They are Smol: Chapter 8

When we last left our heroes:

  • Bill got a P R O M O T I ON
    • He was too cute for /u/Puncledorf, who top humanologists agree is just, way too tsun
  • Rauleh-of-Nragren is actually a responsible adult
  • There are doggo conspiracies afoot
  • Grashak-of-Arhraf still did nothing wrong

————————————————————————————————————

“[Ok! LINE UP FOR INSPECTION, YOU KNOW THE CHASE.]”

Bill was ready – obviously, for inspection of his rig, but more he was ready for today. The initial satellite launch was terrifying, sure. The subsequent ones, less so. Now?

One could say he was addicted, but you’d be wrong. There was a certain feeling of speed, of movement and freedomthat you got when you were encased in those VR chassis, that no other type of control schema had come close to. What at first had seemed disorienting soon became exciting, and with the excess amount of fuel (and, Bill would guess, some leeway from Rails) he could afford to do a few loops, spins, and chases. Turning the camera to zoom in on your own bridge, “watching” yourself disappear – that was fun. Watching magnetic storms rage across the poles of the planet you’re orbiting, and then getting clearance to fly through them? That was awesome. Seeing the binary star crest over a frozen moon, ice geysers creating rainbows a thousand miles wide….

Addiction was too light of a word. Bill was living for this.

Sgt. Rauleh-of-Nragren made her way down the line, checking helmets and straps, chiding her problem children over the usual mistakes until she made her way to Bill.

“[Well.] Rauleh smirked, “[If you were one of us, baring your teeth like that would be a challenge! Excited to launch your first probe?]”

“You have no idea. It’s basically a gigantic missile! How could I not be excited to blo-“

“[Ah! Kinetic Mining probe. Senate protocol does not allow civilian or non-military government vessels to carry such horrific things as missiles, and I’d hate to have one of your sorties reviewed by the higher-ups and you say such a crass word.]” Sgt. Rauleh-of-Nragren finished her lecture with an obvious ‘wink’ (really, a shake of the head that meant the same thing), and Bill nodded.

“Right. I am very excited to launch a Kinetic Mining probe,” Bill said, making sure to put the emphasis on thickly, “which will impact the moon with such force as to eject strata into orbit, allowing our sensors to better determine the quality of minerals and metals on this rock, and absolutely not make a fucking sweet-ass explosion.”

“[Hah! Give me your write-up before you submit it; I don’t think [fucking sweet-ass] explosion is the proper terminology.]” As she was speaking, she leaned forward and inhaled like she had done half a dozen times before, and like half a dozen times before she pulled away, smiling. “[Well. Do your best out there today, alright? Those probescost us quite enough resources, and manufacturing another one would put us off-schedule.]”

“Rails. You’re asking me to literally hit the broad side of a moon. I can do that.”

————————————————————————————————————

“{3 minutes out, Copy?}”

“[Copy. [Planetary-stationary] orbit achieved, waiting for go.]”

Sgt. Rauleh-of-Nragren looked over the deck, noting how most of her crew were simply ‘working’. Almost all eyes were on the mission screen, or on the little human strapped into the control chamber.

[Bill] wiggled a bit on his seat in anticipation, and Rauleh sighed.

“{You are orange for final descent. Full thrust.}”

“[Alright! Copy that – pedal to the metal!]” [Bill] crowed, and he leaned forward in his seat as the mining probe made it’s first and final descent to the moon.

“{…he does realize that leaning forward doesn’t make it go faster, right?}” Brera said, watching [Bill] from his usual spot.

Brera got another silent snap of Rauleh’s jaws in reply. “{Stop. Maybe it’s just a [Human] thing? He’s been leaning every time he makes a turn or a pivot, so…}”

“{Mm, yes, I guess so.}”

“[Oooooh I am feeling it!]”

“{Feeling what, [Bill]?}” Rauleh replied, thumbing her commbead.

“[THE NEED FOR SPEED.]”

Rauleh looked up at a silently-snickering Brera, who turned away. “{Shall I cap his probe speed?}”

“{Mmm. Set max to 15%. That should still get us up to around 200km/s. We don’t want everything flying off so quick we don’t get a read.}”

“{Yes Ma’am.}”

The moon filled most of the screen now – the targeting camera directly a little left of center on the “desired” landing spot, but still well within “preferred”.

“{[Bill] change track 5 degrees anteward of orbit or else you’ll miss desired probe landing point by 90km.}”

“[Copy that! I’ve also achieved maximum velocity; I thought these probes could go faster?]”

“{They can. They could also launch what we’re trying to measure out of range of our sensor grid far faster than I’d like, and into inter-planetary orbit. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to not have to reposition every satellite to avoid a new debris field. Samples would be nice too.}”

“[…You could’ve just told me to slow it down.]”

