Badass Dragon Scavengers of the Void - The Wreck of the Coleridge

[spoiler]Nothing too elegant in the way of dining options, not that you expected much really. At least the tables are clean, the chairs look sturdy, and most of the replicators are still working. A half a dozen scullerybots run to and fro looking for work and there’s even an old 300 series Robochef! in the galley waiting to take your order.

If you’re looking for a snack, a meal, or a stiff drink, it looks like you’ve come to the right place.
Why not grab a chair and make yourself at home?[/spoiler]

Although the engines may still be a hot mess, most systems for providing sustenance are back online. Granted, the replicators are sometimes a little too enthusiastic in attempting to meet user requests, but that’s to be expected. Lights are back on, life support is scrubbing the CO2 from the mix, and there are even a few fruit machines to help pass the time. They pay out actual fruit, so think about your smoothie options.


Got any Miracle Gro?


I heard someone call this the mess, but it seems okay to me, just a little disheveled. I mean, it’s hard to make a mess when there’s robots cleaning up after you. Did I ever tell you guys about the mess I made when I was marooned on Mars for 550 sols? Boy, I was making water, which is just hydrogen and oxygen, nearly blew myself out the door. Hilarious when you look back at it and everything I underwent.

Survival, that’s what life is, survival. And survival on Mars is, like, really tough. Maybe the toughest.

I guess I’ll just have a water. It’s a lot easier to ask for one now, these days, instead of having to make my own. Ha!


I’ve heard of you.

I’ve heard some stories about what you’ve done with potatoes. Don’t be getting any ideas.


Aw man, this one time, on Mars, I had only potatoes to survive, for, like 550 sols or so. It was a real situation, I’d been stranded on Mars, left for dead, and there just wasn’t enough food, so I had to eventually figure out how to grow potatoes or literally die. An awful lot of work, it was something remarkable.

I’m just glad I’m not back on Mars anymore but here with you guys. And this water. So, what’s your deal pal, ever been stranded on Mars?


long pause

You talk a lot. I think I see why you were stranded.


No, see, they thought I was dead, they had no choice. I certainly don’t blame them. Mars is a fascinating place, I got a lot of great science done. It’s a really interesting story, do you have time?


moves to a new table


Mineral oil, with a wee dram of Alizarin Crimson, on the rocks?

Say, you aren’t related to the Auto-Banana-chef bunch out Rigel Way, are you? They really know their way around a set of gears, they do.


I just think that if you had been through what the potatoes and I had been through you’d have a whole new understanding, a way of connecting with members of the tuber family. But, thinking about it, maybe it had something to do with the Martian soil, or maybe those particular starchy tubers.

Boy howdy, they loved disco music, which is weird, because I hate disco music, or, at least, a lot of it, because, at the same time, I learned to love disco. Or at least love it on Mars. Maybe that’s the same thing. Or maybe I’m the catalyst for change. Or maybe the potatoes are.

All I know is that you shouldn’t ever travel without potatoes. Martian potatoes. Dressed in little shirts that you make at home.

Where were we? Mars?


Bartender, another glass of the Bordeaux, please.

And can you get something for the guy who won’t shut up about Mars? Preferably something that’ll gum up his tongue for awhile. Put it on my tab.


gesticulates menially toward the closest server

"A double of saline extruded by a bivalve on Titan, 80 year. On the double."


“Potatoes, you say?”


Hey buddy! You want to hear about Mars? Fascinating planet. Fourth one in. The Red Planet they sometimes call it, because it’s red.

Boy, that’s a nice scarf you got there. Did you know that I used to have a pet that looks an awful lot like you? True story. That was before Mars, of course. It’s not like I was born there. And, for damn certain, I wasn’t going to die there. Can I buy you another round? I only drink water these days, keeps my edge sharp. You never know when it’s going to go bad, right?


Yeah, I said potatoes! Martian potatoes, in fact. After I made my own soil from my own night soil.

