Damned if I didn’t finish this. Go me!
It was a two hour trip to the Shackleton Area, and at first I thought everybody was just too nervous and excited to talk. It took me a while to realize that the actual problem was that the pilot and I were the only two people on the flight who didn’t hate anybody else on it. Anne was barely civil to Ted, Suzuki was openly contemptuous to Jo, Jo was sullen right back, and Ted? …Ted smelled. I don’t know how he managed that, since we were all already in our cold suits, but there was a faint whiff of rancid sweetness about him. It was so subtle I couldn’t taste it unless I was looking at him directly, so after a while I stopped looking. I didn’t want to test this suit’s ability to handle me throwing up in it.
Nothing happened until we arrived at the Area and were looking at the door, so let me skip to that — no, wait, there is one thing; I did not like the look of the drone after a few weeks in this chamber. There was a sheen on its hull that I found unpleasant — and incomprehensible, since it was supposed to be able to withstand the heat of a Mercurian noon, or the upper winds of Saturn. Nobody else remarked on it, so I let it pass. It probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
After all the drama and anticipation, it turned out the door to the inner chambers was locked. We found this out because Ted had gone straight to the door, heedless of everything else, and was steadily rattling on the doorknob by the time the rest of us got there.
I was about to remonstrate with him for that when the door gave up under Ted’s methodical attack and popped open. Beyond was a passageway, wide enough for two to pass, with three doors: one ahead of us, and one on each side of the passageway. Ted stepped through — and stopped, visibly looking confused at the choices.