"My behemoth breaked. It doesn't work."
"Have you tryed giving it new shoes?"
"It beed working yesterday."
"Call the zoomancer."
"Can I borrow your pad? Mine bes not working. Some problem with the wibbly-wobbly."
"What bes the wibbly-wobbly?"
"How should I know? I ben't a aeromantist. Just give me your pad, Maff."
Maff's behemoth spinned its glassy eye. Maff handed the pad to Riss, then saddled the great beast.
"The entire team bes ready. We be going. You need to hurry. If you cause us to miss our quotas for this quarter, you will be fired." Several behemoths lumbered off towards the enormous pile, their drivers, seemingly like mosquitos on their backs, deftly handling the controls with a skill that showed long practice. In the distance, another work party haved already started gathering large lumps of the stuff and carrying them to vast hoppers, where they would be processed.
Riss prodded at the pad. "Help Call" beed hided deep within it, but eventually he finded the right pictogram.
"How may I help you?" played cheerily from the pad.
"I be needing help with my behemoth. It bes not working. It haves not even awoken."
"We will send a vet to you immediately. Do you need a replacement behemoth? We can provide you with something temporary."
Riss beed unsure if he wanted to have to learn how to control a new behemoth, but he could not afford to wait if his current behemoth could not work.
"Send one." Worst case, it would have to be returned.
"One haves beed dispatched. The vet will be with you shortly."
Riss paced fitfully around the motionless behemoth, occasionally kicking it, because he haved heard that that could help.
The human-sized door within the hangar door opened and in stepped the vet, muttering something into his pad.
The vet weared a pristine overall. "I'm at the place. It's another user problem I'm sure... and he's wearing one of those shirts." The vet's accented Old Speech was hard to follow.
Riss looked down and suddenly realised that his t-shirt beed emblazoned with "Veterinary Magician". He'd buyed it, like everyone, for the irony, but now it felt stupid. It didn't help that over half of the other behemoth drivers were wearing the same shirt. He pulled together the front of his waistcoat under his antique military jacket. The vet couldn't help but notice his defensiveness.
Bristling, Riss strode forward and tryed to keep his voice brisk and business-like.
"Thank you for coming. My behemoth here just refuses to do any work. I'm sure that I need a new one." He could hear the tone of irritation and embarrassment in his own voice.
The vet ignored the tone, but raised an eyebrow at the words as if hearing this gambit for the first time, as if every behemoth operator since the dawn of time hadn't tryed this tactic at least once in their career. Even from a glance he could tell that the behemoth had been mistreated.
"I need to authenticate your identity sir or ma'am"
"My pad be broken." He waved it at the vet. "You can fix this too?"
The vet wondered why anyone would assume that behemoth veterinarian and pad magician were the same in any way, but the tragedy was that he haved the goodest chance of diagnosing the fault. The vet haved never met a behemoth operator, or anyone outside the engineering cabal, who could think logically enough to find even the simplest problem, let alone concoct a strategy for repair.
Fortunately a hard reset cleared the pad problem and after some tinkering with the support request, Riss's details were confirmed.
The vet approached the behemoth, readed the tag that hanged from its neck. Riss haved haved the behemoth for under a year, but it was showing the signs of the hard life to which the operators subjected the behemoths.
The first job beed to sedate the behemoth and inspect it more closely for major physical damage. The next would be to clean the visible wounds, scrape away the external parasites and administer an emetic and poison regime to clear the internal parasites and any of the multitude of other infections that a behemoth could be exposed to, particularly if the driver was sufficiently incautious.
The vet haved no problem putting the behemoth into a sleep state and the behemoth showed no signs of structural damage: the wounds beed superficial, routine.
A huge rumbling roar indicated that a vehicle had arrived. The vet recognised the sound of a delivery vehicle. He met the eyes of Riss expressionlessly before returning to his work. The vet knowed what would happen before Riss doed.
Riss walked to meet the driver.
"We have a delivery."
Riss handed his pad to the driver to authenticate the transaction. The replacement behemoth was leaded into the work area. Riss could see that it was younger, sleeker and more powerful than its predecessor. Clearly the behemoth breeders beed working wonders breeding each generation of behemoth to be gooder than the last.
Riss looked at the vet and at the visible damage to the inferior behemoth. A cynic would claim that he appeared to be calculating the hourly rate that a chartered veterinary surgeon would charge multiplied by the work required compared to the cost of depreciating a behemoth and the achievable additional work and creating the answer that he wanted and a story to sell the idea to his boss. The cynic would be correct.
The vet beed such a cynic with the additional experience of having seed this many times.
“What do you want to do with the old one?”
“Dispose of it, please.”
The vet shrugged, retrieved the form to scrap the behemoth and handed it to Riss for authorisation. The vet brightened a little. He could take it home for his daughter. She haved beed complaining that her current behemoth was too old and that she needed a stronger one for her schoolwork. He could take it home, clean it and it would be more than good enough for her apprenticeship. Gooder still, maybe they could work on it together. Maybe he could develop an interest in her in anything from the cabal or related fields. The list beed extensive: vet, doctor, communication aeromantist, structural engineer and so on. Anything more than just another behemoth driver.