You know how you have that one friend who likes to drive at highway speeds with the windows rolled down, so the wind whips through the car and it's really cold and and you can't hear yourself think? No? Been too long since you drove on a highway? Been too long since you felt the blast of wind?
Well, let's just say that driving with the windows rolled down in galactic space presents the opposite problem.
It's hot in space, after all. No air to provide a medium for carrying heat away. And it's pretty damn quiet, so all I get to hear is Ramon yammering about how This time he's definitely going to strike it rich and then buy a City Buster Gun and blow his creditors away, or maybe pay them off after all. Meanwhile I'm sweating up a storm, and even if I roll up my window he's not going to roll up his because he says he wants to hear the music of the planets. What music? It's 55 minutes to NGTS 1-b and there's nothing out here but stars. Is he trying to get heatstroke or something?
I shouldn't have agreed to come with him but he said he wanted to show me his sweet new car. New car, I said, how did you manage to afford a new car. And he said he got it in a junkyard for two bucks because the owner wasn't looking carefully at the junk pile and said everything in the pile was two bucks, so when the pile fell away to reveal a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda it was, by the unbreakable word of the junkyard dealer, two dollars. Best deal ever, says Ramon. Right. I could get to Betelgeuse in my 2003 honda civic in thirty minutes with half a gas tank to spare.
Not that there's anything worth seeing AT Betelgeuse, just a bunch of strip clubs that I can't comprehend because who'd be attracted to THAT? Other Beetles, I suppose, but uh, don't call them that when they're around, or else they'll blow up another embassy.
So we're going to NGTS 1-b because supposedly nobody's been there before and Ramon says nobody's bothered to take the mining rights yet. Gee, Ramon, I wonder why. I wonder why a planet that we've known about for thirty years still has no humans that want to deal with it. I wonder why none of the few expeditions that have gone to NGTS 1-b have returned or sent word back. I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that NASA specifically said the place wasn't suitable for terraforming. Did you think of that, Ramon? No.
Then again I need to pay off my student loans too, and if we DO strike it rich on an empty planet we're set for life. So of course I agree to follow Ramon again and again, to planets where it rains glass, planets where the Barracuda almost melts, planets with nothing but ice over methane seas, and I keep telling him, why can't we just wing it and head to the galaxy core where people are setting up outlaw towns and forming rebel fleets? Why can't we just say goodbye to everything and start our lives over instead of trying to earn a currency that other people control?
And he says to me, "if I don't pay of my student loans I'm a coward and a chump."
That's the only reason he ever gives, and maybe it's a good reason but we're kind of wasting our time instead of working for chicken feed. I guess Ramon doesn't want that kind of humiliation. Better to strike it rich and prove yourself more powerful than your creditors, than to have to drudge for them, right?
Now I know you're asking me, what the heck am I doing in here, in an all-access strip club bar on Dimidium, telling you about a friend you don't know? Because Ramon is three tables away chatting up a guy who he thinks is a sugar daddy, and I don't understand how he thinks that isn't humiliation. I'd honestly rather be trying to mine Tritium but apparently Ramon thinks there's a better gold mine with that guy. How exactly is that going to work? Are we going to get stuck here playing housebound courtseans for ten years while the guy strings us along? I've been having fun for ten years. Pfft. I'd rather be crawling through the ductwork of the Galactic Ringworld or hearing Galactic Core Rebels blather on about how the people they stole the land from didn't count as people.
I think I'd rather be looking for that City Buster Gun. You know what, forget I said anything.