A dozen or more tethers were in place to insure the ship’s engine and reactor did not drift off when they cut the damaged section of the central core free of the ship. A remote booster pushed the damaged section out and away from the ship and the wenches on the tethers began to pull the two parts of the ship together. Everything went smoothly and a week’s worth of work only took 4 days.
No one had questioned John taking over the engineering department but it came as a surprise when Decker officially offered him the job. “I know all you have to do is get us home but when we get back the Company is going to need a new chief engineer and the job is yours if you want it.” he said. “You don’t have to give me an answer right now, but think about it.”
John stared out the observation deck window. His arms were wrapped tight about Sharon as they watched the stars hang motionless in the black void. “The Captain offered me Andy’s job,” he said softly.
“Are you going to take it?” Sharon asked.
“I don’t know,” John replied. “The Company does not pay all that well, not that I need the money.”
“I know, but their goal is not to get rich but rather it’s to serve the people of the world. If it weren’t for Decker I would not be standing where I am right now.”
“Sharon what do you plan on doing when we get back?”
“I’m hoping to get a job with the Company. I want to give back what they gave to me.”
“At least if I took the job I’d have a place to live and first rate medical benefits.”
“Tell me something John, what is it you want out of life?” Sharon asked.
“I’m not sure,” he replied. “I’ve accomplished everything I set out to do. I’m not sure what I’m going to do next.”
“Then take the job,” Sharon said. “Everyone I’ve talked to says Decker pushes his people into exploring their personal limits. That’s why Andy loved working for the Company. It took his dreams and made them a reality.”
“I only have one dream and only you could make it come true,” John said.
It was with a profound sense of relief that Decker watched as the image of the moon drifted across the view screen to be replaced with an image of the Earth growing ever larger. It had been a long trip and the price tag was the life of one of his closest friends, beyond that it was the greatest achievement that mankind had ever undertaken. The trip had demonstrated that the colonization of other planets and moons within the solar system was possible.
The Galactic Enterprise ended up with 47 married couples and 38 children more than it started out with. Decker only had the pleasure of marrying one of those couples himself. His new chief engineer and his wife.
For the two and a half almost three years the Galactic Enterprise had spent in space little had changed on Earth, but the problems of the planet seemed small compared to the knowledge gained from the trip. Man began to look toward the stars with renewed hope.
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