Inside the Captain’s quarters of the Wanton Drifter, a weary Jenn Wyles lays sprawled across a king sized bed, taking up as much space as she possibly can. The evening twilight continues to creep into the room through the glass windows of the ship, creating an atmosphere slightly darker than that of when she first went to sleep nearly eight hours ago. Getting a good night’s sleep on the light side of Titan is no easy task during the middle of its roughly 372 hour long days. The Drifter had been docked here for several weeks and Jenn was just recently getting the hang of it. The Captain’s quarters is the largest stateroom aboard the ship, taking its place on the uppermost section of the ship and having what many would call the best view of any other room on the Drifter. The dimly lit room isn’t exactly filthy, but most would be hard pressed to deem it as ‘clean’. Across from the large bed is a simple modern looking white desk, covered in different Solar Fleet documents and required reading material for newly admitted shipmasters.
The still heavy-eyed captain sits up in her bed and stretches her arms while letting out a heavy deep yawn. ‘I should really get up and meet up with Ian to talk about what we’re doing today,’ she thought to herself. As she began to go through the motions to get out of bed she remembered:
“We got this. Just hang out, catch up on sleep and just relax.” - IAN SANFORD
The tired captain let out a deep sigh of relief, smiled, and fell back into bed, deciding to put the day off good while longer.
A gentle tune begins to fill the dark room as the lights quickly fade to being on. Ian nearly immediately pulls back the covers and jumps out of bed and does a few stretches, ready to face the day. After silencing the alarm he had set, the spry first mate moves to his closet and pulls the doors open. He carefully looks over his options for the day and decides he really needs something less action ready and more casual while still not being too restrictive. He pulls on a pair of dark colored khakis along with a pair of casual boots. Ian grabs his usual belt off of a hook and fastens it around his waist as he turns his attention to a dresser inside of the closet. He puts his hand on the handle attached to the top drawer of his dresser and a blue circle with a vertical line through it begins to illuminate on the front. The symbol quickly changes to green and rotates 90 degrees with an audible ‘click’. Ian pulls open the dresser drawer revealing a sizable collection of one handed firearms.
Ian moves his prosthetic mechanical hand clad in carbon fiber and metal features over the drawer’s contents trying to decide which tool would be best to take with him. He sees one of his favorites, a black Foss 8 heavy revolver. Ian’s hand reaches to grab the weapon and wraps his hand around the handle; he holds it up to inspect all sides of it. “Black goes with everything,” Ian muttered to himself. He brings the gun to his waist and lets go of it as it magnetically attaches itself to his belt. The first mate then grabbed a black leather jacket off the rack and put his arms through each sleeve. He pulls the jacket closed just enough to conceal the weapon on his belt. Ian takes one last look in the mirror, “Lookin’ good and ready for the day!”
The mess hall is mostly still and quiet, dimly lit in the evening by a collection of warm white LEDs. Sitting at the wooden dining table is the pilot, Rob Henderson. In front of him is a steaming bowl of instant oatmeal and above that is a shimmering projection of a daily news feed featuring important events from around the Sol system as well as a myriad of cute animal photos. The pilot lifts a spoonful of oatmeal from the bowl to his mouth, his eyes still trained on the holographic display. He notices a figure begin take a seat across the table through shimmers of a video featuring an excited husky playing in a plastic kiddy pool filled with ice.
“Morning,” Rob addresses the figure.
“Mornin’” Ian replies, setting a mug down on the table, “What’re you up to?”
“Just catching up on some news,” Rob answers from behind the entirely visible-from-both-sides dog video.
“Uh huh. Well, you ready to get going?”
“Yessir,” Rob confirms. He picks up the bowl in one hand and gets up from the chair he’s been sitting at. The holographic display shrinks and disappears with a small friendly closing animation. After making a quick trip to the kitchen to drop off his dirty dish, he returns to grab his old bomber jacket from on the table and slides an arm into each sleeve.
The pair take a stroll to the exit of the ship, moving trough the different compartments until they arrive at the port airlock, a small room flanked by two heavy doors. On the inside of the ship, just outside the inner bulkhead of the airlock is a rack with multiple thin fitting black EVA suits sporting a variety of red accents. The friends walk through the inward facing door, which is being left open while the ship still remains on the ground. Ian places two fingers on a vertical rectangular black touchpad and makes a slow and deliberate downwards swipe gesture. The outer bulk head begins to open outwards, hinging at the bottom forming a ramp. With a loud thud, the thick metal door strikes the dock.
