One Last Trek
by Lina Hanson / linahanson
Wyatt Earth's finger hovered over the sensors. Galaxy Rim Patrol had shown up even earlier than expected, the three wedge-shaped fighters just drifting into view on the starboard monitor. Fortunately, Doc was still asleep. His repertoire of swear words was as colourful as it was inappropriate; all too often they had ended up in the lock-ups of the pieces of trash that passed for stations out here.
An electronic impulse shot from Wyatt's thumb, and the comms channel was open.
"Settler trek from Commodus Five. Destination Yeehah Galaxy. Identification WE666DOC. I'll zap the authorisation files across if you give me access."
That guy seemed to take a no-nonsense approach. So far, so good. The files gone, Wyatt carried out a perimeter scan. No signatures of metal, plastic or alloy other than the three GRP ships still hovering on her left and the fan formation of settler spacecraft she was guarding: Silvery, tubular structures with the black hole drive bulging from the back. They looked huge, but most of it was packaging to protect the fragile cargo in their cryo tanks, sleeping their way across the void between the worlds until they reached their new home. A routine job for Wyatt, poorly paid, but then they all were. Away from the federated planets, jobs for AI were hard to come by.
Even for somebody special like her. Well, especially for somebody like her, but unless GRP forced her to, she would not share any more intel. This was the last checkpoint before the trek set off into deep space where she would activate the hole. No more refuelling the herder ship at those stations. She didn't like them. Never had. The blessed peace of the void was where she wanted to be.
Alone with her trek—
"You're an AI? I need to see personal identification." The voice of the GRP officer cut across Wyatt's train of thoughts. She sensed a faint stirring in her mind. If Doc woke up now . . .
"Copied." Another impulse, another file crossed the distance towards the fighters. Now, it all depended on how serious that guy was about his job.
"Visual identification required." His voice sounded utterly impersonal. If she was very lucky, she was dealing with a robot patrol.
"They don't pay me enough for that. This is a class three trek. I don't need visuals."
"But I need them, sister. If you want to cross the rim, that is." Satisfaction seeped through the voice.
Not a robot, then. Better to get it over and done with.
"I'm a group unit. Or was. The other two are defunct. I only have group visuals."
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