the big plane seemed stuck, a shiny tin container punted into the sky, where it hung motionless, describing an arc so unhurried that it didn't seem to be happening at all.
gantry fidgeted on his edge of the bench. winter had been hard on all of them. he'd lost his toes. didn't get them replaced until he returned on-world. weeks of nerve dampeners and sealant had made him cross eyed. company paid him well, cost of replacements and then some. this run had earned him enough to last half a year. he could afford to skate down to the city for a time, get lost in the stims, the zen arcades, and the mood baths.
that was the thing about mining nalosian crystal worms. the brutes were only minable during especially harsh winters, that side of io facing away from the sun. there, they were dormant, easily segmented. summer was a different story. it was their mating season. they might ignore you in your company-issued spinner when you approached, allowing you to get a clear shot off and use the segmenter arm, or they might shred your cockpit or halve your vehicle. it could go either way.
but that cold. that soul-shriveling cold. a dozen of the newest microwave inserts couldn't nullify that cold.
if any part of the suit malfunctioned. well, gantry'd said goodbye to his toes. for now, at least. confined to a chair for the final week, he'd been reduced to menial drone piloting duties, taking all manner of shit from the rest of the crew. it was cool. he still out drank and gambled them.
the pipes vent thin jets of calcium-enriched vapor. suzette snores in the corner, arm draped over her sister nell, supine and silent. dust hangs in the air, vibrating with each snore and jet of steam. 21st-century french punk rock plays quietly from nell's favorite tokyo feed.
offworld, the options were limited.
why a boutique feed called tokyo golden age of rawk should come through so clearly made no sense to him. who even remembered this stuff? music from pre-colony times, before the fda mandated the inclusion of subliminal mood enhancers into commercial recordings. supposed to cure depression or some such.
as if, gantry thought. people still wigged out. did crazy, illogical shit. he was thrice-living proof.