The lithium pirate stared at the screen blankly. She was not merely confused but also, completely out of her waters.
She left out a drawn out annoyed sigh. So much time and money spent in upgrading her ship, the Acalchimaltica, and it was useless after the federation screwed her.
Unfortunately, this arrangement was for the long term. Deep in a stupid earth corponation. All of that because they cheated her out of a big loot, and now she was stuck as an indentured servant for at least, 30,000,000 universal credits.
All her life savings carefully hidden, that is distributed, across the wide cosmos was useless.
Just because the Federation decided to switch to the universal credits (which were decidedly to be used exclusively within the earth, so neither the cybernets nor the outerlands were allowed to use it, and even if somebody carried it nobody would *care* to use it anyway) they followed with banning the payment of debt with anything else. Even though the outerland money had an exchange rate much superior to the unicredz, but making sense is never the strong point of the Federation.
And the option to just let them embargo the Acalchimaltica was impossible to accept.
The captain said “You are in debt. We will take your ship.” just like that. They didn’t want her to be the one driving the ship of course. Fortunately, a pirate always drives customs, plus, the boring captain and the boring sailors didn’t know a thing about how to operate *this* custom. Everything in the Acalchimaltica had been carefully laid out exactly for the Lithium Pirate. Even the driver seat was uncomfortable to the sailors. And the toilet rooms were too girly.
So naturally, they had to cut a deal with her.
Either drive the ship as an indentured servant until the payment of the debt… Or go to prison over unsaleable merchandise, have the Acalchimaltica be sold for materials — dismantling even the last bolt and recycling the rest — AND pay for the privilege. A very simple choice, right?
Well, the only problem is that her ship was the last in a long list of debtors. That meant that before she could do what she was good at, she had to comply with a tedious and inefficient bureaucracy waiting for, at the very least, a hundred earth-days before being assigned to a patron in order to pay the debt — and survive in the meantime — all within the unintrusive gaze of The Big Brain(TM).
So she better start behaving like a normal, upstanding honorable citizen of the earth. No more illegal space battle tournaments. No more synthetic simstims entheogens. No more pagan rites of the outerlands.
And no more freedom to sail wherever the cosmic currents led her.
But all in all it wasn’t that bad. She had a corponation-assigned habitational space (which was charging *up* the unicredz debt, of course) some spending money (thankfully the alien materials were very valuable inside the earth. And she was good at smuggling). The only thing left was figuring out how this whole earth system worked.
The Big Brain assigned her a portable communication device, called the “uRestraind” which basically monitored all her activities updating the universal tracking database (which, again, was for exclusive use within the earth and corponation licensee orbital structures) and from time to time notified her nutritional habits (specially if she ate anything weird, like magic mushrooms or happiness plants) to all the Big Brain watchers. For the unknown indentured servants it wasn’t a big problem. For her it kind of was, because she was somewhat popular, being a pirate and all… So she had a good amount of watchers following her.
All of this was exhausting. She had to keep a good appearance (even bathe almost daily!) and with a blessing of Lady Luck, get some good behavior unicredz. But her hope was to get a decent patron. And since the corponation’s rules allowed the patron to choose first, using the debtor’s list as a endless menu of poor foolz to feast upon, the Lithium Pirate decided to boost her opportunities in getting at least some space sailing action by choosing her patron instead.
In the era of the interstellar space travel, people always need to carry some interesting goods or valuable digital material from one place to another.
One of the perks of being a well rounded space pirate is getting to know how to take things from point A to point B, without the Federation, who are almost everywhere in between A and B, figuring out you are transporting something you should not be transporting.
One of the biggest and most valuable cargoes she had the pleasure to ship was, unfortunately, found. Not because she had been careless in the preparations. The right guards were bribed and the wrong guards were distracted, or hacked. No, the only problem was, as it always is, a guy. A nice guy. A guy that the Lithium Pirate liked. A guy that betrayed and set up the Lithium Pirate for a bunch of unicredz. Not even a good fee, he could easily get more money from a low-level head hunter.
But this, cheap, treacherous, nice boy was trying to work for whom, he claimed, were the Good Guys(TM). And the Good Guys always follow the rules.
The rules said that he had to lie to her pretending that he was a /bad/ boy, cheat her out of the loot without raising the smallest suspicion before, and betray her in the worst moment possible after having spent some time gaining her trust. He still thought of himself as the good guy.
As soon as she got her debt paid, she would spend a significant portion of her savings in sweet revenge. But first she needs to get her stuff outside the earth sorted.
One of the problems of being a pirate is hiding things too well that other less-developed pirates can’t find the treasures without being told were to look. Like, with a big red cross on a map or something. But even if she had the map, she never would allow anybody to get that close to her immaculate treasure. And even less since Mr. Nice Boy.
An insistent ringing sounded.
She didn’t have any weapon, it’s illegal to carry weapons inside the corponation’s habitational spaces. The clock on the uRestraind showed a little warning symbol, blinking calmly it announced “INDENTURED SERVANT CHECK UP SCHEDULED” that is, one of the most stressful invasive parts of the whole thing. Also, she was not used to answer the door without a gun in her hand.
She nervously approached the door, asking “who goes there?” feeling silly for asking the obvious. On the other side, the door was hit loudly and the officers yelled angrily “ISCO! Open the door!” The Indentured Servant Checking Officers or the ISCO. Basically, snitches with a gun. She had been very careful to not leave anything misplaced, so she had nothing to worry about? She hasted to open the door, and as soon as the lock was open the ISCO pushed the door violently, almost pushing her. She kept her posture though, while they acted all though, their raiding tactics were pretty pathetic, to begin with you don’t send two fat guys with only one gun to stop a pirate.
So she made an effort to restrain her instinct to knock them out.
“I must behave” the Lithium Pirate thought. “Hello.” she said coldly.
The officers entered the room stomping, without saying a word. They looked around, without touching anything and leaving dirty footprints on her floor. She decided to never clean the floor before their visit.
After the ISCO were satisfied looking for traps or something (and ignoring the traps that were set) one of them brought out a uRestraind box and demanded to hand her uRestraind.
She complied, silently.
The ISCO pressed a bunch of buttons, touched the device in different ways and let out a bunch of “uhms” and “ahs” while doing so. After a few slow and tense minutes the ISCO gave her the uRestraind back.
Next he set his uRestraind in the floating mode and it started to float just above and behind him, as he recited a strange spell, “All is in order. We are proceeding to review the use of the inhabited area following the code 346(A) chapter 809. The ISD person is present and seems calm.” and proceeded to describe everything around him in the least poetic way possible. “House clean. Door undamaged. Food has not been prepared.” and continued in this way for what seemed way too long.
Then he entered to her room. “Underwear not taken away” said the ISCO, completely oblivious as to how the Lithium Pirate was trying very hard not to kill him.