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99.99% Unemployment.

Posted on Sat Apr 4th, 2020 @ 2:26am by Client The Narrator & Medical Officer Alex Garcia

Mission: Port In A Storm
Location: Vector Red Mercantile Offices, Metronome, Vallis Marineris, MCR
Timeline: Just before 'Parachutes?'

Esteban Ortega sat behind his desk, running a hand over the lacquered black wood. It was only a millimetre film over the printed plastic of the desk's frame, but it was a luxury from Earth. A reminder of a better time when he'd been the Earther Calorie Man running the operations in the Tether Station for Vector Red.

Before that disagreeable business with the OPA who had failed to pick up their goods on time, allowing an MCRN patrol skiff to inspect the container in dock and find all the parts needed to assemble a trio of high yield plasma torpedoes. There had been enough layers to keep him employed, but not enough to keep his corporate rank.

So down the well he had fallen, like Lucifer, to his own personal hell: Human Resources. He still dressed in the salmon pink suit, another luxury he refused to go without, and he still had an office and staff. It had a holo-wall depicting a continually shuffling tabluax of images, showing the rugged red of Mars transforming into the preposterous terraformed paradise. All thanks to Vector Red Mercantile, of course, according to the ad copy. But everything else was low res, cheaply printed, mass-produced. The desk though...that was his. He tapped a manicured finger against the tabletop, and the rooms smart system came to life with his agenda for the day.

"Julie? Let Mr. Garcia in," Esteban said as the personal file for the latest employee of Vector Red began to scroll across his screen.

Alex looked up as the woman behind the desk called his name. She waved him towards the doors beside her desk and he stepped through them, letting them close behind him. Once he was inside he noticed that a lot of the office was at least a little bit shabby, with a few higher-end objects, but when his eyes landed on the man behind the desk, in the incredibly vibrantly colored suit he struggled to keep the open shock off of his face. He suddenly wondered if he should have been a bit less conservative in his own clothing, as he was wearing a nicer pair of pants, and a good dress shirt, with the ever-present mag boots he never went out of his apartment without.

Stepping forward he held his hand out. "Mr. Ortega? Thank you so much for agreeing to meet with me today," he said with a confident smile.

"A pleasure Mr. Garcia, a pleasure," Esteban said, leaning across the desk to shake his hand, and then direct him to one of the chairs on the opposite side of the desk. He leaned back into his padded chair and then resumed skimming the employment file. "You've scored highly on the entrance test, your educational credentials and vocational scores surpass our minimal requirements. All in all, you are an ideal fit for employment within Vector Red Merchantile."

He wove his fingers together and studied Alex over them for a moment.

"Vector Red Mercantile is the MCR's largest financial entity after Hebe Heavy Manufacturing and Phobos Proprietary Systems. Our freighters visit every port in the system, from the moons of Neptune to the refineries and smelters on Mercury. Ours is a brand that showcases what every Martian already knows: Made on Mars, is perfection," his eyes flicked to the file. "It says here you served with the MCRN?"

Taking the offered seat and making sure he remained sitting as upright as possible, Alex nodded. "That is correct, sir. Up until about a year ago," he replied, not willing to give away more information than he was asked for. He had already been through enough interviews where they asked that question and then showed him the door. He figured he might as well prolong it, and give himself a chance to maybe break through that barrier based on his positive traits and his achievements. He was tired of his failures holding him back, especially since they were completely his own fault.

"Since then I've been looking for work off and on and living off of my savings, but I'd really like to have a steady job, if for no other reason than my own sanity," he added, jokingly, and flashing another smile.

Esteban laughed the empty laugh of corporate PR gurus and seminars.

"Good, good, good. Yes. And you have medical certification through the MCRN? Even better," he nodded, his jowls mimicking the motion. "Now, you applied for a job listing on one of our trojan way station, Luminar 4, as a Grade 3 Medical Tech. A little low for a man of your skills. I'd be remiss in my duties if I didn't high light that your score entitled you to freighter work, one of our long haul routes out to Neptune. Now as the paid crew you would be entitled to extra luxuries, your stateroom apart from the indentured workers we have on hand. We'd need to put you through some small arms training, nothing compared to your MCRN training no doubt. But working as crew on an Indent freighter is the way to make money. Each ship has a significant MCR Dollar value Mr. Garcia, more so when they are loaded with cargo. Ensuring that cargo reaches its port of call without delay is key. And sometimes our indentured workers are less than up to the task, its why we hire on Paid crew to ride herd on them. Ensure they meet our corporate values."

