Now there are dirty jobs out there in the universe - garbage scow, xeno-coroner, warp engine lube technician. Likewise, any soldier or space merchant faces his share of danger. But there are also jobs that are both insanely dirty AND dangerous, and which only get done because of the small chance of a large payoff they offer. Here are the most notorious ‘Double D’ jobs in space:
When local pisspot baronies start an interplanetary shootout, there are those who see it is a chance to turn a profit. Missiles or rockets fail in a number of ways – software glitch, fuel leak, chaff or jamming. Unexploded ordinance such as missiles are worth a nice bit on the black market, but are also highly illegal to resell. Some scavengers go in ‘hot’ and sweep in while the battle rages, clamp onto a juicy piece of ordinance and jet out before they become a target themselves, fingers crossed that their cargo doesn’t go supernova. Others go in ‘cold’, picking through debris after the war is won, carefully defusing and disassembling the rockets and their payload before safely storing them and moving on. Either way has an equal chance of making you rich or dead.
Space is so unimaginably huge that anyone not looking to be found can easily and effectively do so if they stay on the move. Cops are usually limited to peace keeping and beating down the locals, while mobile criminals cross jurisdictional lines and make things messy for the law. That is why most places either sign on to the bounty hunter treaty or else turn a blind eye to their activities. The big problem is the restriction against lethal force unless fired upon, which means that you better either get the drop on your prize with whatever netgun or stunner you’re using, or else hope they miss once before you gun them down. It doesn’t make it any easier that the most dangerous and most rewarding bounties are wanted alive.
There are all kinds of treaties protecting indigenous life, but for an unscrupulous corporation or a desperate group of refugees looking for a new home, extermination of local flora and fauna might be the only option. The sounds good on paper, but life has a way of carrying on, or at least taking a lot of other lives with it into oblivion. Then there’s the advanced life that can send killers right back at their employers…
As hard as it is just killing off alien life, imagine the challenges of capturing and carrying it somewhere. That tame-looking spacecat you’ve lured into your hold doesn’t seem so cute when it grows tentacles then starts teleporting around the ship eating crew like ruffled potato chips. Add to that your violation of numerous space treaties and local laws in transporting or delivering the critter and you’ve got a galaxy strength headache to deal with.
As dangerous as test piloting was back in the day of simple aeronautics, with the reality-warping engines used nowadays, things get a whole lot weirder. Pilots can return before their departure, or come back mad from an eternity in the warp lanes, or else sound crazy claiming that the world is the same except for one detail like the color of the skies or that people don’t have forked tongues like they used to. Maybe the ones that just disappear are luckier.
Imagine an abandoned spaceport the size of a moon needing to be cleared out in two weeks. Now imagine the number of hiding places in such a structure. The rats in the walls could be any number of things, from disgruntled employees, to squatters, activists for some cause, alien critters, rogue AI, or even ghosts. Since most of these jobs are on a timetable, your chance of going home empty handed are higher than those of going home in a box – but not by much.
Just like the Fermi Paradox told us, other intelligences rose and fell long before humanity spread out into the cosmos, and from time to time we find their relics, and even their junk. The problem is that we’re still in diapers in terms of technology, and can’t tell if we’ve picked up the cure for cancer or a loaded gun. Artifact transporters are subject to spontaneous mutations, space-time distortions, and whatever malevolent designs the defunct creators of the artifact set in motion. Add to this that on the off-chance you do get a useful artifact AND figure out how to use it, every space pirate, scavenger, and spacy frigate you encounter will be aiming to take it from you.
Space Anomaly Survey Team
Space is just plain weird at times, filled with anomalies that don’t follow any of the laws of physics, and thumb their nose at reality. Shrinking black holes, anti-matter planetoids, heavy midget planets, and gas or liquid mega-giants without the gravity they’d need to exist are all out there for the finding. They can make your hull disappear, crush you like a tin can, or have you reliving moments from your childhood. Figuring out what makes these anomalies tick, or better yet finding a way to use them for profit, can make the effort and risk pay off in spades.
If you and your crew are in need of a quick payoff or a huge push towards the good life, these jobs are for you. Just remember that they won’t be easy, clean or safe. You were warned.