No. 337

The International Space Station had been taken over in an act of cunning treachery. The crewmember responsible, a sleeper agent, was now threatening, for reasons known only to her, to crash the space lab into a major city.

Lex Orbis had been called on to retake the ISS. He was currently stuffed into a Soyuz capsule, approaching the Station at thousands of kilometers per hour. The plan was that Orbis, once in range, would leap out into space and enter the station through the airlock.

At the appointed time, Orbis zipped up his spacesuit and turned to shake hands with the other man in the capsule. “Wish me luck, Boris,” he told the Russian, who, incidentally, knew no English. Then Orbis threw open the hatch and jumped.

Floating free across the void, Orbis had time only to wonder if, perhaps, the taser he’d brought along with him would be enough to subdue the rogue astronaut.   

Seconds later, he hit the side of the ISS and grabbed a support. He clambered over the surface, trying to avoid passing over any windows. He reached the outer door and pulled the emergency handle to let himself in. It worked, and Orbis was soon safely inside.

Now came the hard part of the mission. He’d been told that the mutineer had smuggled a gun on board, and was willing to use it, despite the risk of puncturing the hull. As soon as Orbis unlocked the inner airlock, he’d have mere moments to make his move.

Drawing the taser, he took a deep breath, then kicked the hatch open and dove through.

There was nobody there. All the lights were off and the entire capsule was lit by the glow of a single computer screen. Orbis floated slowly through the empty modules, making sure he was the only person aboard.

When he returned to the computer, the display had changed. There was a message on it.

 

MISSED ME ORBIS

WE LEFT IN THE EMERGENCY POD

ISS HAS BEEN DISABLED

YOU HAVE SEVEN MINUTES UNTIL RE-ENTRY

LOVE ALWAYS

–S

 

“Curses!” Orbis swore. They hadn’t told him his opponent’s name. It was Sabrina, Orbis’ old nemesis.

He threw the taser across the compartment angrily, and looked for a way to reboot the guidance system.

Failing to find one, he went with the only other option he could think of. Returning to the airlock, he swiftly cleared both doors and crouched on the lip of the outer hatch, watching the world spin beneath him.

“Boris,” he called over his radio. “I’m going to need a pick-up.”

Then he jumped back out into the void.