Harris adjusted her glasses and squared her shoulders before knocking on the door. Lewis was the kind of man who found it easy to ignore small people. Today, her goal was to make herself big, at least in his eyes. She rapped three times. From the other side, a gruff grunt came in response; a muffled “c’min.”
Realizing she’d been holding her breath, Harris exhaled slowly, and entered. Lewis was hunched over a pile of papers, an unlit cigarette hanging from the corner of his dry lips. He glanced up at her, then returned his gaze to the mess of paperwork.
“Whaddya want, Harris. I’m busy. Make it snappy.”
“I want a chance.”
“Come again?” He looked at her now, intrigued.
“I want the Wreath landing.”
“No fucking way.” He picked up a paper and began reading it silently.
Harris readjusted her glasses, re-squared her shoulders, and spoke again.
“Yes fucking way.”
This caught his attention. Lewis stood and crossed his arms over his puffed out chest. Sizing her up. She broke the silence.
“I’ve been training for it longer than Coulson or Brenner. My scores are better. And I know you’ve found evidence of plant life on the surface. I’m the best Botanist you’ve got.”
“Who told you that?”
He was referring to Harris’s knowledge of the plant life discovery. It was top secret. Only, she had un-encrypted the encrypted files. She let the silence linger for one heartbeat, then reiterated her mission. “I want the Wreath landing. I’m qualified and I’m ready.”
Two weeks later, Harris plummeted towards Wreath, ripping through the leather blackness of space. She was in a single-person pod that half her team didn’t believe she’d make it out of alive. But Lewis was not one of those people. He had thrown his support behind her because she had done the unthinkable — she had simply asked him to.
Landings, Harris had been told, were only controlled crashes. She knew this, had trained for it; and yet, the true experience of it still caught her by surprise. The pod plummeted to the rocky surface with a thud, and proceeded to bounce erratically for another mile or so, kicking up orange dust in its wake. Harris held her breath, without meaning to, and focused on the panel of buttons and levers before her. Her fingers worked on muscle memory now, pushing, flicking, and pulling reflexively. Finally, she felt the pod slow to a stop. Vibrating from the inside out, Harris pushed the red button on her com and spoke. “Success.” It was only one simple word, but it sent a jolt of excitement through her body. The com crackled to life, and a familiar, gruff, voice came through. “Fucking right, Harris. Fucking right.”