I don't know why in the hell they're making me write this damned report, I ain't never had to write no dumb report before. Ain't like I ever been to college or nothing. I didn't even have to write no report after Vesta, why now? People died on that trip, nobody but pirates died on this one. Maybe it was the pirates, I never saw so many God damned pirates, nowhere near that giant swarm of them. Maybe because of the droppers. Maybe because this trip was so damned out of the ordinary in so many other ways? I don't know, I'm just talking into this thing and I don't know where to start, so I'll just start.
I was scared shitless – the CEO had called me into his office. Jesus, the fucking CEO! Why would a CEO want a lowly boat captain to talk to him? Yeah, decades ago ship's captains were really important guys, but that was back when they needed crews, and captains needed to be smart and educated. I was just a glorified bus driver and babysitter. My old buddy Bill is still a space trucker, he likes being alone, he's kind of a nerd. Me, I hate it. Especially after Titan.
I liked hauling passengers because at least I'd have somebody to talk to. It takes a long time to get from planet to planet, especially from Earth to the gas giants because you usually don't have any passengers or live animals so your gravity is less, making it take longer, and it's usually a boring trip. They pay pretty damned good, too – cargo boats don't need babysitters. Plus you usually don't have much gravity on a cargo ship unless the company that hires us to haul their cargo pays an extra, expensive fee, so you need to spend more time in a centrifuge when you get back to Earth after not having much gravity for such a long time. They really have to be in a hurry for that. Boats carrying passengers or animals had pretty comfortable gravity, though. I hear that's one reason our company is number one, because our boats are faster and have higher gravity than the other companies' ships. But carrying passengers is a lot shorter trip to anywhere because of the gravity.
Jesus! The CEO! I was shaking as I walked into his office, I was so scared. If I was going to get fired for that little incident on Vesta my chief would have sacked me. I didn't know what to think.
“Have a seat, Mister Knolls. Coffee?” he said.
“Uh,” I replied, “Uh, yes sir, thank you, sir.” I fidgeted in my chair. His assistant gave me a cup and I took a sip; it was really good coffee, better than I could make. Too bad the robots can't make coffee like that, robot coffee is really nasty.
“Knolls, your supervisor's manager told me all about Vesta.”
I was quaking in my boots and almost pissed my pants. Shit, they were going to prosecute me for killing those two idiots.
“That was some damned good work, Mister Knolls.”
My head kind of exploded. “Sir? Two men died!”
“Yes, Mister Knolls, but you saved two hundred million dollars in equipment and another forty five million in cargo, plus our shipping charges, and the wrongful death suits only cost a million each. We could have beaten them in court; it was their own damned fault, after all. Those two were really stupid, but fighting it would have cost the company more, according to our legal staff. God damned good work, Mister Knolls!”
“Uh, thank you, sir,” I said, wondering how damned evil this man could be. I'd just been trying to save my own ass, there wasn't any saving those two morons, they would have died no matter what I did. I still felt bad about it, though.
“I have a new assignment for you,” he said. “Your supervisor's manager told me you didn't like cargo runs and why, but this time you'll have someone to talk to.”
My head kind of stopped working right then, if it was even working before. He said “This assignment is important. You're the perfect man for this job and we're giving you a fifty percent raise to do it, and Vesta was part of the calculations. You're a very good captain, Mister Knolls. One of our best.”
“Uh, thank you, sir. Uh, what's my cargo supposed to be and where am I taking it?” I asked.
The CEO smiled. “Women. You're to transport two hundred woman to Mars.”
“Women?” I asked, my brain still not working right. Women as cargo? I didn’t get it.
“Prostitutes, Mister Knolls.”
Taking a couple hundred whores to Mars? Wow!
“So, Mister Knolls, are you taking the assignment?”
What could I say except yes? Of course, not ever having met any whores I had no idea how much of a pain in the ass it would be or that I would regret my decision, which I actually started regretting before we even left the ground, when I met Tammy. I wish they would have warned me how dangerous this trip and my cargo was going to be, I'd have retired right then and there. Probably why they didn't. Of course, they didn't know how damned many pirates I'd have to fight off. I'm glad I did now or I probably wouldn't have met Destiny, but the trip itself sure sucked. Except when I was with her.
“Yes, sir, how could I not? Of course! When do I leave?” I said stupidly.
I wish my brain would have been working. God, what a mistake I made. I should have just retired right then and there, I have a little savings and I have my houseboat. Even if I'd have to start printing some stuff out instead of buying it, and I suck at printing stuff out.
Like I said, the trip was nothing but trouble. Well, almost... like I said, there was Destiny. But most of the trip was more horrible than I could imagine. Especially when we got closer to Mars and the monsters and pirates came out.
|Chapter 1||Chapter 3|