“Congratulations on your promotion, Dr. Nichols,” Jim Macomber said as Jennifer walked into the conference room.
“Thank you, sir. What promotion?”
The others from the Hermes, Odyssey, and Frontier satellite control teams were already there. Nina, Walker, and Charlie all grinned. Peterson, as usual, looked sour, but it was less sour than his normal expression. Interns and others lined the walls.
“You are now the Director of Extra Solar Conditions,” Macomber said.
“Wow, that’s, um, what does that mean?”
“Person,” Peterson put in.
“Woman,” Nina said with finality.
“What they’re trying to say is that the data from Louis & Clark’s nanosats will need comprehensive analysis. The data is still coming in, and shows no signs of slowing, especially when we just got funding for Zheng He, a large platform to launch one thousand nanosats.”
Walker and Nina both nodded vigorously.
“Thanks to the success of the new gravity bubble engines, it will only take days to reach the edge of our solar system. So, Dr. Nichols, you have a lot of work cut out for you. Start picking out your department now.”
Walker and Nina presented a long box to her.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“A gift to commemorate your promotion. Open it,” Nina said, her lips twitching into a grin.
Using her utility knife—what engineer didn’t carry one?—she slit the tape on the box, then opened the flaps. It looked like an oversized presentation screen.
“Um, I already have one of these.”
“No, you don’t,” Walker began to snicker, clamping his lips tight.
The two lifted the long tube out, then Nina grabbed the handle. Instead of a white screen, it was green.
“You know, so you can do the forecast,” Nina laughed.
Jennifer rolled her eyes, then began laughing herself.