— CORPORATE SALVAGE PILOT # 0370ALPHA CALLSIGN RAFIKI : PERSONAL LOG 01.06.04.2209.1809 —
Two years. Or near enough it makes no difference. Not to me, anyway. I spent the better part of a year trying to find my way here, to find a way to fit, to click into place, to other-cliches-that-are-other-ways-of-saying-to-build-a-life with the people and the options I have available to me. It hasn’t been a complete bust, not really, but, almost two years in, I find myself adrift.
I’ve barely touched this log for anything more than the requisite (you know, logging of salvage activities) but these past few months, I’ve found that I need a place to clear my head. To reminisce. I tried losing myself in the job. I tried losing myself in drinks and stims and holos and hollow liaisons. But the only thing I’ve been finding any comfort in is remembering Nan’s old stories about the way things used to be, when her Nan was a girl.
The way she told it, we never should have left that old rock in the first place. By the time we vacated, recovery efforts had already reached thirty percent and showed no signs of slowing, with or without our presence. There are, even now, people who still support this idea, but I have a hard time believing it is anything more than an old wives’ tale. I mean, if the “Old World,” as proponents of this ridiculous conspiracy theory refer to Earth, was strong enough to be inhabitable again, wouldn’t the corporations have already moved the bulk of humanity back home? I mean, come on, guys. If I never hear another ‘duster in their cups rambling on about how “Leaders of industry have already resettled Earth and claimed it as their own lush playground” it will be too damn soon.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that they don’t really care about us, but to pull off something that fucking big? Yeah, but no. Reality is pretty easy to figure out. The simplest thing is usually also the truest thing. Forget how hard it would be to get past the defenses the original pioneers set up, there just isn’t any real reason for them to want to go back. Not until we all can. They have enough privacy and riches and whole damn moons to themselves — in some cases, at least — that going back to a planet they would have to split up amongst the scattered trillions would hardly be worth the effort.
And no matter how you slice it, we will never do much better than a few acres of middling land on a decently terraformed planet, hoping that whatever fate befell the Early Colonials is kind enough to pass us by. We all want a chance at the easy life, right? Enough scratch for a parcel of land as similar to Earth as we can find — but as far from an EC settlement as possible — the ‘bots to tend it, and all the whiskey a girl could need
I spent some time with an amber skinned Old Earth fanatic — who happened to be an exec for the corporation — not too long ago. I won’t mention any names here since this can be monitored, but she told me she loved me once. It was while we were talking about what we would do if we could drop everything, leave our jobs, and just do whatever made us happy. It was one of those rare and beautiful moments when you find out that someone wants exactly what you want out of life. I never told her I loved her back. She died soon thereafter, ironically enough, in an OE attack on headquarters in Jakartabaru, while I was off scavving a freighter in the Outer Reaches.
We all keep little things for ourselves in these hauls. Perks of the job. If you find something that you want and it is under a certain hard value, the corporation lets it slide, kind of like a thank you that you have to work as hard as you do to get your usual pay. But that last haul, when she died in the attack on the Jakartabaru HQ, I found a bottle of Old Earth whiskey, the kind of stuff we talked about distilling together if we could ever get out of our lives and onto some land, as close to Old Earth as possible, but far away from those old Early Colonial settlements. The label was faded and mostly peeled away, but I could make out the word “bourbon” and the word “tucky,” neither of which made a whole hell of a lot of sense. Tucky sounds like someone’s dumb nickname and Bourbon is just a way to flavor meat. A great way to do it, for sure, but I don’t know what it has to do with whiskey.
She’s been gone a year tonight and I had never cracked this bottle open before my shift ended about an hour ago. I didn’t know what exactly it would taste like, would feel like. I didn’t know if it would kill me or be completely impotent from old age. I didn’t know if it would burn out my guts and set my brain and my heart, my ka, ablaze. I didn’t know if it would take me down this road and remind me of all the painful beautiful horrible glorious and perfect stops along the way. I didn’t know that the contents of an ancient glass bottle could transport me to that parcel of land, with the ‘bots to tend it, and all the whiskey a girl could need. And that amber skinned woman, skin the same color as what lives in this bottle that says ‘bourbon” from “tucky” and fills me with the warmth every haul I’ve ever worked has stolen from me.
She’s been gone a year tonight and all I can do is keep toiling in these mines, these mines that, in the end, got her killed, though she never stepped foot in them. Through them. Mines lined with dark matter and the dust of stars and that cold, cold vacuum. With the wreckage of a civilization lost and our feeble attempts to eke out a living from their scraps and remnants. This bottle isn’t half gone and I am all gone and all I can think is that she died and I never told her I loved her back.
— CORPORATE SALVAGE PILOT # 0370ALPHA CALLSIGN RAFIKI : PERSONAL LOG 01.06.04.2009.1947 —