Author : Andrew Hollis

The manual had been totally inadequate. For a start the Chinglish translation was hopelessly out of date, there were archaic digiverbs in it that must have been superseded at least three authorisations ago.

Of course flight inexperience would be no excuse, especially when explaining how a Mastodon runner had ended up fur-balled across the front skid!

But if he stopped at a detox point on his way back to the Arc he could hose off the mess and concoct some story about pranging a floater. Tell the dispatcher it was a false trace, no runner found. Then on the return trip his ship had smacked into a discarded fuel pod. He pulled some hair from the twisted skid; shit, with floaters scattered all over the place it’s a believable excuse.

The Waxer buzzed in his ear, “three zero, snoozed the Masto yet?”

He winced at the static fuzzing across his eardrum, “Nope, it was a false trace, nothing there but prefabs and blowflies”.

“The trace looked strong, did you ask around?”

Sure he’d spoken to the settlers, they were happy to carve up the carcass and share it out, no questions asked. It made a change from blowing nosebags of disgusting Nutrinow.

‘Yeh I spoke to the land agent, they’ve seen nothing. I’ll checkout the bat farms in the valley. Maybe it’s there hoovering up fruit.”

The fuzz tickled again, “Ok but keep it slow through there, don’t want your air shock flipping trays.” Yeh the last thing I need on top everything else is a dozen hanging baskets of splattered fruit wrapped around the fins.

He flicked on the Grav-it and dropped gently to the red earth. The holoplay was scuffed but had survived his frustrations; he dusted it off and re-launched a how-to of the ship’s dashboard.

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