The very first thing anyone learns about space is that you're always going to be cold. The metal is cold. The air is cold. The lack of air is even colder. You figure luxury liners probably have enough fuel to keep it warm, but even the old cargo carrier your parents worked on was never more than fifty degrees, even during Summer Week. You find yourself missing the warmest week of the year with your whole heart as you finally work up the courage to get out of bed. You flinch as your bare feet touch the cold metal plates beneath you. You put your boots on. Wouldn't want tetanus. Again.

Your “morning” routine is the same as it always is: you brush your teeth without toothpaste, rinse your face quickly with the same water you used the last four times, and snack on a prefab granola bar and a protein stick. You chug down your glass of water for the half-sol, and apply another layer of deodorant. You stare at yourself in the mirror for ten straight unblinking minutes. Eventually, your watch buzzes. Back to the computer you go.

Quantumnet moderation is the easiest job in the world, you often think. Just monitor for unauthorized connections, record any unaccounted-for link hops, and forward any and all information to the relevant authorities. Despite what a facile task it seemingly is, today like every other marks a sol without any interaction from qnet authorities. You’d lost count of how many quarters had passed since you managed to get a copy of the connection software, and yet nobody had even questioned the presence of “greatmojave124.” It’s not like you’re complaining, but damn, guys. Try a little harder next time, yeah?

After a bit of fucking around on the forums, watching rich kids argue over whether or not Sailor Moon could take on Optimus Prime, you reluctantly get to work. These fuckers leave their card details wide open, and with a little hacking, a lot of encryption breaking, and a supercomputer the size of your ship, someone can crack right into those accounts. If the equipment required wasn’t any indication, that means you’re not the one who does the cracking. That’s the base’s job. You, along with an unknown number of employees (thank you, compartmentalization) have the task of getting account codes by any means necessary. For you, that usually just means finding a spot on the forums where someone else dumped them. Easy stuff. You dramatically crack your fingers and begin to prowl the net, a predator in search of its prey.


---

Nine hours.
Five fucking hours with nothing. A brief glimmer of hope when you saw a kid trying to buy out a VIP position, but the numbers were fake. Two more hours. You take a break, have a snack, breathe. Another two. Nothing. Still. Fucking. Nothing. You've been at this for what, a couple years by now? This has to have been the longest streak you've dealt with. It's even a Friday evening on Phoenix, yet still no kids fresh out of d-school have asked how to "hack" their bullies, no geriatric fans of the old Internet have asked for tech support in the wrong thread, and not even a single soul has asked about blockchain. You're tearing out your hair at this point. You spin your chair around, and the violent squeak it gives in response reminds you to add lubricant to your ever-growing list of shit to buy if you ever get the credits. Standing up, you walk the three feet to your "pantry." Today calls for food that *wasn't* prefabbed. You grab a can of tomato soup, put it near the engine for a minute or so, and grab the can-opener. You sigh, and return to your work.

After all, you can't afford to skimp out on fuel again.

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