3055: A Space Odyssey

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Re: 3055: A Space Odyssey

Postby SockFiddler » Fri Jun 12, 2020 11:00 pm

Dudley wrote:Nothing unusual here.. move along now.

Are you going to finish that beer..?


Oh Dawg. I have such plans for you! <3
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Re: 3055: A Space Odyssey

Postby SockFiddler » Sat Jun 13, 2020 10:37 am

Though I only flew her for a few weeks, I really enjoyed the python. At first - after being so used to the vulture (oh, my poor heart...) - the python felt sluggish and reluctant. I'd been used to the slippy eagerness of the vulture, having to constantly manage her speed and vector as her engine to mass ratio was, well, ridiculous. The python was a much steadier ride, and once I'd moved away from the expectations the vulture had left me with, the python was, actually, a really nice bird to fly.

Once Ithallius and I were settled in Sirius, I needed a new ship to compliment the mamba: slick as shit, with a straight-line speed that will melt your eyeballs once fully engineered, the mamba pays heavily for her advantages in functionality. I have a longer jump range than she does, and she's not an easy runaround for non-race stuff. Plus... she's just uncomfortable to be in for long periods: cramped, hot, you sit at a strange angle and all the interior utility stuff - cabins, bathroom, galley, so on - were situated strangely and always cramped.

The Krait mk II wasn't my first choice of runaround until I was intercepted by a pirate flying one and, though the fucker flew his ship as if she was a Fed brick (see: FAS - Federal Assault Shoebox) I was still impressed. All the firepower, for a start. Acceleration that, even on a shitty pirate ship, outstripped what the python - in my mind a decent comparison in the same class - was capable of even fully engineered.

So I bought one.

Image

And then I engineered the living shit out of her.

She's a good ship. Steady like the python: a real work horse of a vessel, decent sized hull able to carry a good amount of cargo as well as an SRV bay, fighter bay and decent quarters an amenities all at the same time. And yet, in combat, she's flighty and fast, slippy and demanding and with many times more firepower than the vulture packed: there's a whole story I'm not telling about fucking Todd the fucking Blaster and my new multi cannons and a crate of very expensive Eravate whisky while we made our peace.

I was instantly in love. With the Krait, not Todd. There wasn't a question about it: intended as a general runaround, multi-purpose replacement for the python, I got a ship that can do it all: fight, jump, haul. She's not the prettiest - especially compared to the smooth, sleek lines of the mamba - but she hasn't yet let me down. And now she has a fucking fighter bay and a goddamn Taipan to boot.

Or, at least, she will...

I'm in "Aft Cargo Section 5-Charlie-Delta" (fucking Feds, honestly, the big one at the right, at the back, if you please...) watching the installation of the fighter bay while Stanton is in the main hold unpacking and sorting through The Collection. Though I've had several ships whose arrangements I've ordered and overseen, I've never actually watched an installation. It's a very satisfying and straight-forward process - I mean of course it is as there are literally millions of vessels all needing outfitting flying about - but to see it happen...

Firstly, the side of my vessel is stripped away. It's brutal and I felt a moment of genuine panic as I watched the maintenance guys so casually rip off her layers of hull. But, of course, it's all designed to come away cleanly and expose the inner frame into which the specific units will slide and be fastened.

The bay - a size 5 beast - just slips right in. It even has little wheels in the frame's underside that get push back and click into recesses in the frame when they slide into place. The electrics, environmental, AI and utilities are hooked up next before the inner walls of the new unit are skinned.

Finally the pad the Taipan will sit on and be lowered into place for launch and retrieval is tested while the side of my hull is reskinned and, bam, in less than 3 hours the entire installation is completed.

"I've never seen that happen before," says a voice behind me as the last of the outfitting crew collect their tools and prepare to load the fighter from beneath the ship. I turn to smile at the voice's owner, only mildly surprised to have not heard a string of exclamations as he entered the bay.

"Me neither," I reply, walking back into the middle of the large space, nodding at Stanton who continues to catalogue and sort through the seemingly hundreds of items in Mira's Collection. "How you doing?"

