Andrew waded through the haze and smoke of the tiny space bar named ‘Millerson’s View’. It smelled of gin and grilled meat, a combination, he knew, would cause havoc in any but the most resolute stomachs. As was the music here. Consequently, only spacefarers would buy here. That’s where Andrew’s ‘gut feeling’ came in. Somehow he knew he’d find the guy here that he was looking for; and it didn’t take him long to spot him.
„Hey, Araan! Seat’s empty?“ he gestured towards one of the big empty lounge chairs.
„Gaspurr, yo’old trucker! Hao’s it going? Heared yo called a’port days ago. Hao come yo’only nao coming a’down to us other space rats?“
The thick Altairian accent could be heard from a light second away, even against the heavy beats of the bar’s music. It belonged to a fellow in his late thirtees with orange-blonde hair and tinted glasses that made him almost look like a barber. But of course he wasn’t. He was ‘space material’ just like Andrew and presumably everybody else at ‘Millerson’. Andrew was deliberately looking for his old acquaintance from Federation Navy times. He had that adventurous spirit in him that Andrew knew he would need in the coming months. He put on his ‘I have something for you’ smile.
„So Andrew! What bizness does’em Federal Logistics have in here? Yo a’looking for them Alioth mastodon steaks? Ah no, me mistake. They’se Feds kicked yo’out, didn’t ’em? None of’em Logistics no more, no?“ He grinned: „Forgot about that.“
Andrew took one of the big lounge chairs at Araan’s table and ordered some spirit from the HoloMenu. „No you didn’t. And don’t you be funny, pal. You know it was hell-and-back. Besides, I picked up with the Alliance. So here I am, same as you.“ He looked around as if he wanted to adress everybody personally. „I heard your four service terms in the Merchant Flotilla are over. Got anything to do besides showing grannies through the galaxy?“
„Why? We do a’raising us some cattle on our last days, no? Us two old farts? Galaxy spit us out at last?“
Andrew finally got slightly more serious: „I’m putting a crew together, Araan. I need an ace navigator and a sensor specialist.“
„What fors? Traffic controls in Epsilon Indi? Heared that’s is’ where all’em aces go, no?“
„Nah! I was approached by the Alliance’s ‘Long Arm Expedition’. The new one. They offered to hire me for a survey of some deep sky objects nearby. I organised an Anaconda for that so I need at least two more chaps willing to spend the next few months between sensors and food cartridges “
„An Annie? And the Long Arm, ey? Thought they went into a flare and got waped…“
„Yes. The Long Arm used to be a scouting thing back in the day. Most of its ships got wasted some seven years ago, nobody ever knew exactly why. Now the Alliance put it up again and uses it to explore new worlds and stuff. I’m sure you saw the commercial, it’s all over the place.“
„Yeah, saw’em. They’se putting all the mothballs back to work? Wasn’t that Asp yo’gotcha one of ’em Long Arm ships? Alliance must’a have it deep for them new territories if they’se necroing that old hulls.“
„Yes. Talking about old hulls…“ He clapped his old friend on the shoulder. „You in?“
„Bah! No had nothing else to’do, no? Pack up me thingies and off we go, I say. Still, find yo’self that other chap tho’, will ya?“
„Yes.“ Andrew hesited for a moment. „Do you know where Sanya is?“
„Sanya Kho?“ Araan raised a brow.
„Yes. Lady Spacetruck herself. I’m thinking of her being the third chap. She’s an engineer and tinkerer if ever there was one.“
„Well, well, well…“ Araan leaned back into the lounge seat, taking a sip from his Alnitak Gin. „Last I heared she a’left Sirius fo’good, try’n to picks it up a’salvage runs nears Empire space. We mighta go downs a’there and have us a’look.“
„Ya, I likes’em food cartridges. I never coulda gets used to real meat anyway. Pay’s good with the Long Arm?“
„Standard StellarCart rates plus a bonus on ELW’s and some ‘special discoveries’ they are aiming at. I’ll fill you in later.“
„Righto. Where’s she?“
„Docking Bay 24.“
„24, oki doki. I’ll grabs me bags, say me goodies in the ‘Velvet Palace’ and meets yo a’there in two.“
„Right. Good to have you onboard, Midshipman Masiun.“
„Middie? Go fuck yo’self, I won’t come below Rear Arsemiral.“
„I’ll write it on your helm. See you.“