The effect of the drug wore off as quickly as it had come. Perhaps too quickly and too soon, Audrey was thinking. She was supposed to still be intoxicated at upper separation, but her body had worked it off. She was promptly building up resistance to the neuro-dampener. Just in time to experience the blast of second take off from the mother ship. When the armadillo reached critical height in the thermosphere it released the small shuttle - the top layer of the cycler. From afar it looked like the armadillo peeled some of its armour. The bracket shaped shuttle separated and hung in brief suspension before a pyrotechnic blast erupted in the space between the two. The shuttle plunged further and ignited it's rocket propellant to initiate its final change of velocity - significantly lower than the initial one. The armadillo mother ship was pushed in the opposite direction and dived back in the atmosphere for its landing and next round of flybys to LEO. The giant hulk became a bright triangle of compressed air that descended into the lower layers for a soft tarmac landing.
Congratulations from flight base were in order and static voice from the comm announced:
The Institute of the Space Academy was situated at Earth Moon Lagrangian Point One. That is, it was orbiting around the Moon in an almost perfect trajectory, needing only occasional rocket fire to adjust. The station resembled the form of a key. The bow duplicated in two giant rings, nearly 5 miles in circumference. The slightly bigger one was linked to the helm and cruiser controls (the blade of the key). The smaller ring, supported by magnetic fields resided inside the bigger. It was spinning slowly to maintain artificial gravity. Smaller cylinders, attached at various points to the inner ring were visible. They also span to maintain their Gee - the smaller the cylinder the quicker the spin. The whole station could propel and move like a ship. Extensive numbers of photovoltaic cells were deployed on the Moon, where the Sun light was some eight times more intensive than on Earth's surface and energy was fed via microwaves, travelling through induction satellites that formed a web around Luna.
Audrey needed another supplement of suppressant before they attached. Just to make it through the functional magnetic imaging - a general standard procedure to maintain the norm. The scan commenced in the connecting corridor and the cheerful crowd did not seem to be bothered at all. Instead they were energetically pushing towards the shutter.
She woke up late in the standard morning and after taking a refreshing shower and a breakfast of surprisingly delicious bacon and eggs from the cafeteria she was ready for her first supplement of the day - a slow release cognition stimulant. It was time to get some work done.
Everybody on board would be responsible for what was going to happen next. But under the patronage of the wise Gregory McKenna those who were disgusted could at least share their opinion without fear of persecution. Deemed a collective decision, Phan Yeung needed to be eliminated. The Academy would surely come to no blame as McKenna himself would present his sorrow to the world. It was one of his own going to waste, after all. The resources of the Institute were quickly mobilized to establish a plan. It was to be a public execution - as obvious as possible. The influentials would contact the ground to prevent any serious measure being taken to ensure Yeung did not go into hiding.
Two days later she got a message on the pad that got her bolting towards the office. The first imaging from her tiny robotic fleet had streamed in. Nine hundred sixty three units surviving; Audrey was going through some more details but she needed her tools to start looking into the data seriously. She was already on the way, running.