On Shift

The tread of heavy armor retreated down the corridor. The Vitrine Eye smashed the hilt of his plasma knife into the door lock, then turned his attention to the mesh cage wrapping the autodrageur machinery. The ghosts wouldn’t have the data chi-

[ALERT: console->request incoming]

Hadal Iliastren muttered an epithet, slammed Mythic Stars into pause, and flipped his senses back to the shadowy rows of currently unmanned consoles at Orbital Light & Power’s operations center. Sure enough, an incoming work request glowed in the middle of his primary screen, annotated with contract numbers and satisfaction windows.

“Dal Fiorral? Where’s Dal Fiorral?”

A secondary monitor brought up the answer to the question as a map; a highland town in Cimoníë – Underside, so still daylight there. And they wanted – he leaned forward, examining the work request – light for late partiers, and some heat to clean ice off the roads. A thought brought up the weather overlay. It wouldn’t take much. The currents off the Boiling Sea were keeping it barely below freezing in the highlands tonight, lucky for the Dal Fiorrans and their last-minute req.

Hadal sat back, reviewing assets in his mind’s eye. It would be nightfall soon for the Underside – dawn here – which meant a high-angle mirror that wouldn’t be in the planet’s umbra. Two were untasked in that quadrant of the orbit – SunStars 46 and 48. 48 had the better angle, technically, but its maneuvering fuel was running close to the limit. Using 46 meant a low-angle shot through more atmosphere; low enough that it might incur a contract penalty.

Hell with it. How many more requests are likely to come in on the Darkest Night?

He set his console to computing the precise maneuver required, and fired off a routine request to Vevery Station for a refill ‘bot’s visit, then punched open a communications channel.

“Eliéra Orbital, duty expediter.”

“This is Mirror Ops at OL&P. We need to do a retask on SunStar 48. Are the skies clear?”

“Right now, Mirror Ops?”

“Yeah, sorry, Orbital. Last-minute customer req. Oh – and it’s rotation only.”

“Your zone’s clear to seventeen hundred, then, Mirror Ops. One hour traffic exclusion work for you?”

“That’ll be shiny, Orbital.” Hadal paused a moment. “And enjoy your game.”

“Heh. You, too, Mirror Ops. Orbital, clear.”

Hadal punched the execute key, and as an afterthought threw the remote monitor feed up on the big screen, Eliéra’s narrow edge seeming to tip slowly downwards beneath the wide mirror as shutters closed over its facets in preparation for maneuver. He raised his mug of esklav, and toasted the tilting world.

“And a prosperous 7126 to the rest of you, too.”

 

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