“{Would that have been as much fun for you? Also, Impact in 2 minutes.}”

“[Fine. Eer. Copy. I mean, it’s fine that you cut my speed and – know what? Copy.]” [Bill] mumbled to himself, idly spinning the probe’s camera about.

The moon loomed large – the main screen was completely filled, landscape detail now apparent. Rauleh sighed and straightened up, turning off her commbead to begin a long-standing station tradition.

“{PLACE YOUR BETS, HALF-MINUTE LIMIT.}”

“{5 credits on the mountain range.}” Egrezre-of-Frgan called out, followed by a few confirmations

“{Plateau! 10 credits! The one near that glacier!}” Brera-of-Arhraz countered. “{It’s big and flat and is begging to be disintegrated!}”

“{Glacier itself! 20 credits!}” another technician interrupted, followed by a few more confirmations

The gambling war continued until the minute-thirty mark, and with a wordless bark Rauleh ended the positioning.

“[What the hell was that all about? Everything ok?]”

Rauleh turned her communications matrix back on. “{Yes, [Bill], just getting all my sensor technicians to pay attention – another soundoff. You impact in one minute – picked out a spot yet?}”

“[Hmm… anything’s good?]”

“{Yep, but you better hurry. 40 seconds.}”

“[Uhhhh….]”

“{Half-minute.}”

“[The big flat thing that I can’t mi-]”

“{YES!}” Brera howled, soon being pelted with various office-trash and empty wrappers, and Rauleh waved everyone silent.

“{Impact in 7, 6 -}” Rauleh began to count

Suddenly the rest of the crew remembered it had a job to do

“{Telemetrics good.}”

“{-5, 4,-}”

“{Sensors Orange across all spectrums.}”

“{-3, 2-}”

“[WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO]” [Bill] added to the conversation, his howl of joy semi-echoing in his command console.

“{Capture drones in place, Orange.}”

“{Impact. Well done.}” Rauleh smiled, tail swaying from side to side. She quickly thumbed an override on [Bill]’s command console, switching him to longer-range sensors so he could see the larger result of his efforts.

“[Aww, [fuck] yeah. [FUCK] YEAH.]” he bounced, filled with energy. “[Aww. Can we save this video? Please? I wanna… I want this to be my happy place.]”

Laughing, Rauleh responded. “{Sure thing. We’ll add it to your file.}”

————————————————————————————————————

Bill was having a good day today: He blew up a moon.

Well. He fired a missile that blew up part a moon…

…he launched a kinetic mining probe that created a localized impact just forceful enough to launch debris into orbit to be scanned to determine if this moon was worth further investment.

But fuck all that noise. Bill blew up a moon and nobody was gonna tell him otherwise. Not you, not me, and not the other people he was on retrieval duty with.

“[I’m just saying, the mountain range was right there.]” The male Dorarizin complained as the drone tracked into the cargo bay, locking itself down on purpose-built rails.

“Sorry, how many moons have you blown up?” Bill countered, grinning at Grewreh-of-Azrehs (or ‘Grapes’, as Bill called him), who looked at him flatly.

“[I’m a sensor technician and a profitability engineer, I don’t control drones.]” He chided, touching a control pad in his hands. The spherical drone slowly spun in place.

“So, none. Take it from me, kid, I’m a grizzled veteran of blowing up moons, and I know where to aim.” Bill proudly stated, posing arms akimbo and stance wide.

His pose didn’t give him any hope of dodging the friendly swipe that staggered him. “[Kid! I’m 300 of your years old! If anything, you’re the child here.]”

Rolling his shoulders, Bill turned his stagger into a brisk walk, heading up to the drones ‘rear’ compartment. He pressed his hand to the oversized release panel, waiting for a confirmation from Greweh. “So does that mean I can claim child abuse?”

“[Hah! Please. Even I know you’re in mating-age. Anyway, confirmation received, panel should be opening.]”

“Yep.” Bill responded as a section of the drone seemed to melt into itself, rows of neat oversized compartments slowly sliding out.

“[Great. So now we’ll just be taking them out and putting them on the transporter-]”

Bill was still riding the high of blowing up a moon so, he didn’t really wait for Greweh to finish. His brain simply thought:

  • take box – simple
  • put box on thing – simple
  • I wield the power of a GOD
  • put more boxes on thing – simple
  • bask in glory – simple

And so, with no warming up or preparation, he pulled out and lifted one of the overhead (to him) compartments that stored a modest 45kg of powdered material. He was able to do so for roughly 2 seconds before the thing tipped, the latch popped open, and the moon had some semblance of revenge.

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