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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Sci-fi · #986604
Sci Fi entry to the Serial Story Contest, asteroid prospecting in a ubercapitalist future
Sean floated through the hatchway and reached out to a handhold to stop his momentum with his feet on the rim of the airlock.

“Excuse me, is this berth #8?” came a voice from behind Sean. He stopped pulling the airlock door shut and spun around to find a young man in a dark blue jumpsuit similar to the gray one he was wearing. As the stranger reached out the wall and pulled himself into a more normal orientation, face to face, Sean saw the large duffel bag strapped on his back and noticed the well practiced moves in zero-G, and realized who this must be.

“Berth 8, the Midas. And you are?”

A quick smile lit up the younger man’s face, “Apprentice Crewman Stewart reporting for duty!”

“Whoa! AC Stewart. You would report to Captain Gunn, if he was here. I’m Sean Porter, Chief Engineer, shuttle pilot, Lead Programmer and ship’s doctor if your desperate. But we are quite informal on the Midas so call me Sean. What does your mother call you?”

Confusion lit his face as he said, “Calvin.” Then as he realized the extent of the question he added, “My friends call me Cal.”

“Well Cal, you’re just in time to help me, just give me your duffel.” He reached for the bag as Cal took it off and then swung it into the open airlock and fastened to a stanchion. A quick pull of the airlock door and Sean input a code to lock it.

In the rotating outer ring of the space station the feeling of gravity asserted itself as Sean and Cal exited the elevator from the zero-G part of the station.

“Look around Cal while I pay for our supplies.”

Sean approached an open store front and spotted the man he needed, “Do you have all of our order ready Master Cimbrani?” As the large man turned around a young woman he had been talking to began to walk over toward Cal.

“Well Mister Porter, everything on your list,” and he picked up a computerpad, “except this.” And he patted a large metal barrel.

As Sean studied the barrel his face fell . “Its obviously right here so what’s the problem? A deal is a deal, no?”

“Someone tripled your offer and until you’ve paid its still mine to sell.” The excuse was made with a tone of complete reasonableness.

Sean looked around the store, stalling to find a way out of this jam and noticed the young woman talking to Cal in earnest as Cal tried to follow Sean’s predicament. Sean smiled broadly at Cal, turned toward Cimbrani, whispered something to him and soon left with the barrel and other supplies on a dolly.

“What happened?” queried Cal as they walked away with the load of supplies.

“Barter is as important as cash here. I got it at the original price but I told him I would keep you busy enough that you couldn’t date his daughter.”
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