The next time I woke up, I was in a sterile white room. I could hear the rhythmic beeping of a heart monitor next to the bed I was in and the buzz of the lights above me. Outside my window wasn't just the endless expanse of space, but a domed area of buildings about the size of a small town. Most of the buildings looked to be made of metal and had a very utilitarian design, though there were some near the center of town that had a mix of neoclassical and Georgian architecture. It looked to be made of marble and brick respectively. as I was gazing out the window, I heard a voice from behind me.
"Ah, Mr. Broz you're awake. Aside from your mild case of muscle atrophy you're in surprisingly better shape than we expected. Just a few bruises here and there, a cracked rib and ring finger and one of your front teeth got knocked out and we can't quite find it."
I placed my thumb in the gap where my left front tooth was and let out a disappointed grunt as the doctor continued.
"With a little bit more rest and some regular exercise you should be back in working condition in no time. My only question is, how did you get roughed up?"
I replied, "The bones and bruises are from what I assume to be space pirates. The muscle atrophy is probably because I was asleep for five hundred years."
The doctor let out a small laugh assuming my last sentence was a joke. Then slowly stopped laughing as he realized I wasn't joking and gave me a perplexed look that turned into surprise as he realized I was completely serious. He stood there stunned for a moment, probably the first time he met someone my age. He then used the silence to change the subject.
"So, Mr. Agawa was the one who checked you in, huh? I believe he was going to check in on you tomorrow."
I replied, "His first name's Joe right? I didn't get to talk to him much before I blacked out. If it's alright with you I'd like to find him and give him my gratitude in person."
The doctor waved his hand and said, "You should be fine as long as you don't overexert yourself. Your clothes are in that container at the foot of your bed and make sure you get your bill before you leave. Take care!" and then left the room. As soon as he left, I quickly got dressed and wandered the halls until I found the receptionist desk.
I informed the receptionist I was checking myself out and before I left he gave me my bill. This is where issue one comes in. When he showed me what I owed I was confused by the currency itself, on the screen he was showing me there were numbers with corresponding shapes next to them. One octagon, two heptagons, seven hexagons and three pentagons. I asked the receptionist how much this was and he replied, "one hundred twenty seven thousand and three hundred credits sir." Unsure of how expensive that is I then kindly asked how much that would be in U.S dollars. He replied again with "Don't know, one hundred twenty seven thousand and three hundred dollars I guess?" This is when issue two sinks in. You see I didn't think to bring my wallet into space with me. I was stranded on this colony with no money and had already racked up over one hundred grand in debt. Luckily due to my situation myself and the hospital were able to come to an agreement. I would find a way to pay off my debt but there would be a one percent monthly interest.
With this new daunting issue and alone in an unfamiliar place, I went looking for the only person I knew by name. I asked around the area for Joe Agawa and was eventually pointed towards a hangar area near the edge of the colony. When I got there I saw a guy in a red jumpsuit, the top half off and tied around his waist. He had a good eight inches on me in height, shoulder length dark hair tied back in a ponytail, and a slight five o'clock shadow starting. As this guy was sorting metals into different crates I waved him down and called out to him
"Hey I'm looking for Joe Agawa, do you know where I could find him?"
Without looking up he bluntly responded "right here. Wait there a few."
I waited a good fifteen minutes before I heard him call out, "I'm finished. Break time." and walk away from the crates. When he turned around and saw me there was a look of recognition in his eyes.
"Oh, good to see you're up Sam"
I was surprised and began to ask, "How did you know-" before he pointed to the nametag on my chest "Ah. That makes sense. Anyway, I was originally gonna come here to say thank you for saving me but I think I might need your help again. I owe a lot of money to the hospital you brought me to."
"Oh, I'm sorry. If I knew your injuries weren't severe I could have patched you up myself but I didn't want to take your suit off while we were still out in space."
I wave my hands in front of me. "No no it's fine, you just wanted to be safe not sorry. I just need some way to make enough money to pay off my debt."
"How much do you owe them?"
"Uhh... a hundred and twenty-seven grand."
Joe winced at the amount of debt I accrued. He then started scratching his head and pacing around the room. With his free hand he slowly counted and shook his head before adding another digit, as if he were listing out options in his head. Once he ran out of fingers to count on he turned to face me again and said "You could work with me. It's risky but it pays well." My response was simply "What exactly do you do?"
"I'm a Rockhopper. The main part of my job is interstellar mining but we're also general problem-solvers for hire. Hired muscle, item retrieval, bounty hunting, you name we do it. You could probably get by on the mining part for a while but if you're looking to pay your debt relatively quickly the real money's in the other work. You're not exactly in working condition right now, but I could probably help you get into shape and then you can apply for an apprenticeship with my company." he then extended his hand towards me and asked, "You good with this plan Sam?" I gave myself a brief moment to think it over, looked at him, shook his hand, and said, "Sounds great. When do we start training?"
After my wounds healed I started a rigorous training regimen with Joe. Whenever he was off work he was there to coach me and train every part of my body. Weight lifting, laps around the colony, exposure to enhanced artificial gravity, and all other sorts of exercise. Once I got the hang of things I even started working out on my own. After about a month of this, I was finally ready.
Finally, the day arrived, the job interview. I prepared myself emotionally by taking a moment to calm down before doing anything else. I prepared myself mentally by pre-planning what I was going to say. I prepared myself physically by putting on my nicest clothes, which unfortunately the only thing remotely nice I had was my NASA jumpsuit. Once I was all set to go, I met up with Joe and he led me to the office his manager worked out of.
The office was near the center of town, second floor of an office complex, last door on the right. The sign on the door read "Laska and Co." When we entered Joe called out, "Hey Liv I brought that guy that wants to work with us!" The husky voice of a woman then called out from another room and said, "It's about time! Come on and meet me in my office!" Out of the small kitchen area came a woman in a dark grey striped suit holding two mugs full of coffee. She was actually an inch or two taller than Joe in the heels she wore and had her dark brown hair in a bob cut. She handed one mug to me, took a sip of the other while looking at Joe and then went into a room on the other side of the office while waving at us to come in.
Her office was minimally furnished with a few bits of decoration here and there, a vase full of sunflowers by the window, a poster of a warm orange horizon over a grassy plain on one wall and a painting of various topical birds on the other. On her desk was a name plate that said "Oliva Laska" on it. She then reached out her hand, took a quick glance at my name tag and said
"Hello Mr. Broz, I'm Olivia Laska and I was told you were interested in joining our little company."
I shook her hand, confirmed my interest and then explained to her my situation and history. I told her about my time as an astronaut. About the mission I was sent on and how it went awry. The circumstances that caused me to wake up in the twenty-sixth century. My chance encounter with Joe and all the help he gave me over the past month. After my long and arduous explanation of everything I had gone through, Oliva turned to Joe and asked,
"You can vouch for this guy right?"
He replied, "Yeah more or less."
"Great! You start tomorrow Samson, or do you prefer just Sam"
A bit taken aback by how casually I had been hired I asked, "Wait was it really that simple?"
Her response was, "Well if my brother trusts you I see no reason not to either."
"You two are related?!"
Chapter Three: END
Defrost Arc: END
Sam's Total Debt: 128,573
Next Time: The Wayward Station arc begins