Getting a Technology System in Modern Day

Chapter 550 Curiosity Vs Security
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Chapter 550 Curiosity Vs Security

“So, did you figure anything out?” the communications officer, Lieutenant Perez, asked Scotty.

“Not a damn thing,” Scotty answered, clearly frustrated. “The empire is more than it seems on the surface.”

Scotty was almost sixty years old and had spent the past thirty years of his life on the bleeding edge of engineering as a professor emeritus of MIT. Then he was one of the first people to successfully graduate from the engineering track of the imperial space agency’s training program, making him among the most skilled engineers on Earth.

But despite all of that, he still had no clue as to just how the hell the empire had built so many outposts throughout the solar system, when just a year before, man had barely set foot on the moon. And to top it all off, not a bit of the empire’s space program had leaked whatsoever! Not the outposts, not the ships, and not even the machines used to build the outposts and ships or the tools used to build the machines themselves!

His innate curiosity was absolutely murdering him.

“Looks like you need higher security clearance, my man.”

“Yeah, sure seems that way, doesn’t it?” Scotty sighed and slumped his shoulders. He knew the difficulty of increasing security clearances and how long the process took, having undergone security vetting at the highest levels before during his career at MIT.

“You aren’t giving up, are you? You’re out here risking your life to sate your curiosity, so you can’t give up now!” Lieutenant Perez said.

“Yeah, sure seems that way, doesn’t it?” Scotty sighed and slumped his shoulders. He knew the difficulty of increasing security clearances and how long the process took, having undergone security vetting at the highest levels before during his career at MIT.

“You aren’t giving up, are you? You’re out here risking your life to sate your curiosity, so you can’t give up now!” Lieutenant Perez said.

“No, I’m not giving up. I was just thinking about the process of grinding my way up the chain of security clearances. Right now, I’m just a tiny speck of dust compared to the real movers and shakers in the empire. And earning trust takes a very, very long time. I was with MIT for twenty years before I finally got onto a top secret project, and that wasn’t even keyword or letter clearance!

“And now, with our lifespans practically doubling, who knows how long it’ll take for me to climb the ranks again?” Scotty explained in a resigned tone.

“Now that you mention it, I wonder how the empire is going to deal with retirement. It used to be that people could retire in their early sixties, then spend their twilight years gorging themselves on the fruits of their earlier labors. But now, with the average lifespan skyrocketing to two hundred years, and the time dilation in the simulation doubling that, can you imagine how people will react when they realize they have to work for hundreds of years before retirement age? Ha! People will absolutely revolt when that particular nugget of information hits home.” The comms officer shuddered as his whole body broke out in goosebumps.

“I’m sure the Powers That Be have already thought of that. They’ve thought of everything else, after all, so I doubt there’s anything two specks of dust like us can contribute,” Scotty sighed again.

Commander Campbell noticed the comms officer and engineer merrily chatting away instead of paying attention to their job and shot the two men a look. They stiffened for a moment, then turned back to their consoles, staring at them and performing the last-minute tasks in preparation for the catch maneuver.

The others on the bridge noticed as well, and turned their attention back to their respective tasks as the outpost slowly caught up to them, relative to their position.

Time crept by until the ship’s AI announced, {Bolter limit approaching, report status for catch maneuver.}

All of the bridge officers did their final checks and signaled their readiness.

“Helm, bring our speed to minus fifty FPS relative,” Captain Miller ordered, then triggered the ship’s AI to announce the imminent docking completion.

All of the lights in the exploration vessel dimmed to a soft yellow and three whooping alert tones sounded as the AI announced, {All hands, prepare for docking. Repeat: all hands, prepare for docking.}

The announcement played three times consecutively, then the countdown began. {Docking in ten... nine... eight.... One....

{Docking complete. Welcome to outpost 134.}

……

“Damn! I wonder what the fuck they’re hiding here.... Blocking access to more than ninety percent of the base? And one of the biggest of the ones we’ve seen, too!” a crew member said in annoyance as he carried his duffel bag down the boarding ramp of the ship. He was looking through the map for the “meatspace” R&R facilities that were sure to be anywhere people were.

He had to admit that the empire truly had a gift when it came to designing spaces that made people feel comfortable, with the general aesthetic being a blend of high-tech minimalist design and nature. Most people would assume that all spacers would want to immediately hit a bar, get shitfaced, and find a “date” before holing up with liquor bottles and “licker bottles” when on shore leave, but Ordinary Crewman Sanchez would beg to differ.

What spacers wanted the most when they were freed from their various tin cans was the feeling of not being on a fucking tin can. Drinking and fucking came second and third, or maybe it was flipped and came third and second, but first place—by a very long shot—was definitely just normal open space that smelled like anything. The empire had very good technology, sure, but there was just something about the smell of home that they missed the most in ships where the air was recycled to perfection and there was no smell at all.

It was like those psychology studies that talked about sticking people in anechoic chambers eventually going crazy because they couldn’t hear the sound of their own voice reverberating off the walls around them. But what spacers missed wasn’t the sound. Sound, they had aplenty. But smells? Yeah... they missed smells.

OC Sanchez’ bunkmate heaved a sigh of annoyance at the repetition of his bunkie’s complaint. Every single time they docked at an outpost, it was always the same damned complaint; the only thing different was just how much of the outpost was deemed as off limits for the crew.

“It’s a fucking military base ferchrissakes! Do you expect a goddamn red carpet?” he complained.

“Fuck off, Flores. Just let me bitch in peace, asshole,” OC Sanchez snapped.

OC Flores zipped his lips and headed to the base rapid transit shuttle in silence. The rest of the crew that had been released to shore leave in their batch exchanged glances and they all came to the same decision as Flores: just ignore Sanchez and he would fade into the background.

Living in close quarters as they did, tolerance and shutting up went a long, long way toward preventing conflicts from escalating. And with such a hardass captain and XO, nobody wanted to be called up on a captain’s mast.

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