That’s a nice euphemism for poop. Also disco music. Did you know they have disco music on Mars. Only damn thing I could find. Who plans for a three year trip and brings one CD with them? Seriously? That is a sparkly carapace. You look like Iron Man.

I flew like Iron Man once. On Mars.


Some of my closest friends are potatoes.

You just watch yourself.


I’m sorry, did you say you had a PET that looked like me?!



Isn’t that interesting.


The Coleridge mess hall’s enlisted crew entrance is through her aft bulkhead, and features the only vacuum-sealed batwing doors in the Charybdis cluster. They bang open to reveal an uncharacteristically grouchy Space Lizard, followed closely by a three-meter-long ginger felinoid who seems to know his way around.

Gazes are met and assessed. Note is taken of certain occupants.

“Aw, hell.”

“Maybe I should do the talking, Boss.”

“Who you calling Boss, Jones? I don’t have an XO anymore.”

“Scylla’s phallus, Boss, what the hell did I do?”

“Nothin’, furball. I ain’t got an XO, 'cause I ain’t got a command anymore. We scrapped the O’Mortson, remember?”

“Not likely to forget. That shitheap leaked like a sieve. The low cabin pressure made me shed all over the place.”

“I ain’t likely to forget that part either. Still siftin’ yer pelt outta my oatmeal. Anyway, we’re both swabbies right now. Enlisted crew. Hell, you ain’t even enlisted, tagalong.”

“I just wanna check things out. You know how I feel about blind commitments.”

“Yeah, well, this is lookin’ like a barrel-scraper here. Lookit these losers. Spiner. Robo-nanner. Hatrack. Ball-balancer.”


“Yeah, wouldn’t surprise me, over behind those godforsaken humans…”

“No, I mean you, you unreconstructed reprobate. “Spiner” is hardly the preferred nomenclature for the Space Cactus. And you call a moose a hatrack in its earshot, you’re gonna find your own head mounted above the fireplace in its billiard room.”

“Hell, mooses ain’t that tough. Oh, hey, look. There’s a mutt.”


“Why don’tcha go over and say hi, Jonesy?”


“Go on. Looks friendly. Erudite, too. And come to think of it, you two might have somethin’ in common. A certain kinda cute furriness…”


“Hey, rein it in, Jones. No need to be gettin’ all xenophobic now. This is a civilized planet, says so right there on top of every Wanted poster. Just kinda… blend in. Stay away from the Perfesser, if ya gotta. Maybe we can sit over… hey! How 'bout that… Kumquat’s here!”

“Kum what?”

“Quirky Kumquat, my nineteenth cousin. Good egg. Hell of a pilot.”


“Over behind the humans, and that dude with the red claws. Talkin’ to… aw, shit.”

“What now, Boss? You step in somethin’?”

“Of all the… Orion’s Gonads, is this trip gonna be worth it? Mark Freakin’ Watney? That asshole? I thought Mars was too small for the two of us, and he shows up all the way out here?”

“Ease off, Boss. Live and let live. Let me buy ya a drink. Whyn’t you go catch up with whatshisname the fruit lizard?”

“Sure. And you go play fetch with the quadruped academic.”

“Wanna see if that tail of yours can grow back a sixth time, Boss?”

“Kiss my cloaca.”

“Tropical coolant?”

“With a straw. Thanks.”

Tex Ass slid into a corner booth and eyed his potential crewmates sourly. Quirky was always good for laughs, most of the rest of these clowns were still blank slates, but Watney…

Watney might be a problem.


What sort of potatoes? Digital, analog, electro-mechanical? Were they colleagues, or some sort of valets?


What? Potatoes aren’t related to cactuses. Let alone Martian potatoes to space cactuses. It’s not even like I said yucca or anything confusing. Look, man, I’m a botanist, but even as fascinated as I am by a space cactus, I still recognize you as a sentient being and don’t confuse you with other some other genus. That would be speciesist. Why don’t you have a shot of potassium and relax?