A Trace Of Hope: DoA, Alternative Take

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Photo by Jessica Palomo on Unsplash

This is an alternative take on the beginning of “A Trace Of Hope” - an “untranslated” version, if you will. Tell me what you think.

So there is this barfin’ big asteroid, right? I fall towards it. Fall. Towards. It. Slow motion. Waiting.

Blinkiblink, all the vectors come on, fill my eyes with green and yellow crap. And a great thing that is — not like I would know that I am falling onto the damn piece of rock over there, and it is flying at a good clip around the isis, right? Ya’know, having grown up on a piece of rock quite like that and all. Could’ve left all the vid-lens crap off after the ritual, wouldn’t matter a damn thing. Yes, “don’t lose respect for the stone giants” and all. I eat and breathe them for a living, you rat buggers.

Almost slammed into our Residence, too, the damn piece of crap. Dark, way too dark piece of crap, with some sparkle. My girlfriend would sure love the sparkle. I love her to bits, Zakiya, the little techhead. Would much rather be with her there in the garden then here with this thing in front of me. Still falling.

Oy! Not a total piece of crap after all. Quite some hydrogen and carbon in that baby. Some fifty megatons of water, if the analyzer is not junking out on me.

Our tech, man… Could be better, it could. Who knows, with this much water, maybe it will be. Especially if our precious asiari get off their precious round asiari arses and get a defense system up for this one. Don’t want to lose this much water to Ellisons. Half an orbit, and they are right on top of this little treasure here. Hey, maybe the wise-crackers from the Elder Council called it Kumani’s Hope for a reason. I sure hope we’ll finally get our own freighter to process and sell this shit.

Damn, why does the thing bleep at me again? Oh yeah, collision alert. No time to dream, here goes the braking burn! But a mild one. Quite a lot of safety margin in that thing.

Yesss! Perfect call. 20 cm from the surface, with just a little bit of vee left to touch down. No nerve to wait for gravity, not like there is much of that out here. Got a job to do, and people waiting.

All routine from now on, vibro-anchors into the rock, their little yellow outlines shining all the way through the asteroid. Computer plus vid-lenses, if they weren’t there you sure ‘d have to invent them. Are the damn anchors deep enough yet? The comp says yes. Screw the comp, let’s wait a couple more sec. No way I am going to blow this one.

Let’s get the core drill in that baby, the walimu are sooo eager to see what it is really made out of. And to see how much our remote analyzers really were crap. “Kumani can’t afford the expensive Nguyen-built crap, we build our own”, they always say when I complain. We do, out of spit and rusty wire.

And… here we go. Drill on, everything normal, another quarter meter or so…

Whooo, what shit is this? The drill gives, then I get churned like an algae shake and get covered in rock chips until I shut the drill down. And then, for rats sake, I get slammed into the barfin’ asteroid face first, and spat out into space, something blinking red at me, all kinds of rat shit and cables and junk all around, and me here, groping after pebbles to find a hold before the whole cloud of crap drifts out of my reach.

“Mjinga!” brays a hoarse voice behind me, and a heavy slap against the back of my head shoves my nose into the safety net. No, Idiot really isn’t my name.

“How often have I told you to wait for the anchors first! ”

I turn off the gear, and see the black knitting of the safety net slowly appear before my watering eyes. I stick my fingers into the net, and turn around, just to see my father’s face dark with anger. He would strangle me if he could, he would, right here, I know it. Instead, he yells right into my ear.

”Who’ll pay for the mining bot now, you useless piece of rat miscarriage? Do you have any idea what the fucking thing costs? Or what a privilege it was to be the first on that rock? Do you?”

I want to tell him to shove his anchors and his bot up his drunkard arse. All the times, all the times I do his barfin’ job, and all the times I get screamed at as thanks. I don’t need his ugly drunk-arse mug for that, I can fucking scream it all at myself in my sleep now, I can. My head is made of plastic, rats shat into my fingers, and even algae are a better way to invest the carbon and water in my body. I don’t need this shit. Barf on it.

But he is my father.

He is my father, but now I’ve really had it, i have.

“The … anchors… were… in .. place…” I squeeze past my teeth, so I wouldn’t scream his head off. Thank isis we are alone in the control room right now. If I embarrassed him in front of his teamies, he would slap me black and blue. If anyone helped me, they would be gone in a snap — into another team, into another shift. My father is the damn team boss he is. I take a deep breath and choose my words pretty damn carefully, my finger shaking at his nose, its inertia thrusting me to the net and back as I speak.

“I barfin’ asked you if I had to watch out. Nooo you said, don’t pee your pants, just your usual pile of rock you said. Here you have your usual rat fuck with tails and arses all over the place. Now can I barfin’ fix this before your piece of bot crap drifts all the way into the isis?”

He goes pale, from the angry dark reddish brown almost all the way to tan, and for a second I think he’ll keel over or really murder me right then and there. But he just stares at me flapping his mouth like one of those fish in the Garden.

Should have told him a long time ago. But noooo, I’d looked up to him even as a little kid, admiring his work, his dangerous adventures in the rickety control freighters of the McCormicks or the Nguyens, out there in the black of the belt, dodging micrometeorites and man-made high-velocity projectiles, in the middle of the violent clashes of the families over their property, and even pirate raids… Rat’s arse, pirate raids. Two years of rat’s arse, bad food, barf and machine oil stink, cheap junk mining bots, busting my arse for other people. That, after finishing my school in half time for him. To become just like this old fart right here. Should’ve played those interactives with the other kids instead, for rat’s sake.

Ok man. To Shetani with the self-pity crap. What happened? I need to salvage that bot, I do, no matter that those rat buggers in their white overalls gave us diggers a can of junk to work with, once again.” The most important discovery in history of Kumani”, your rat’s arse.

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