"Good! I'm good," says Klausy. He's a cheerful chap, really - I feel instantly warmed by him company, his jolly tone and easy smile. And, of course, his clumsiness which is borne with patience and humour. I take a moment to look him over: he's maybe a couple of inches shorter than me, has a solid though handsome frame and posture which, even at rest, seems slightly awkward and stiff. His face isn't what a lot of women would consider to be "handsome" but there's still something about it that is pleasing to look at. A thick, full, slightly shaggy beard; warm brown eyes and a mouth that, even at rest, hints at a soft smile.

While I'm giving him the once over, he's looking at Stanton and the toys that surround him.

"Gosh," says Klausy, "He seems busy..."

"Ha, yeah," I laugh, "They're not his. He's just... you know-"

"I'm the curator," interrupts Stanton proudly. "I take care of them."

"Seems like you've got your work cut out, mate," says Klausy. Stanton gives a nod with the expression of someone who is patiently shouldering a familiar burden.

"What can I do for you, Klausy?" I ask, but his attention is still all on the toys.

"I can help you with all that, if you like?" offers the Beardy Bugger, surprising both Stanton and I.

"Oh?" says Stanton finally.

"Yeah, you know... sorting. Organising. It's all about classification and database management. It's all algorithmic when you get down to it. I just need, you know... just a... hmmm..."

Well, okay.

I leave Klausy and Stanton to do... whatever the fuck they're up to and get to overseeing and securing (and decorating) the new Taipan which ends up taking longer than the installation of the bay itself. When I return to the large bay, the toys are all gone except for Beaujolais who, I guess, isn't really a toy as much as, I guess, Stanton's significant other? She's flicking her blue hair over her shoulder and laughing prettily at something Stanton is saying while Klausy works on a panel in her forearm which is typically hidden beneath her "skin".

"What's the news?" I ask, genuinely impressed with the scene.

"Well," replies Klausy, nodding at Beaujolais and releasing her arm. Stanton hurries to gently replace and rebond the skin patch that had been peeled back - much like the hull on the krait - to allow whatever rejigging Klausy had just been doing. Klausy turns to look at me, immediately falls over some minute piece of lint on the deck, almost barrels head-first into Stanton, recovers, swears a little, recovers again and then says, "Just a little bit of systems engineering."

I watch this entire process with gentle bemusement - I'd be furious but he's good-humoured enough to laugh it all off and is soon sitting up in the bridge with me (having managed to negotiate the stairs without any further incident), two feet firmly planted on the floor while I kick off my boots and rest my feet on my dash.

"So. Mamba racing, eh?" I ask him.

"Er, well, actually... not really. I don't want you, know you. I thought I'd give it a go. Have a bit of a laugh. Mostly I wanted a change."

This is unexpected. Not a wannabe raceboy? "Change from what?" I ask gently.

"Work. Life. Need something new. It's all been a bit... you know."

"Samey?" I offer helpfully. Klausy nods.

"What did you do that was so boring?"

"Electrical systems analyst and database specialist. In Coriolis specifically."

"Ooof, yeah. I see your point," I nod and wink. He smiles in return and gives a gentle chuckle. "But you can fly."

"Well, I'm learning... it's tricky. That other fellow, Tags, he was much, I mean, he didn't-"

"He was in a vulture that was familiar to him. How long you had that cobra?"

"About 3 weeks."

"About 3 weeks?" I ask. Klausy nods in confirmation. "What did you fly before that?"

"Oh, I didn't fly. I took shuttles. You know, transports and stuff. Gave me time to get on with my work. In transit, I mean. Remotely. On a datapad."

I can't help but smile: I adore this man's gently deliberate manner and comprehensive way of talking. And he is an utter surprise: flying only three weeks?! No fucking way. I make a mental note to check this fellow out more.

"And anyway," says Klausy, "I'd not want to fly for your racing team."

"Why's that?"

"Because your pitboss is cheating."

Well okay.

This accusation stays hanging in the air for a moment while I churn it over. On the one hand, it's a suspicion I've had for a while. On the other, it's a little, well, it's just fucking rude to say your new boss is a cheat. I decide to try to be diplomatic about how I handle this: look how I've grown.

"How do you know? What's your evidence? I've looked and looked through my telemetry and found nothing to, you know..." I trail off, not knowing how to say "To explain the bullshit victories that my meagre talent and experience in this field keep picking up".

"You won't find it on your ship," says Klausy. "And I don't think you have anything to do with it in any case."

"Then what?"

