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Job's The Job

Posted on Wed May 4th, 2022 @ 12:16pm by Client The Narrator & Pilot Daniela Pareja

Mission: Stories From The Expanse
Location: Command Deck, Repair Barge 'Baton Rouge', passing the orbit of Jupiter
Timeline: Long time before meet up

"Keep tell'in myself, better than working a debt with Vector Red."

Vinnie was an Earther. You could look at him and go, yes, this is a man crushed by a gravity well and the hopeless malaise of a culture burdened by overpopulation and a lack of scarcity. He was short, his eyes a little bug-eyed for no good reason other than the aforementioned societal pressure, and his nasal accent from a place called 'Garden City'.

"But then shit like this keep's floating about and-AH HA! Gotchu you fuckin' piece of shit. C'mere!"

Vinne began to crawl out from under the console, his hands folded on his chest cradling what looked like a bag of curdled milk. He offered it up to the small crowd of bridge crew who had begun to gather around him on the early shift, like shift change workers on Ceres walking home to their holes and seeing a street preacher ranting at a Star Helix cop.

You didn't care about what he was saying, but you might hang around for the show.

"Now see this. This here is proof that we need to take as a group to the Captian and demand he fix his shit. This is Juice that is so far beyond it useful life it's better off used to scrub carbon scoring off the hull," he gave the bag a little jiggle. "Look at it! Damn things got more pulp in it than a rich 'burber's orange juice! You want this stuff pumping down your veins when we go high gee? If this is meant to stop you throwing a clot at 5 gee's, well guess what it's clotted enough for you already."

"Not like any of us have anything to worry about on this run Earther."

Dani, the very bored and very un-caffinated pilot of the Baton Rouge said, slowly turning in her chair to face Vinne. Usually, the Belter pilot actually enjoyed the man's company, his raging against the machine that was their parent company was a great way to pass the last hour of a watch. But early in the morning, before her... "coffee" had kicked in, Vinne's voice was rather grating.

Now if her duty shift wasn't so boring, she might not mind, but as the Baton Rough made her slow turn around the far side of Jupiter, Daniela could only imagine herself somewhere... anywhere else.

"We dragging so much ass and these engines are so old, I'd be surprised if we could hit a high-G acceleration if we wanted to." And God did she want to, if she had to drift the ship to one more MCRN, or UNN wreck to just hang out Dani was going to lose it. Often as they waited for the salvage teams to finish securing any salvageable piece of a wreck, Dani foudn her mind wandering to her old ship, or her family... or to a little rockhopper making their slingshot.

"That ain't my point," Vinnie said, ignoring the 'Earther' barb. "I been saying this since we left Titan high port, this ship's a maintenance cycle away from the breakers yard. This Juice not being up to code is one thing, but what about the gimbal motors for the drive cones? You want to be flying this bucket on uneven thrust and Mr Newton gets involved when a few thousand tons of dead weight begins to shimmy. Same thing happened-"

A few of the other bridge grew let out a collective groan, one even going so far as to throw a hand terminal at Vinnie's head.

"SAME THING-same thing happened to the Venture Star! That big old ice hauler back in 23' that folded along her midline because the company skimped on the maintenance budget. Its why we gotta unionise! We gotta get the suits in corporate to listen to us before we become the next sorry a sob story told around some bar out past Neptune." He took up the terminal and handed it back to the person who'd thrown it. "Today its the juice, tomorrow it's the coffee machine, and next day it'll be something keeping us all breathing. I want to breath, I'm partial to it."

He turned on Dani.

"What say you Sticks? Thought shipboard safety reg's was like Big Religion for you and yours? Ya know, 'thou shall not fuck with the aqua' and all that I hear screamed at me when we pull in at Hypathia Station," Vinnie shrugged.

"Belters know that nothing we do will ever be safe... not fully." Dani rolled her eyes a bit, how little even those who joined her people in space really understood. No, someone who could go about their whole lives, growing up in a world where you didn't need to know where the nearest decompression shelter was... they never truly got it. Gods bless them for trying at least.

"Every day is a fight for survival and we have to make due. No Earth Corp is ever going to listen to a bunch of Belta and their inner castoffs concerns..." The Pilot trailed off, some of the adrenaline leaving her body as she heard her mother's voice ringing in her head. Be nice Dani...disagree but teach so they learn. The woman sighed, her better angels sneaking through even in her unfaccifnated state. "Can see what the Engineer can do? Or if you want to have standards, gotta join a Belter ship... at least one that can afford it... and unte sheru learnin belta."

