Port Jefferson is kind of a lofty name for a mismatched collection of deep space stations and hollowed out asteroids in VanKilla Kiertotahti’s Outer Belt. But then the outer belt has little to recommend it, so to expect a grand port would be silly.
The outer belt is mostly devoid of raw resources, a fact that the scientists are still after a 100 years or more at a loss to explain. The dearth of resources however provides the University of St. Mary of Mars a good test for their state of the art mining equipment. If you can get blood out a turnip then the equipment must be good! The University is the crown jewel of Port Jefferson. Standing apart from the rest of the Port’s habitats it is a cutting edge design both ascetically pleasing and highly functional. You have to give them their due; the schools architects’ and engineers know how to design more than just drilling tools.
Sitting in the passenger lounge Al-Sharref stared at the holo display coming from the orange sized device sitting in his lap. He was going over the dossiers’ on the group he had picked for the Whippet or whatever they ended up calling it. The first one had just arrived. Mika DeKlerke, a space brat raised around scavengers and Tinkers. Not an obvious choice but perfect for Al-Sharref’s purposes. First of all available and without immediate job prospects, second a wandering soul with just the right hint of curiosity and third someone who wouldn’t be missed too much. And she had skills too; you could never have enough people that could fix things on a Starship he thought.
She looked around expectantly, no doubt looking for a coffee colored man in a Keffiyeh. There are all sorts of disguises but surprisingly one of the most effective is simply a name. It is Al-Sharref’s disguise of choice. He would send his robot over shortly once a few more of his handpicked crew arrived. A couple more were due to dock within the hour.
Well there was no mistaking the next crewman, wait a minute that’s being racist, the next crew sentient. Covered in fur, 7 foot tall and roughly the size of a compact grav car Kimba Bloodfang was unmistakable. The big silverback was an imposing figure.
The humans in the terminal seemed to part before him as he made his way down the gangway from the VanKila Kiertotahti shuttle. His gear was in a large duffle bag and one large floater suitcase. And of course he had a nasty looking gauss rifle strapped to his back.
He was imposing enough to intimidate most humans, even combat veterans and as any good soldier knew that was half the battle. If the other guy was afraid of you, you are well on your way to winning and Kimba was a movable piece of intimidation.
Security was well on its way to being taken care of. The Gorilla had spent a lot of time aboard ship in the Marines, Al-Sharref paged through the dossier. I wonder if he has any other useful skills he thought.
Robots are a ubiquitous part of the 30th century. They are as invisible as the cleaning people of the 20th century were. They’re there, you see them but for the most part you look right through them.
That was no doubt the case for the majority of those in the waiting area as the little UR-14 came floating in. Al-Sharref however immediately recognized it for what it was…the third member of the Whippet’s crew. Anyone who was paying attention would have recognized that this was the physical interface of an AI. The green versus red optics ringing the head sized sphere were the give away. It was amazing though how many people didn’t even notice. An AI by law was required to sport green optics, although an AI wanting a measure of privicy might ignore the law and risk the fine for doing so. In this case the AI known as Neurog followed the law.
Al-Sharref felt lucky to have recruited the digital entity as it came with a very handsome dividend. As a Trinity Research Station Fellow it was a part of a research team testing a new power plant and it’s first trials would be aboard the Whippet. The thing supposedly had two modes, one to increase the energy conversion factor per ton of fuel the other burned through fuel like a son-of-a-bitch but put out an enourmous amount of joules quickly. Theoretically this could superpower a laser or particle beam, increase sensor range or even, and this was a tricky one push a ship through T-Space faster than their TLD rating. His datapad dinged to inform him the experimental drive was being loaded into the Whippets. He pulled up the holo and saw a team of robots not unlike the UR-14 loading the various components of the drive into the ships cargo hold.
He hoped Neurog had some quantum cores it could plug into the ships relatively small Q-3 computer. It was only rated for a 15 processing power, much to small for even a young AI. If Neurog didn’t it was going to have to zip up a whole bunch of skills!