I was on a drop from Ganymede to Callisto, because, go figure, all the technology you could want—send the specs from the source to the 3-D printer at the destination and bam, you had anything that wasn't alive—and rich idiots had to go and develop a fetish for 'the real thing'. They paid stupid amounts of money for scrubs like me to ferry their authentic, their antique, their limited edition, and all the other priceless garbage they accumulated between planets. Those were runs for logistics megacorps and foolhardy idiots, and I sure as hell wasn't an agent of the Stellar Parcel Service.
My haul that day was what some new money kid from a newly-gentrified part of Callisto had bought from a crumbling estate auction on Ganymede. The bill of lading and insurance paperwork claimed it was all authentic Earth-origin prefab that had come to the original Titan colony a century ago, and then got repurposed to the early Jupiter colonies. That had to be bullshit, because it would have been cheaper to have a drone prefab everything right on Europa when it set up the alpha colony site. I hadn't flunked Jovian history in high school, but I was getting the impression that my employer had.
And okay, I'll admit this: I was completely and totally breaking the law just then. It wasn't that the job was illegal; my part of it, at least, was totally above-board. But I had put on an alter beat as I pulled out into the ring run, because hell if hitting escape velocity didn't make me sick every single time if I did it without some kind of sensory assistance. The law hadn't quite caught up to those of us inspired enough to scratch out an alter sequence that wasn't intended to fuck anyone up, so they were flat-out illegal while driving anything more dangerous than a tricycle. Which is why the second a police hail hit my line and flagged me for a stop, I knew I was completely and totally fucked.
I had that same moment of wanting to gun it and make a getaway that I'm pretty sure everyone who's ever been pulled over has had, regardless of how impossible it was. And in case it wasn't clear, me getting away in my pile of scrap metal that defied statistics, physics, and probably twelve other discrete sciences just by remaining spaceworthy? Beyond the pale.
Until I saw the ship that had hailed me, anyway. If I had a boat, the cops had a jet ski that had been beaten with a sledgehammer and then lit on fire with extreme prejudice. Possibly literally, because it was definitely giving off a glow that would have been combustion with more oxygen around. Our public funding at work, gentle people of the Local Bubble.
I scrubbed my hands through my hair and waited for some overworked traffic cop to enter the airlock. He would be in a bad mood, too, because clearly some suicidal idiot had decided to ram a police speeder and jet off through the rings; if you were good enough to dodge through them without taking the cleared run, you could lose almost anyone.
The airlock did its automatic thing; sure, my piece of slag was old, but not so old a police hail didn't override the manual airlock control right alongside all my other systems. Couldn't have hardened criminals using illegal nausea-suppressing subliminal signals to totally not get high, slamming open the airlock, and killing the police, could we? Not that I would ever—holy fucking god the cop was a lizard.