To call the sound a klaxon would be overdramatic, sure, but given the unexpected nature of its presence it might as well have been a sonic boom. You briefly try to figure out the bullshit odds of someone coming within range of a drifting ship, then quickly cast them aside as the far more important issue of "is this ship going to kill me" quickly surfaces in your mind. You scramble back to your computer, having gotten up for a brief moment to stretch your legs and do some basic exercise, and slam your fingers into the keyboard in a desperate attempt to figure out anything about the approaching ship.

It's moving slowly, that much you can gather for certain. The periodic updates on location (a feature that's technically illegal to use, but like hell you're going to tear off your dish because of some lawmakers back on Mars) let you know this, but you're still incredibly skeptical. Minutes pass, and you figure out that it's going to be a couple weeks at least until you get anywhere close enough to be at risk. Maybe they're another drifter? Hell, maybe they're just a piece of debris with a signal stuck in them? You run through possible explanations, but none of them quite feel plausible enough. After ten, fifteen more minutes, you take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and send out a brief message.


nevadaship_: uh hey
nevadaship_: are you like
nevadaship_: good

The pinnacle of professionalism, you are. Honestly, you hope you weren't too formal. After all, such genius verbosity has gotten you in trouble in the past.


...

Still no response. Another few points for the "piece of debris" argument- however, that appointment has more or less lost credibility given the success of your pings. A few more minutes before you try to stop tearing your hair out and give up.


VSL-4129A: Hello
VSL-4129A: Are you still there
VSL-4129A: I am more or less good, thank you, just a bit isolated and perhaps, well
VSL-4129A: Confused as to why this incessant beeping on my ship has refused to stop
VSL-4129A: But yes I'm physically well
VSL-4129A: Are you?

Holy fuck. If you were slightly less of an asshole, and slightly more consumed by loneliness, perhaps your first thought would've been something that wasn't "god, this person sounds like they have a stick up their ass." However, you're a rude piece of shit, and you're used to the endless void that is space, so you simply roll your eyes.


nevadaship_: yeah i'm fuckin peachy lmao
nevadaship_: just adrift in space like you do when you're hangin out
nevadaship_: not like drifting obv i'm just like using my engine
nevadaship_: it's a figure of speech ok
VSL-4129A: Yes
VSL-4129A: I'm familiar with both the illegality of drifting and the concept of using words in ways that are not exactly literal, you know
VSL-4129A: It would be kind of embarrassing if I were not.

The snoot-o-meter just keeps on rising. Were this ship's pilot a bit more poorly spoken, they'd fit right in with the fuckers on Qnet.


nevadaship_: look ok i don't actually give a fuck either way
nevadaship_: are you like
nevadaship_: with a corp or something
nevadaship_: most non-affiliated vessels usually have at least some sort of a nickname
nevadaship_: instead of just the vessel code. makes you look weird

It occurs to you to ask for access to the database for the vessel code's accompanying model. It's pretty low for a VSL- definitely a Sumitomo ship, since that's what they use- but all you can get right now is worthless speculation. It's not like you're high enough to go very far in the queue.


VSL-4129A: Well
VSL-4129A: I am unaffiliated so to speak but I find it unnecessary to bother with renaming the ship
VSL-4129A: Especially seeing as I have been without contact of any sort for quite some time.
nevadaship_: well you've got qnet and shit right
nevadaship_: i'd assume your qnet code would be the same as your ship one
VSL-4129A: I do not have any sort of Quantum Net access

What the fuck?


nevadaship_: r you on like a brief mission or something
nevadaship_: i'd be bored out of my mind without qnet
VSL-4129A: My current expedition has no planned destination, nor does it have a planned timespan

Okay, yeah, what the fuck. Is this some crazy person floating out in the middle of nowhere for no reason, not talking to anyone? I mean, you've heard of prisoner jettisoning before, but you always figured they'd just kill someone instead of wasting resources on a doomed ship. You're suddenly concerned once more that you're talking to, like, an axe murderer or something.


nevadaship_: uh how long have you been out here
nevadaship_: cause as a certified loner that sort of thing is kind of horrible enough with net connection
VSL-4129A: About four months
VSL-4129A: Although I have had bouts of solitude that lasted far longer...
VSL-4129A: Would you prefer I add it all up for you, or were you only refering to my most recent "adventure"

Okay, definitely either an axe murderer or some sort of weird masochist who gets off on being depressed. You're no longer irritated by this random pilot, more just... totally bewildered? You've never seen someone so interesting, and that's saying something, given your job's tendency to lead you directly to the strangest, most gullible of people.


nevadaship_: are you like
nevadaship_: good
nevadaship_: like i'm not able to help much but like do you need me to call someone or something
nevadaship_: do you have an emergency contact
VSL-4129A: I'd really, really like it if you didn't
VSL-4129A: I am well
VSL-4129A: Not on the best terms with many, you could say.

"Weird depressed loser" crossed off the list, your only options now are serial killer or bank robber. Maybe they're rolling in it? That would explain the Sumitomo code, if that's what it is. Some illegal asteroid stock trader. Doesn't explain the lack of QNET, though. You decide to pry just a little.


nevadaship_: lmao what did you steal your ship or something
nevadaship_: are you "on the run" from "the law"
VSL-4129A: There is no reason for me to respond to such a probing question.
nevadaship_: holy shit you did
nevadaship_: look over here, sumitomo-robbing space pilot-
nevadaship_: uh whats your name
VSL-4129A: Unimportant. How did you know my ship was a Sumitomo product?
nevadaship_: lucky guess
nevadaship_: whats your name tho
nevadaship_: we're gonna be within range of each other for a while unless you were drifting for fun so like
nevadaship_: id like to call you something thats not just "vessel four one two nine ay"
nevadaship_: (that is what it sounds like when i say it.)
VSL-4129A: It's...
VSL-4129A: Call me Asya.

Shit. That's a really pretty name.


nevadaship_: ok asya
nevadaship_: and uh sorry idk if thats like
nevadaship_: what do you want me to refer to you by is what i'm asking
nevadaship_: like im a girl mostly so like you can call me she or like they if you were to ever talk about me to another person
nevadaship_: which honestly probably wnt happen cause you don't have qnet but yknow
VSL-4129A: You mean you're asking what pronouns to use for me?
nevadaship_: sure if you wanna be a nerd
VSL-4129A: She, her, hers, herself, any and all are more than fine
nevadaship_: cool

So there's a loser nerd girl in a ship near you for the next, well, several weeks. This is your first time talking to someone who wasn't your boss in months, and probably your longest conversation since... well... yeah. As much as you feel like you should be annoyed by this lady, you cannot help but want to keep talking. Damned isolation.

An alarm goes off. Break time is over, back to the grind.

nevadaship_: yo i gotta get back to work but like
nevadaship_: nice to meet you asya
nevadaship_: shoot me a message whenever ill answer if i'm not busy

No response. She might be occupied as well- you never really asked if there was anyone else on that ship (though, to be fair, most drift alone, and she fits the role of "sad lonely girl" perfectly.) With a sigh, you dramatically crack your fingers and get back to work.

back

back to cobi home.
all the way back home.