The Camel


The Camel

"We keep finding new things to be afraid of... don't we?"

The words lumbered in Morisel's mind like a Taurvarian Worm-Hound as he stared out the airlock door. Breaching was always a bit of a gamble on these old birds, even now when the relative safety of cuttin' lasers made the old method of shaped charges obsolete. Hit the wrong pipe, nick the wrong container inside the module... and boom. The good news was there was a hole, the bad news was that the docking tube and half your ship were ripped to shreds. He'd successfully breached dozens of times, and only once had there ever been an issue, but once was enough. Anxiety gripped his chest with a familiar squeeze and he realized he was holding his breath.

There was a slight tremor and then the docking tube's inner door kicked open and dropped the perfectly cut 1.2-meter diameter plate of hull into the module below. These old things had long ago been welded shut for their final crushing voyage, so there was never a convenient hatch to enter which always meant there was a little risk when you went cut one open.

Morisel had heard that some Belter's had fitted their ships with scanners to make checking the mod contents possible before tossing a ton of steel down on top of them (or smashing through them, depending on orientation), but ol Morisel hadn't acquired the creds or the luck yet to snag one of those. Just as well, more tech you had cluttering up a bird, the more likely it was to stop flyin'. Leastwise, that's what he told himself.

"Alright Saltshaker, let's dance this dance again. Back before you can miss me," he said, patting his ship's hull as he clipped his helmet into place.

It was their own little ritual, he and his ship. Never leave without sayin' goodbye and reminding it he was comin' on home. More than likely it was survivor bias, but... well... whole universe of weird shit out there, might be that it was best to play it safe. Don't need any extra bad luck to keep him from comin' home. Any number of things were already liable to go wrong on these old derelicts - after all, there were reasons they were floating towards the supermassive black hole of SAG-A, and rarely was it just that they'd gracefully aged out of usefulness. Consolidation had left a whole pile of birds riddled with holes, filled with biohazards, and any other number of unpleasantries.

But then, one man's junk is another man's treasure. Plenty of meat on these ol' bones, for those willing to pick at a carcass.

The seven feet of docking tube connecting Saltshaker to the CM-23L "Camel" was as close to a Safe Zone as you could count on out here. It was a lifeline to, well, life. It was the road home. Now, you could of course take a space-walk if the situation was bad enough, but in a profession already plagued by danger at every choice, you were best off to avoid needing to take that risk except in the most extreme of circumstances. Like, say, when you move the wrong crate and the bird you're on decides to let half the ship fuck off into space.

'Now, none of that, Morisel. Thinking on space-walks and ship breaks is just gonna pull that bad luck right down to ya,' he thought, as he curled into a tight ball and flipped himself over to enter the Camel feet first. He clicked his mag-boots on with the precision that only comes from years spent in the service, just as his feet touched the floor.

Something in here was leaking. He hadn't noticed it on the way in, but a puddle had been hugging the floor and with every step, his boots sent little blobs of zero-g fluid through the room. Water would be the best case, but... shit, without taking a sample and testing it - it could be anything.

"Well, if that isn't a damned foreboding start, I don't know what the fuck is." Morisel muttered. "You'd better have something decent on ya."


This post is the second installment in my series of posts following our spacefaring salvager, Morisel - a Collection has been created to contain the story. If you're interested in the fate of our dear Belter, toss a follow, or bookmark the Skipping Stones - A Dead Belt Tale collection. I planned for weekly posts as we navigate this story, but as it turns out life's got a funny way about it so these will drop when they drop - hopefully somewhere between a week and a month between each. Just depending on how much chaos gets thrown my way.

You know how it is.

Inspired by the Solo RPG game Dead Belt, produced by:

A Couple of Drakes Zine
On Twitter: @DrakeandDice@NaviMusing

Header image by deselect from Pixabay

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Somehow I've managed to catch both installments, just by cruising my feed. You have some nice, balanced description: I can see it happening but I'm not bogged down with details. Reads well.

Thanks Cliff! I appreciate that! These first two have been fairly slow... the next installment will have a little more in the 'actual things happen' department :P lol

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Excellent prose. I enjoy the gritty narration that makes this a gripping fast-paced space tale.

Thank you so much! In the next installment we should get to a little more action :)