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Space Junk (Excerpt 1)

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1 Space Junk (Excerpt 1) on Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:16 pm

kNuX_V1

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Guardian of Chaos
Copyright © Laura Loolaid 2015

Written and edited by: Laura Loolaid

“Space Junk” series consists of one character’s posts in an ongoing forum roleplay. It takes place in an already-built world, and *might* tie into some universe-establishing storylines. [Innocent whistle] This excerpt introduces the new character.

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The sign read: “Space Junk”.
Stenciled letters were peeling off a coppery egg - perhaps a retired shuttle, several giga-seconds past its glory, or perhaps a maqueta from those “Awld Spayce” galleries. Either way the craft was going nowhere now, its overblown butt-thrusters buried in makeshift shacks and unkempt weeds; its location and label symptomatic to those miscella-marts that peppered the port districts on so many moons.
Most times the hatch was bolted up and the shop’s keeper nowhere in sight - not that many would stray in these obscure paths anyway. But every once in a while an inviting light shone through the airlock, and the lucky guest was treated with genuine interest and undivided attention.



For now there was only the off-colour haze from the local sun, dragging its way through the third sector of a long moonday. The proprietor emerged from a crooked alley, and gave her tattered traveller’s mug some exaggerated bottom taps, quietly scanning the area behind the act. She climbed the narrow metal steps leading to the shuttle’s hatch, and popped it wide open, shining dim daylight all over the shop’s innards. Most wallspace was covered with narrow storage shelves, populated with items and components of questionable value - or function for that matter. Electronic parts that would most certainly be useless for repairs, strips of cable visibly too short to connect, diagnostic tools with dead displays; household containers and shiny utensils; various bits of scrap metal; jars holding pebbles, fossils, and bones; a proud pair of cattle skulls; framed pictures, a few paper books. One corner was dedicated exclusively to dinosaur toys.
Amidst the bizarre and vintage, sat an oddly well-lit and well-aligned island of strapped-down shipping crates. These were tightly packed with essentials that a traveller might find handy in their journeys through the lonely skies: water flasks and pocket-size purifiers, sewing kits and rolls of all-purpose repair tape, ration cubes, canteens, mini-burners along with spare fuel and fire-building tools; gnaw-gunk and rolling papers, caffeine capsules; a small selection of sweet bars and dry-fruit; heavy-duty socks, protective gloves, and thermal undergarments; rebreather assembly kits, simple folding knives, low-light vision aids, and basic field medi-packs.

She stepped through an indoor hatch into a narrow hallway that lead to comms centre - shaped like yester-gen cockpit, true to the overall theme.
During the down-time she’d often sit here, don a pair of headphones and listen in to the radio-babble from surface-docks and low orbit. Occasionally she’d push the broadcast button and interject the ongoing conversations with a piece of unsolicited advice or a random bit of jest. That mostly happened when the overheard talks involved one of the two irradiated moons she’d spent such quality time on. For now, everything looked quiet - no incoming messages, no alarms, no surprises.

Loitering through each room in a lazy check-up routine, she wasn’t sure what to do next. A nap seemed like a good idea -  with her inability to adjust to the rest-sync of local dirt farmers a nap always seemed like a good idea. She could of course assume the diligent shopkeeper role for a while, although this particular slice of the light-cycle didn’t seem to hold that much business potential. Or she could just close up and spend some time enjoying herself. Via some murky transactions, she had acquired one of those fancy spa-pods that lulled your senses with white noise and otherworldly lightshow, while jets of scented vapour shot up your buttocks, and rippling sonic pulses pounded away all tensions and ails. She had discovered that at just the right frequency, the pod’s sonic routine had some rather…  pleasurable side effects, a fact she was more than happy to exploit. Frequent joyrides exceeded the shuttle’s water treatment capacity, so that she had to do some manual maintenance. But parked on a surface with people and infrastructure, that didn’t really matter.

Otherwise she’d managed to keep up a discipline that fit within the shuttle’s limited space and processing bounds. With good use of the onboard Waste&Water unit, very little of anything ever left the shuttle. The occasional scraps and containers that didn’t get processed or become one with the stock were easy enough to sell to dockside collectors; organic leftovers were channelled into soil treatment in a small growth chamber right there on board. The chamber really only harboured the most stubborn weeds - which would be considered utter nuisance in any cultured land, but she argued that you’d never know when a tangible amount of green biomass could come handy. Technically, stinging nettles did count as edible; besides, any plant resilient enough to survive her gardening had already proved its right to grow.

Still torn between the lazy and the responsible options, she wandered back to the storefront and continued her half-assed inspection round outdoors. That’s when a gust of wind brought the smell of atmosphere burning. With all the port installations and safety buffers, an uncontrolled entry was a highly irregular occurrence. Then the noises came - battle noises -, and she saw plumes of smoke gathering above the downtown area.


For all the distant phlegmatism that flourished in her during the “safe” and “normal”, she’d always had the ability to snap into focus for an emergency. Whatever it was that was happening downtown, it most definitely sounded like an emergency. She felt the decision materializing inside her: it was time to leave this land behind.

Despite its odd exterior, Space Junk was definitely a shuttle - and very operational indeed. A swift kick into supporting poles sent the whole shack-belt into a chain of collapse. Before the last of plywood hit the dirt, she was already inside. Sealing the hatch, she slammed a button on the wall. Translucent covers slid down around the shelves, and a series of cargo nets snapped into place, leaving no loose objects anywhere in the room. She took some moments to crawl into a protective suit - a nostalgic holdover from those irradiated moons - and seal its headpiece. Then she was at the controls, keying in commands, bringing systems online.

A kilo-second later the shuttle was carefully hovering across the barley fields behind the town’s shack perimeter, keeping near the ground, gradually circling towards the impact zone. It seemed a good idea to keep out of sight, but the time for hide and seek was running out. She knew one thing. Space Junk was more than capable of liftoff, and just as capable of breaking orbit. For a while it could function as a drifting escape pod. But to reach farther, to another world, the shuttle needed to attach itself to a bigger ship. There was exactly one candidate for the piggyback ride here - and now she observed it detaching from the battle and preparing to take off. She took a deep breath, glanced at the likely trajectory, and focused on the controls. Nearing the bigger vessel, “Junk” spread its docking clamps like a desperate baby monkey.

When she finally felt becoming one with the ship’s momentum, she allowed herself a little victory grin. “Gotcha!” Still giddy over the rapid takeoff, she added mockingly into an imaginary microphone: ”Hello, boys and girls; it appears you have just picked up a hitchhiker! Thank you for choosing our marvellous company. Have a nice day and enjoy your ride!”



Last edited by fafafabigben on Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:20 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : dasheeeeeeees!)

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