Ian and Robert walk along the pier back to solid ground, exiting the marina. They pass beneath the early evening sky as the lights of the great city before them begin to illuminate. Great ships, both larger and smaller than the Drifter, gently rock with the rippling water. Small landing boats perhaps belonging to monstrously large vessels in orbit take up nearly half of the spaces while some smaller non spacefaring yachts and sailboats fill the in-betweens. The gentle ambient sounds of the water lapping against the hulls of different boats as well as the occasional clatter of a sailboat’s rigging against its mast fill the air with a soothing nighttime song. As the two continue walking out of the marina, the buildings gradient in height until they find themselves within the bustling city limits.
The wide sidewalks are filled with a decent amount of people but aren’t particularly crowded today. Ian reaches into his jacket to pull out small tablet that wakes up automatically in his hands. “Alright so we need to find some work, it also wouldn’t kill us if whatever we find comes with some extra hands to help since we’re a bit short,” he says while flicking through a list of potential leads he’s found in the city. Rob nods in agreement, “We gotta find something exciting, that pays a lot too, to get us back in the air y’know?”
Rob nods in agreement, “Yeah, totally.”
“Oh hey,” Ian swipes through the list, stopping at a profile featuring the name ‘William Canter’, “Looks like we’re actually right next to a contact I have. I don’t really remember much about him so… not really sure what we’re going into. What are your thoughts here?”
“Well, I mean if he’s right here, might as well, right?” Rob responds trying to hide his unwillingness to do too much walking.
“Yeah I guess you’re right, lets go check it out,” Ian slides the tablet back into his jacket pocket.
The two keep walking down the sidewalk, navigating their way through the concrete forest lit up by countless streetlights and the still fairly bright Saturn illuminated by the not yet eclipsed sun. Eventually the two find a small coffee shop and enter through the front door. “Are you sure this is the place?,” Rob asks.
“I’m pretty sure this is the place,” Ian quietly answers walking up to a young brown haired girl behind the counter, “Howdy, you know where I can find William?”.
“Who wants to know?” she shoots right back.
“Just someone who needs to make a quick buck,” he answers.
“He’s in his office,” she gestures in the direction of a door in the back of the shop.
“Thanks,” Ian says in fairly uneasy tone, believing this all to be somewhat strange.
Rob follows Ian to the door in the back and asks in a hushed tone, “Does any of this feel, a little less than legal to you?”
“Just follow my lead, let me do the talking and try not to stand in the way,” Ian smiles and tries to reassure Rob that they can handle whatever shadiness this William character has shrouded himself in. Ian cautiously opens the door to reveal a small office and a man furiously working hunched over a desk. There are two very large suited men on either side of him, lazily leaning on the back wall, their attention trained on the one who just entered the room.
“Hey! Billy! Long time no see! How’s it going!”
The man looks up from his work and freezes when he sees the two friends standing before him, gritting his teeth, angrily spitting, “You.”
“Oh, duh!” Ian gives himself a small tap on the forehead and turns back to Rob, “How could I forget this guy?”
“What?” a confused Robert worriedly asks his friend, “how do you-“
“I did a job for this guy a while back, things didn’t go like he planned, he wasn’t too happy about it, he cut off my left arm,” Ian explains pointing to his now fully replaced and improved left arm.
Rob mouths a quiet ‘Oh’ in mild understanding, still being somewhat confused.
“Yeah, enough people start pullin’ off limbs and they all just sorta… blur together. Anyway, Billy, we’re in sort of a bind here-“
“You got some nerve commin’ in here you wretched little piece of shit,” William was starting to get himself worked up.
“Please, Will, you gotta calm down, I’m just looking for some work.”
“Work? WORK!? You think I’d ever throw you a bone after what you did for me, you… you lowlife!”
“Hey man, I messed it up, you brutally maimed me, I think it all evens out don’t you think?” Ian says trying to diffuse the explosive situation. “Look all I’m here to do is find a way to exchange goods for services.” Ian pulls back the flaps of his jacket to rest his hands on this belt, allowing himself easy access to the weapon at his side. The four large men in suits pull back their sport coats to reveal instruments of their own.
“How dare you come here into my house asking anything of me.”
