Chapter 3:

Eternal Shining of the Eternal Chaos

Routing in the three-dimensional space

Space Armed Forces are pure, refined chaos, that from time to time will self-organize to solve some sudden emergency with the first thing that comes up. We are stuck in a reality where small space vessels sometimes took the role of personnel transports (SML-type does not have recreational rooms, cargo holds, and rooms to store aforementioned personnel); insanely expensive research vessels are towing asteroids; elite civilian vessels are caring biological weapons alongside civilians’ passengers; military space stations performing reconnaissance; etc., etc. From the down below it looks insane, but in the never-ending Age of Clusterfucks, the first military vessel (or sometimes civilian) that sees a problem must solve that problem. Because, HQ needs to receive a report, come up with a solution, create an operation plan, approve the plan, find a suitable vessel, send a vessel to the problem… in the meantime, the problem can (and probably will) become a catastrophe of intergalactic scale.

In my case, the first nearest thing was LRG-type military transport Katy Maru. A large and ancient girl (every vehicle in SAF is a girl) was slowly creeping her way back home for the overhaul. Something was wrong with the wiring and power reactors were constantly malfunctioning, delighting crew with sudden zero-G, darkness, and a siren warning about the imminent threat of an explosion. Nowadays the phrase “detonation of the main reactor in 3 seconds” does not evoke any emotions, but back then I’ve almost shit myself. The seasoned crew of the Katy Maru, all in combat suits, were so used to that kind of warnings, they didn’t even stop eating or sleeping in signs of alarms. As for the young and naive idiot like me, who had never left his home planet, such a journey burned out some brain cells and almost gave a PTSD.

Just imagine, you are peacefully sleeping on your bed, dreaming about great adventures and cute girls. Suddenly! Zero-G plus maneuver acceleration is throwing you to the cellar, and to the wall. In the complete and absolute darkness, you are hearing a mechanical woman's voice counting down.

“Explosion of the main reactor in 6 seconds”
“Explosion of the main reactor in 2 seconds”
“Explosion of the main reactor in 4 seconds”
“Explosion of the main reactor. Farewell.”
“Explosion of the main reactor in minus 1 seconds”
“Explosion of the main reactor in minus 4 seconds”

In the end, I learned how to sleep tied to a military bunk; how to move around the corridors, eat and use the toilet (Biological Waste Recycling Site. "Warsi" in Alliance SAF terms, or "Sran" in Katz SAF terms) in extreme conditions; the sudden zero-G become normality; I took part in emergency repairs of the reactor 20 times; I washed the canteen six times and the toilet seven times (I was not ready for a sudden zero-G).

Seven standard days long journey turned a young naive man who knew nothing about SAF into a deadly tired young man, with vocabulary broadened by new Sharp (the main language of Katz) swear words, with extraordinary knowledge about how to use anything to help to fix the reactor, with some debatable skills, and a feeling that he’d managed to make the biggest mistake in his life.

But the shuttle from the low-orbiting sorting station was already falling on the spaceport and there was nowhere to retreat.