It seems so surreal.
Looking back, everything I have been through seemed so dramatic the first few times, from my first few tenspans out of the vat and the first encounters with Ser Briggs, Nurse Chantelle, Elisa, Ser Moritz, Ser Shadow, "Mr. Cool," . . . VOID . . . the people I would come to deal with more regularly . . . to my first promotion, first noodles, first cup of coffee, my first trip through the Jump-Gate, my first time ever seeing a living creature that depended on me, my first time setting one free, . . . acceptance into a THE first Syndicate, my first ship, 200,000 credits worth of ship, mine . . . it looks as though I have moved up in the world.
I was hired by a woman who had been murdered and had to keep her murderers from killing her again. I worked for a madman with a metal foil hat. I worked for the government at Barnard Star Jump-Gate and Estacion de Amazon. I fought and killed pirates on their own turf. I rescued a child from a very strange predator. I took "The Walk of P-15." I helped heroic expatriates to clear their names. I helped the most foolish of people out of the most impossible of situations. All of this has taught me, above all else, that something very wrong and very sinister is afoot in the galaxy, far beyond the confines of the Consortium and the Gaule Republic . . .
Still, I jump at the chance to fly off to different places with different cultures and serve burgers, noodles and coffee at a pittance, just for the company of the people who live and work there.
I limped my ship home to Tau Station with 0.000g of fuel remaining, just to save credits.
I travel routinely to the most dangerous of places, face the most dangerous of foes (evading one in particular whenever possible), and do the strangest, most interesting kinds of work for the strangest, sometimes interesting, sometimes altogether rotten and disgusting people. I battle at the side of people who have been elected to represent the Citizens at the Council, where research and laws are to be crafted. Yet aside from my friends (all of them are people of such high caliber), it always seems as though I must earn respect wherever I seek it.
Never mind the frivolous adulation at Estacion de Amazon. I'm only a man, not a god, and they will just have to realize that (Really, they cover their eyes with their hands as an act of worship and call me their god. I've seen that gesture somewhere else, too. I don't understand how these cults begin.). If this connection could help me to acquire coffee to ship to Elisa, it might make it all worthwhile. Meanwhile, whenever I go into the swamp to find the river, everyone always flees in terror at that deep, belchy growling sound.
If I ever find that crocodile, I hope Mr. Cool is nearby so I can feed him to it. No, he would probably turn the tables on me and be there at the vat, leaning up against the wall, shaded glasses on, arms crossed, smug, evil smirk on his face, work slate in his hand, mop bucket at his side, waiting for me because I am "late."
I hate you, Mr. Cool!
Then, there are the dreams. More and more, they are bizarre jumbles of recent experiences, thrown together by my imagination, but at first, they were more real and more believable than my current existence. I still wonder which man I really am. I think the vat was a great disservice to me. If I am dead, perhaps I should have stayed dead. So why did I buy a clone?
Only a day ago, I was in a part of the galaxy where it takes hundreds of cycles for light to reach Sol, but here I am. If I should live so long, I hope to watch myself driving the Bus into that wormhole. Perhaps I will go there to watch my first solo trip leaving Kobnhavn. Maybe I should look for the "Me" I was before the vat (or the man who was me, or whatever).
I helped my Syndicate eradicate entire gangs at a prestigious science station, but when I applied for work, they said I wasn't good enough. Even my "friends" in the shadows wanted nothing to do with me. I think they are still upset over all those goldfish they don't have anymore. I want to find their source.
The one place I did find respect was at the Port . . . well, until one of my ship designs got flagged as illegal. I tried to convince my coworkers that those compartments were for personal belongings and tools, but no . . . off to Security they went.
Meanwhile, I graduated.
I am now a shipwright.
The news arrived in my cell.
Once again, I got to smugly sit there and gloat over the fact that the "illegal" act which got me thrown in there also got me promoted.
Others wear black gowns with funny hats at their graduations. Mine was orange, and no hat. They were probably afraid I might use it as a weapon - or design a ship on it.
Sure enough, soon as I got to the Port at Tau Station, there was Mr. Cool, smirk on his face, mop and bucket waiting for me, ONE slate left on the table. I passed him by and headed off to the same room I rented on my first day out of the vat.
66 - For what?
It seems so surreal.