Britain waited for them to get settled. He ticked off another task on his list, signed the executive order field and tapped his stylus on the big red launch icon.

The live countdown began, counting down slowly from ten. Klaxons began wailing around the Gateway facility as amber warning lights flashed. There was a palpable build up of tension in the atmosphere as great swathes of energy were re-routed into the launch capacitors.

“Ten, nine…” A thin nasal female voice intoned

“Bon voyage.” Britain said  to the recruits as they braced themselves in their chairs.

“…eight, seven, six…”The voice continued the countdown.

Britain flipped a page on his clipboard and began to fill in a report.

“…five, four, three…”

He had managed to fill in the date when the clipboard screen filled with the agitated face of the Overseer.

“Britain we have a problem. The Survival dome has been compromised”

“…two, one…”

“Britain abort the launch. You must abort!”

“Ignition.”

There was hollow, metallic thunk as the massive amounts of energy that had built up inside the pod launch stack were released, sending the pod zipping away at incredible speed.

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