“I don’t care what you do - sell it, dump it, whatever. But the deadline has passed. You’re a day late” The Omega Mining Operation agent briskly informed us.
“What kind of pilot do you think I am? I’m not just some bum they scraped off the side of the mailslot - What kind of Duke goes out mining?” I asked, rhetorically. “And now you’re going to stiff us on the payout!”
Oh no - the time for polite ‘Commander’-ing has long since passed.
“Don’t take any guff from this swine,” Gonzo advised from behind me.
Just a few hours prior I had been questioning whether or not there were there enough stimulants in the entire galaxy to get us through this mining operation. All we had to do was make it just above the bottom tier for a juicy 10-million credit payout.
“Hell, we’ve made an entire career out of making the bottom tier,” I had said, shrugging while engaging the infernal purple laser once again.
“We’re lucky they didn’t just toss us out the airlock after what you pulled at the Basecamp,” Gonzo chided. “I can’t even leave you alone for five minutes without you going all green in the eyes, jabbering about bats!”
At first, I had no idea what Gonzo was referring to, but then it started coming back to me. This latest snafu wasn’t the first problem we had to overcome since arriving here.
Registration should have been simple, but a problem arose when it came to our stated purpose in the Distant Worlds Fleet: Were we explorers? Certainly! Were we media? Well, Imperial propaganda was a form of media, so why not? But that didn’t explain our cargo. There was no explanation for that.
Suddenly, I had felt the Aganippe Rush coming on strong. A finicky thing, the Rush: it would be just another mental stimulant, temporarily improving cognition, perception, and focus - if you stuck to the regulated dose.
We had surpassed the regulated dose before the first collection limpit expired.
Now the entire cockpit was filling with a crimson glow, blinking like the eyes of the devil. As I leaned back and closed my eyes, I could feel it. The sensation of inertia shifting and a tingling like sparks showering my arms and torso. This really was the good stuf-
“You’re going to shatter the cockpit!” Gonza yelled. “Back! BACK! BACK UP!”
My eyes shot open to reveal two very important things: The Rush was indeed having a powerful effect, but those weren’t hallucinations.
The gentle rotation of our targeted asteroid had brought it into not quite gentle contact with the Krait Phantom. Despite my piloting lapse, I hadn’t taken my finger off the mining laser. So despite losing some hull integrity, we hadn’t wasted a single minute of mining time.
“Damn, this stuff is kicking hard now” Gonzo confirmed, weaving his fingers through a fabric of colour and time that filled the space between us in the cockpit as it flapped in a non-existent breeze.
We had to take the edge off, and resorted to a concoction Bast Snake Gin and Harma Silver Sea Rum, mixed together and diluted with some of the Omega Mining Operation’s own moonshine.
The results had been mixed: we managed to fill our expanded cargo hold with enough Cobalt and Indite to meet the 10-million credit payout tier, but had immediately lost consciousness for, apparently, about 20 hours afterwards.
Thus we found ourselves trying to turn in our bounty, a day late and 10-million credits short.
I could really use another hit of the Rush. And some of that Moonshine for the road ahead.