I clawed my way out of undreaming sleep, back to the here and now. Where was here?
Opened my eyes: instrument panel; switches, dials, segmented red LEDs. And a floating grease pencil. Right.
I did a self-test for aches or pain. Not too bad. The muscle relaxant in the sleeping potion had worked nicely. Speaking of: the IV lines were still in my arms, connecting me to the ship. I gingerly pulled them out and flexed my hands.
“You up?” a voice croaked from the seat to my left: Peter, the commander.
“Awake and feeling fine.”
My eyes fixed on the relevant displays. “Nominal. Ejector green, warheads green, thermal control green. Go for pulse burn.”
“Why wait, then. On my mark: 3, 2, 1, mark.”
A moment of anticipatory stillness, and then we were slammed into our seats with the first detonation. The hundred-meter shock absorbers warmed to the challenge and began to smooth out the ride. I opened the logbook and started a new entry:
Jan 22, 1973, 0804Z – began decel into Saturn orbit