“We’re working to that Doctor. RP, continue.” Watez said coolly. Paulson switched views again and then zoomed in to a rectangular shape that looked countersunk with the ends rounded.
“That looks like an airlock hatch,” said Rios
“We hope so. It's three meters by one meter - about the same size as one of ours. Rios and Kondo will use the rescue kit and force their way in,” Watez ordered.
“Skipper, why not mem” Paulson asked with a sad look.
“Because I’d cry too long if we lost you, RP.”
The Leif Ericson had maneuvered to within a kilometer of there target, and Rios and Kondo rode a sled toward the alien ship. The real reason they where sent on this mission was their training in space rescue operations. At fifty meters Rios slowed the sled to a stop and held a stationary distance. Kondo fired a magnetic grapple toward the ship, but it just bounced off.
“Try again.” ordered Rios. Kondo retracted the grapple, when it was back he aimed at a different spot and fired. The line played out and the grapple struck the hull and bounced.
“Did you see that, skipper? the hull is non magnetic,” Rios reported over the suit radio.
“Ease in and use a mechanical anchor, and don't be afraid to abort,” replied Watez. Rios used the sled's thrusters to slowly close in to less than a meter from the hatch, where small ridge extended from the derelict’s hull, just centimeters from their sled. Kondo reached out with a hydraulic clamp. When the jaws where around the ridge he triggered it. They clamped closed with a thousand kilograms of pressure.
“Clamp secure,” said Kondo. Rios and Kondo started to work, they took what looked like flexible plastic hoses and started to fit them around the hatch using a special epoxy to secure them to the hull, and cutting them to fit until the hatch was encircled with a little under a quarter of a meter of hull showing between them. When this was completed, Kondo took what looked like a horse syringe and stabbed the hose. The reaction was almost instantaneous: the hose puffed out a little and started to grow outward from the hull, only stopping when a three meter tunnel was produced. The hose was a special compressed carbon nanotube construct that would bond on the molecular level and grow out to it's original size when a catalyst was injected into it. They now had a five meter long airtight tunnel they just need to close the open end.
Rios and Kondo returned to the Leif Ericson and switched to a waiting sled that had what looked like a old-style diving bell attached to the front. When they where back to twenty meters from the tunnel, Kondo left his seat and used his suit thrusters to move him to the front of the bell. This was the must dangerous part of the operation. As Rios slowly moved forward Kondo, had to guide the tunnel ends into a special slot on the bell. One false move and Kondo would be crushed. As the tunnel ends slid into the slot, Kondo used his implanted computer to send a command that braked the sled and had the bell chemically bond to the walls of the tunnel: they now had an airlock.
Kondo opened both doors on the airlock and went down the tunnel to the alien hatch. He start to epoxy some eye bolts to the hatch and the hull, one at each of the corners and one in the center. When he was done he attached short carbon fiber cables to the ones in the corner. He went back up the tunnel to the lock where Rios had set up a winch braced against the walls.
“Ready Lilith,” Kondo said. Rios handed him a laser cutter and backed out of the airlock closing the outer door.
“You be careful now, Bill. I don't think the Captain will let me back in with out you,” Rios said over the suit radio as Kondo went back to the hatch and started to cut just where the hatch and Sill met.
It took forty minutes to cut all the way around the hatch. When he finished he gave it a little push, but it didn’t move. He went to the winch and ran it's cable to the center eye bolt. Before he was even all the way back, he ordered