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I used to Dream Chapter (cover art)

Chapter 4 - I used to Dream[]

Sithers-Deen Delta Station
Boojum system.
October 5th, 3085

[return to Patrick's point of view.]

Delta Station was the oldest processing station in the Boojum rings, and most of their product was reprocessing and recycling work.  The Coast Guard annex was attached to the Academy as part of the 'Surface-to-space transition' training for officer candidates.


In simple terms, go to class, then go to work, then go to bed.  Meals are scheduled and the work-cycle day is based on a belter standard 30 hour 'day' including 8 hours of sleep.


Not all at once, mind you.  The cycle is designed to adapt people used to surface-dweller time on more or less 24 hour clocks to a shipboard routine of variable length watches.


It's something Amanda was hinting at when she teased me about how we've got to deal with Earther clock time and calendar days.  The Guard, the Rockjacks and most of the spacers maintain two calendars-one is 'Star League Standard time" and the other, is 'operations days'.


Ops days are numbered sequentially and reset after the number of sixty minute hours equal to a 365 day period to keep in sync with the rest of the universe.


Native Kowloonese, the rare Martian or Sol Belter, and Rockjacks have an advantage over our colleagues from other worlds, because we're kind of used to having the offset clocks, and to having to recalculate years since our homeworld orbits roughly twice as long as Old Earth does.


At somewhat higher speeds relative to our suns.


Kowloonese have it even easier with shiptime, because we're used to 30 hour days and 'splicing in' lettered hours for domestic timekeeping.  It's E:36 in the AM, one hour before Dinh Diep midnight.


I'm doing late watch this morning, which means classroom time with Commander Cu'ong-Deen654, going over Hyperspatial Chemistry 100-jumpship core composition.


You'd think it's straight metallurgy, and you'd be utterly wrong.  It's not just the elements, or the alloys, it's how to synthesize the right isotopes using high energy forging techniques.


Which is a mixed elecro-chemical and plasma process.  It's the reason a five kilometer lump of raw Germanium only turns out about a half million tons of useable, jumpship-quality Germanium.


The rest gets collected and reprocessed from the slag, rare earths extracted, and reinspection for stray isotopes.


On a planetary surface, like Titan in the Sol system for example, or the Germanium mines in the Sinai, they don't GET those five klik lumps, but they do get higher levels of useful isotopic germanium per ton, which explains why you don't see vast orbital foundries outside the Lyran Commonwealth turning out ships in job-lots, the stuff in the belts is 'dirty' and has to be worked before it can be used.


This is actually interesting, but it's because I can grasp the tooling in my head, I don't have to fight to focus on the studies. 


I'm cheating my ass off here, I've got Amanda's notes, she left them behind in her storage unit in Nha Tranh, and I've been leaning on my four minutes older sister to explain the stuff I'm not getting from the lectures.


Why? Because she wrote her notes as if she were explaining it to me personally.


even with the help, the Prof's telling me I'm falling behind on the critical theoretical material.


I can't take her notes in for exam time, of course.  I have to memorize it, study it, and rewrite it until it's ingrained.  It's easier than using the approved textbooks.


I'm taking notes in the lectures, of course.  This really proves how out of depth I am-I'm often the only student actively taking notes in the class, and it's just so I can back-check with my sister's notes and try to make heads or tails of what I'm being told.


It's slow going.  Late Watch is long periods of boredom.   My shift-partner for this part of the facility is Penny Falcone, she's one of the Harris-breed trueborns who washed out and got permission to emigrate rather than being demoted to a lower caste in the Khanate.


She pulls top marks, and she doesn't study to do it.  She just gets it. She's told me she's half Von Jankmon, and it shows-she's got that oversize brain an Aerospace pilot phenotype sports and it's full of more brains than I'll ever have.

"You want to do the security walk, Ngo?" she asks.

"If you don't want to, I'll do it, I need a break before my eyes boil." I tell her. 


She gives me a big smile and a thumbs-up.  "I will keep an eye on the monitors while you do your walk then."


I grab my helmet and head for the lock, run my checks, and head out into the dark.





Security walk is more something you do to make sure the monitoring gear is actually monitoring, than it is to find damage or sabotage.
It takes me until 00:30 to finish my stint, checking each monitoring station and examining every zone in the processor for signs of tampering or damage before heading back inside.

She's waiting in the watch-cabin with her hips anchored to the floor and her legs crossed, she makes it look so easy to get comfortable, while I'm anchoring to my station, she clears her throat.  "your sister's notes are a work of art, Ngo. You've been holding out."
Busted.

I flush a little, which is funnier in nullgee than you might think.  "Yeah. Amanda was a genius."
"Uh-huh...I read her extracts on today's lectures, Pat." she said, "it's ****** brilliant, clearer than the syllabus notes."
"umh, yah." I nod.
I hear her unbuckle and she's up against me in the cabin. 

"Share." she tells me.
"You're already kicking ass in the course, Penny." I tell her.
"I can always do better." she tells me.  "I might have flunked the physical combat training with the Clans, but that does not mean I'm not a competitive, bullying, bitch, and you've got a resource I need to compete.  if you share, I can help you out."
"You can't make me smarter." I tell her.
"No, but I can help you with some other stuff." she tells me.  "What I really want to see though, is more of her little side project from third year."
"Side project?"

She wraps a small arm around my shoulder, and plants her mouth next to my ear.  "Those doodles in the margins? They're not doodles."

Then she bites my ear!!
"HEY!!"
"aw, come on. You're like, the only member fo the class who never has a hookup or talks about a girlfriend, and I know you're straight." she tells me.
"Sex for notes seems kind of sterile." I tell her.
"I wouldn't offer it if I didn't already want it." she tells me, "You're mister stressed-out and that's been ****** you up on exam days.  I'm offering  to make that stress go bye-bye.  It's a fair exchange and it'll be fun for us both."

"Not on duty hours."
"Of course not." she teases me.  "You're so cute when you get all moral and stuff."  she lets me go and returns to her station.  "Just think about my offer, quiaff?"




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