“We should go,” Ian whispers to his friend. Rob gives a small nod in agreement and the two begin to slowly back up.
“Hold it,” says a gravely deep voice from behind. A fifth guard is standing behind them blocking the exit. The tension continues to skyrocket as the bloodlust in William’s eyes becomes evermore visible. The two slowly walk back to where they were standing in the middle of the room.
“I told you that if I ever so much as saw your sorry ass again, I’d kill you - And I’m about to really enjoy keeping that promise.”
Ian tilts his head back to rob, whispering, “You were right, this guy’s way too intense.” Then, after clearing his throat, he addresses the room, “I’m gonna give you all one last chance to let us go, nobody has to get hurt.” Soft laughter fills the room. Ian’s right hand hovers over his Foss 8 revolver. “Out for some good fun between consenting adults I see.” Ian widens his stance and takes a deep breath, and analyzes the situation to himself. “Two on each side of the boss, one over the shoulder. Rob on the right.” Ian exhales.
The loud blast of five large caliber rounds ring out through the room near simultaneously. The guards fall to the ground, each of their right arms nearly torn to shreds by Ian’s hand cannon. The mocking laughter had turned to silence as the guards had all either passed out from the pain or gone into shock. Ian stands in the center of the room, holding the weapon in the cold grip of his mechanical right hand.
“Holy shit,” Rob quietly mutters to himself.
Ian moves slowly toward the desk with a straight face, he gives the hand cannon a quick twirl and returns it to his belt where gun magnetically reattaches and orients it self into its proper position. Just beginning to realize what had happened, William’s dastardly grin fades into a look of horror. The leather jacket wearing gunslinger puts climbs up onto the crime boss’s desk and crouches down to lock eyes with him. Ian starts to speak in a much more serious tone than usual, “Now, let me just clear something up real quick. You, are irrelevant. A meaningless blip on my radar I had a run in with when I was a stupid kid. A little man with little dreams that tried exceptionally hard to leave his mark on me that, even after all that, I forgot about. Since you declined my simple request, maybe you can point me in the direction of a more respectable establishment. One that would gladly hire us, probably pay us more, and won’t try to threaten us for no good reason, hm?” Ian gives William a stiff tap on the forehead with his index finger. The frozen-with-terror and most likely former crime boss gives a trembling nod yes. Ian breaks his stone cold demeanor with a gracious smile, “Thanks!”
Jenn rolls over in bed and lets out a deep yawn. After what had been a few good additional hours of sleep she decides that she is now ready to handle the day. The dazed captain pulls away the covers and moves her feet from the warm soft covers and onto the cold hard floor. Shivering from the ambient temperature in the room, much colder than under the down comforter on her bed, Jenn strips out of her pajamas to put on something a little warmer. She slips on a pair of sweatpants and a dirty tee shirt branded with one her favorite bands. The captain picks up a single worn flat soled shoe from underneath her desk and, after much searching, eventually manages to find the other one hiding underneath her bed. After fitting the runaway shoe onto her other foot she stands up and takes a deep breath and lets out an, “All right.” The new outfit was not particularly more protective from the room’s cold temperature, but it would have to do for now.
The disheveled woman leaves her room and makes her way down the companionway leading down into the main living area. From there, she heads aft, delicately stepping by so as to not wake the area chef. Dakota lies across the sofa in a very uncomfortable looking position, snoring loudly enough to be heard from anywhere in the room. The television set across from him playing reruns of an old science fiction series cancelled decades ago. After making the perilous journey past the couch, she arrives in front of a very durable looking wide metal door. Her right hand moves up to a touchpad, much like the one on the other bulkheads, and swipes across it with a slow left to right motion. The door moves back and slides to the right, following the touch gesture’s command, receding out of sight. Jenn steps into the ship’s cargo bay as the LEDs embedded in the walls and ceiling around the room all snap on at once to reveal its mostly barren interior. In the corner of the wide open space there’s a steel rack proudly presenting a worn barbell along with a small collection of weighted discs lazily piled beside it.
“So what’s the name of this other place we’re headed again,” Rob asks, huddling up inside of his classic but ratty bomber jacket.
“The Rock Water Corporation, I think,” Ian answers, “I think that’s actually it right over there.” He points to an unassuming store front approaching on their left as they move down the sidewalk.
“Have you ever… heard of this place?”
“No… but it can’t be worse than that last place. I hope those guys got to a hospital or something.”
