“Lakon RAT-01, You are cleared to land, pad #6.”
I’m rubbing my eye and lining the M/V Longshot up on the pad, when I think “It is definitely time for another Insty-Bruu…” Push back, stagger down the hall to the capacious galley (I still call it the ‘capacious galley’ because that’s what that long-ago Lakon sales brochure said that little closet-like space was) and my hands are making another bulb of Insty-Bruu without even being aware of what I am doing —
“RAT-01 YOU ARE ON APPROACH! PULL UP PULL UP PULL UP!” The dispatcher’s voice has lost their professional cool. Whups. I’ve been out in the dark so long I have completely forgotten that one does not walk off for coffee during a landing. I vault back into the chair so fast that the Insty-Bruu bulb hasn’t even hit the floor yet.
Longshot is going into the pad backwards; no problem I push the nose straight down, rotate the axis as hard as I can, pull the nose back up and push the back down with thrusters…
“LANDING GEAR!!!!!” yells the dispatcher.
I hit the switch and ker-clunk –BANG-, well, the gear was down in time, that’s all I can say without my lawyer present. From the back of the cabin comes a new noise I haven’t heard – tap-tap-tap … Oh, right, the Insty-Bruu is spreading across the floor. I’m in gravity again.
I take a few minutes, OK, half an hour, to clean up the Insty-Bruu and pull a comb through my hair. I’d change my flight-suit except I don’t have a spare anyway. Agenda:
3) Pizza and red wine
The gangway is open and I start down it; I’m halfway before I notice a contingent of people at the bottom. Uh-oh. Did I remember to sell those battle-rifles I found? My lawyer is not going to come all the way out here to bail me out; I am so screwed.
As I approach the group, the lady in the middle bows deeply, “Sir!,” she says, her hair swinging in the heavy gravity, “We never expected a visit from our namesake… We welcome and salute you.” She hands me a rose, probably worth a small fortune. I’m looking around, dumbfounded, and thinking that the gangway’s air filters need to be changed, because something is making my eye sting and water.
I manage to stumble out a, “Well, it’s great to be here. Please don’t get too close, I probably smell like roquefort cheese made of gym socks.”
“It’s OK,” she smiles; she’s got nice dimples. “And that landing… Here’s your repair estimate, and the fine.”
This place already feels like home.
I’ve been using “Surly Badger” in various forms as a gaming handle since the 90s. So, naturally, when I started playing Elite, it was as CMDR Surly Badger (“Purveyor of fine pre-owned commodities for the discerning plutocrat.”)
In the most recent game expansion, a set of human colonies core-ward named “Colonia” have been established, with home systems for a few of the more notable gaming groups. Including the Fuel Rats. Who (without my knowledge or approval) named the base in their system after me. I was completely gobsmacked when I heard of that. So I had to go visit it and get some screenshots. And, yes, I actually did nearly pooch the landing. I fly without a shield generator (lightens the ship and increases jump range a bit) and, after 6 months not flying, then a week deep-space jumping 17,000ly to Colonia, my landing-skills were rusty and I nearly made an Asp explorer-shaped impression of myself.