Klausy shifts uncomfortably in his chair. I suspect he hadn't intended to share this information with me and has now painted himself into a corner. He clears his throat, shuffles a bit more, and then says, "The other entrants have been compromised."

"'Compromised' how?" Something is clicking in my mind: something I knew but hadn't seen. Like how fighters bays are installed. Like how sex dolls are made of circuitry. Like how Mira had a huge sex toy collection. Something is there, itching in my mind. I stay silent and nod at Klausy, but I already know: I already fucking know what he's going to say.

"The three or four closest competitors in your races were all docked in the same station as you. A little money here, a discreet bribe there and their ships get race-tuned slightly less well than they would have. A loose valve; a slightly blocked conduit and their ships still look fast, still feel the same, still perform better than most people would need them to. But in a race where margins or error are literally balanced on the speed a fuel injector can open and close, they make a difference." He abruptly stops talking, looking almost shocked at himself.

"And they can't be traced: it just looks like poor mechanical working." I can hear my pulse throbbing in my ears: it all makes sense.

Klausy nods again.

"Then," I say, looking at Klausy closely. That beard: I suddenly have the urge to touch it. To rub my cheek against it. I push that away and force my mind into this uncomfortable new territory. "How did you figure it out?"

"Oh, I didn't," he replies.

"Then who did?"

Klausy doesn't reply to me right away. Instead he reaches for the coms panel, sends a quick tightbeam, waits literally no more than 30 seconds before a reply is returned and then says, "Let's go for a fly, shall we?"

"Okay..." I reply, a little curious but also wary. "Where to?"

"These co-ordinates," replies Klausy, punching the contact into my nav panel. It's a location on Lucifer, confusingly. I look at Klausy who nods in return. I shrug and message Stanton to let him know we'll be going on a wee space jaunt and taking off in about 90 seconds.

"So what's there?" I ask Klausy as I run a quick post-installation hull integrity test before conducting my regular pre-flights.

"Marco Qwent," he replies. "My old boss, actually."

Stanton send confirmation that he's ready for launch while my mind races. Marco Qwent, I thought, was some fucking made-up scapegoat legend of the Sirius Corp; Lui Yong-Rui's boogey man, used to explain away weird thargoid tech and slightly below-the-belt ship shit. To learn he's not only real but on a planet I've been flying about on for months is... it's a surprise to say the least.

Launch permissions are granted and my Krait's landing pad spins and is raised into the huge main space of Patterson Enterprise. Clamps are release and Slippers floats gently free. I throttle up and leave the station, boosting out of the envelope and turning to point my nose at Lucifer.

At Qwent Research Base.
"Drink fast, die young"
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"You may ask who was wearing the bow tie; me or the shark. The answer is: YES."

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Re: 3055: A Space Odyssey

Postby Dudley » Sat Jun 13, 2020 8:14 pm

Look, bear with me.. I have to switch the thing with the other thing, then push the other bit in the watch-em-a-call it, find the hammer (No reference to Tor there) and finally set up all the controls.. shouldn't take a man of my intellectual resources more than five(ish) minutes..

Helen...I say, Helen.. where's the hammer..??

o7
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Re: 3055: A Space Odyssey

Postby TorTorden » Sat Jun 13, 2020 9:07 pm

Dudley wrote:Look, bear with me.. I have to switch the thing with the other thing, then push the other bit in the watch-em-a-call it, find the hammer (No reference to Tor there) and finally set up all the controls.. shouldn't take a man of my intellectual resources more than five(ish) minutes..

Helen...I say, Helen.. where's the hammer..??

o7

Whooooo Dawg !!

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Rule 2: No such thing as overkill, as long as there are reloads.

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Re: 3055: A Space Odyssey

Postby Dudley » Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:50 pm

:? Errrr - nearly there.. :? :P :oops:
As a tribute to Tor, my CMDR has small feet too! o7 Dawg

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Re: 3055: A Space Odyssey

Postby TorTorden » Fri Jun 19, 2020 2:52 pm

No need to actually do something, last I remember you had a wireless headset, you can just join discord while your on the toilet.
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Rule 2: No such thing as overkill, as long as there are reloads.

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Re: 3055: A Space Odyssey

Postby SockFiddler » Sat Jun 20, 2020 8:30 pm

"Drink fast, die young"
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"You may ask who was wearing the bow tie; me or the shark. The answer is: YES."

