Author: Quinlan Moss

I wasn’t born in space like most of you. Until I was sixteen years old, I was planet-bound. I only dreamed of traveling to the stars and beyond. If I had known what it was really like, I would’ve remained where I was in my gravity well.

Maybe it does happen like that up there on the flight deck. Admiral Ma slams his fist on the console. “Let’s boldly go where no man has gone before and extract gargantuan amounts of cobalt.” Down here, six decks below, it doesn’t work like that. I’ve never even seen the flight deck.

How did I end up here, you ask? You didn’t? Well I’ll tell you anyway.
It started with a bolt. A vital, one-of-a-kind connecting device specifically designed and tooled out of the highest grade titanium in DRS Frazier’s own Manufacturing Excellence Department (they call themselves that, it doesn’t mean that they are excellent). I needed a new one.

I filed a Form 3652JD-6 with our Manufacturing Excellence Department to requisition a new bolt, like I was supposed to. An automated response from the supervising drone came back to me.

We are reviewing your request. You can expect a response in three days.

Five days later, I received a reply.

We have reviewed your request and have found deficiencies. Please correct the deficiencies and re-submit.

I opened up the form to see what they needed.

Please attach a scanned image of the requested item and indicate on the scan why the current item can no longer be used.

That was a problem. The old bolt had come loose and fallen out during an over-zealous docking at Calisto. I had no idea where it was. I had a few options. Option 1. I could take a photo of another bolt and make it look as if it need replacing. Yes, a dishonest approach. Honesty is not always the best policy. I’d need two bolts instead of one for that option. Or Option 2, tell the truth – I didn’t know where it was. A dilemma indeed. I told the truth. Another five days passed.

We have reviewed your request and found deficiencies. You have filed Form 3652JD-6. You must file Form 152CH-5 for a lost or stolen item and pay the associated fine of 600 chits.

This was ridiculous. The bolt itself, if I had bought it from Musafir would have cost 10 chits. Pay a fine for a bolt I hadn’t lost? Not on my watch. Option 1 now seemed like a better idea. I extracted an older bolt from a dark corner of DRS Frazier’s interior bulkhead, sanded down a few of the threads, scanned it, attached it to Form 3652JD-6, completed the rationale and re-submitted it.

We are reviewing your request. You can expect a response in three days.

We docked at Quirinus two days later. You know what happened there. It was all over the grid. The vibrations from the engine core destabilized the magnetic fields and the VASIMR thrust regulator exploded.

“Lucky to be alive,” they said. Yes, lucky, here in my cell with my conviction for improper maintenance.