“You know, I’m sure they’re… fine?”
The two enter the store front through a heavy pane glass door with a metal handle that oozes with extravagance. Upon entering the office the two are immediately greeted by a friendly man wearing a white button down shirt and tie tucked into a pair of clean black slacks. “Hello, there! Welcome to the offices of the Rock Water Corporation. What can I help you with?”
“Uhh…” Ian stammers, “We were told we could find some work here for our ship.”
“Of course! Please take a seat over there and I’ll go fetch someone who can talk with you all about that.” The man gestures towards a row of leather chairs in the corner of the room underneath the front window. “Is there anything I can get you gentleman while you’re waiting?”
“No, we’re… good,” Ian replies.
Rob leans in and whispers to his friend, “This place is way nicer than that coffee shop.”
After a few moments of patiently waiting seated in the small storefront’s sitting area, a set of frosted glass double doors open at the hands of a small blonde woman wearing a full well fitting suit and glasses. She walks towards the two Drifter crew mates, her high heels clicking each time one strikes the polished cement floor. “I was told you gentlemen are looking for a job,” she began with a smile and outstretched hand.
Ian places his hand in hers, grasping it in a firm but hesitant handshake, “Yeah, a friend of mine told me you guys needed something done?”
“Well your friend would be correct. The Rock Water Corporation is, unfortunately so, a bit short on helping hands at the moment. We have some generous investors behind us but, unfortunately, are without the man power to get us off the ground.”
“What exactly do you need?”
The blonde business woman looks around for a quick moment, narrowing her eyes. “Step into my office.”
A sound of rushing water hitting a hard tile floor emanates from an open bathroom door within the captain’s quarters. The sound comes to a gradual stop leaving only the soft whirrs of the room’s heating. The ship’s captain emerges from the bathroom with a towel draped over her shoulders, feeling quite refreshed after a much needed workout session followed by a soothing hot shower. After acquiring a fresh set of underwear and a white undershirt out of the top drawer of her dresser, she pulls an unfolded pair of jeans off the back of her desk chair and slips them on. Hanging off of a hook on the door leading into her room is the same corduroy jacket she wore yesterday as well as the same one she’ll wear today. Jennifer grasps the jacket in her hand as she heads out of the room.
The quiet thumping of the captain’s large sock covered feet remain unheard as she makes her way down the companionway steps into the main living area of the ship. Dakota remains sleeping on the sofa but in an entirely different yet equally uncomfortable looking position. Jennifer approaches the sofa and drapes her jacket over the back. She looks to the large paper-thin display adhered to the wall across from him and back to the low sitting worn piece of gray cloth furniture.
“Hey,” Jenn says in her normal speaking voice, prodding at Dakota’s still body, “Move over.”
Dakota lets out a quiet grumble and turns over, “It’s so dark out still…”
“Yeah, well no shit it’s been dark for like three days.”
“Mmmmm fine,” the tired chef lets out, begrudgingly conceding the argument.
Jenn plops onto the couch, reaches forward to pick up a thin and small tablet off of the coffee table standing between them and the large display on the wall, and then leans back into a more relaxed position with her arm stretched across the back of the sofa. She puts her feet up onto the table and scrolls through the list of media available at her disposal, discontent with rewatching old episodes of the same space western series she didn’t particularly enjoy.
“You know where Rob and Ian are?” Dakota asks as he pulled himself to sit upright on the sofa.
“Yeah, they’re out tryin’ to find a job for us to do.”
“So we’re finally gettin’ back out there, eh?”
“I sure hope so.”
“Everything seems to be in order here,” the small businesswoman handed the heavy silver Fleet Card back to Ian. “If you all meet the Fleet’s standards I’d say you meet ours. But yes, anything more you’d like to know about the job itself?”
Ian leans back in his chair, a stern look of trying to process what he had just heard on his face. “So hold on just a second, Ms…”
“Table Jones, Director of Operations here at Rock Water,” she proclaims proudly with a smile.
“Tab- wait, what?”
“Table, as in the furniture, Jones, as in the regular last name.”
“Oh… kay? So, this is just a simple salvage operation right? But you already know everything about this ship. What’s up with that?”