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Re: 3055: A Space Odyssey

Postby SockFiddler » Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:55 am

Once upon a time, there was a little quaint bar that sat quietly on a beach, steep cliff behind it and azure waves before. It was a pretty, funny little place that served but two types of people: ladies who liked other ladies in a very special kinda way, and men who liked ladies who liked other ladies and had nothing special about them at all.

And then there was me.

I had no interest in either type of regular. I went there to get drunk - blind fucking drunk - and then hit people. I would rock up there maybe once every three or four weeks (after flying supply routes with my Dad to my parents' various shopping outlets) and decompress by drinking enough to stop me noticing how much it hurt my hand to punch overly handsy men full on in the face when they started in on the pretty, shiny things that buzzed and flapped around like so many butterflies in a little bell jar.

One night, after a particularly irritating sojourn with my Dad where he wouldn't stop going on about how worried he was that this season's slogans were already out of date before... I don't fucking know and I'd landed my hopper not 2kms from the bar (called, "The Dune Bug" or some shit, I don't remember now) and had spent an evening watching some hot bitch of a woman tongue-fuck three other women while staring me in the eye the entire time (Some serious "'Come get me" shit there), when this guy walks up to her, no word of a lie, lifts her clean off her feet, carries her to the bar where he dumps her and, well, handsy...

I'm rolling up my sleeves - if nothing else, this one is CLEARLY mine, but, also, that's just fucking rude. But she doesn't blink an eye. She doesn't struggle, she doesn't scream, she lets him deposit her on the bar, get his hands all over her and then - and she never did quite tell me what she did - the next thing is he's yelping and calling her all kinds of names while suddenly bleeding from... somewhere and Nari - who I'm about to go home with for the next 5 months - is delicately wiping her mouth and throwing back a genuine, incredibly expensive, gin and tonic.

So, with a swagger, I go up to her, all ready with some bullshit bravado line but she stops me in my fucking tracks just by looking at me. Good fucking shit I love how she looks. Instead she somehow holds me in silent thrall, takes my hand and then pulls me into her: "'Let me tell you your fortune"' she whispers into my ear, pulling a length of red thread from some-fucking-where and binding it around and around and around my hand. I laugh and shrug, bewitched and playing it achingly cool. Which is when she lights up a smoke and stares deep into my thread-bound hand.

A moment passes: she is giving me time to look at her while she play-examines my palm, and I'm happy to take it. But eventually she whispers, "'You will be completely mine"' and with that, takes the smoke from her mouth, taps the end so that the lit tip is a bright, hot orange, and then burns a perfect circle with it between my thumb and forefinger, searing the thread into the wound.

I yelp but leave my hand in her grasp, confused, aroused, enthralled. She releases my hand and takes another draw of the smoke. "Branded. Mine."'

And that was that.

This is the moment I have bright in my memory when I end the holo-call with Nari as I sit in the Krait, docked as it is in Qwent Research Base, a towering, opulent monument to over-funding and sprawling ambitions. Stanton and Beau are... yeah, and Klausy has taken off to find his former employer. So I, thinking I have time to kill, take the call from Nari.

"'Everything I've done for you..."' She's using that tone. "'And you just take off... like, don't even tell me where you're going. So much to fucking do - don't you know how much work is going into you right now? Don't you care?"'

Ah, the guilt. Awesome. "'Yeah, yeah,"' I murmur, eager to move onto the next fun part of the Nari Disapproves dress-down, "'I'm a piece of shit. I suck. I don't deserve any of this... You did inherit, you know, billions of credits when I faked my death, eh?"'

"'Don't talk about that, not even over tight beam,"' she chides.

"'Why not? I mean, who the fuck would honestly care anyway?"'

"'Just don't. I don't like it."'

"'And what the fuck DO you like at the moment, Nari?"' I ask, struggling to keep my tone neutral. And then... the knife.

"'Well, not this, that's for fucking sure."'

And then the coms are cut.

And then I'm looking at the circular scar on my left hand where she burned me that night and the way she said,"'Branded. Mine,"' like it was a new but fundamental truth. Turns out, she was possibly correct, though this is significantly less fun than I'd originally envisioned.

The coms beep again: it'll be her. Nari coming back to apologise or try to get me to, depending on her mood. Fuck.

"'What do you want to hear now?"' I sigh into the coms as I lean back in my flight chair.

