Arthur Foss sits in Tramps Tea Room drinking a mug of the franchise’s nettle tea. He looks round the room. Most of the tables are surrounded by people talking. Some complain about the lay off at the Otus factory, others discussing the best way to grow potatoes in a bed sit. A group of large men dress in high visibility boiler suits rolls in and up to the bar. 4 of the 5 men order their Irish teas to go then leave. The other orders a sandwich with his tea and carries them to where Arthur is sat. he sits next to him. “you got it ?” Arthur nods and puts his hand in his dirty brown draw string bag “not ear” grunts an oil stained Phil as he biting his sandwich. “Got all you need for your little trip?”
“I think so” mumbles Arthur. “right” Phil bites the sandwich followed straight away by a huge gulp of tea “lets go” Arthur drains his mug of tea and slips it in to his bag where it hits another. As they walk down the road Arthur looks at his feet in their sandals made from recycled tyres. Then he looks at Phil’s massive leather boot with steel toecaps. The roads round the industrial estate were empty. He was all alone with a man who had boasted about kicking a gynoid’s face in the last time they had met. Why he felt the need to remove a female android’s teeth with his boot was never made clear and Arthur wasn’t going to ask.
They walk into a colossal warehouse 30 Otuss half fill it “which one?” inquires Arthur “dat one. Its all set up for you” Phil pulled out a key card from his boiler suit, opens the Otus and they go inside. “2 padded fold out benches for all your sitting and sleeping needs” Phil pulls the bench in to bed mode and back. “over ear is your compact cooking unit” Arthur looks at the small kitchen with a door one end. “but till you get to the belt you will be sleeping here” Phil lifts up a floor panel with 2 bolts on the underside. Arthur takes an envelope out his bag and gives it to Phil then slides his bag under the floor.
The Otus jerked waking Arthur up. the engine noise dropped then stopped leaving the hum of the energy supply. Arthur puts his ear up to the floor, foot steps move across it. When the hum stops he undoes the bolts and lifts the panel. he Takes a worms eye look at his new home before standing up and stepping back to floor level. it will be about 3 weeks till he can leave and start looking for the rock hoppers. The rock hoppers are a group of hippies who have given up on mother earth and now live in the asteroid belt. They farm the asteroid growing crops in wedge shaped habitat chambers.
Arthur wakes up after his 29th night sleeping under the floor. His back was killing him. He undoes the bolts and pulls himself up. he walks painfully through the kitchen to the door. he slides it open steps in to the cockpit and drops in to the drive seat. Looks at the controls takes a deep breath and flick the power switch. The controls light up. Arthur starts tapping in a code he had paid a lot for. emergency code 79/b will open the hanger door but lock all the internal doors of the ship. He presses transmit, the hanger door opens. as soon as the door starts to open he pilots the Otus straight at the door and out in to the asteroid belt. He heads for the nearest cluster of asteroids, lands and puts the Otus on emergency power. The Otus was now invisible to its mother ship. He keeps his eyes on the radar for a bit then went back into the living section. He pulls his bag out from under the floor past the empty food cans. He takes out his 100% hemp poncho and chucks it in the storage space under one of the padded benches with the vacuum packed shrink rapped polyester bedding. Then he takes out 2 Tramps Tea mugs gives them a bit of a wash and puts them the kitchen cupboard with vacuum packed shrink rapped rations packs. he looks at his now empty bag and says to himself “I hate unpacking, man it's like a total hassle”
Arthur sits in the drive seat with his bare feet up on the controls. The auto pilot moves the Otus though the belt as Arthur drinks his instant mushroom cupper soup with added vitamins. It had been 9 weeks since he left earth. 9 weeks with no music, no books and no nettle tea. A small blip appears on the edge of the radar then 2 more then 5 more Arthur stared in amazement as The Otus moved closer to the wedge shaped of metal and glass each setting on there own asteroid. A big grin rips across his face. he has made it