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74 - Overslept

I am not sure what has happened to me.
A tenspan or so ago, I awoke after a very, very, very long time sleeping. Not days, but many tenspans. Still, my friends had not forgotten me.
News flash.
For some strange reason, I have friends, and they have stuck by me. It may be a symptom of some sickness in their heads, but from my perspective, it is a marvelous sickness. I wandered about, almost feeling like my first day out of the vat, but I was and am sure I am the same person today as I was when I curled up in my ship for a brief nap between Syndicate contracts at Cape Verde.
Nobody there.
None of my Syndicate was there.
They had vanished.
The weren't active on the Mesh.
I couldn't find them.
They were gone.
Was I alone now?
Dark questions like that leave cold, empty, queasy feelings in the gut. My skin felt like it was crawling away from its place.
At first, I was afraid a new Catastrophe had befallen us, but as I'd been asleep in a ship docked at the port, I am sure that whatever caused it would have had an easy time dispatching me. As I checked in at the Government Center, I found my affairs to be in good order and was able to receive my daily ration as usual. It seemed odd not to be threatened with arrest.
Maybe something terrible had happened.
There were people, the usual functionaries, the desk clerks, the guards, the market vendors, but it was all dry and lonely. Perhaps I was dreaming.
No, really strange things happen when I am dreaming. Crocodiles appear and mutate (at least I think they are crocodiles). People turn into machines. Sometimes chickens appear and start talking. Things just don't make sense. Well, they make even less sense than usual.
I checked on Junior, and he seemed okay, but I keep feeling that he wanted company. The fact that he wasn't saying anything was another sure sign I was dealing with reality and not a dream. Well, I think Junior is a he.
I wandered out into the Ruins and guess who I found . . . My old "friend," Tomas. He was laughing at me as he brought his rifle out. One thing that seems consistent across the galaxy among his clones ... he was careless and underestimated me.
The battle was brief, but I walked away stiff and sore just as the guards were arriving to investigate. Their extra attention in my direction felt oddly comforting, as though things were perhaps normal after all. I spent the day flying around the system, checking the markets, shooting at Ruins Rats, and checking out my ship. I discovered a new option available for adding a cargo hold. That meant a flight to L726-8 for the nearest shipyard.
It seemed so odd to be flying my ship in these far flung corners, but the restrictive fuel markets had appeared to lose their throttle grip on the economy. I took a nap during the long transit and was awakened by return greetings from Ser Moritz and many of my other friends. Those dark, ugly fears and the sick, despairing questions they bring began to fall away.
After the excessive expense and even worse delay in getting my ship serviced, I planned to return to Cape Verde to help the Tau Syndicate to meet its new contracts in the area. Despite my desperate haste to evade and escape the insanity of the cult that runs the jumpgate at L726-8, I couldn't force myself to forego that delicacy they call the hamburger.
I even got conned (again) into helping prepare and serve them in exchange for a meager pittance. The manager even slapped the back of my head for forgetting to offer a side item called fries. Really? I'm a Shipwright. I pull in hundreds of credits for a segment's worth of effort. I have business contracts all across the galaxy. Sometimes I think people just find it too easy to take advantage of me.
Nonetheless, I did find a good rapport among the other workers there, though one was among those poor, misinformed face-slapper cultists. I felt bad for her, but there was no dissuading her. She just kept saying it over and over again, but (to my alarm) in Standard, not in Amazonian, and the more she said it, the more jubilant and joyous she became, so I shut up, as others appeared to be falling under her influence. Somehow, I must find a way to help these people. Perhaps I can get Tomas's Aunt from Amazon to come out here and enlighten them. Somehow, I don't think she likes me, but she seems to be a good person and might want to be of service to people less fortunate than herself.
Fortunately, I did make it back to Cape Verde in time to be of some use in a few contracts, although my friends soon filtered out to meet new obligations at our home port of Gadani. I stayed long enough to renew my class load and sell a few VIP packages to keep ahead of expenses. I am beginning to wonder at that matter.
I noticed an unbelievable treasure in my inventory, a 30-day VIP package. That would bring enough to buy a brand new Razorback shuttle. I rushed off to try and ship it out to my favorite customer, only to find that it would not leave my possession. It was genetically bound. Those around me seemed amused at my somewhat-sophomoric epiphany moment, but a few were using my Amazonian nickname, Payaso...so I felt more at ease.
The next Tenspan found me at Tau Syndicate's home port in Gadani, helping with the gang-control contracts and reacquainting a little with my Syndicate, but I really felt the need to be taking some courses, and my most recent one had finished. I headed off to the Spirit of Botswana station and began an advanced class in the use of clubs in combat, but on my way out, I ran into a little girl from Taungoo, all by herself. She was in a horrible dilemma, but after some effort, I was able to help her out. In the end, I stopped in at Taungoo to visit my good friend at the Seishu Pub. As usual, he already had a tray of noodle orders awaiting my arrival. I was glad to help, and our customary chat afterward was a good sense of a return to normalcy.
By the end of the day, I was resting in my room at Tau Station, the very same one I have been renting since the day I first stumbled out of the vat.