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33 - Getting it out of my system . . .

At Ser Moritz' encouragement, along with that of several of my other friends, I set about to make good on my plans to journey to the Yards of Gadani station to meet my Syndicate in person. Before leaving, I noticed a fellow named Crook trying to work his nefarious trade, and I interrupted him, causing him to flee far and fast.
I followed Crook into the sewer, aiming to teach him a lesson, which I did, along with most of his friends, but I awoke in sick bay after my second encounter with El Bandito Peteo. The first time, I had gotten the best of him. This was different.
I missed, and he stood there, right out in the open, smiling, waving, flippantly pointing his rifle around before blasting me. I aim so carefully, and he doesn't, but there we go. I had cleared all his friends out of the sewer, but right before the medics arrived to take me to sick bay, he leaned over, whispered in my ear "Nighty night, vato, I got to go find some peoples," zapped me in a rude way with some kind of electric shocker and walked away, whistling a travelling tune.
I'll be back.
You better believe I'll be back.
After resting, I returned to Tau to take a new course in riflery, hoping that El Peteo will not be so arrogant next time we meet.
Flying from Tau to the Jump Gate was uneventful except for my usual recycling of ration bags, until we got there . . . I had never imagined such a structure could exist. This thing is so huge, and everything just looks broken. Loose wires waving around, broken hoses, places where components apparently used to be, what a mess! Does it work? Am I going to die here?
I had been warned that the jump to Alpha Centauri would be a long one, so I made a point of bringing lots of extra bags with me. I used to wonder why they always sit me in my own row. I don't wonder now. I thought I'd been sick coming out of the vat. I half expected to wake up there now. I think I missed the bags . . . quite a bit. They'll remember me for a while.
Trust me, noodles taste better the first time, although I can't say the same for rations. They also don't feel right when they are coming out your nose.
When we got there, I realized that nothing can prepare a person for such a sight. Massive, gigantic, enormous . . . Nothing does it justice. Even so, more than that, much more, it is impossible to overstate just how bad its condition appears to be. How could something that large continue in functional use while it is tottering on the edge of collapse?
Inside, it was worse. At every corner, I was afraid something was going to fall out of the walls or ceiling, or that I might run into one of the myriad frayed power cords sticking out here, there and everywhere. Several times, I almost tripped over scattered debris because I was trying to avoid a live, loose-ended, free-swinging power cable.
Everyone looked on-edge, and someone was panicked and screaming about a citizen named Void, whom he insists is some mythical monster called the grim reaper. I hear about this guy on almost every station, so I guess there must be something to it.
While trying to board the shuttle to YoG, I somehow wound up on the one to Moissan instead, so that was an interesting experience. I got a lot less sympathy from my fellow passengers about my travelling issues, but it's better that way, I think.
A trip through the memory mushrooms was a sobering journey. It's a very different place from what the folks at the Anima Foundation want to project, and yet, it lends credence to their whole mission. The mere notion of so many people having starved to death, not the cloning vat but death, is a bit overwhelming.
I stopped through their university campus to check out the courses, but I have a while before that riflery course finishes, so I'll have to wait. Meanwhile, I found myself ducking and hiding as someone seemed to be following me. I dodged around, rented a room and settled in for a nap before boarding the next shuttle to Gadani.
This time I double-checked, as I was at the gate for Spirit of Botswana. I'll check that out later. Once seated on the correct ship, it was a short, but still traumatic voyage (for my seat-mates as well, I think).
But wait!
What's this?
My CoreTechs is going berserk!
All the flashing lights you can possibly imagine warn me that I am "in a very dangerous situation," and that I should plan to leave. If I can't afford to, I am supposed to go to the Government Center, so they can put me on an emergency shuttle back to Tau Station. I checked it out. It's 2,520 credits to board that shuttle. If I can afford that, it's smarter to just get on a "normal" shuttle back to Sol . . .
Instead, I rented a room right away, dashed off to the gym, worked out, stopped by the port, the famous port of Gadani, and there plied my hand to the work. A private ship needed a new star map, a navigator, full repairs and a complement of research equipment. Standing idle was an apprentice, Johan ("YOhahn"), who came all the way from Kobenhavn and actually looked familiar.
Yes, I'd know that cocky, overexuberant smirk anywhere.
"Yah?" he answered.
I put my hands on my hips and waited for eye contact, pointed at the ship and clarified . . . "YO!"
"Yah!" he responded in a gruff, grunty, enthusiastic acknowledgement. I had to laugh. This was going to be fun. We boarded the ship, and with our established two-word reportoire, we got to work. Everything was fine until he reached for a live power cable.
"YO!" I screamed.
"Yah, yah, yah," he turned away and waved dismissively as he grabbed the cable and began to do what my trainer had called the dance of death. The sparks flew around the outside of his worksuit for a few moments after I killed the power, which he was supposed to have done. His helmet was dark, and as I pulled it off, whisps of smoke rolled around his charred face and singed hair.
"YAAAaaah!" he replied, in a happy, lively way, smiling, his eyes and teeth showing in full contrast to his blackened face. His suit had absorbed and deflected most of the energy that should have destroyed every sinew in his body.
We finished the project, and I decided to explore a little. I wandered about cautiously, happening across many members of my syndicate, and someone actually attacked me. I turned to him, startled, and he said he just wanted to see how strong I am. Perhaps the warning is right.
I returned to my room for a while, but the next thing I knew, I was looking straight at a scary-looking fellow, I thought it was a dream. The name above him in the CoreTechs display was . . . Void!
A bright flash was all I saw before I felt hands poking around. I was horizontal, in sick bay.
Yup, the warning was right.