The Jacket, Part 2

She looked over the reports again. The long range scan data contained pages and pages of information, and in the three decades of her career, the monthly status reports had all been essentially the same. Nothing out there, at least nothing unusual. The occasional comet passing through a neighboring system, a solar flare. Most months, she just had to scan the status report’s cover page, and sign off on it. She had initially been annoyed that someone had brought her the detail report this month, rather than the summary. And brought it two weeks early, at that. “The new guy screwed up,” she had though, “and now that it’s here, this is the version I have to deal with. Typical bureaucracy.” Then she read the cover page.

Christine Addams had been on a career trajectory that would have taken her to the top of Earth Defense. Until the purpose of “Earth Defense” changed. When the U.E.C. was formed, the Earth Government formed the Earth Defense, as they were sure that the colonization of the nearby solar systems would attract the attention of other life, out in the cosmos. While no evidence of extraterrestrial life had been discovered, mankind had abandoned the hubris that we were alone in the cosmos. The Earth Defense was formed, and was tasked with the patrol of the core planets and moons of the U.E.C.

Nearly a decade ago, the balance of power in the Earth Government changed. The lack of evidence of life out there was taken as a sign that humans were alone in the universe, and the focus of the Earth Defense was shifted to the role of “Colony Cops”. While Addams had been a stellar officer in the fleet, her disillusionment in the new Earth Government put her at odds with a few of her superiors, and she found herself shifted sideways into a dead end position: Chief Communications Officer for the Fleet Academy.

As the academy is positioned at the far edge of the solar system, the communication staff handles a number of duties that aren’t specifically related to the academy itself. Collecting and forwarding the long range scanning data happens to be one of them, and had always been one of the more tedious tasks that pass over Major Addams’s desk. Other less pleasant duties include processing correspondence for cadet discharges and passing on bad news to cadets and other staff of the Academy.

As Christine Addams poured over the detail report for the third thing, a few things crossed her mind. The first was that she might be looking at her ticket off this rock. The second was that the Earth Government was in for a hell of a surprise. The third is that Belarus is only a mining colony. If the reports could be taken at face value, something was heading this way, and it looked like Belarus was right in its path. At best, they had a handful of M.E.C.H. pilots to handle some of the heavier mining tasks.

Major Christine Addams closed her eyes, and steeled herself for the vid-com that she had to initiate to Earth.

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