At this moment in time and space, 16 years later, he had so little to lose that accepting an idiotic mission like the job at hand was easy. The three of them didn't have a hero's welcome to look forward to after the ship returned to Earth. Their mission was clear: Get over there, unload some stuff that everyone thinks we already left and come back before Musk's privately-owned, stock-market-floated rocketmen reach the place.
At the Kennedy training facility he arrived a free and purified man, having sold nearly all of his possessions and even the house he had lived in with Julia. At Kennedy he met James Onida and Blake Ecclestone. Both of his fellow crewmen had dropped out of something as well: the army, from which Onida was honorably discharged after an incident in which he had used physical force against a superior officer; and life, something that Ecclestone, the bon vivant Scottish geologist, had a way of continuously and cleverly eluding.
Steve began to bond with Onida, who divulged lots of stories to him. Epic accounts of the deeds and feats of his ancestors. Eloquently told Navajo myths. But also very personal accounts: about his father, who broke a centuries-long lineage of chieftainship by opening a casino near Lake Powell. About his grandfather, who served during the Second World War as a code talker out of genuine disdain for the machineries of evil that were sodomizing Europe, and who - after the breach with his own firstborn - frequently made contact with his grandson to prevent the father's capitulation to greed and novelty from jeopardizing the spiritual development of the son.
By the time he arrived back at the ship, he had done a serious walk, one that pushed the limits of the personal life support system built into his suit. He made a mental note to load up the battery entirely this time.
He ambled back to the ship airlock through the dust. The air inside his helmet became solid; he could almost snatch it with his mouth.
The gun is the boss of Onida. It's in his hand, controlling his mind. It wants him to make a choice. A quote from Konrad Lenz, Steve's favourite behavioral scientist, comes to his mind: "The first achievement of responsible morale in the history of mankind was the reparation of the disturbed balance between weapons and the in-born reserve to kill." The invention of weapons has made not killing someone a rational decision.
"Onida? Explain the gun."
"Please. Don't make this so hard."
"What are you talking about? What are you doing? Where's Ecclestone?"
"Are you a religious man, Steve?"
"Onida, for the last time: Give me that gun."
Steve thinks about stepping forward, but then he thinks again. It's Onida's eyes. They mean business; dead serious affairs.
"Okay. Okay. Fine. What exactly are you going to do?"
"The work of God, Steve. Man is not supposed to travel to the stars. They are not our place."
A rage builds in Steve's veins.
"Onida, speak sense! Okay?"
"That might be the problem. You might not understand," the commanding officer replies stoically.