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If I had waited on Earth longer I probably could have pulled bridge officer on something small. That's what I should have done. It still would have been interstellar, mind you, no monotonous yo-yos going intersystem. The worn-out crates they use for that are so over-programmed a chimp could sit in the center seat. Two big buttons Send/Return. Human fax.

It had been a very comfortable year. It had been getting near time for me to find the right two or three month cruise that would supplement my dwindling life support credits. A poker game had accelerated the requirement. So, under less than optimum circumstances, I had convinced myself that a position with Security/Rescue on this particular chart-maker cruise would be the best way to replace value lost in an indiscrete twenty-hour poker game.

If only I had waited until I sobered up. There should be a sobriety test on home terminals so that you can't sign yourself up with the foreign legions of space when you don't really know what you're doing at the time. You can back out, of course, but it looks pretty bad in the employment history. Don't get me wrong, I like working Rescue. When Security/Rescue positions open up they don't last long. You get most of the EVAs. Your routine duties on board are easy and minimal, and when you do get called in on an emergency, it's usually to save someone who did something really stupid. I have found there to be nothing more exhilarating in life than rescuing a friend. The feeling of euphoria that comes with such an act is proportional to the amount of risk required to get the job done. It takes quite a bit of pull to land that kind of security position. For me, this one was a step down. But like I said, the openings don't last long.

So basically, someone with an inside straight had brought me to the Electra. Sitting in the high-back seat by my terminal with one foot propped up on a corner of the console, I was trying to comfort myself that it would only be a six month consequence of poor judgment. Aces over eights. The dark gray, thin-shelled stateroom walls were not reassuring. They are tangled with conduit and cable track, the ceilings are low, and there is a perpetual drone that lingers within unibody construction. Although there is a private adjoining bath, with shower, it is equally mood conservative. The only mirror is polished aluminum.

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