New Room on the Mimas Moon

Scenario inspired by Cornelius Dämmrich’s 3D visualisation, ‘Mercury’…

Pictonaut short story challenge effort for January 2014.

“This is you…”

“This it?”

“Yeah, sure is. G-27.”

“G-27. G-27. My favourite pro scrumball player wore 27. Omar Dass. I’ll remember it…”

“Legend! All good then, though it’s pretty hard to get lost around here. It’s coded into your tipchip anyhow.”

“Got it.”

“So, finger to scanner. Yeah, you got it. In we go…”

“Oh, triff…”

“Welcome to your new home. G-27…”

“Bigger than I thought it’d be.”

“Spacious enough, but intimate. Private. You’ll come to appreciate that.”

“Yeah, quite cosy. But, erm…”

“Problem?”

“Whose is all this stuff?”

“Oh. It’s Randa Hansen’s. She didn’t have time to pack…”

“Randa Hansen?”

“That’s the one.”

“Hoosh! Randa Hansen!”

“The one and only…”

“I didn’t know she was on Mimas. Thought she was out with the Neptunian crowd.”

“They, err, had some issues. Command stepped in, sent her here. She’s been with us for two cycles now…”

“Right. And her room! Right here! So, she didn’t have time to pack?”

“Yeah, too urgent. She just needed to leave. No hesitation..”

“And what was…”

“Her donor mother. She’s on the Cosimo Ring orbiting Ganymede. Organ failure of some kind. Something not straightforward, y’know? Not simple to handle and apparently she’s in a bad way.”

“Hoosh. Grief…”

“Yeah, Hansen just dropped everything. Knew where she needed to be. Nothing else mattered.”

“Yeah. Sorry to hear that. It’s gotta be rough.”

“Uh huh. I mean, they’re pretty close, all things considered. S’unusual I suppose.”

“Yeah. I can’t quite relate but, yeah, I get that. Understandable…”

“Well yeah. There’s some odd backstory there but, y’know, Randa isn’t the kind who’d tell it.”

“I can imagine. So, err, her room…”

“Well, your room now.”

“Are you sure this is okay?”

“Oh, absolutely. It’s been allocated now. It’s coded into your tipchip. You’re logged in the system and that, friend, means no turning back. Donedusted.”

“Well good but, aahm, will Randa Hansen be fine with this? I mean, does she know that someone else is going to take her space? You sure she won’t mind me being in her room?”

“Oh, she’d understand. She definitely won’t care much right now.”

“But when she gets back. Assuming that, erm, she does come back…”

“Cert. Randa will be back. She lives for the work. She ain’t a quitter or shirker. No days off, leave or nothing. This is a highly unusual case, to be honest. Still, can’t see familial issues taking her away for good…”

“So you reckon she’ll be back first possible opportunity?”

“Well I’d assume that but, y’know, all depends on her donor ma. We’ve got no idea about any of it so it’s all indefinite. Just a wait and see. But hey, don’t worry about her, I mean, your room. I’m sure it’ll be no problem and Hansen will understand. We’ve got no vacant rooms anyhow. This is you, then. Allocated, logged, donedusted.”

“I just don’t want to cause any inconvenience. I mean, if she got back and found me moved in. I don’t want to risk the wrath of Randa Hansen…”

“Oh, the wrath! Fsssssht, yeah. Well her bark’s worse than her… ah, you know it’ll all be good. She’ll be fine, so don’t fret. Just move in for now and when she returns – whenever that might be – we’ll work it out then. Randa’s got a reputation but you needn’t give yourself ulcers worrying about her.”

“Just I’ve heard stories is all…”

“Stories are stories, amplified and made more monstrous as they cross Space. Honestly, Randa’s a pragmatist. She’s got a sure head in spite of the myths made out of her. Room allocations and raw recruits around the place aren’t gonna get her back up. I tell you what, if you really want to spish Randa Hansen off, force her to ride an automatic or defer to a nav-probe when you’re on recon co-patrol.”