“Alright,” the blonde businesswoman sits back in her executive office chair, resting her elbows on the arm rests with her fingers weaved together, maintaining a level of professional eye contact with Ian. “We had a courier moving a package from another location off world back here, to our headquarters on Titan. Midway through the journey they stopped sending us status reports and replying to our messages. We need someone to check in on them, make they’re all okay and all that, secure this package, and bring it back to us here.”
“Well, why do you need us to bring it back if you think they might all be okay?”
“That’s where my concern lies, Mr. Sanford, I can’t help but shake the sneaking suspicion that they’re not okay at all. I have no clue what could’ve stopped them which is why I need someone to go check up on it and make sure this package gets to us safely. I have no idea how dangerous this could be.”
“Why not call the fleet police or something?” Rob chimes in to question.
“The fleet would confiscate everything aboard the ship as evidence if anything happened, which is why I need a third party to take care of this. After your people find this crate you should report the incident to the fleet so they can take care of the rest. You’ll be paid fairly generously for this potentially dangerous job.”
“How generously?” Ian poses.
“Uhmm,” Table turned her attention to the display on her desk and flicked through some spreadsheets she had prepared in advance. “I can offer you a 50,000 credit deposit to handle any expenses you might run into on your way out and then a 600,000 credit payment once the crate’s back here in Rock Water’s possession.”
“Oh.” Ian weakly replies forgetting his prepared in advance ‘counter offer’ of nearly half that amount.
“Sounds good to me.” Robert replies in lieu of Ian’s now lost words.
“Uhh, y-yes, perfect.” Ian says with a slight stutter, standing up with an outstretched right hand over the desk. Table stood up and put her hand in his, grasping it in a firm, confident handshake.
“Good luck gentlemen. Tell your captain I said hello! I’ll send you all the info on the ship and anything else you might need to know. Oh, yes and one more thing, you’ll be taking one of my associates with you. She should be waiting out in the lobby. She’ll be there as an extra set of hands to help and to give me a full status report after the job. She’ll also be vetting you to see if you guys can keep working with us if you’d like.”
“Alrighty. We should be shipping out either tomorrow or the next day. I think we can get what you’re looking for back to you in around a week, given no surprises come up.”
“Excellent. You gentleman have a wonderful day now!”
“Right back at ya,” Ian turns around to get leave the room as Table turns her attention back to her own work and Rob gets up from his chair to follow.
The two walk down the hall from Table’s office and push their way through he large double doors leading out into the lobby. Standing in the lobby is a woman of very average build, roughly the same height as Ian. Her black hair tied up in a bun sitting behind her head and a large canvas travel bag slung over her shoulder. She’s wearing a light-looking black windbreaker-style jacket and a pair of slim fitting dark gray camouflage cargo pants and casual slip-on black shoes. “Are you… Jennifer?” she asked in a more quiet and somewhat unsure voice.
“Uhh… no. I’m her first mate, Ian, and this is our pilot, Rob.”
“Hey,” Rob says giving a casual upwards nod in her direction.
“Oh, uh sorry about that, I mean when you work for a woman named ‘Table’ you can never really uh… be too sure, right?” the young woman lets out along with a nervous laugh.
“Right. I see you got all your stuff here, were you planning on heading back with us right now?”
“Uh, yeah, sorry, I just figured I’d…, if that’s okay, I mean.”
“Yeah sure, no problem. We were actually gonna get something to eat on the way back, if that’s alright.”
“Yeah! That’s fine, I mean its your ship and everything or uh, your friend’s ship, I guess…”
“Alright! Ms. Jones didn’t really give us your name, what do we call you?”
“Oh! Sorry! Yeah, my name’s, Harper, uh, Harper Takata.”
“Well, pleased to meet you Harper, we’re always glad to have the extra help,” Ian reaches his hand out for a handshake. Harper reached out and shook it, though with a much lighter grip and lacking the conviction of her associate’s more professional handshake. The first mate releases her hand looks back to Rob. “Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m starving. Let’s go get some diner food or something.”
“Have a great evening,” the well dressed secretary announces to them with a smile from behind the lobby’s front desk.
“Hey, thanks, you too!” Rob replies.
Rob and Ian leave through the front entrance, Harper following closely behind them. The door opens exposing them to the soft breeze of the frigid Titan evening air. The city is still softly lit by the soft white glow of Saturns great rings suspended above the black night sky. The city that has seemingly no choice but to never sleep through the cold world’s crawling day, lies wide awake. People walking along the sidewalks continue with their days, businesses remain open, and the medley featuring the various sounds of the city fill the air.
