A klaxon woke him.
The room was bright.
He sat upright, the chair’s coils slipping away.
Meriam was gone.
He kicked for the door. His flight went awry. They weren’t in zero-gee anymore.
The klaxon kept sounding.
He caught a loop and slipped up against the wall. It was a low thrust, perhaps five percent of a standard gee. Maneuvering thrusters.
Where was Meriam?
Hauling himself through the door, he saw crew rushing along the companionway. Some were wearing environment suits. One of them still in coveralls stopped nearby, yanking open a locker in the companionway wall and pulling out a deflated suit. She quickly started putting it on.
“What’s happened?” Larsen said.
“Out of Barris,” she said, looking at him. Her face was grim, eyes wide. She kept working to get the suit over her coveralls. “But I don’t ask, I just get suited and go where they tell me.”
“Thanks.” Larsen started forward, bouncing off his feet, grabbing at loops.
“Wait,” the crewwoman called after him. “You’ll need a suit.” She held out another one she’d taken from the locker.
“I’ve got to find my daughter,” he said. He kept moving forward. He should have set up a proper communications line between the four of them. At least Meriam’s sliver hadn’t activated. She was still alive and still balanced. He wished it had a homing beacon on it.
“Larsen.” Trasker was further down the companionway, waving at him. He had his legs in a suit, the torso, arms and helmet hanging free.
“What’s going on?” Larsen shouted.
“We’re on site,” Trasker called back. He was hanging from a loop, feet braced. Low acceleration was tricky, much harder than either zero-gee or full acceleration.
Larsen came up. “Have you seen Meriam?”
“Jamie’s with her.” Trasker pointed back. “In Jamie’s cabin.”
Larsen felt tension leach from him. He sighed. “How can we be on site already?” Then he looked at the time. He’d slept that long. Actually for-real slept. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d slept for more than a couple of hours at a time.
In a moment he was at the open door to Jamie’s cabin. They were both in environment suits.
The klaxon shut off.