"You know, Cap'n hearn your speaking da belta like that he'll blow a gasket," Vinnie said with a chuckle. "But I hear you loud and clear. I just ain't the type to make light of our personal safety when it comes under the company bottom line."

Further conversation was cut short as the lift car at the back of the command deck sighed open, and a man who could have been an account in a previous career stepped out. Thin enough to be a Belter himself, Ferris was the sort of Martian tax returns learned to fear. Narrow eyes, a hawkish nose, and the sort of hair no amount of dye or combing over would ever do anything about, he looked at the world as though it was perpetually out to get him.

"Just got off the tight beam with head office back on Rhea. We've got another pick up to make this circuit. Two ships, one badly damaged the other to be inspected and written up as a 'prize' for the insurance companies to dicker over," Farris said as he made his way to his acceleration couch. "Which means...Mr Gelphetti, Pilot Officer Pareja why is an access panel and company equipment littering my deck?"

Dani was not a fan of Captain Farris, the Officious little man walked around the ship like he was god amongst the stars. How a man like him with absolutely no knowledge of ships, or life in space ended up Captain she'd never understand. His also rather blatant disregard for the Belter crew and culture was more than a little offputting. Dani had decided early on not to be less than herself, even if it frustrated the fastidious bean-counter.

"Oh jst some field gut, da dzhush supply tube is a bit nakángego ya kno? If we hit yáterash tu quickly, unte da kapawu's tube ima full fo puss, might stroke out, wouldn't want deting kaka mid-burn." Her accent was a bit heavier than when talking with Vinnie, a mix of strong Belter and Spanish.

The words flowed a bit more naturally speaking Belter than her inner English. Dani might have learned to speak fluent English in her youth, but one didn't survive in the belt talking like that, lest she be labeled a Welwala. Out here though on the jump one didn't have to worry about it as much. Ironically only station Belters and OPA ever seemed to care, and the inners. Rock Hoppers, true Rock Hoppers didn't care, it was like Vinnie said, your ship and your crew against space.

"Yeah see, Juice pack is all-" Vinnie began to say. Farris's eyes had narrowed, and the captain of the Baton Rouge reached into a breast pocket and pulled out a pair of reading glasses. They were a pure affectation, made of three-dee printed thermoplastic and transparent aluminium, and would be major damage if worn during a high gee burn. But whenever he was in 'Captial C Captian' mode, out came the glasses.

"Mr Gelphetti, believe it or not, I can understand Belter creole. Even though it is not the standardised language of spatial navigation as laid down in the Interplanetary Space Treaty of 2134, it is something I have learned. The correct language for all shipboard operations as laid down by the IST would be English, not the rubble of consonants that were cleaned out the first colony ships to make it to Jupiter," Farris's eyes turned from Vinnie to Dani. "Pilot Officer Pareja, I'll be adding another marker to your career jacket for improper shipboard communication. Your skills as a pilot cover only so much for the glaring personality flaws you seem to find endearing."

"You Kno wha imalowda say Kapawu, sharp whit and charm is a pilot's best friend." Dani replied, throwing a smirk over her shoulder as she slipped from heavy belter to her more common Ganemedian English accent.

Farris scowled, working on reducing some of his teeth to fine gravel before swallowing whatever he might have said.

"That being said, we have work to be about. Pilot Officer, you'll find the new mass calculus on your board. Calculate us a minimal energy intercept on our current bearing, allotting ten hours for docking and securing before getting us underway for Mars. Nothing fancy or outside the Pryce & Carter regulations," Farris said to Dani. It was almost like the name Pryce & Carter, emblazoned on uniform sleeves and a snazzy mural on the back of the bridge seemed to glitter a little at the invocation of corporate godhood. They probably stamped the P&C logo on the food bars.

"Copy that Captain" Dani might not like the man, or care much of anything for the Company, but if there was one thing she would take seriously it was her job. Even if it was 'flying' a tub like the Baton Rogue. The smirk now gone from her face, Dani was almost a different person, focused and all business. Her hands dancing across the various switches and nobs of her console, with a flick of her wrist a projected course came up on the large wall screen in front of the main navigation station. It wasn't the most direct course, the the gold swirl of their projected course taking them around seven of Jupiter's moons.

"Course plotted Captain, we'll be cutting it a little close for our ten-hour window, but we'll avoid any need to stress the engines or initiate any hard burns that might require the juice."

"Good. Sound the manoeuvring alarm and get us underway. It'll be nice to have thrust gravity on the deck for a while," Farris commented.

 

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