Screaming Metal (Part 003)
©2017, Made in DNA
The constant soft background noise of the ship throbbed and hummed throughout the cramped space as silence fell over her crew at work.
Priyanka punched in commands at her station and sat still as a full-shell GUI properly synced and the light of it extended over her.
Unlike Deshel's virtual console, the full-shell was a virtual interface that extended 180 degrees outward and over to encase the user.
Initially created to allow military officers to visualize entire battlefields, hers was a modified market version.
Priyanka had had it installed in the Alley Cat to give her an edge over competitors, pirates and local authorities alike.
The cutthroat business of reclaiming Metals wasn't for amateurs or hobbyists; she was ready to fight or flee at a moment's notice.
It had been the paramount lesson she'd learned from her own captain as the man was pushing her into a lifeboat above the planet Jouni.
A lesson she wasn't planning on reenacting for her own crew, Deshel and Suen.
The pair had been on the Alley Cat for several years now and had contributed greatly to the trio's overall success.
Their combined diligence and dedication had allowed the trio to pull off some tricky and dangerous jobs.
Deshel worked his console magic to locate the alien A.I.s in their riven graves and excavate their digital souls.
Among the tricks at his fingertips were kernel signatures, transmissions, echo location and precious material scans.
Loosing his tools with the finesse of a maestro conductor, he extrapolated data, sniffed out his marks, and laid bare riches.
While Suen, her eye on holo-radar and finger on the trigger, was security and weapons.
Quick of reflex, and intuitive, she could gauge a threat level and counter it with an exacting measure of rebuff.
Ever cautious of pushing the envelope of engagement, she opted for subterfuge to keep the crew in a position to finish a job.
Weapons were a last resort, of course. The Alley Cat wasn't built for war, it was built for haul and hauling ass.
Maybe it was because the universe was full of safe, comfortable, exertion-free worlds to which people could emigrate…
that some naturally detested the idea outright. The thought of having life handed to them didn't sit well.
They yearned for a life that brought a sense of satisfaction through hard work… or even strife.
Priyanka could understand and respect this. To have everything handed to you was to simultaneously enslave yourself.
People became helpless to feed, clothe, employ or even educate themselves. That was not the life for her.
She wanted the freedom to come and go as she pleased. Wanted to know her next meal came out of her own pocket.
Wanted to feel the satisfaction of hard work and acquisition of knowledge.
She respected settlers like the Shake Hands colonists for wanting a world they could work.
She wanted to work it, too. Just in her own way. And soon enough, she'd be gone and she'd be just a little richer for her efforts.
Scavenging Metal tech and parts was good money. She didn't lead an ostentatious lifestyle, but Priyanka wasn't complaining.
The crew wasn't either. In fact, Deshel and Suen were free to leave any time. That they were still with her counted for a lot.
They were absolutely invaluable on a job like this. Who else would help her sift through a junkyard the size of a city for a braincore?
She snorted softly as she watched the recognition software crank through its task. Il'on, you ungrateful hunk of junk, where are you hiding?
Continued in Part 004
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