I was planning to repair the Quantum drive on my Cutter. It was not so simple.
I was sitting on the bed in a space suit. On the mattress lay an apple and a drink bottle. In the corner of the bed lay my company. The ball with the stuck-on face. A comfortable breakfast was this truly not. Since there was no kitchen or dining area in the cramped Cutter, the bed had to do. But it could have been worse. After all, the little spaceship had a bathroom and a toilet. But the Cutter could by no means compete with the comfort of my Mercury Star Runner. Wistfully I thought of my White Rabbit. May she rest in peace in the sands of Daymar. I missed my spaceship.
Restlessly I moved back and forth on the soft mattress. The ball started rolling and bounced against my back. Amused, I looked into the grinning face. Since the crew had dropped me off on Daymar, he had been my constant and cheerful companion. I should think of a name for the ball. I wonder if Rudi would fit.
The last days were a successful new beginning. In the emergency shelters I found not only food, but also some equipment. In the outpost Bountiful Harvest Hydroponics I even found weapons. Fortunately, I had remembered that weapons were often stored there and the outpost had no staff.
In principle, I was not in a bad position. I had the most necessary things. However, I could not live in the long run on what the four emergency shelters on the moon Daymar had in stock. On the other two Crusader moons there were also emergency shelters, which would have been a great help to me. However, with my defective Quantum drive, they were out of reach. I had to increase my radius of action.
Thoughtfully, I moved Rudi the ball back and forth in my hands. He looked at me with unconcerned eyes. Our eyes met. As if he had whispered something to me, an idea came to me. The junkyard on Daymar, there I should find spare parts for the Quantum drive. Carefully, I put Rudi back in the corner on the bed and went into the cockpit.
A strong wind whipped the sand through the piles of scrap metal. The grains of sand made the metal parts ring. The crane’s grapple swung back and forth as if to the music of the storm. After landing the Cutter at the edge of the scrap yard, I rummaged haphazardly through the piles of old discarded parts. At first glance, it looked like a dump. But the junkyard was a treasure trove. You just had to look long enough.
Deeply hidden under metal parts I found an old communication device. It was partially charred. But the heart of this special radio equipment was intact. A chip that anonymized messages. It was possible to hide the sender of a message. This chip was guaranteed illegal, but for me it was invaluable. Quickly I had removed the part and stowed it in the space suit. A little furtively I looked over my shoulder. As if I was worried that someone would be watching me.
Then I remembered that the junkyard was a popular transshipment point for illegal goods. Unfriendly characters appeared regularly. A sudden inner restlessness made me search faster. But finding a suitable spare part for my Quantum drive proved difficult.
I laboriously climbed over bent metal struts and crawled through rusty hulls. There was so much to find, just not what I needed. I almost gave up when I finally held in my hands what I had been looking for. Relieved, I lifted the thing in the air and gave a cry of delight. Suddenly, someone behind me yelled.
“Hey! What are you doing?”
My relief collapsed like a house of cards. Startled, I turned around. Someone in armor that seemed to be made of rusty scrap was standing on top of a building with a gun in his hand. Running away was not an option; I was trapped.
“I’m looking for a spare part for my Quantum drive”, I tried to say as confidently as possible. But my heart had long since slipped into my pants.
“Not without paying”, the guy in the junk armor roared.
“But it’s all scrap metal.”
“Scrap is a valuable commodity. Come on up here. But keep your hands where I can see them.”
With weak knees, I climbed a staircase to the top floor of the building. As soon as I reached the top, the guy snatched the much-needed spare part out of my hand. Threateningly, he held it in front of my face and murmured.
“This isn’t junk!”
“My quantum drive is broken….I can’t get away from this…..moon…..I….”
The words only came stuttering out of my mouth. Somehow that seemed to calm the guy down a bit.
“OK listen up. You can have this thing. No problem. But you have to give me something in return. Something of equal value. And the thing seems to be worth a lot to you.”
He leaned casually against a wall, crossed his arms in front of his chest, and seemed to be looking down at me from above. The roar of blood in my ears drowned out the storm raging over the junkyard. I felt like I was in free fall.
“I have nothing of value”, I said meekly.
The guy put a hand on my shoulder and said in a soft voice.
“Things of value are all over the moon. RMC is very hip right now. You can pay me with that.”
Questioningly, I looked at the guy.
“RMC? What’s that?”
“Recycled Material Composite. Stripped down ship’s hull. Take that multitool hanging from your hip. Put a Cambio-Lite SRT Attachment and a canister on it. Then you are ready to go. There are plenty of wrecks on the moon.”
“And I can pay you with that?”
“Ten canisters and we’re even.”
Just as I was about to leave, I saw something on a shelf that looked familiar.
“What kind of computer core is that?”
“That’s a very special piece of jewelry. We can talk about that after you bring the 10 canisters of RMC.”
Night had fallen over the moon Daymar. I had landed the Cutter in a canyon. Well hidden, I pondered how to proceed. I did not have a Cambio-Lite SRT attachment. I couldn’t buy it. But I needed one to pay for the spare part for the Quantum drive. Besides, the thought of the computer core wouldn’t let me go. I needed to learn more about the part. But I needed the attachment for that, too. It was exasperating.
Nervously I walked up and down in front of the bed. Again and again I looked at Rudi the ball. Where were his good ideas? Why was he silent? Desperately I put down the armor on my chest when I noticed something in my pocket. It was the chip to anonymize messages. Mockingly, I lifted the chip toward Rudi.
“And how does this help us?”
Rudi smiled. As usual.
Frustrated, I installed the chip into the Cutter’s communications equipment. But that didn’t lift my mood. The chip didn’t have enough power to anonymize radio transmissions and live broadcasts. Only static text messages to a fixed static destination could be sent anonymously. Briskly, I peppered the tool into the closet and went to bed.
Restlessly, I turned from side to side. What good are static text messages to a fixed static target to me? I don’t want to send anything to a bulletin board. With that thought, I fell into a fitful sleep.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)