Screaming Metal (Part 011)

Priyanka and Deshel descend to the junkyard proper to begin searching for Il'on.

Art by Ryan Sonderegger

Priyanka had had enough. Her voice took a stern, icy tone, "Are you finished?" Her eyes met the both of theirs in turn.

She reminded them of their contract, "You know the risks of every job. This one's no different. This Metal is going to bank us."

She continued, "So unless you'd like to forfeit and disembark here and now, back to your stations. Discussion over."

Suen looked as if she might say something, but she returned to her console without a word.

Deshel, if anything, looked relieved and somewhat ashamed. He nodded and slipped back into his couch.

With a deep breath, Priyanka followed suit.

She called over her shoulder. "We have three to four hours of sunlight at best. ScrapHounds will probably be back around then, too."

"I want a partial reveal of the Metal before we leave to make camp tonight. Suen, drop the coordinates into Navigation." Back to business.

Suen's reply was quick and professional. "Done."

Priyanka took the physical steering yoke for soft-touch guidance to bring the Alley Cat around to the destination coordinates.

The entirety of the Alley Cat was enclosed; a network of small cameras covering the ship gave her a clear view via her console.

A holodar with coordinates and digital crosshairs overlaid the cam-supplied visuals.

A soft beep and a pulsating blue indicator worked in tandem to show proximity, increasing in speed as she closed on the target.

Using the ship's thrusters, she edged them closer until finally all instruments agreed that she had centered the ship over the target area.

Unable to land on the uneven and unstable junk below, the ship would hover while they dug for the Metal.

Standing, Priyanka turned to Deshel. "Alright, Deshel, let's go."

The tall man stood, opened an overhead locker and grabbed a backpack-like e-tool kit. He headed to the cargo bay without a word.

Priyanka "Suen, keep your eyes peeled."

"You got it, Pree." Suen dipped her hands into the holo display of her console and drew the visuals up around her head.

The cargo bay was the most spacious area of the ship, so much so that the crew often relaxed in it during downtime.

Along the opposite wall from the entrance stood a rack of five light exoframes the crew used in possible heavy-work situations like this.

Priyanka had anticipated their use on this job, but was worried that even their strength might not be enough to retrieve the Metal.

There was literally tons of junk beneath them. This wasn't going to be a simple case of regolith excavation or jungle spelunking.

And they couldn't use explosives because they weren't authorized to use anything like that on-planet.

More to the point, a blast might crush or destroy the very prize they sought. So it came down to hard work.

But the kicker was, if Il'on was buried too deep, or had been crushed by the weight, they might be wasting their time.

Deshel was already into his exoframe and was busy attaching additional equipment to the legs of the super-reinforced apparatus.

Priyanka suited up as well and joined him in the center of the area where a large hatch occupied most of the floor.

Deshel turned to his boss. "Ready?"

Activating the magnetic stabilizers on the exoframe's soles, she nodded in reply and he activated a button on his forearm.

On thick cables, they descended from the ship a winch system embedded in the underbelly of the Alley Cat.

The pair stepped off the hatch, testing the mounds of packed junk beneath them before placing their full weight upon it.

**"Screaming Metal" -- all parts**

Made in DNA
Made in DNA

American author/translator living in Japan. Haunts a variety of social media sites, loves writing, spends too much time thinking about pizza.

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Screaming Metal (Part 011)