"'Is that you?"'

"'For fuck's sake, Nari, I don't... can we do this when I get back?"'

"Back? You're coming back?"' She sounds genuinely confused. It's weird.

"'Yeah, like in a few hours. Fighting over coms... it's shitty. And I don't wanna fight at all. Fuck it... come on."'

"'We're not... you're still mad about? It was fucking years ago? This was a mistake..."' She sighs. Her mood is quieter than I'd expected: she's not had her Big Fight Climax yet.

"'Wait... what?"'

"'I didn't... I don't. You were dead. they came to tell me. And then... forget it. You're different. This isn't going to..."'

Something chimes deep within me. Something primal and instinctive and important. It makes me say "'Just wait"' in a tone so commanding an urgent that it shocks Nari long enough for me to check coms and turn on the holoviewer.

Well, it's her, but I'm confused. There is a growing pounding sound in my ears that I seem suddenly to have been feeling for weeks, only now it's getting louder and louder and I'm sweating and my throat is dry. I look at the coms panel again.

"'Babe... where are you?"' I ask dryly.

"'Where do you think? I'm at home,"' she replies quietly.

"'No... nonono, where is your home? Where are you?"'

"'New Tokyo, Earth. Sol system. Stop being a fucking bitch... what's going on?"'

Earth. Not Deciat.

Earth.

Earth.

Fuck.

I am shaking now, I'm staring at the holobubble to see her, rendered before me. I can't breathe, I can't think. Fuck. Is she safe? Who are they? What the actual fuck is happening here?

"'Babe, Nari,"' I whisper, "'I need you to listen, okay?"'

"'I shouldn't have called. What are you even-"'

"'Nari, listen. Someone is mimicking you and they're doing it well. I don't know why. I don't know why, but I... fuck. I don't know what to do."'

She looks confused. It tugs at my heart: the years... shit. "'I don't understand,"' she whispers.

"'I know, neither do I. But I promise I'll find out what's happening, I'll fucking find out."'

"'What do I do?"'

I smile into the holoviewer. She lifts her hand as if to touch me|: of course, it's impossible, but that gesture tells me everything I need to know. "'What two words-"' I am about to ask, but she is way ahead of me.

"'Branded. Mine,"' she replies. I nod: now we have a password.

"'Tell it to no-one, promise?"'

She nods, blows me a kiss and kills the connection. Two Nari's. Two.

I am struggling to process this when two things happen almost simultaneously to shake me out of my discombobulation: firstly, there is a sudden crescendo of voices from the direction of the crew quarters and one of them is most definitely Stanton. The crescendo is met with a huge explosion which rocks my krait completely and sets a bunch of integrity alarms off.

I am dealing with that clusterfuck (an entirely accurate term in this case) when all of my proximity alarms also trigger to tell me that a shining, golden anaconda is about to collide with me. I urgently open coms and widebeam, "'Fucking conda fucker, pull up! Pull up!"' then my cabin shakes and, overhead, the huge, sagging belly of the golden çonda heftily rises back up into the space above the research base and a "'Haha! Sorry!"' is returned over the coms.

I watch the lumbering vessel in astonishment as it breezes gently over to its actual assigned landing pad and descends to dock, making a mental note to wander over and beat the fuck out of that jock in a moment. First, though, I need to find out where the left wing of my fucking bird has gone.

"'STANTON!"' I roar, rising from my chair and scrubbing my face with my hands. I am just leaving the flight deck and approaching Quarters when three panting figures appear before me. Beaujolais and Stanton, both still pulling their clothes - satin, lacey affairs for both - back around themselves, and a third figure who wears skimpy, crisply white underpants that make no secret of his considerable bulge.

I throw a look to Stanton who shrugs - without any remorse whatsoever - and throw my eyes back to the stranger now extending a hand to me.

"'You'd better have washed that, matey,"' I growl, refusing the proffered shake, "'I know where old Stanton's been."'

The fellow chuckles, spits on his hand, wipes it over his crisp-white-clad ass cheek and offers it again. The gesture amuses me enough that I accept the hand. As we shake, he announces, in rich, Alliance tones, "'Ï'm Marco Qwent. Pleased to meet you.
"Drink fast, die young"
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"You may ask who was wearing the bow tie; me or the shark. The answer is: YES."


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