“Got it. Okay, fine. But what about her stuff…”

“Yeah, her stuff. Right I’ll send her domestic up. Covered. That thing’s smart and will handle it all right. She programmed θ-Ro-Rae for personal attachment…”

“Wait, personal attachment…”

“Oh, don’t fret! It’s a practical thing. Not emotional. You’re not gonna get grief from a disgruntled bot reckoning you’re trespassing on mother’s space. Cert. She’ll just clean up quietly and leave you be.”

“Right. Good. So just leave her to it?”

“Yeah, I’ll get on her and she’ll be up asap. Anyway, all the domestics round here are apex. You’ll see soon enough. Stick around, graft hard and you’ll be able to commission your own private bot. Your own θ-Ro-Rae…”

“Well I’m pretty capable of taking care of my own mess and probably won’t need one but, anyway, nice to know.”

“When work’s heavy they can help ease a load but, whatever, the option’s always available.”

“Got it.”

“So then, noober, I’ll leave you to it. Bunk, deskstation, standard. You’re probably familiar with the computer and all the hardware but if you’re in doubt, just log on the net. They got easy FAQs, indices, manuals, all the rest. You can also collar one of the techies. Green lapels. They’re always around…”

“Yeah, got it. I’m good with the hardware. Know it well.”

“Otherwise, hygiene chamber’s here. Make sure you irradiate and remoisturise everyday. Same again, if you’re confused about it, guides all on the net.”

“Got it. Oh, hoosh! A cat!”

“Oh hey! Bêt! She didn’t take Bêt with her!”

“Randa Hansen has a cat?”

“Yeah, Bêtenoire. She’s become something of a mascot here. I’m surprised Randa didn’t take her with her…”

“I thought pets were…”

“Well, yeah. Hansen has privileges though, you know? She’s a one off. A special case. I’m pretty sure she had to go through a rigorous application process. Appeals, references from higher Command. I’m not totally cert. Anyhow, Bêtenoire is a pretty rare beast. 100% organic.”

“Really?”

“Cert. One of a kind. Don’t think there’s any other pure, non-synthetic or A.I.-enhanced feline this side of Main Belt…”

“Wow. So what do we do? I mean, who looks after, err, Bêt while Hansen is away?”

“Good question. Well, the cat comes and goes as she pleases really. She’s not gonna starve or anything. Still, yeah, you can keep her company. You know, if you look after Bêt, chances are Randa will be grateful when she gets back. There’s one way to get Hansen’s favour. And the cat isn’t any kind of handful. Yeah, you can care for the kittie. I’m sure it’ll be fine with Command.”

“Okay. Okay, sure! Hoosh, I’ve not had a pet since I was a kiddie.”

“So, surprising first day, huh?”

“Well, yeah! Well, interesting start for sure…”

“It’s all good. You know, this is a good place to be. Mark the words of a man who’s been here six cycles. Well, I’ll leave you and Bêt to it, then. Get comfortable and settle yourself in. Just leave Randa’s things. θ-Ro-Rae will be over soon to collect ’em for storage.”

“Got it.”

“Well, let’s see. Tipchip implanted and activated? Check. Medical in the morning, right. Admin, legal and pay processing? Check. Uniform? Check. Room allocation? Check. Okay, well, you’re good to go and the rest of the induction starts tomorrow after your medical. I warn you though – you’re gonna get a lot of information thrown at you so best get a good night’s rest.”

“Got it. Will do. It’s been a pretty tiring day.”

“Sure. Okay, well I’ll see you later. Eats are up in the mess hall on Level M at nineteen-hundred hour. But make sure you get there early. It’s pasta fazool night and that’s a station favourite. Word is they got some authentic pasta in as well. You know, the stuff made of the true, organic-durum wheat they farm on Titan?”

“Sounds good to me.”

“And it tastes so good as well. You’ll get to meet more of us there and all.”

“Triff.”

“I’ll see you then, then. And yeah you too! Catch you later, Bêtenoire cat.”

“That’s a pretty funny look she’s givin’ you…”

“Ah, she’s just messing. Go say hello and introduce yourself. See you later…”

“Thanks. See you later…”

“Hey, erm, Bêt. I’m, errr, I’m pleased to meet you. I’m Jon Gard and, wow hoosh, I’m in the room of Randa Hansen…”

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  1. Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘New Room on the Mimas Moon’… | ENTER... JAMES CLAYTON

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