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Magic Carpet Ride

Posted on Thu May 13th, 2021 @ 2:59am by Commanding Officer Mickey Serendipity & Executive Officer Kenneth McTigue & Medical Officer Florian McLennan & Passenger Emma Yonkers & Ships Engineer Delphi Jammer & Comm Tech Wulf Edevane & Comm Tech Adrie Magana

Mission: Ring's Of Gold & Palladium
Location: Industrial Six, Rhea, Saturnian Confederacy Freeport
Timeline: After 'A Job Is Born'

Over the days to come, as Rhea slowly orbited the stately rings of Saturn, the Albatross took to its roost once more. Once repairs were done to the core systems, the repair gantry holding it in place raised it into an upright position. It now stood among the stand of metal tree’s of the Industrial Six space port.

Towering passenger conveyances emblazoned with the corporate logos of PanAm and VIrgin Galactic stood on their pad’s, disgorging their passengers who all sought riches in the outer planets. Cargo haulers came in next, empty and light on their feet, maintenance cycles demanding mandatory downtime before flying back to bread basket moons of Ganymede and Europa.

Here and there other ships landed, asteroid tugs suffering from the cauliflower ear deformities of working the ice rings, their hulls pitted and dented by countless impacts. Custom skiff’s flittered in and out, preforming the spot checks interstellar law demanded.

And in the middle, cocooned in a support gantry, the Albatross slumbered. Her hull of repaired, her drive cone patched, and her water and air tanks filled. She groaned under the strain of such weight, as the courier ship was outfitted for the longest haul of its life. A distance further from the sun than Earth was from Saturn, to the very edge of expanse.

And then the day came, the support gantry folding aside and blast shields rising to protect the other mendicant ships from debris during take off.

The Albatross was ready to fly.

+++

Industrial Six traffic control to Albatross, your accent corridor will be clear in ten minutes. Your five minute abort window is open, if you abort after that time and before your departure there will be port fines payable, copy?”

Mickey tugged on the brim of his helmet, sliding the face plate down to lock into place. The menu screens were a little different, but he had to agree with Ken that the new suits weren’t half bad. He walked through the Ops deck, knowing that Jammer and Ken were below in engineering, and their pilot was secured above them in the cockpit.

“We copy you loud and clear Indi Six. We’re running our last pre-flight checks now, so far no show stoppers,” Mickey said into his helmet feed. He clicked off the comm to traffic control. “Okay, folks do we have anything that’s going to stop us going into space today? Engineering? Comms? Weapons? Passenger? You strapped in and on suit air?”

"All good to go, Mickey," confirmed Wulf with a comfortably lazy rather smug smile. He and Ken had spent some considerable time ensuring the Tross' data access network and comms were tightly locked down and protected with specific (and in some cases very basic) profiles. Some built in traps and dead-ends along with a three strike system for passengers. All the necessary menus and system abilities for crew. Paranoid? Maybe. But six months was a helluva long time to be trapped in a long, angry tin can with some unknown potential problems.

"We're solid down here." Ken replied from his customary seat. He looked to his left, across engineering where Delphi was. It felt odd sharing this space now, but he wasn't yet ready to move his ass up to the bridge during launch.

Delphi's eyes were fixed on her control board, monitoring ship's systems as it prepped for launch. Reactor good, fuel burn rate good, thrusters primed, epstein standing by to ignite when called upon. All the little status telltales were green across the board, just the way they should be, so she checked them again. She glanced back at Ken sitting across the compartment. She still did not like having the Earther watching over her as she did her work, but she put up with it, for now.

"Comms, go. Engines, go. Backup Engineer? Jammer you ready to earn some money?" Mickey asked as he stepped up to the crew ladder. Right now the airtight hatch between decks was sealed shut, but past the galley and hab deck, with the cargo bay above it to act as an extra layer of shielding, was the reactor room. Fuel pellets go in one side, get fused by laser ignition, and for a moment a tiny star takes up residence in the fusion chamber.

"Ya bosmang" she replied to Mickey as he passed through the engineering compartment. She bit back the comment about being called a 'backup' engineer. As far as she was concerned, she was THE engineer. But she had her pre-launch quadruple checks to complete for the fourth time, as well as once again checking her vac suit seals. The new suit was nice, fit comfortably and didn't feel like she would poke a hole through it if she looked at it wrong, like the Vector Red suit had. She checked the wrist computer on her suit, all green there too.

He then walked over to Emma's crash couch, looking over her shoulder at the safed weapons control.

