Sunday, 29 March 2015

Mis-Handle

"Look, Taz. You are not going to get home in your ship. Not without a fuel scoop. Even if you had one, it is over 500 light years to known space. For my ship that is about 25 or 30 jumps. For your sidewinder that is more like 60! If we jump together and I refuel you by hand it will take about a month and we don't have that much food do we."

"Ok.. But.." Taz sputtered.

"How am I going to get into your ship?.. I don't have a remlock."

Jared loosened his flight harness enough to smack his head into the nav desk several times out of resigned pity for the kid. The holofac scanner display swirled around his head blurring out of focus into wisps of red and blue.

His head still resting on the warm holofac emitters, Jared takes a deep breath. This was going to be a long few days.

"Ok, listen, I'll put my remlock in the cargo chute and drop it. You can scoop it and then jettison any med packs or food so I can scoop it here. Then you jump out and I scoop you before you freeze to death."

Jared would be prepared to bet an entire case of Lavian Brandy that the kid had probably only scooped a cargo can before. The remlock would be tiny and tricky to see against the backdrop of space. If it were lost or damaged then he'd be doomed. The kid probably didn't need reminding of it now though.

The first few things thrown out of the Sidewinder were water and food packs tied together with cable straps, the second a small bag of clothes that turned out to contain a now empty bottle of zaonce hydroplus coffee that had blast out inside the bag when exposed to the vacuum of space and stained everything inside with a greenish sticky residue and bitter aroma of cold coffee.

Taz's voice popped and crackled over the hand held narrow band unit Jared carried back to the cockpit.

"Ok, I guess I'm next.. Just let me get my last things."

The landing lights on the old blue Hauler flickered on, painting the way between the two ships. Jared slowly inched forward towards the rear boarding hatch of the sidewinder. There was a soundless flash of white cloud as the door de-pressurised. The figure of Taz appeared and leapt with his arms wide from the frame of the hatch..

Taz had pushed off too hard, he tumbled past the Haulers' extended cargo scoop. Jared cursed and spun the ship around in time to see Taz stop spinning a few metres ahead, flashes of white light at his hands. Micro thrusters? surely not based on the poor kit in the hold and the battered Sidewinder.

"It.tts c coold.." chattered Taz's voice over the narrow band.

Jared approached, and after a short pause there was the familiar sound of the cargo scoop retracting and sealing the hull again. Jared quickly freed himself from the flight chair harness and stomped as quick as his mag boots allowed towards the hold.

As he descended the ladder from the flight deck he could see the cargo bay's pressure indicator lights flashing amber.

"Cmon, green damnit!"

The old hauler had only really been used for exploration. Even it's previous owner had only used her for short passenger runs. The cargo system was old and Jared never paid much attention to it, after-all he had no cargo racks fitted. But just as he reached the rear bulkhead, the lights flicked to green and sounded a welcoming tone, not unlike that of the ships' basic galley equipment.

Jared bashed the door release with the palm of his hand. Taz hovered in mid-air, remlock still on but shivering violently, patches of frost on his extremities. Jared whistled..

"Close one Kid, Welcome to the Canberra Song."