I gather, from chatting with friends, that Scriptator's stuff, which I always find well suited to the long hours while mining lasers pound roids, isn;'t as well know as I'd thought.
He's just started a new story, so I thought I'd reproduce it here (freedom of speech and all that), so that more people get to read it.
So here goes:
(This is only the Prologue: the story is, I think, called Confluence)
= = = = =
'Meta' ap Rhys glanced round her, in all three directions, before backing through the door marked "Station Service Crew Only".
Clearly her guesstimate that her problems might not follow her onto the Leisure Group station had not panned out -- or, rather, had panned out to a nugget of purest poison.
A few metres down the service corridor, she came to the hatchway she wanted. Every station needed a means to get things around -- environmental gases, supplies, engineering gear -- without choking up the public areas. Equally, whilst the stations had means to get their service staff around, there were always some journeys that were of urgent priority, and these tended to involve engineers heading towards crises, who were, of their nature, therefore willing to sacrifice comfort for efficiency.
Meta keyed in an access code and, after a second or two, a section of walling slid aside, to reveal a small, coffin-like, space. Meta smiled faintly, and reached into the broad belt which circled her waist, over her biscuit-dun ship-suit. From a pocket she removed a small mask which she fitted over her eyes, nose and mouth. That would serve to protect her from the extremes of the process she was about to endure. Then she keyed a code into a tiny panel recessed above the doorway, watched as a little light lit, and relaxed as the door closed, leaving her in pitch blackness.
Then the entire compartment fell away, vertiginously swerving from side to side, plucking her downwards and away from the public levels, thrusting her through the very bowels of the station and finally depositing her in just another such passageway, but in a totally different area.
Up there, she had been in public space, walking among the patrons. Down here she was in engineering territory, and through *that* hatchway (to which she made her way confidently and with panache) was her destination.
She was just stepping through the hatch (and redogging it after her) when her percom went off. She had thought that she had deactivated the little thing, but when she glanced at the display she saw that an override had been engaged. Unfortunately that also meant that whoever was calling her would be able to tell that she was still on the station.
It was time for even faster action. She ducked into the corridor toward the hangers, raised the communicator to her mouth, keyed an override of her own, and spoke, tersely: "This is ap Rhys, voice-code three-alpha: Jenny, prepare for immediate launch. I will in-pod within one-zero minutes."
"Counting," the voice replied. Meta relaxed a little: she knew she could rely on Jenny. Now ...
She turned sharp right and headed for the pod-bays. Normally she would have had to queue to take her turn, but she had slipped the med-techs a little gratuity when she had docked, and they had given her the code to their private access door. She stepped through, and was immediately in their ready-room.
"I'm sorry," she said, holding out her percom for it to be scanned, "But something's come up and -- ”
"Doesn't it always ?" a tech said, but she was already programming the station to deliver Meta's pilot pod to her own workspace. "Have you had any -- ?"
"No, no, no, and chance would have been a fine thing," Meta replied, summarising all the answers to the tech's form questions. "Gods, there was a wrangler up on Keibler level -- they ought to call that place Adonis level -- or Narcissus."
The tech laughed. "We had one guy -- had to wash him off three times to get rid of the incompatible body-goo he'd put on -- or had put on him. By an Amar noble's wife, he said."
The pod arrived, on its little grav-sled; by then Meta had stripped to her essentials, and was already massaging her implant sites ready to have the plumbing lines inserted.
The med tech briskly ran through the pre-load sequences, and then Meta was sliding inside the DuQuesne-Tracey pod (expensive, but a gift from her great-uncle before he'd died) and the pod-goo was being pumped in.
Meta's audivid implants activated, in time to hear the med-tech announce "Closing pod" and to "see" the displays light up, confirming that all was well.
"I acknowledge," she said. "Capsuleer ap Rhys taking over independant command."
"You're clear to fly. Black space."
Meta sent the command to the grav-sled and the pod accelerated away, towards the hangers.
"Jenny -- I'm in-bound. Where do we stand ?"
"Pre-flight checks at eight-five per cent complete. No red flags, two ambers, both being dealt with. I have used your voice to book a launch slot -- we're scheduled to go in minutes oh-four. We have three priority communications from the station, which I am cycling."
"I've time -- switch copies to my monitor," Meta said. One was a Leisure Group advertisement, which she could discard, memorising as she did the eight-digit code that was the real message. The second was her hanger bill, which she could (just) afford to pay. The third was the one she knew was coming. She flagged it and sent it back to Jenny.
"Use the Kosh on it," she said. That pile of gibberish (encapsulated in arcane vocabulary) ought to hold off her enquiring enemies for long enough.
"Acknowledged," Jenny replied; "I have you on final approach -- podbay doors are open."
The pod slid neatly from its sled into the Rifter's podbay, and as the sled disappeared back station-side, Meta and the pod were tubed down to the command deck. Then all the displays lit, and it was like Meta was home again, queen of her domain.
The launch countdown was at ninety seconds and was still proceeding, and the last pre-flight amber was the Damage Control II which had a habit of sticking until after launch, so Meta ignored it.
At fifteen seconds the docking locks unlatched and the umbilicals disconnected; at ten the Rifter was gently pressored out into the manoeuvering channel and five seconds later Meta got the green light to initiate thruster control.
"This is callsign Juliet-November-Vengix, requesting confirm of launch clearance."
"This is launch control -- you are clear to proceed."
"Take it, Jenny."
It was a curious thing, but the actual launch process always made Meta nauseous -- once her ship was in space, however, she felt invigorated and ready for anything.
"Which way, boss ?" Jenny asked.
"Hepsibah gate," Meta replied. "We've got people not to see and places not to be."