"Once we're out of Confederacy Space and on our way to Pluto, we'll find a non-belt rock to shoot at. Give you something to practice on that isn't a simulation. Maybe fire a few rounds off the hull if you need to practice your zero-gee small arms?" Mickey asked.

"That would be useful, been a while since I had a small arm in hand." Emma replayed as she worked through the weapons systems, making sure everything was all and they should be, and that the repair crews hadn't messed with anything.

"And finally...what is that?" Mickey pointed to the side of Flo's helmet, which had the face of a...what was the Earther name for it? Dog? Well, it had a dog's likeness sprayed on the side with the caption 'Shibe Shuttle' written under it in Martian kanji. Mickey walked over, tilting the helmeted head of their stowaway/cook/apprentice to get a better look at it. "This is some good work, you do this yourself Flo?"

The kid had never admitted to being a particularly good artist, though he quietly knew he possessed some skill in simple sketches and painting. Certainly nothing remarkable, but can probably be considered a little more than above-average. He felt bossman push against the side of his helmet, which was actually slightly oversized.

"Umm, yeah," he replied. "Used to have a puppy, a long time ago." Back when he was still on Earth, before he'd made that final dash out of the house to flee his father for good. "His name was Laika."

"Might get you out on the hull to do some work on the ships nameplate and registry," Mickey said, giving Flo a pat on the shoulder.

Meanwhile, Adrie unceremoniously barfed all over her faceplate while strapped in her extra-small harness.

"Don't take your helmet off until we're in orbit, and we have you sealed in a shower stall," Mickey said, leaning over Adrie's chair. He knelt down beside her and tapped at her wrist terminal. "Just tweaking your tri-mix, a little more O2 will help calm you."

"It tastes and smells awful!" Adrie hoarsely shouted between gags. "Somebody fucking help me!"

"You've got to deal with it Miss Magena. We can't delay the launch, and if you leave the chair while we launch you might find yourself bouncing around the cockpit like a bouncy ball.." Ken explained calmly. "Mickey, hereby reporting we're green across the board."

"You guys are assholes," Adrie muttered.

"Wouldn't be human beings if we didn't have a few," Mickey tapped the side of her helmet and walked to his station. Settling in and draping himself in the five-point harness that kept him planted in the acceleration couch, he tilted a monitor slightly and tapped a few keys. "Dennehy, how you finding the cockpit?"

"Oh hush it, it is just bile and your lunch... trust me it isn't the worse you can have oozing through your suit..." Emma grunted as she spared the passenger a glance.

"Right where you said it was. Nice control scheme, very smooth," the pilots voice buzzed back from the cockpit a deck above them.

"Earther built, Martian refined, and Belter tested that's the Albatross. I hereby hand over launch control to you, let's go make some money." Mickey grinned.

"Copy that. Albatross to Indie Six TC we're green across the board. The reactor is live, and the main drive is in safe mode with physical connectors closed on magnetic funnels to the drive cone. We are primed for accent to two thousand meters on thrusters, with pitch and roll for a gravity turn into the accent corridor to low orbit. How copy?"

"Looking good Albatross. Sky is clear in T-minus two minutes up to low orbit. Keep the drive in safe mode until then, and godspeed. Indie Six TC out."

"If any of you are of the praying type, now would be the time to bring in any divine favours you might have in storage. Because it's either landing or take off when things go wrong in space. And we've got a long six-month jog out to Pluto where nothing but boredom will be our friend." Mickey chuckled.

"Hope you all packed your bedroom toys.. It gets lonely out in the black. Hell the last patrol I did for pirates in the Corps took us out there. Burned out three BoBs." Emma laughed as she worked the weapons system through yet another diagnostics, anything to keep the thought of the distance out of her mind.

"Just don't burn out our comm tech Yonkers. I kind of want to keep him around." Ken laughed out as he read the thrusters coming online.

"Launch gantry retracting...clear. Blast shields are up...gimbals are green. Ascent corridor is clear. Setting reactor control to automatic. Going for launch in five...four...three...two...one."

+++

Unlike the heavy days of chemical rocket launches, where a billowing cloud of exhaust gases would shroud a skyscraper-sized booster before it emerged slowly on a tail of fire, the Albnatross rose slowly up on her thrusters. At barely half a gee it was enough to overcome Rhea's weak gravity, and once the sprawl of Industrial Six lay two kilometers below them the little courier ship rolled on its back in an easy gravity turn. That way the spin of the little moon would aid them in getting higher into orbit.

They were on their way, to profit and future exploits.

But a specter from their pasts had beat them to the scales of fate. A tight beam communication, routed through the dark comm sat network of the OPA, whispered its way through the system in the wake of the Tross's departure.

 

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