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73 - Yes, I'm a Wanderer

After a tenspan or so hiding in the dark regions of Cape Verde Station, looking through the wrecks for a cannister that one of my special customers really, really, really wants, dodging this, the most arrogant sect I have ever seen of the plastic scroll cult, ducking into the university now and then to enroll in a new class before rushing off, back into the darkness, fleeing in fear all the way to my over-priced hotel room, ever mindful to keep the rent paid, lest I should awake in the lobby, staring down the barrel of some thieving malefactor's pistol . . . leaving the station only to participate in Tau Syndicate's gang abatement contracts, I had begun hearing about low-priced items available in a far corner of the galaxy.
Here, I couldn't do anything. I just wasn't good enough. Not for the side jobs, not for the contracts, not even for the local plastic scroll fanatics. No, it is they who are not good enough for me.
I finished up my business at Cape Verde, I thought, and headed out to find that a lot of things were changing. Prices were changing. People were now "Zapping" from station to station, instantly transmitting themselves like comm waves, instead of taking express shuttles as they had before. Shipping costs were actually going down (Who'd ever heard of a government fee going down?). Some familiar old names were disappearing from conversation. New weapons were showing up at the vendors.
More and more, I was hearing of things on Caen, things I wanted to acquire, and for prices I was willing to pay. I had come to admire the folks there, their honest dishonesty, their dependability, even in their abject lack of integrity . . . well . . . no . . . with pirates, no, sorry, privateers . . .
With privateers, you need to extend your definitions of honesty, integrity, truth, justice, honor and valor. They are indeed a different sort.
Something else was changing too, something I really didn't want to change. I was almost ready to use tier 4 equipment and take higher level jobs, which would be nice, but I also would have to accept the diminished returns on my old rations and an even higher price for new ones that would do the very same job. As much as I hate those things, any fool could recognize how needed they are.
Fortunately, I had used up my stock of old rations on a recent gym binge, and those foul-tasting bags of evil had served their purpose. I grabbed up some things and headed out to port, got a little disoriented at the empty docks (I forgot I'd left the Bus back at "Little Earth"), and then moved on to the public shuttle.
I still can't re-accustom myself to that indignity.
This was much of the reason I'd paid all those credits for the Bus, so I wouldn't have to pay and wait (and watch for Void, who hasn't been seen in forever and a day). I still get a bit queasy on these things, but not as much on my own ship. I just don't like the idea of a ship owner being tied down to a public transit schedule, like being stuck in the brig or the sick bay.
Those smug, self-important charlatans, sitting well-fed and cozy in their command centers and planning rooms, never lose a chance to extend their tight fist of control and retract those sticky fingers with a hefty load of my credits.
I've learned to ignore the wide-eyed stares at my travels, with my heavy load of goods and equipment, all-the-while balancing Junior so he can see where we are going. The shuttle staff don't look so horrified any more, probably owing to my decreased recycling of ration packets. One did, however, suggest that I should purchase an extra seat for my "excess baggage."
As I was traveling, I grew tired of the available literature, so I jumped on the mesh and found it vacant. I searched the channels and found nothing going on. I sifted through the blogs and lighted on something I hadn't noticed before . . . "Reflections of a Shadow," written of course by my friend, Ser Shadow. It finally dawned upon me that a shadow is an absence of reflection, so of course I read through his blog, much of which I had already read before. Now, Ser Shadow has been quite a role model, and I dare say I haven't lived up to that image, but I was comforted by how much his "reflections" mirror my own experience. I envy him in that he can remember his past, his childhood, that he isn't a defective clone whose own memories begin at the vat and are often overshadowed by those of someone else. I feel privileged to count him among my friends. That's a picture I'll keep.
