Roll of the Dice

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The night was stormy and dark.

Wave after wave of shower poured over the field, soaking the spaceships and making them shimmer from distant lights in such a way that it looked as if the starport was a resting place of a herd of some huge metal-scaled beasts who decided it was best to sleep through the tempest, rather than spend the time conscious, contemplating every single cold stinging drop that hit their bodies. It was one of those storms that you knew would last all night, but when they stopped, would give birth to a beautiful, poetic mornings filled with life and colour.

At least I hoped so. I was fortunate enough not to have to go out in this kind of weather, but Miguel was of no such luck; we could hear his cursing as he passed through the hallway trying to peel off his raincoat that was next-to-useless in condition like this, when water seemed to emerge even from below and the wind only joined the general conspiracy in preventing you from remaining dry.

We had only a small table light; no need for attracting attention, and we also had a better look at the spacefield this way, no reflection that would blind us from seeing someone approaching from the outside. There wasn't much to do, so we waited. We didn't even talk, afraid that we might muffle any sounds bringing information from the outside world - the outside world being everything except our small shell of non-rain and dimmed light. And we wanted to hear the news, because no news would be a disaster.

The room wasn't very big, we got it from out friends at the starport. It was a part of a small building they used as a control tower before they upgraded to the real thing some ten years ago. But it wasn't left to decay since every now and then some of the technicians would come here to rest, drink, or sleep knowing that nobody would look for them here. There was no one in the building but us right now, and we decided we'd need only this semi-kitchen with an ancient stove, a small sink, a crappy table and a big window that had to be opened manually if we wanted to get some fresh air. The upper floor was empty and derelict, stripped of all equipment and furniture and filled with garbage, so we didn't even want to go there, and the hallway was long and narrow, opening to a few more rooms we decided we wouldn't need anyway.

Sovakoy frowned at the splashing and grumbling noise Miguel was producing, sighed and looked out the window again. There wasn't much to see, droplets rolling across the glass and distorted light coming from the faraway lamps; I thought the field should have been guarded more carefuly at first, with the ships and equipment and all, but then realised that every ship had its own alarm system anyway - a spacer without it would have had to travel by foot very soon - and the equipment wasn't really worth stealing or damaging.

Miguel burst through the door, still struggling with his raincoat and pouring water all over the floor. Sovakoy frowned even more, but didn't look away from the window, just stirred discomfortly in his chair.

"You'd think they'd find a way to control this kind of weather by now, with the terraforming and all," Miguel said cheerfully, not sounding the least bit annoyed at his sogginess. The cursing we heard when he was entering, I realised, was more of a tension-reliever than anything else.

"They did," I replied. "Matter of management, not resources. That's why we're here." I watched him wrap the raincoat into a small dripping bundle, throw it into the small sink in the corner of the room and shake his legs as if this was going to make them any drier.  He was a candid fellow, he had his rituals; if he was wet, he'd shake as if getting it off his roster so that he can say "tried it, didn't work, move on". I chose to find it sympathetic rather than annoying, being forced to spend a lot of time with him during the long flights.

Sovakoy didn't need to do the same.

Miguel squeezed his sleeves trying to wring out some water, looked at his wet ankles, shaked them a bit more, then shrugged and looked at the stove.

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