The Juggernaut | Chapter 19
Making the Rhino space-worthy again was the easy part.
Once Malachi had isolated the problem, he set to work sourcing the components which needed replacing and fabricating anything he couldn’t find. When all else failed, he would even stoop so low as to improvise.
Malachi hated improvising. Machines were built to a plan and to strict specifications. They obeyed strict rules. They worked in a particular way – the right way – and it was wrong to ignore the original design and take it upon himself to make them work in some other way.
He could do it, but he hated it. He felt he was disrespecting the original engineering.
Of course, life on the Juggernaut rarely involved the luxury of having everything he needed, whether that was something as mundanely essential as a water-reclamation system, or an energy distributor for a shuttle that was already thirty years out of date when they bought it.
But necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention, or in this case improvisation. So, Malachi put his personal feelings aside and set to work.
Once the Rhino had been repaired, he set about overcoming the next obstacle. How could they leave the system without a jump drive, or the money to pay the surrogate fees?
They had few options available to them, and not enough money.
The criminal option was of course the cheapest option. Hijacking a ship in transit through the Celato system was out of the question. None of them had the experience or resources necessary for an operation like that, and of course, none of them had the will or inclination to perform such a blatantly criminal act.
Malachi was already nervous about the journey, and no matter how much he claimed to be excited by the opportunity he knew the risks were real.
They could attempt to jump-jack a departing ship, but that was also illegal and they would be reported for their crimes as soon as they reached their destination. They wouldn’t get close to the atmosphere of Parador if they did that.
They could try slipstreaming another ship as it entered the portal. The penalties for this were less severe, but there would still be consequences. The change in mass at the last minute would upset the calculations. To keep the equation balanced a random factor would be introduced and that meant on arrival either their destination, velocity or vector would be unknown.
If they were very unlucky all three would be randomised. The results wouldn’t kill them, but there was no guarantee they wouldn’t end up heading away from Parador so fast it would take them a week to turn around.
Malachi was no pirate, he had no stolen ID codes, and he had no intention of risking an approximate calculation.
Their only real option was the legal one. They would have to buy passage from a surrogate travelling to Jenova. This option had the welcome upside that no one would shoot them. The downside was that to buy their way out they would need money.
A lot of money.
And unfortunately for Malachi he knew only one place on the Juggernaut where he could get some.