Summary: Chapter One: April 2005 On the first leg of the trip, in the passenger cabin of the long-bed shuttle, Patricia Vasquez had watched the Earth's cloud-smeared limb on a video monitor. Before her own transfer, cameras mounted in the shuttle bay had shown her the long waldos maneuvering the huge cargo out of the bay into the waiting arms of the OTV-orbital transfer vehicle-as if two spiders were trading a cocoon-wrapped fly. The operation had taken an hour, and with its slow fascinat ...show moreion had distracted her from thoughts about her present circumstances. When her own turn came and she donned the passenger bubble to be guided across the ten meters to the OTV's lock, she worked hard to appear calm. The bubble was made of transparent plastic, so she did not suffer from claustrophobia-almost the opposite, in fact. She could feel the immensity of the blackness beyond the spacecraft, though she could not make out stars. They were outdone by the glow of the Earth and the close, brightly lighted surfaces of the OTV, a train of clustered tanks, balls and prisms wrapped in aluminum beams. The three-man, two-woman crew of the OTV greeted her warmly in the narrow tunnel as she ''hatched,'' then guided her to a seat just behind theirs. From that vantage, she had a clear, direct view, and now she could see the steady pinpoints of stars. So confronted, with none of the comfortable separation of a video monitor frame, space seemed to extend into a mating of infinite, star-cluttered halls. She felt as if she could walk down any one of the halls and become lost in altered perspective. She still wore the black jumpsuit she had been handed in Florida just six hours before. She felt dirty. Her hair, even though tied up in a bun, let loose irritating wisps. She could smell her own nervousness. The crew floated around her, making last-minute checks, punching readings into slates and processors. Patricia examined their colored suits-the ...show lessEdition/Copyright: 85
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