"What do you mean you forgot to carry the fucking one?"
The director's eyes bore into the chief scientist, a flare of red catching the edge of her glasses as the man before her winced under the inferno. She held the look, a statue before the subtle writing of her mark, who appeared to have lost the power of speech. The young woman beside him stepped forward.
"What, what Harrison means is, we had built the projected model under the assumption that the orbital dynamics matched up with our initial calculations. We checked and rechecked those initial readings and nothing came out amiss. What we didn't, what I mean to say is on the path we laid out for-"
"You checked the current trajectory of the cargo multiple times, but not one of your team thought to double check the corrected route path?"
"N-no, no that we did," the scientist said under the glare of her superior, "and nothing was amiss with the two calculations. But, when we, that is when we put the two together into the latest patch to the satellite, we, we had an error in the calculation. It's not quite a 'carry the one' issue I think Harrison was trying to, inject, levity..." she finished, shrinking under the fury from behind the desk; it appeared the only move more detrimental than her bosses ill-timed joke was attempting to explain it.
The director of mining operations leant back in her chair, her immaculate pants suit catching the sun from the window behind and appearing in a trick of the light to ignite her, as if the rage she appeared to be bottling up inside were burning her very form away. Each of the scientific team made subconscious shuffles back from the desk, none quite sure of what would come to follow.
"How, drastic is this telemetry error?" the director at last asked, in a voice that was calm in the least reassuring ways possible. She held a hand to her head, fingers pried in a tripod not unlike the one now attached to the hunk of valuable rocks and minerals some two hundred million miles away, one that thanks to their little screw up, now would not travel on the route they had planned for it.
Their job was as deceptively simple as it was momentous. The Astraea project was a non-governmental space expedition with a singular goal: to navigate a spacecraft to a body in the asteroid belt, and to use gentle alterations via thrusters to its course to bring it into a safe orbit around the Earth, where in several years time it could be mined for billions in profit, as well as some benefit to the scientific community. The irony that Astraea was among other things the goddess of precision was not lost on any of those present.
"We, cannot say at present, we have to recalculate the route and see what other adjustments can be made to the telemetry in the meantime. We, hope, that it is still possible to correct for the five year transition laid out in our initial proposal." here Harrison gripped the documents in his hands a little tighter, as if trying to absorb some level of reassurance from what had on paper appeared like a done deal.
"And if not?"
"I, wouldn't want to speculate."
"I want you to fucking speculate." the director said, the words coming out as a dead drawl that sent the fear of death through all who gazed down the barrel of her sights. "Worst, case."
"A delay of, perhaps as much as two years."
The director closed her eyes. Despite escaping Medusa's gaze, not one of the scientists dared move, and all in collective braced for the real onslaught to begin. They knew how much capital funding that rode on this mission, had seen for themselves when a year before, the enterprise traded publicly for the first time, smashing all known Wall Street opening records. They could see red lines tracking down in their minds as clear as the blood red pinstripes of the director's suit.
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Misc Short StoriesShort Story
This is where I will upload any contest entries, short stories or the like. If you like my writing style and ask me to write a short story for you, chances are this will be where it ends up. Feel free to ask away! This is rated as Mature as I will a...