Saturday, June 8, 2013

Road to Hyperion: Chapter Two - Taking my leave - Act One

Chapter Two: Act One - Taking My Leave

It was easy to get the guard to let me in the armor morgue after all a pint of bathtub gin goes a long way.  After he had gotten a couple sips into him the drugs took effect.  He would only be out about 40 tics so I had to move quickly.

Inserting my breaker into the slot reader I entered the reprocessor commands to start hashing my way into the main system to find where my armor was stored.  While the reprocessor program ran, my hash program sent it’s tendrils along to find the locator files.

There!  Man they buried my armor way down in the morgue.  I entered the commands that told the morgue to send my armor to the breakers, I had to time this just right, if it actually went to the breakers my armor would be destroyed.  That’s it, carry all Lambda 72-Aleph-3, now to reroute it from the breakers to freight terminal.  Now which freight company to send it to?  I’d prefer a company that used to be flagged to Maltane, but a company flagged to any but a U.W. world would do.  Ahhh, Titan Shipping flagged out of Shinjuku, in the Asia Polity.  They would do nicely.  The Asia Polity, and Titan Shipping had very good reasons to dislike the U.W.,  It had to do with the Religion Wars back on Earth in the early twenty first century.  Nothing like continual appeasement by the Euromerican governments, allowing the mullahs to get nukes and bio weapons which were then used against the Asian Confederated Nations.  Having a billion or so of your people murdered by crazies tends to get you upset at the people who had the power to stop it but didn't.  It didn't help that the Euromerican's tried to sabotage the ACN's space program after Professor K. Fujihira laid the groundwork for the Einstein-Fujihira Fold Space Jump Drive which allowed mankind to finally defeat faster than light travel.

Yes, Titan Shipping would do quite nicely.  I had my armor delivered there as a will call then got my hasher out of the system covering up my tracks as I went.  I only had a tic or two left before the guard would wake up and I needed to be out of there quickly.  As I left the morgue the guard was starting to come around, I was out the door and two corridors over before he was fully tracking.  Now to set up my escape, hopefully with my pod, with just my armor if I had to.

I got down to the Titan Shipping terminal and asked the very cute looking clerk if they had an employee by the name of Jissen there.  Her left eyelid barely twitched as I asked the question and she told me that she didn't know and would have to have her manager check and was there a contact code.  I gave her my IM Comp secondary address then I asked her if it was alright to store the carry all with my armor in it with them while I took care of some business.  She quoted me their standard 2 Centals per  Sol hour or 30 Centals per Sol day storage rate, I paid for a full day, hiding a grimace as I handed over some of my rapidly diminishing hard currency.

I then headed to section hub to go down the maintenance tube.  Taking it meant climbing the ladders, but it also meant not getting pinged if I took the freight lift.  I really didn't want to leave any trace where the graynecks could figure out what happened to my armor.

Down two levels to the maintenance yard so I could use their terminal instead of my IM Comp, less traces to be followed.  I put a hold on my pod so it would get sent out to the habitats.  If everything went right I should be able to get my armor into it and then get it shipped out with me.  Hopefully.

I was just finishing up on the maintenance terminal when my IM Comp dinged me.  It was the Titan Shipping head manager.

"I understand you asked about one of our employees?" he asked.

I told him that a friend of a friend had told me that Jissen would be able to help me find a job in a different system.  He asked me a few other questions such as my skills, (Professional Soldier/Combat Engineer, Vac Rated Level 8, Heavy Equipment rated for Microgravity up to 2.5 G's) Chem Catalyst, Explosive and Electrical Welding also in micro gravity up to 2.5 G's and a bunch of other skills which while I am knowledgeable in them I don't have the Cert's to go with them.  He talked to me for about 15 minutes and then he asked me the kicker.  Just what did I want?  I wanted off this station and out somewhere where I could earn my way again.  I am, was, a professional soldier, I'd love to go back to being just that, but I'd take anything I could to get off this station and to earn some money until I could sign up with another unit.  Since Maltane was quarantined, I basically became a refugee, a stateless person.  And I didn't like that at all.  The U.W. was trying to get all the survivors from Maltane to go to the Cordill system.  Sorry I don't like freezing deserts that much.  But if I didn't get off this station, I might not have a choice.

After listening to me spout off my problems, the Titan Manager asked me just what I have, and what I need to get off the station besides myself.  I told him my armor and my pod, that was all I had.  All that I had left out of a 7 year military career, because my planet, my home was gone for me.

He asked me to wait a few minutes as he would check a few things and call me back.  I noticed he didn't ask me if I had any money to help get me off this station, nor did he ask if I had any trading material.  Everybody had something to trade, unless you are homeless like myself.  I had my armor, my pod, myself and the skills in my head.

It was the skills in my head that really helped me get off Philbin Station.  The Titan manager had a short haul freighter that was down an engineering technician, and while I'm not drive certified, I am certified for hull repair, Fission/Fusion reactor maintenance and have general knowledge of the theory for the Ion Arc drive that the freighter used.  It's similar to my Wave Caster on my armor, just about a million times larger with a different power supply. All I had to do was to get my pod, my armor and myself to docking ring 3 bay 4 by 2015 and that was YIKES 40 minutes away.

I walked back over to the maintenance tube and climbed up the two levels, then walked back over to the Titan Shipping desk.  the same young lady who I had talked to earlier was still there, she had a slight smile on her face.  She told me there had been a problem, I probably had that ship rat in the light beam look, she told me my carry all was on it's way to docking ring 3 bay 4 and my pod was being rerouted there as well, also I had overpaid for the transfer fee.  Transfer fee?  I had paid a storage fee, she handed me a small clip folder then told me my jitney was just outside to take me to the bay to join my ship.  I probably still had that stunned look on my face as I walked out the door and yup, there was a vac rated jitney waiting for me.

I got in and checked the destination panel, it was programed for docking ring 3 bay 4 and was prepaid.  I finally got my composure as the jitney took off sealing it's door for the trip.  If you have never ridden in a station jitney, it can be a terrifying experience.  One second your in an artificial gravity field inside the station, then next, you're heading through a small lock and in microgravity outside the station running along the exterior rails.  Not all jitneys are vac rated which means you'll have to pull on your soft helmet or you'll decompress and die.  The trip only took about 12 minutes, so I arrived at Titan Shipping Freighter Andros well in time for boarding it and getting signed in as a crewman.  I spent the remaining time before launch getting my carry all with my armor stored and my pod installed n the crew quarters.  They ran theirs longitudinally which while all pods are set up for it meant I would need to get used to climbing out the side of my pod instead of the end of it.  I'm just glad I was able to get it before having to leave.  Signing on to a new ship and getting assigned a pod out of ships stores was a major hassle and expense.  I would have had to work for almost a year to pay off a new pod.

"Krrrr-CHUNK"  We had just detached from Philbin Station.  I was signed on as a engineering tech which would actually pay me decent, considering my skills.  And according to the roster I wasn't due to stand watch until after we had cleared Celios gravity limit on the way out to the Arcturus systems asteroid belt.  I didn't want to feel I had gotten away cleanly until we were out of the Arcturus system entirely.  That wouldn't be for 18 days however.  Until then I had to learn my job, learn the company regs and try to get to my armor to see what those stupid graynecks had done to it.

But for now.

I was free.

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