After a cup of coffee at Elisa's cafe on Nouveau Limoges, I made my rounds to Tau to buy fuel and another University course, visit Johan ("Yo") at Kobnhavn, then of course to Taungoo to help out my friend at Seishu and enjoy another chat with the brave but silent warrior who found his dream and now cooks and cleans and tosses his grandchildren through the air to the sounds of laughter and little bells. Me, I'm still searching.
Arriving at Barnard's Star, I was again accosted by none other than Mr. Cool, who smugly directed me, as though I had to obey him, to take my place teaching a "class" of new space travelers. I did it, and with respect, but none for him, though I did put on a show of it. I'll get him some day.
I was delighted to discover that fuel costs are indeed going down, and I actually refueled before heading off to Caen. Of course I made sure to call ahead and let them know I was coming. "No cold calling..." Got to love those guns.
I met someone I hadn't expected to ever meet, and eventually, through his own brave and noble efforts, I met a Pirate named "Shih Tzu." Immediately I remembered the pictures from that book and cringed at the notion of a tongue so long it required fourth-dimensional storage accommodations (not a fitting image by any means, I might add). Even though we parted on good terms, I still learned at the marketplace that, excuse me, the "Privateers" despise me and are only interested in my money. Naturally they want more, not less. Not a buyer's market, at least not for me.
Every lounge I have ever tried is always full of idiots telling "Collie" jokes, and theirs was no exception. I almost got in a fight this time. I guess an old fiddle does indeed keep its tune, good or otherwise. I hurried out of there, having decided there was nothing for me there that I couldn't or shouldn't get elsewhere, and I stopped by Amazon to check on Junior's family and the Consortium Ambassadors.
You see, they hired me for an important errand, which I badly botched. It took a heavy toll on them. Thankfully, I got a chance to at least try to make amends. I hope one day that will turn out right.
The situation with the cult is really getting out of hand. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get through to these poor deluded people that I am not their god and they don't have to cover their faces and declare that I am. "El Payaso Tonto," as one of the sane taught me to write it, is honor enough.
I also learned that "Toe Moss" is really "Thomas," but the 'h' is silent. I asked them why he doesn't just get the 'h' out of there, and an old, large, old, short, old, fat, old, ugly, old, old lady slapped my face, spat out a mouthful of jibberish and told me in heavily-accented standard dialect that it was time for me to leave. Apparently she was the aunt of the real Thomas, or so she said. At least she understands I'm not a god. I honored her wishes and headed back to Sol.
This time I stayed on the Bus except to refuel at Tau and refit at Kobnhavn, but once I got to the Jump Gate at L-726-8, I got out to stretch my legs a little. I fear I may have said this before, as it is a strong first impression, but really, if I were an alien explorer and saw these people at "Little Earth," with their eccentricities and absurdly-justified misconduct, I would have destroyed all life forms within a light year just to ensure quarantine and containment.
Meantime, amidst all of this, as though in another world altogether, I had been encouraged to put in a bid for a seat on the council. I'm told most of those positions are alternates, that whomever is elected would serve as a backup for the regular councilors. That suits me just fine. I won't hold my breath, but I went ahead and put in for it. We'll see how things go.

Comments

  1. Hey Bob, sad to hear you had troubles with my freebooter friends. If you ever need a large shipment of rations from them, I'd be happy to be an intermediary. You see, I have some... connections there.

    As for the "Little Earth" worshippers - I totally agree with your opinion. To add an insult to injury, those $&@#heads have a plastic scroll factory somewhere in their D-Com zone. I swear one day I'll get my hands on some military-grade explosives and blow this evil lair up into the open space.

  2. I do believe that would solve a lot of problems, except that then the bereaved plastic scroll cult members would most likely find a new cult to join, such as the one I am attempting to persuade to disband. Thomas' aunt gave me new hope, in that she slapped my face and not her own. I was relieved to see that there are some there who won't be trying to worship me next time I go there.
    I wish you could put in a good word for me with your freebooter friends, but I also encountered some of them who are members of one or the other of the above-mentioned cults, so I think caution is my best approach.
    Always good to hear from you.
    See you in space.