Friday, September 26, 2008

The Quiet War, Chapter 4(i)

Much later, Macy Minnot would come to believe that Emmanuel Vargo had been the first casualty of the war. But when she first heard about the ecosystem engineer’s death she thought that it was nothing more sinister than bad luck. A freak medical mishap. An accident.

Like Macy and the rest of the construction crew, Emmanuel Vargo spent the twelve-week voyage from Earth to Jupiter in the deep sleep of artificial hibernation, drugged and chilled and consuming a minimal amount of oxygen and water while the Brazilian cargo ship fell through eight hundred million kilometres of sunlit black vacuum. He was still asleep when the ship went into orbit around Callisto, the outermost of Jupiter’s four large Galilean moons, and first-class passengers and hibernation coffins and cargo pods were offloaded onto a tug that descended to the port, a cluttered slab cantilevered above a dusty plain west of the city of Rainbow Bridge. The tug touched down on a scorched landing apron with the lumbering delicacy of a hippopotamus attempting ballet. A mobile crane unlatched from the tug’s cargo frame the truck-sized pod that contained the hibernation coffins and transported it to a pressurised hangar where the coffins were extracted one by one and loaded onto flatbed carts that trundled through subsurface tunnels to the medical facility at the edge of the port. That was where Emmanuel Vargo began to wake, and that was where he died.


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