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Lest we drown in the darkness (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 13

Lest we drown in the darkness...

by Cannonshop

Late 2769 - Gas giant Snark, planetary orbit, Kowloon System

The 'shipyard' was a series of floating frames forged and extruded from asteroid material, the 'habitats' were inflatable temporaries, and the heavy equipment wasn't anchored to anything solid that Rear Admiral Stanley Throckmorton could discern.

"Belters." he sighed.  "Damn if they aren't Belters out here."

SLS Taffey slid through the apparent chaos-really not chaotic at all to a parking orbit.

In the nearer gantries, were the hull frames of in-system 'ferry' jumpships.  These were low-power jumpers, almost ultra-primitive types with according to his rec book, about a 1.5 Light Year maximum jump range.

The outer ones, held the works for a few low-end commercial vessels.  Two and three collar workhorses roughly corresponding to the Merchant or Tramp classes JumpShips.

The repair yard wouldn't have looked strange in the outer rim of any successor state. That is until you realized that they'd rigged a 'core forge' assembly out here without most of the pressurized components.

His XO, Igor Yavetz, muttered something.

"What was that?" Throckmorton asked his XO

"Iron men and wooden derricks."  Igor commented a little louder.  "If the Union reps at Titan saw this setup, they'd be mass-mailing health and welfare officers and filing a ****** library of grievances just on the safety violations.  Luna's management would be having coronaries.  Nobody's built a yard like this since the ****** Pathfinder days.  they must've found a library book or something."

"The General just wants to know if they can do the work." Throckmorton stated, "So...CAN they?"

"Oh, yeah, they can do it...just not while complying with anything rational as far as health and safety regs. There's no installation on the surface, and nothing's spun for gravity. Those pressure habs are belt-miner temporaries linked with mylar tunnels. We're gonna want to be in EVA suits if you decide to meet with their yard bosses inside, and I bet they're wearing 'em too."  Igor was from Ceres, a 'wellwallah' who grew up among Belters only in the sense that he'd had to have adaptation treatments when he joined the Star League Navy to handle standard gravity.

"Should be like home for you then." the Admiral commented

"Home, would be a decent sized habitat with micrometeor protection, pull atmo press, and at least a quarter gee." Igor countered, "These guys are working in nullgee, eating, sleeping, and shitting in nullgee. With about six mils of Mylar and Kevlar between them and hard vac, like my ancestors did.  We're ******' civilized now...this shit makes the Torries look like the height of modern innovation...but they can do the work. It's right outside the windows.  Problem I see, is do we WANT to let them do the work or do we arrange a loan and have the 'loonies buy some ****** safe ships?"

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