THROUGH THE PORTHOLE, I watch the launches from the ground. There must be two dozen of them, streaking into the sky in a blaze and then breaking apart. It’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen, more breathtaking than the first time I looked down on Earth from space.
But why? Why so many? Are they rebuilding the space station? Or are they coming for me?
That’s a dangerous thought. I don’t want to be let down. I know the reality of my situation: I’m one person, floating in a compromised capsule. Whatever this operation is, it’s bigger than a rescue mission. It has something to do with what the probe found—and the Long Winter. I hope they’ve found a way to stop it. If they need to leave me to do that, so be it.
All the same, I stare out the capsule’s tiny window, my eyes glued to the trails of white smoke streaming into the sky, the rockets breaking away, the capsules tumbling free in space. And I wait, and mentally prepare myself.
Just in case one of those ships is for me.