Contains language that some may find offensive.
I really should have studied properly when I was at school. I could be doing a proper job now if I had. I could be a bartender, a spaceship washer, or a refuelling jockey. But no, I was too much of a smart arse to do any studying at school on Gemini III. I thought I didn’t need to do any studying. I thought I would be moving back to Earth where I could be a professional slacker; living off my father’s money once he had finished his term as the human ambassador to the Castor half of the Gemini system.
But no, the daft bastard got caught trying to rip off a pair of Geminise hookers by giving them counterfeit credits after shagging himself senseless with them. He had been holed up in the Gemini VII penitentiary ever since and was going to die there. If there was one thing the Castor Geminise hated, it was their hookers being ripped off.
With his incarceration I’d had my travel privileges revoked and so was stuck in this cess pit of a system. As I’ve said, all the good jobs had gone. Gone to the Geminise swots who had studied at school instead of listening to music and pretending to write notes.
Therefore, I’d ended up having to be a satellite repair man. Only the really stupid normally ended up with this kind of role. Spending god knows how many hours at a time floating around a satellite in orbit. Connected by a tatty piece of tubing which doubled as a tether and an air supply. Standard life expectancy of a repairman was four years. I was ahead of the game on that, this was my sixth year, but the probability of floating off into space with no air got bigger with each passing day.
Additionally, a lot of these satellites were floating around in the disputed zones. Those areas along the centre of the Gemini system that both the Castor Geminise and the Pollux Geminise claimed as their own. Coming from the more relaxed Castor side, if we happened upon a Pollux side engineer – working twice as fast with their extra set of arms – we let them be. Yet if us “normals” from the Castor side got picked up on the Pollux side, or in a disputed zone we could be held indefinitely by the racist twats in the Pollux space force.
I had lost six months in one of their holding bays whilst they completed the paperwork. Only for them to decide I wasn’t worth keeping and for them to send me back to the Castor side.
The satellite I’d been sent to today definitely wasn’t in Castor space. It was also far beyond a stretch to say it was in a disputed zone. In fact, if it had got any further into Pollux side it would have been in the Cancer constellation instead. How the hell anyone was receiving anything from this particular satellite in Castor side space was a miracle of not too modern communications.
It was in orbit around Cantidade IV. I should have just quit my job on the spot instead of agreeing to come out here. The planet was notorious as the biggest hive of racist halfwits in the entire system. They had six, thousand-mile diameter wide holograms displaying a no humans allowed on this planet sign. It could be seen from all the neighbouring planets in all directions.
The satellite I had been tasked to work on was virtually inside the head of the human on one of the holograms.
As I floated around the satellite trying to work out just what exactly was supposed to be wrong with the damn thing, I didn’t notice the local space force cruiser approach from the planet. It wasn’t until they zapped me with an immobiliser beam that I knew they were there. By that stage it was far too late to do anything about escaping.
They added a tractor beam to the mix, and I felt myself being pulled away from the satellite and the tubing connecting me to my ship became taut. It held me in place for a few seconds before it snapped, and I rushed towards the cruiser. With my air supply gone I passed out before I got there.
I woke with a start to find one of the purple Pollux space force standing over me jabbering away in some unrecognisable attempt at speech. I tried to focus, trying to make out what they were saying, but understanding was just outside of my reach. I saw that the space force officer was holding me down with his arms, so I felt brave enough to give them some stick.
“Shut up you purple freak, no one understands what the hell you are saying, and furthermore no one cares.”
I had forgotten they had two sets of arms and so the slap across the face came as a massive surprise.
“Do you understand that you scummy human?”
Yes, I understood perfectly now, they were messing with me.
“What were you doing on our satellite?”
“So, you admit that you are a spy then?”
I didn’t know just how bad these Pollux Geminise were at English, but I was struggling where they had got I was a spy from.
“I never said that, I said I was doing my job.”
“Yes, and your job is to spy on us with our own satellite.”
“No, my job is to turn up at whichever random satellite they send me to and fix it. Sometimes they even tell me what the problem with the satellite is before I get there.”
“You are a Castor sider. Why would you be repairing one of our satellites?”
“Because I was told to.”
“Who told you?”
“My boss at the repair depot.”
“What is their name?”
“Never heard of him. How did you get to out satellite?”
I stifled a laugh; it would appear I was being interrogated by an imbecile. Perhaps on Pollux side the space force was made up of all the people who didn’t study properly.
“No, you didn’t, you came in your spacecraft.”
“If you knew that, why the hell did you ask me how I got here?”
“I need to confirm it for our paperwork.”
I groaned I had been at the whim of their paperwork before. I could be here a long time.
“Did you plant your spying device before we captured you?”
“No, I didn’t have time; you captured me before I had time to turn it on.”
Their purple head turned a darker shade.
“Liar, there was no device on the satellite.”
“Stop asking me stupid questions you already know the answer to then.”
“Where is the device?”
“As you’ve just told me, there is no device.”
“No, I only said there is no device on the satellite, there was nothing of any use on your space craft either. It was a massive surprise to us that the craft flies at all. You must be braver than you look. Now, where is the device you came to plant on the satellite.”
There was no hope for this conversation, they didn’t like the truth, and they knew the answers before they asked the questions. I would have to get creative.
“Well, we knew that this close to Cantidade IV it was only a matter of time before the Pollux Space force turned up to investigate. We had heard great things about them.”
The purple headed freak above me gave what I surmised was his best impression of a smile at hearing that. It terrified me more than any grimace on Gemini III ever had.
“Yes, we are good.”
“The idea was to get captured. I had to hide the spying device up my bottom, and then once I had been captured and taken back to Cantidade IV I was to take the device out from inside of me and plant it at your base of operations.”
I was wrong; their smile wasn’t terrifying, not compared with what appeared on their face above me now. Their face turned black, and half a dozen orifices opened above me. A strange mechanical mewling sound came out of one of them, and then it jumped away from me, releasing me from their grip.
“Emergency, emergency.” Screamed another of the space force.
And then I found the trolley I was on started speeding through their cruiser. It came to a sudden halt in a landing bay, and I was flung off the end with not being secured to it, and I rolled across the bay floor before coming to rest against my captured spacecraft.
Mechanical arms lifted me up and threw me on board my own craft and slammed the door shut behind me. A loud claxon sound went off and five seconds later my craft was flung out of the landing bay and into space. I flinched as it hurtled towards the white object in front of me.
But the craft went straight through it. It was one of the holograms and I had been ejected out at what pretty much looked like it was the belly button of it. I was being flung around the craft and I struggled to make my way to the seat and strap myself in. By the time I had fought with the straps the craft had levelled out and it was approaching the disputed zones rapidly.
I changed course slightly and headed back towards Gemini III. My manager was going to be pissed, I hadn’t mended the satellite, and the tether and air hose had been ripped out of the craft.
I tried parking it in the wrong bay and checking back in under another craft, but Molgwyn was waiting for me. He stalked out to the craft I’d had and looked it over. As well as the tether being wrecked, numerous panels had been damaged by the Pollux space force. I spent ages explaining what had happened, but Molgwyn didn’t believe a word of it. I should have stuck to lying; no one was interested in the truth today.
So, I’m now unemployed. I may have problems finding work now. Unqualified for any of the good jobs, such as doorman, waiter, or parking attendant, and now banned from satellite repair there was little left for me.
I wondered whether it would be possible to apply to the Pollux space force.