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14 - New Horizons

Wandering around the ruins, looking for my "employers," I couldn't help but think that they could see me and were hiding in the shadows, still angry over my last failure. One of their guys apparently got caught. They blamed me, and they were not happy. My rifle was at the ready, and my finger was a hair's width away from the trigger.
Then, I noticed something that didn't look like part of the building from which it was protruding. It looked almost like a . . . naah . . . Yes, it was a starship.
It must have crashed there.
After some effort, I managed to clamber up to it and immediately found some pieces that were loose. I had no idea what they were, but as soon as I got halfway back to the main part of the station, I heard a voice behind me, accompanied by the electronic whine of a pulse rifle activating. I recognized that sound. I have one.
"I'll take that. Just lay it on the ground and walk away."
So I did, and I headed back to the gym to do something more productive for myself. One of them met me in the locker room, dressed like a Promethean. I expected to die right there and then, but he handed me an envelope. As I examined it, I looked back up to find he was gone . . . Nowhere to be found.
The envelope contained credits, a lot of them . . . more than a full day's wages.
Back to the Ruins I went, and I made my way up to that ship again to grab another trophy and head back toward the market. Every so often, I would hear the scuff of a misplaced step, a thump, a momentary grunt of indignation and distress, and then nothing.
I stepped around a corner and leaned my back against a building, blade drawn, waiting for whatever may come of it. I waited . . . and waited . . . and waited . . . Then I felt like someone was standing right next to me, and I turned suddenly, startled . . .
This time he met me face-to-face, with his rifle slung over his shoulder. He was tall, slender, with a face that looked like it had been sculpted to perfection.
At his sides were two short, oafish-looking fellows with more muscles on each finger than I have on my whole body. They carried weapons I don't even want to guess about . . . One held out his hands, and I handed him the equipment I'd found.

The tall fellow pulled an envelope out of his pocket, set it on a nearby lump of metal that had once been a table, I think, and motioned for me to turn around. As I hesitated, the other oaf pointed his weapon at me, and I smiled, held my hands up and did a nice, slow-motion pirouette, waited, then slowly looked around to confirm that they had vanished into the rubble once again. Not a word had passed between us, but the cash in the envelope spoke volumes.
Maybe tomorrow I would head back out here and scavenge some more, but now I was tired, so I headed home, poked in to see if they had put up any of the food they promise on their menu, declined their offer of a discount drink and headed off to bed.


I awoke to a message.

"Congratulations, Bob-Simpson. You have been accepted as an Apprentice Ship Technician. Please report to the Port facility at Taungoo station immediately to begin your duties. Best wishes in your career pursuits."
How soon is immediately?
I laid back down to finish that nap that had been so rudely interrupted. At the crack of noon, I dragged myself out of slumber, got my stuff and headed off toward the shuttle bay to buy a ticket. I'd probably have to wait a while if I wanted to avoid spending a huge amount of money. Nope, next shuttle was the lowest price. The frumpy woman at the counter looked at me like I was stupid and explained that the two stations were closer to each other at that point in time . . . As I took my ticket and walked away, I heard her turn to her coworker to gossip about the clueless idiot she'd just waited on.
No time to complain to her supervisor, though, as they were already calling for passengers to board.
I'd be back, and it seems this place has a funny way of presenting chances for retribution.
As usual, I was glad I'd saved my empty rations package. This ride was a little worse than the others.
I'd no sooner arrived at Taungoo Port than my new boss, who'd been waiting for me for "half the morning," bellowed out his disapproving first command... "You're late! Get that ship fixed. They're due out in a couple segs!" His finger, severed at the last knuckle, was pointed at a hopeless wreck of a vessel.