“Order just came in, Jack. Let’s move out.”
The lease on my LM-304 is almost up. If I manage to save another couple thousand credits, I’ll be able to buy it. It’s certainly not the best T3 out there, but it’s made me a ton of money in the last 3 years.
“Come on! Let’s move, dude.”
We’re real close to this one, but we’ve gotta move fast. It’s a competitive game, although not a lot play. First one on the scene usually gets the bounty. It’s a P3, a Mercedes AMG C32, to be exact. It would almost be worth it to just steal the damn thing, but nobody ever gets away with that.
My rented hanger on Shell-Exxon Station has seen better days. I’ve been so busy trying to pick up extra jobs the shop is trashed. I come out of the office to find Jack at his terminal, drinking his lunch with his left elbow on the desk, just scrolling through his feed staring blankly at the screen.
“God dammit, Jack! Let’s fuckin’ go, dude!” If he weren’t my wife’s brother I’d can his ass. “If we miss this job, I’m not paying you for today.”
“You can’t do that,” he says without a hint of humor. He’s right, though. God, I want to murder him.
“Get your ass in gear, we leave in 3.”
I had already keyed on the 304 from the office. I walk toward the port side and the ramp opens with the hissing sound of hydraulics. It reaches the ground just in time for me to walk up it. Inside, I find another mess. Bottles everywhere, Jack’s meal smoothies. The passenger compartment lights up as I enter, revealing more mess.
I ease into the Captain’s chair, sinking into its luxurious padding. The main systems are still off, it’s still going through warm up. I pull up the pre-flight checklist on the console and begin to run through it. Cockpit? Ready. Controls at zero? Check. Fuel quantity? Check. Flight plan submitted? Check.
Now, I just have to wait for ignition. And for Jack to get his ass on board and strapped in.
“Jack! Jack, god dammit. Motherfucker!” I swivel the chair around and see him walking toward me. Not picking up his feet, just dragging them across the ground. Ugh.
As he enters the cockpit, the engines ignite. “Timed it just perfectly, man. I know what I’m doing.” I’m going to murder his ass.
“SESS traffic control, hangar bravo two niner, lima mike three zero four dash eight niner alpha, requesting clearance for egress, flight plan seven zero charlie eight eight, direct to ISS.”
«“lima mike three zero four dash eight niner alpha, flight plan seven charlie eight, direct to iss, clearance granted.”»
I press the “auto” button, it automatically takes me out of the hanger and into traffic. Once in traffic, I take over the controls. Traffic near SESS has been out of hand lately. Ever since the Ford FA-1C0 came out, low orbit has been packed with tourists driving like it’s their first time in space.
“Jack, grab me a beer.” I’ve stopped drinking, except at the helm. I’m just a better pilot with a bit of suds in my belly. It calms the nerves and dammit you’re not my mom. I keep a small supply in a compartment hidden in the floor of the cockpit closet.
Jack audibly rolls his eyes, but still gets up and gets the beer. “You know, you’re going to die from drinking this stuff.”
“Fuck off.” I crack it open, take a swig, and put it in the cup holder below the console. Beer is increasingly hard to come by. I’m still sitting on about 600 packets, bought before the new regulation took effect.
Now outside station traffic, I can really get up to speed. I gently increase thrust, really pushing the speed limit. I’ve never gotten a ticket, knock on wood. I’d like to think I’m pretty good at pushing it.
A couple minutes later, we arrive near ISS. Now we just have to locate the Mercedes. Easier said than done. Autopilot joins us up with traffic, a constant stream of ships circling clockwise about 3 clicks away from the station.
“Do you see it?” Jack operates the camera controls, panning and zooming, looking for the Mercedes, license plate GXD4857.
“Not yet, at least. I’ll find it once we get out of traffic.”
“ISS traffic control, lima mike three zero four dash eight niner alpha, requesting clearance for ingress, flight plan seven zero charlie eight eight, repossession.”
«“lima mike three zero four dash eight niner alpha, flight plan seven charlie eight, ingress granted.”»
I push the joystick, and the 304 banks hard starboard. I figure we probably have about 3 minutes before someone beats us to it. I lean forward in my seat to get a better angle out of the viewport.
I’ve made about 200 repos at ISS, so I’ve got a pretty good method. Traffic control allows repo men to make only 5 passes, so I start with the entropy displacement station, and work my way outward from there. They’re almost always moored at ED.
“Got ‘er, about 1200 meters, 2 o’clock.” Jack’s one redeeming quality is that he’s actually pretty good at spotting, I hate to admit.
“Confirmed visual.” I gently manipulate the controls to bring us into tractor range of the C32, turning the hull so that the bay faces it, topside toward.
“Engaging tractor.” In my haste to arrive first, I forgot to do the math for tractor power. “Tractor set to… 58.”
The tractor engages the C32, relief washes over me. I’m getting this one.
The tractor seems to be struggling to pull the craft. “Increasing tractor power, 65.” This small adjustment seems to be enough, the C32 picks up a little bit of speed as it is pulled toward the cargo bay. God it’s a nice ship. Gold accented control panel and leather upholstery visible through its viewport. This sucker is brand new, still has dealer decals. Those usually burn off within the first few weeks. How do you default on a weeks old lease? I guess they chose weekly payments. Idiots.
It’s about 2 minutes until the ship comes to rest in the cargo hold. After it sets down, I close the bay door. “Alright, Jack, tie her up.” Jack unfastens his restraints and walks out of the cockpit. I bring up the cargo hold camera on the console display just to make sure he doesn’t fuck up. I see Jack walking ever so slowly toward the repoed ship. He pulls the clips up out of the floor, and gently loops them around the landing gear pulling them tight. After double checking, he turns toward the camera and gives a thumbs up. Fuck I hate that guy.
“Alright, get back up here. Make it fast, dumb ass.”