This story is in my book "The Honeycomb Comet" which is now available at Author House -- Amazon -- Barnes and Noble and other fine book sellers, search for "Roger Bourke White Jr."

Book One
The Comet is Discovered

Chapter One

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright 2011

The middle-aged man and the young lady sat at a table in the Luck of Jonas Café in Belt Transfer Station 24. The man studied the hard-copy letter she had just handed him. He was pale white, grossly overweight by Earth standards, and dressed in what seemed to be some of the oldest clothes in the Solar System, but they were clean. The lady was young, neat, lightly tanned, and dressed in a fashionable workday casual outfit. She watched calmly as he studied the letter.

22 Aug 2132

Dear Mr. Bomorov:

You may not remember me, but we met at the Space Supply 26 convention on Ceres.
This is to introduce my daughter, Kim Ying-tai. She has expressed to me a strong desire to become a deep spacer. I have sent her to you as one of the most dependable deep spacers I know.
Please give her any assistance you can in getting her career started.

Thanking you in advance,
and hoping we get a chance to meet again, I am

Sincerely yours,
Kim Nian-zu

The man read it and grunted. He held the letter up against the light. “Nice bit of work, Miss Kim.”

“Just call me Ying-tai.”

“Just call me Bull.”

John “Bull” Bomorov smiled slightly at the girl and she returned it big, beauty queen style. He pulled his computer out of a pocket and spoke to it. “Honey, give me a quick bio on Kim Ying-tai.”

The girl’s expression didn’t change as Bull scanned the virtual screen and remarked, “Very impressive, Ying-tai.”

Then he asked, “Honey, how old is this data?”

The girl’s eyes widened briefly as she saw Bull read the answer.

“As I was saying, Miss Kim—”

“Ying-tai, you can call me Ying-tai.”

“Yes. This is a nice piece of work, Ying-tai. A hard-copy letter on good Earth-origin paper and multiple data files. Must have taken a fair amount of research and manipulation. You’re resourceful.”

“Thank you.”

“But not perfect. The dates on some of your files are too recent to be believable. But the biggest red flag is that no parent ever recommends his child to become a deep spacer, and certainly not a father like you’ve described here. How many people have you offered this to?”

“You’re the first,” she said.

“I can believe that. Now, this next part is important. Why did you pick me first?”

Ying-tai looked at him thoughtfully and finally asked, “The whole story?”

“The whole story.”

“I came up here to be a deep spacer. I’m an analyst on Earth. No one gives a damn about me, no one will give me a break. I want to be more, a lot more, but that’s going to take money.”

The man leaned back in mock amazement. “Oh my gosh! It’s a four-eyed analyst with ambition. Welcome to the party, girl—”

“I don’t wear glasses,” she snapped quietly. “That wasn’t who I wanted to fit in with.” But Bull wasn’t listening.

“But then again, you’re here and the rest of the four-eyed ambitious analysts are still down there, aren’t they? So, why are you here?”

She shrugged. “I’ve got bigger dreams, and less to lose, I guess.”

“Now we’re getting somewhere. How did you pick me?”

“Easy, I did my research. There are only three veteran, and still active, deep spacers in station right now. You, Van Cleeve, and Kasravi.”

“Yes, yes, yes. We go way back. How about Pierre Menendez over there? He’s been out ten times.”

“Last time was a year ago.”

“Good. Continue.”

“It’s not on his résumé, but it’s sure all around this station that Van Cleeve is not someone you share a room with.”

Bull stirred his drink while he thought. “Good, you don’t believe the whole world is on the computer screen. Continue.”

“The rest is hunch. I looked at who’s coming in, the next sixty days, and no one looks better than you.” She smiled a more relaxed and natural looking smile, not the beauty queen smile.

“How about Kasravi?”

“She would do, and I’ll go to her next.”

“Not with this same story, I hope.”

“Why not?”

“This is a small community up here, Ying-tai. Your escapade here with me will be all over it by the time we say good bye.”

She glared at him. He raised his hands as if she was holding a gun on him. “I won’t have to say a thing! You see Ivan over there tending bar, Pierre over there. These people aren’t strangers. If Kasravi chooses to ask, she’ll know everything except what we’ve specifically said.

“If she asks me, she’ll know everything that’s relevant to her. I work with Kasravi, I don’t work with you … yet.”

Ying-tai stood up.

“Sit down! I said I don’t work with you yet.” She sat down.

Bull leaned forward and said quietly, “Girl—”

“Woman, or lady if you must, but I like Ying-tai,” she insisted.

“Ying-tai, we do keep some secrets around here, but not many. My next expedition is one that could use a helping hand, but none of these space dogs here are interested.”

“Why not?”

“It’s a long story that I’ll tell you over dinner, should you decide to accept.”

“You’re offering?” Her face filled with excitement.

“I’m offering.”

“I’m accepting!” She held out her hand for Bull to shake. It was a strong hand, and there was a roughness to it that said she did a lot more than push electrons around. He felt better.

He said, “Whoa, that’s just for dinner! You haven’t heard about where or why we’re going. That could make a difference. But let’s talk about it over dinner in, say, an hour?”