Modesto Pires shifted his grip on his cigarette from his lips to his teeth and bit down on the filter. It tasted awful, but less awful than life tasted like right now. He never liked it when that man came in the hangar. It wasn't just jealousy or envy, he didn't like the man for perfectly good reasons. First, he was a pig and a liar. Modesto knew enough not to trust a man like that on account of being one himself, but, hopefully, less so.
And there was some jealousy and envy. Marvin Beck hadn't made a major faux pas in describing the, hah, major's favourite Texas Seven dancers. No, Marvin Beck knew to keep his trap shut, except when it came to babble about guns and things you put guns on. He had a… particular fascination for the latter. Besides, his bullshit wasn't entirely bullshit. It was often pretty accurate, it just was dressed in a ridiculous, jovial and jocular affectation of friendliness which deserved about as much trust as a chocolate hammer.
In Modesto's opinion, he had more than a fascination for mechs. People just didn't come by every night to spend an hour or two to tune their ride and then left, sighing happily, to do Founders knew what.
Well, that wasn't really his problem, he just had to patrol the hangar once in a while and deal with the heroic amounts of pornography he had stockpiled.
After consuming a substantial amount of Nobre Adult Video's best materials – the lady on the cover appeared to be floating thanks to the heavy assistance of her buoyant tits – Modesto went for a walk around his hangar. The chill night air felt good against his sweaty forehead and he jogged in place a moment to get his muscles back in action, he was doing a few push-ups for the sake of it when he felt more than saw the clouds above Solo Nobre reflect the light of something that wasn't neon. The low rumble of Balão impacts thundered a few dozen kilometres away. Someone was busy killing and he was busy considering eating rice more often to need less ass-wiping.
Being a night-watchman, even in a military hangar, perhaps especially, was not exactly the most exciting of all jobs. It was a bit like death with the added demerit of being alive to experience it.
He had once been the renowned trailblazer of his platoon, the man with the eye, ear and nose to pick out the ambushes and the brain to plan the counter-ambush and make the stupid butterbar think he had been the one to plan it, then he'd had the skill and luck to survive it. All he hadn't survived was commenting that his boss liked them fat and young, which was entirely true.
Life was unfair.
Well, one could fight back. And there was one option. There was that guy, far too pale and frail to touch the soil often, who had proposed to help him get away from this shithole. A transparent Faustian bargain – a former street kid, he'd had the time to do a lot of reading and Great Leader's schools were decent enough – and he couldn't find another soul to sell.
He looked at his horizon, all flat roofs, district walls and anti-orbital guns and went back inside, mulling over a proposition he knew to be profoundly shitty but nevertheless found alluring.
He was going to get back to his porn, forget those stupid daydreams and, finally, he was going to take a nice, long piss in the good colonel's Praetor. Not anywhere obvious, just the air filters of the secondary AC, the one that would kick in after a couple hours of action.
In honour of this new resolution, he went back to his cramped lodge and downed a few cans of beer. If only he had eaten some asparagus, well, beggars can't be choosers.
He walked down the row of powered down Touros, all squatting down with those old maintenance gantries around and over them, gently dusting them with fine rust made sticky by the humidity. It made the IR stealth paint coating useless but the colonel didn't really bother about that. He'd need to work to know it and mistresses are a lot more fun that reading.
Modesto agreed with no real reservations, he just felt that staying alive was an important part of having fun. May he'd try to chat up that neurotic design bureau chick next time she'd come around to see how no one cared about her ideas, decent as they were.
He crossed Beck's path out. The man left the machines with a big, relaxed smile painted over his face, hazy, unfocused eyes and hands stuck deep in his pockets.
"Night," he said as he walked by.
"Night," answered Modesto, mildly surprised. At least the man could be polite, he didn't know that. He wondered for a moment where the man kept his tools. Probably on a tool belt under his considerable bulk, Founders knew he had the room to hide anything there.
The colonel's ride had a few odd white stains on its feet. Not really his worry. With his gloves on and his bladder full, Modesto started his ascension to the highest levels of the state. He reached the office of Praetor in five seconds, to his physical shape's credit, and realised two things. First thing: Beck's machine was at the other end of the hangar. Second thing: there were droplets of an almost pearly liquid on the engine hatch of the Praetor. Modesto very carefully bent down to inspect them closer up and confirmed that he had severely insulted pearls. He thought back to the stains on the mech's feet.
Of course that fucking pig was going to have both a mech fetish and a mech foot fetish. Of fucking course. Fuck this world and all others.
Well, first, he was going to take that nice, long piss on the air exhaust, away from here, and second, he was going to do anything to leave this insane city and planet, starting with talking to that Cephei Chatfield creeper.