The Return of the
Out of the Cold II
It had been nine months since our encounter with the Aluvians. Since we released them from their icy prison below the surface of Europa, our lives have been changed forever. Myself and the crew of the Nightsky, which had made the trip to Europa had been given a hero's welcome when we arrived back on Earth, for three weeks solid we had been in endless conferences and interviews with the media. We had told the story of how we had released Drado and his people so often that frankly we were all getting pretty bored with the whole thing. We had been back about eight weeks when Sonia Lyrid, who had been my co-pilot on the first mission, had been given command of the Nightsky and sent back to Europa with the scientists and astronomers that had gone with us on that first trip. Her mission is to see whether the Aluvan's had left anything behind in that sub-surface ocean that Europa possesses. From what I have heard, so far they have found nothing as yet and they should be getting ready for their journey back to Earth by now. As for me, the mission controllers Will Gater and Mark Bowyer had a new mission in mind. A new class of space craft had been built in orbit, twice the size of the Nightsky but designed to be controlled by a crew of five plus myself. For the last four months I have been in the flight simulator learning how to fly this ship and to learn it's systems, I had also gotten to now my new crew pretty well too. They were called the nickname crew by the staff at the flight control centre and when you knew them it was obvious why. Dave Priest, nicknamed Gammalog, was my co-pilot and second in command and was the ships computer expert. He was a thirty four year old army colonel and was quite a stern character. Steve Ray aged around thirty, nickname Deimos, he was an army captain who was the weapons expert. Susan Halawi aged twenty three, nickname Starchild, she was the communications specialist from the space centre staff. Kevin Gall aged thirty nine, nickname AsertixHB, he was the ship's engineer and knew the workings and make up of the ship inside and out. Finally there was the ships surgeon nicknamed Padswift, his real name was Patrick Swift. He was around fourty five and had been in the space program since he was about eighteen.
It was mid-afternoon when the call came through to the control room. We were, as usual, in the middle of an exercise in the spacecraft simulator. The simulator had almost become like a second home to us all, after all we spent the best part of most days nestled within its walls. When the call did come through it was from the newly formed space ministry in the houses of parliament, the ministry had been formed as a direct result of our encounter at Europa. We traveled to the ministry in a minibus along with our new flight instructor/director Adam Hinds. We entered the room to be confronted by Prime Minister Pete Lawrence. He greeted us all in turn and showed us to a table surrounded by seats.