“I thought analogs were supposed to be good at everything,” said Rice as Zee raised her hand to scratch her neck and flipped herself onto her back. She squeaked and struggled to catch a railing and clutch the hem of her skirt. Rice looked at Ben, expecting him to help the analog, but he’d taken another moment to puke into his vacuum bag.
Rice paused and watched Zee struggle. Then, with a sigh, she moved towards the analog and grabbed her arm before she could flip upside down. “Every move you make will affect your center of gravity, so try not to thrash around,” she said. “And don’t worry about your skirt. It’s tight enough, it won’t float up. Just keep your legs together and you’ll be fine. One hand for the railing the other for balance.”
Zee obeyed her and regained her balance. “Thank you,” she said, gripping the railing. She practiced moving and had just about gotten the hang of it by the time their attendant, Cyntha, returned. She handed each of them a palm-sized badge and uploaded applicable access codes and a map of the station to their tabs. She led them to a tram.
Ten minutes later, the tram had transported them along the outer skin of Helioset. Gravity increased as they moved towards Helioset’s equator until they could no longer float. Ben looked less pale and discarded his puke bag.
The tram slowed and stopped at a large, brightly lit atrium. More people moved about, most wearing business suits, though there were a few ragged looking miners and even some tourists. The atrium provided a view through a clear ceiling of the interior of Helioset. Ben glanced up, turned pale and looked back down again, breathing through his nose. Zee’s eyes kept drifting upwards to gaze at the magnificent view.
Glowing lights and vehicles moved in streams around Helioset’s interior. The ECOs in the center sparkled with lights, like a concentration of a night sky, and beyond them a sliver of blue and green Earth peeked through Helioset’s earthward pole. She continued looking up when the tram door slid silently open and Cyntha, Rice, and Ben disembarked. Zee stood and took one step and, having misjudged the gravity, tripped.
She squeaked and careened into Ben. He managed to keep them both from sprawling to the ground for a moment. “Sorry,” Zee muttered, pulling away from him quickly. Their legs tangled, and he unbalanced. Zee grabbed for a railing and missed. She closed her eyes moments before she was sure the back of her head was going to smack against the floor.
It hit something softer than the floor. Zee winced and opened her eyes. Ben’s arm had cushioned her head. His other arm, around her waist, had protected her back. Zee stared into Ben’s gray eyes directly above her, and the moment stretched. She could feel her heart beat, hard, in her chest. “Um,” whispered Zee. He stared into her eyes and held her. Zee felt her face grow hot. “Um,” she said. Ben paled and barfed all over her shirt.
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