About a year ago...
“Honey, I’m home!”, I called out as the bulkhead clanks shut behind me. The backpack flew into the nearest corner, followed by my boots. All lights were on, yet no reply - exactly as I expected it. Walking into the next room, my feet caressing the softness of the carpet, I found my little sister in her favourite position: slouched in a comfy chair, eyes closed, the neuro-transducers streaming knowledge into her brain.
Noticing my entrance, she opened her eyes for a moment, and held up two fingers: Two minutes. Which was fine with me, as I was about three months overdue for a strong drink. The house bar quickly obliged with something frosty, tall, and positively flammable, and I let myself drop into one of my other comfy chairs.
On cue, the “Active” light on Eta’s transducers blinked off, and she returned to the land of the living.
“Welcome back, sis!”, she smiled, “How was it?”
“Ah, you know...”, I gestured into the vague direction of the planet visible through the window. “Hot, sweaty, lots of buff folks doing pushups - and totally classified.”
Instead of an answer, I just grinned at her and took a sip from my drink. The liquid burned my throat and made my eyes water ... perfection!
“How have things been around here?”
“Well,” Eta began counting off her fingers, “I’m almost done with Analytical Mind, your corp has given you the boot, the hangar master in Hisoufad keeps asking when you’re going collect your ships, aaaaaand your bank account is down to 40M.”
“40M? Oha.” I took another sip. “I thought I had around 600M?”
“You did, but that was before you got blown up with a 500M collateral courier in your hold.” She shot me a curious look. “What _did_ you do the last weeks to forget that little detail?”
“Obviously I practiced denial, among other things.” I drained my glass. “Well, time to get back into the saddle, get some cash to flow. Are Markovian still around?”
“Yep, but their contracts are fewer and less-well paid these days. You’ll have to find other employers, I think.” She hesitated. “You sure you want to go back out there?”
Was I sure? My previous foray into space didn’t exactly end on a high note. But yet there was only one answer.
“Yeah, I’m sure. I wouldn’t be here if I weren’t. I’ll be breathing pod goo again - ”, I looked at my empty glass, “right after a second drink.”
“...and a shower.”, quipped Eta.