“Let me get this straight - it was you, your class, and what crew?” asked Anne.
“No crew,” said Crash. “This was just a short trip. Kinda like when the teacher drives the school bus. Except in this case the teacher was selling bioengineered mushrooms to shady characters and chose to bail instead of face the music. You know, typical tale.”
“I weep for the future,” said Anne.
“Don’t get snooty. Anyway, I got myself into the pilot’s chair and took a look at the navigation screens. Everything was on track, so it looked like we had another half hour to get to the station. I was a little straighter in those days, so I put in the call and asked the station for a vector and docking instructions. After about ten minutes I got a call from the station authorities who, for whatever reason, totally didn’t get it and thought that I was our instructor. Apparently they’d heard of him, too.”
“Mistaken identity,” said Anne, “will get you every time.”
“It was worse than that. They said they would be sending intercepts to meet us before we could dock. That would have meant being disabled and towed to a detention center directly. None of us were particularly interested in this, least of all me. So I did what anyone in my position would do.”
Crash paused, letting the story linger like a sip of a fine wine. Anne obliged and asked, “Okay, I’ll bite, what did you do?”
“I replied and told them no problem, but I had to restart the engines, so we were about five hours out.”
Anne considered what Crash had said and replied, “So you lied, and arrived long before they expected and before they could meet you halfway.”
“Exactly,” said Crash, “and wouldn’t you know, they believe me; it worked. Surprised the hell out of me. We got there, I picked an empty platform, and set the ship down.”
“Hang on,” Anne objected, “I was expecting some story about you crashing the ship and that’s how you got your name.”
“That’s too easy. I got my name a little later. You want to hear how this ends or not?”
“Meoooouuuu,” said Orbit.
“Yeah, me, too. You weren’t there?” Anne asked of Orbit.
Orbit’s head bobbed to the side as Anne stared at Crash in silence, a condescending grin on her face.
“So we exited the ship in a hurry and found ourselves in the egress room of the platform, with the door locked and a note on the status screen telling us to wait there for further instructions. This wasn’t going to be my first choice, so I pulled out my personal comm unit and hacked into the station’s systems to see if I could get the door open.”
“And how did that work out for you?” asked Anne.
“Not terribly well. I wasn’t that great a hacker and, as it turns out, my comm was already infected with some pretty bad stuff which just hopped over to the station. A few minutes later and the whole station’s main computer crashed. Lights out, all airlocks auto-closed and locked, all services shut down. We ended up stuck in the room for a full day as the station authorities found that we were both locked in and they now had two issues to deal with. We weren’t the bigger issue now, and we weren’t going anywhere.”
“Crash.” said Anne, “I get it. You’re much more entertaining than you are talented.”
“I’ll take that. And look, perfect timing - I can see the outpost from here. We’re almost there.