Galactic Rim: Flashbacks, Chapter II

Used playbeing

Former Fleet Captain Bobby Birondeau scratched his nuts whilst waking up. This seemed a constant. Nuts get scratchy and this morning, they needed a good rub. He got out of the sleep coffin slowly. They were the only type of rooms that a solo like him could afford. He hadn’t always been this poor. Women, booze, cigars, air, all the modern conveniences cost credits and he was a sucker for all of them.

Especially women. He took a last gander at the playbeing he had rented for the night. This one looked perfect in every way and was well worth the money he had spent. A magnificent specimen of modern science, playbeings were cybernetically modified women who either opted for this type of existence or were coerced into it. He didn’t give a fuck either way.

 

Shimatsu Hayabusa Mark V

He took his gear and made his way towards the communal sonic showers. After getting nice and clean, he left the seedy joint in which he had spent a months worth of wages. He made sure that his sidearm was nicely charged before setting out on the raining streets of Lo-To-Dor, the capital city of Rigel 7. He felt the bulge of his plasma sword on his belt. He never went anywhere without it, even if it wasn’t legal in most systems. He took his cigar out of his pocket and sucked on it gently, enjoying the nicotine buzz waking him up. He made his way towards his bike, which was stationed in a parking locker. Couldn’t let a Shimatsu Hayabusa Mark V just outside in the rain, it would be history in a nanosecond. Especially one as modified as his.

 

He had logged into his Allweb account to see what was new. He normally received queries and jobs off the ‘net this way. Nothing was better for anonymity that a well programmed stealth identity by a top-notch hacker. He let the bike’s AI do the driving. He had custom fitted this one and overridden all safety protocols. The bike took off vertically, like a bat out of hell and was at 300 KPH in a few nanoseconds. Luckily, the gravitic field kept him as snug as a bug in a rug.

 

Used playbeing II

He could still taste the playbeing from last night. What would it be like to be a Corp sultan’s son with a every whim and desire met by speedy humaniforms? Like bullshit, most probably, thought Bobby. The Corps had their foothold in most systems. They had even incorporated some systems. They said that life in a Corp system was like living the impossible dream. Yeah right, thought Bobby, more like a living conformist hell, like something out of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

 

His dismissal from the fleet was all but expected. Being involved in sensitive missions had a way of backfiring. The last one had involved an extraction gone bad and extra collateral damage that was not included in the mission briefing. No matter. As much as he enjoyed being a spacejock for the fleet, having his own two feet on solid ground for the first time in a century made up for it, all the way. Problem was that he had accrued so much time-debt that all his contacts and mates were well-off dead. Or they were too influential to be involved with him.

 

Life as a spacejock was fine until you stepped back home, saw how much time had passed, how the cities had evolved and how much technology was available to the common man. It was like some kind of weird déjà vu that never seemed to stop. Like walking through a dreamscape dreamed up by a mad scientist. As much as you tried to be appraised of happenings in the hegemony of man, you never could synchronize that much information. Never in your lifetime. All the fleet had to say to this, nobody forced you to be a spacejock, you chose this life. Fuck’em with a space stick in the neck, thought Bobby.

 

There were at least some good points in time-debt. Medical, robotic and cybernetic technologies had evolved so much in recent centuries, that rich Corps and government officials could live for centuries if not more. But all that tech could cost as much as a pleasure planet. As always, the poor bit the dust whilst the rich lived forever.

 

Capital City of Rigel 7

At least drugs, sex and music still got his juices flowing. Who cared is some prick on his sterilized pleasure planet could live for an eon? thought Bobby, I’ll probably crash and burn before I hit… Now how old was he again? He got a headache just thinking about it. Thank goodness, the vistas of the city were there to distract him for all that math. Not that multidimensional analysis was something he had any problems with, of course not, he used it everyday when he was flying the Nautilus, the smoothest ship in the fleet.

 

He was what they called a Navigator Grade IV. He was trained to guide a ship, with the help of onboard AIs, in and through FTL and pilot it in space and in atmospheres. Naturally, some interesting modifications were made to him in order to be able to cope with his day to day activities. From augmented computing power, to teraquads of memory to enhanced reflexes, he needed them all in order to safely pilot his ship.

 

Cybernetic modifications

One of the benefits of these mods is that he could access the Allweb from anywhere, talk with anyone while going about his business, multitask ad vitam eternam, be perfect ambidextrous, do some funky things with his eyes and most probably a lot more. Not that he cared that much about all that crap, he just preferred to live his life one day at a time, not dwelling on the how and why. At least he looked quite normal. Or so he thought. When was the last time he looked himself in the mirror?

 

I will kill you

He received a short burst of information whilst the bike cruised along. It was a message from Fleet Admiral Joonsk, asking kindly for a meeting with him today. Fucking hell? Joonsk? The fucker that had court-martialed him and had him dishonorably discharged, forfeiting his pension and benefits? He had sworn that if he ever saw that rat bastard again, he’d separate his head from the rest of his body. He felt his plasma sword tingle with delight. The intelligent blade was linked to him through the Allweb and had included a rudimentary AI, not above stage III. However, he had tinkered with her a bit, so that Jessica, the stage I AI from the Nautilus was residing comfortably in the hilt of his sword. The fleet was none the wiser, since Jessica had mysteriously malfunctioned whilst she was decommissioned.

 

Plasma sword

Multitasking was like the unending dream; a way of dividing yourself among infinite tasks. Like the facets of a crystal, each reflecting themselves into each other.

*  *  *  *  *

Previous: Encounter

Next: The Admiral

Index

 

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