Vin stared at the packing cases….. He’d been loaned a new Hauler for the long journey back to Lave and as fast as he was packing equipment and cables, the maintenance robots were unpacking them and tidying them away.

Goodness knows how he’d ended up being drafted by the Lave Radio team.

Another update from Frontier had been sent to his inbox last night and it was far too tempting to start reading, or head out and do some flying instead of concentrating on real work. The last few weeks had been spent in the briefing room or out flying ships with some of the other testers – damned good laugh and it had earned him more than one hangover. Supercruise with a hangover was not an experience he relished, though at least the spinning crash exits and shaking ship seemed to have been ironed out for the moment.

The police had finally extracted their digits and agreed to join in the testing – only 3 weeks to go until they arrived en masse. Frontier were busy upgrading the testing ships with a jury-rigged comms system for ship to ship verbal and text.

“Oh, guys, I can see it now – broadcasting elephant jokes in space. Has to be a first, doesn’t it?”

“Why am I talking to you lot, anyway?” he asked of the robots.

The station bar had a new poster behind the staff, showing a series of Eagles in new colour schemes. The maintenance teams had drafted a painting crew and given them a complete rainbow of paints to work with…. To say that some of the designs submitted so far were “over the top” was putting it mildly. Who wanted to fly around in a tiger print Eagle?

News updates were beginning to trickle through from the various stations – the comms system was clearly reaching maturity. Notes on dumping of fish stocks and a run on gold were handy – indicative of the information available to traders as the testing progressed.

“Right. Guys. Stop unloading the boxes…. I’ve got to find the crew passes and get this Hauler out of here.”

Vin lobbed a shoe at the nearest cleaning robot which clattered against the filing cabinet in the corner.


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