PART ONE: TOKO AIDA STATION "What the hell?!" The Quartermaster looked up. "Hmm?" Captain Drake drummed his finger on the man's clipboard. It had the list of ships currently docked at Gate 12 of the Toko Aida Station, along with their manifests. On this particular page, the roster was entitled The One with Boobs. "My ship does not have boobs!" "We get a lot of ships through here, Sir. Gotta have a system." The Quartermaster ginned and adjusted his cap. "Whatever happened to using names?! It's Rosa-May, a Class Seven Dryad with Asamoly Upgrades." "Uh-huh." The Quartermaster made another tick on his clipboard. "So what's with the boobs?" Drake turned and looked across the hanger, where his ship was being loaded by overalled dock workers, who moved like a line of ants as they wheeled their crates into its belly. He looked at the two spheres beneath the prow, frowned, then turned back to the Quartermaster. "Those are solar-hyrdoponic hubs!" "They look like boobs." "They give us food and generate fuel! You know, I expected more professionalism from the Toko Aida dock team..." "Still look like boobs." "YOU look like boobs!" There was silence. A yell rang out from behind them. One of the dock-workers had begun giving the complimentary spray and polish to the hull of Rosa-May. But clearly Rosa-May was not in the mood for a scrub. A small port had opened by the thruster assembly and the man was being hosed with sump oil, spluttering and sliding across the hangar. "I'll be right back." Drake turned from the Quartermaster and hurried across the hangar, muttering as he reached into the pocket of his longcoat. He pulled out his hipflask and took a swig. "Stupid Alliance cronies, it does not have boobs, they oughta... HEY! IT'S OKAY! STAND DOWN, BOYS!" He waved his arms at the other dock-hands who had armed themselves with wrenches as the ship continued hosing their friend. "She's just a little temperamental, is all." He rushed past them and stroked the underbelly of his ship. "It's okay, Rosa. It's just soap, Girl." Another small port opened and a mechanical arm extended to clamp the hose-pipe that the dock-worker had dropped. It started picking it up, as if to examine it. "No, Rosa! Put the hose down! Give it back to the nice oily man. Rosa! Give it! Rosa!" Drake got hold of the hose as the arm tried to lift it. A wrestling match ensued.