by Scott D. Danielson
Dr. Anne Gable waited for the call she knew was coming. A psyship was drifting
in space, powerless, and she'd have to go, she just knew it. The pilot was
unresponsive, and that put it squarely in her territory whether she liked it or not.
The visiphone beeped, and she pressed the button before it beeped again. Rob
Spencer, the head systems engineer of the psyship program, appeared.
"We need you to come with us," he said.
Anne sat back in her chair. "How far out are we talking about?"
"The ship is drifting our way. We'll meet it about six days away, so you'll be back
in about two weeks."
Space. She trained for it before ever interviewing psypilot candidates. She'd been
in Earth orbit, but never deeper. "Is the pilot alive?"
"We don't know," said Rob. "If he isn't, then you won't have much to worry
"You can't take Dee?" she said. Dee was her ex-husband, the first of the
psypilots. "Isn't he on Earth right now?"
"Yeah, he is. He'll be piloting, but we are still requesting that you come with us.
Dee's no psychologist."
Oh, this is getting better and better. "The corporation guys know we used to be
married. That's got to be some kind of violation of --"
"I just spent the last hour convincing the Board that I need you both. Dee is the
only Earthside psypilot, not to mention the most experienced, and you are the one
who wrote the book on potential psypilot problems. We need you both because
we have no clue what we're looking at here. Between Dee, you, and myself, I'm
confident we'll know everything we need to by the time we get back."
"But I haven't seen Dee since --"
"Anne, please. I really need you there. And I'll be with you the whole time. It's
not like you guys will be alone."
"Yeah," she said.
"Neither one of you are the arguing type, anyway. You surprised the hell out of all
of us when you said you were splitting."
All true. The marriage had ended not with a roar, but a whimper. Dee is
comfortable in his psyship. That's just the way it is. In his psyship, Dee is alive.
In his skin, he is ... not.
"Two weeks?" Anne asked.
"Yeah, two weeks," said Rob.