The small yard office at Anning Enterprise was packed with every sort of spacer imaginable. All grumbled to themselves, fumbled at data slates or craned their necks to see who was at the head of the queue.
Euan had waited in line for over an hour and had finally reached the front desk. An open hole in the wall with a metal hatch above. Giles McCormack had come to recognise Euan as one of his regulars over the years and grinned broadly from behind his wire rimmed glasses.
“Wondered when I’d be seeing you again, I heard that backwater of yours had a run in with a couple of Archon’s goons.”
“Yeah, they left their calling cards before buggering off to mug some other poor bastards. Need some bits from you.”
Euan tapped his slate screen and locked open the list of parts he wanted and handed it over.
Giles dragged the list up and down and let out a long whistle.
“Breach sealant controller for an Eagle? You’ll be lucky with all the race hype!” said Giles shaking his head.
“I need 50 kilos of hull compound for it too. Bird we have must have had it all drained years ago.”
Giles put the slate down on the counter top and leant forward slightly with his palms down either side of it looking down at the list.
“I can do you the re-anodisation kits for 2 K but this other stuff.. Smaller ship gear is going like hot cakes these days. I can get you a reconditioned sealant controller from an early sidewinder, should be compatible. The other stuff, the fuel port braces and class two thruster frame guides are going to have to be a fabricator run. It ain’t gonna be cheap. I can do a run of these for 35 K. Might knock off a bit for old times sake.”
The room didn’t seem any less full than earlier. Now there were a handful of other spacers queuing out the compartment door.
“Alright, I’ll skip the anode kits, Jen will just have to fly around in a boring grey Condor rather than a red one.”
Giles tapped in a price on the slate and spun it round. Euan pressed his link band over the marker on the screen and authorised the payment. It buzzed angrily, a small red holofac text message projected above his wrist.
Euan double tapped his link band. The red message was replaced by a green one:
Giles frowned, spun the slate back around and slid a few items off the list.
“20 K if you ditch the port braces. Best I can do, cutting my own throat really doing a fab run for so little!”
Euan nodded and agreed the sale.
Since the “Rat Race” announcement weeks earlier, teams had been springing up from all corners of space. Second hand spares for Eagles or Sidewinders had soared in price and you could hardly find spares compatible with the Lancer’s old condors at the best of times but virtually anything now was getting impossible to find.
Euan had an hour or so to wait while the parts were manufactured so made his way to the expansive fitting deck behind the yard office. Six ships sat in varying states of repair, cables draped out of access panels, hull plates removed and modules being attached. Each ship was attended by a handful of technicians, but, as Euan noticed none of them bore the usual green coveralls of the Anning Enterprise outfitters.
One ship, a Hauler was having long white stripes applied to the hull surface down either side and as adorned with the text “Team Fastness”. Another Hauler painted in striking black and white bore the words “Coriccha Dairy Racers – Blessed are the cheese makers”.
“You going to enter that eagle you doing up then?”
Giles had evidently changed shift with one of his lads.
“No chance, need it as a backup. Getting hairy just flying with my big tank carrying all the juice.”
“Prize money is pretty good. Up to 20 mil I heard since Lakon got sponsoring the freighter race. Go on. You and the farm boys you have there need a laugh, enter it I dare you!”
“Going to sell us go faster stripes cheap then?” Euan gestured to the Team Fastness ship.
Giles pulled a face of mock indignation.
“Cheap? All my merchandise is top value for money!”