He made a gestured to the screen.

"I could have a contract form printed on hard copy in a moment for you to sign if you felt so inclined?" he purred.

Alex gave the man a level stare, his face an impassive mask. "I saw those positions listed, I simply wasn't interested in them, which is why I applied for the one I applied for. Is that position no longer available?" he asked, concealing his annoyance behind the walls of stoicism his training had helped him build. He'd never been comfortable with the corporate types, and this man seemed to be the epitome of that type, slimy, conniving, and manipulative as all hell.

Esteban's smile became a little more rigid.

"Just so we're clear, there is a significant difference between working a clinic on a way station and crewing an Indent freighter. Significant enough that we have openings after only a single cycle. Vector Red looks after the people who look after our profits Mr. Garcia," he said guardedly.

"Let me be clear as well, Mr. Ortega. I am not trying to look after your profits. I'm trying to look after people who need medical care. I'm a doctor. That's my career, that's what I've trained for, and that is all I'm interested in doing. If that isn't going to be a good fit for you and this company, perhaps I'm wasting your time," Alex replied, his stoic mask beginning to show slight cracks, as his voice went to the steely calm that accompanied true annoyance.

Esteban tapped a finger on the desk, thoughtfully for a moment as he read more of Garcia's file.

"Well now, let's not be at all hasty. Laminar 4 is a vital asset to Vector Red, not to mention the employees stationed there," he grumbled before a blinking red light appeared on the screen. "Huum...well now, that is interesting. As you may or may not know Mr. Garcia, we vet all potential employees of Vector Red to ensure there no repercussions to the corporate body in the event of any outstanding legal irregularities."

He made a gesture with one hand, and the holo pane shimmered between them, revealing the screen Esteban had been reading. On it was Alex's MCRN identity file, with the words 'UNFIT FOR CONTINUED SERVICE' highlighted in hazard orange.

"Obviously, legally, we can only ask the MCRN if there is any outstanding issues with one of their veterans. They are not at liberty to explain the reason why, but a doctor dismissed from service does not speak well of you," he stood up. "I think you'll find you are not a good fit for the Vector Red Mercantile Corporation."

Alex wanted to shout at the man, he wanted to tell him that maybe he should have bothered to look at that before he called him back for an interview, but he knew there was no point. Instead, he stood, and extended his hand, "Thank you for your time, Mr. Ortega, good luck finding someone better suited."

Minutes later, back outside of the office building, he leaned against the wall, his back pressed against the cold facade, he sucked in a long breath, and then slowly let it out, leaning his head back and closing his eyes. This was getting ridiculous. There had to be at least one job that he could do in the medical field he'd trained so long for. Finally he stood back up, pushing off from the wall, and pulling out his communication device.

He made it about halfway through the messages, and then stumbled upon one from his brother Eli. Pulling it up he noticed it was a forward from a job board, and his brother had included a personal message saying it looked like something he'd be a shoo-in for. Tapping the link he watched as it pulled up.

MarsCom Job Board
Off Mars Job Listing
New Entry: Medical Technician, Up-to-date Certification.
Desc: Private courier ship docked at the High Elysium Tether Station, in need of a medical technician to round out the crew compliment. Must have current certification, and be willing to make planet lift within a 12-hour window of accepting this listing.

Contract Details:
Probationary cruise to next port of call, full pay equal share. If at the end of the cruise the contract will be reviewed, either with a full time contract being offered or left with pay at Port Of Termination.

Swipe Right?
Was this listing helpful? Yes/No

Less than a minute after he finished reading Alex had already sent his resume through and closed out the message. Something told him this might be his lucky shot. He headed back to his apartment, looking for something to eat on the way there.

It had taken less than two days for Alex to hear back, and the request for a meeting had seemed hopeful, so he was in a good mood. He'd chosen to go a different route this time, and so he showed up in his normal clothes, a pair of black BDU's tucked into his mag boots, and a fitted black tunic that looked a lot like the one he'd worn on duty before he'd been discharged.

Following the directions on his screen, he had made his way to a place called No Better View Than On The Way Down. He'd never even heard of it, and as he walked up he was pretty sure he knew why. The jostling crowds of Second Summer Break upper university co-eds, all enjoying their freedom before becoming productive cogs in the MCR.

The first try to open the door yielded a 'Sorry, we're closed!' holographic spray across the door. Then, a second later the spray vanished, and the door pad turned green, and the door opened...



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