The group arrives at a humble looking restaurant with the appearance of a more modern seeming classic American diner. The words “Dave’s Soup and Noodle” are illuminated across the wall over the shop’s windows. “You guys alright with Dave’s?” Ian asks the group.
Inside the restaurant is a bored looking teenage host, he unenthusiastically greets the group, “Hey, welcome to Dave’s, just sit wherever.”
“Thanks!” Ian shoots back with his ordinarily upbeat attitude.
The group finds their way to one of the many empty diner style booths and take their seats. Harper scoots into the seat across from Rob and Ian along with her travel bag. A green and black android fellow wearing a black apron and white rag over his shoulder, with more human seeming features than Gary, arrives to take the table’s orders. “Welcome to Dave’s, we sell ramen, what’ll it be, fellas?”, he projects in a deep gruff voice that’s become lightly distorted with age.
“Uh, pork, I guess,” answers Ian.
“Pork,” declares Rob.
“Umm, chicken please,” utters Harper.
The android waiter nods his head, “Uh huh, should be out in a minute.” He turns around and returns to kitchen window, barking out the three orders to the large man on the other side. “I need three orders miso, 2 pork, 1 chicken.” The large man through the window turns around back to the fryers with a reluctant, “Yeah, I hear ya…”.
“So… uh, what kinda ship do you guys… fly?” Harper asks in an attempt to make small talk.
Rob immediately perked up at the sound of a question he felt personally obligated to answer, “You mean what kind of ship do I fly,” he corrects her, “And it’s totally badass. She’s one of those old XB-580s, they’re a little harder to come by these days but in the 70’s they were the coolest shit ever. My dad hated them because they reminded him too much of ‘the old days’ or whatever, but I mean it’s not li—“
“It’s a nice boat! You’ll get to see her when we get back later” Ian cut in, interrupting the all too familiar long rant Rob was working himself up into. “My friend, Jenn, the captain, inherited it from her clan. We’ve actually been restoring her in the marina near here for a few weeks.”
Rob shoots Ian an annoyed glare through narrowed eyes.
“Oh, cool,” the nervous looking girl mutters.
“But, what about you?” Ian asks, “How’d you end up working for Rock Water?”
“Oh, I mean that’s not really an interesting story. I just sorta… filled out a job application, you know? Heh. Corporate work and all that.”
“Yeah but you’re coming on this kinda dangerous sounding job with us and you definitely look like the type to be packing some serious gear,” Rob asks.
“Uh, yeah. I mean, nothing crazy I guess, just stuff I’d need for the mission, you know?”
“Alright, I got two pork ramen here and one chicken. Check’s on the table when you’re ready,” the waiter announces after appearing at the table, placing the three bowls on the table along with three sets of cheap wooden chopsticks. The group thanks him as he leaves the table and turn their attention to the hot meal. Steam rises of the still surface of the broth within the bowl. A hefty serving of noodles sit within it complimented by thinly sliced pieces of pork layered on top beside a soft boiled egg delicately cut lengthwise in half along with chopped green onion scattered atop the collection of ingredients.
Rob hums an audible “Mmm mmm” before grabbing his chopsticks and digging right into the soup. The three eat in relative silence, too focused on the delicious meal to be bothered by small talk.
“Wow, thish ish rea-y good!” Harper expresses through a mouth filled with noodles.
“Don’t you like, live around here or something? Can’t believe you’ve never had Dave’s before,” Rob queries.
“Well, not really, I ship off a lot on different jobs and don’t really get a chance to eat around town. I guess it, uhh, never really… occurred to me?”
“Tragedy,” Ian sympathizes, “Dave’s ramen is some of the best. Probably a reason in itself to live here.”
Rob slurps up a strong serving of broth from his bowl and sets it back down, “Ahh. Truth.“
After an evening of eating ramen, walking home, getting to know each other and laughing together, the three new fast friends make it safely back to the marina.
“There she is. The Wanton Drifter,” Rob announces, “I am glad to call it home.”
“Come on, lets go introduce you to everyone,” Ian tells Harper gesturing for her to follow him.
The three trot up the airlock ramp onto the ship to meet everyone. They find themselves within the main central living area of the ship where Jenn and Dakota are watching an older western movie. The captain looks over her shoulder after hearing somebody enter the room, “Oh, hey kids, what’s up?”
“Not much, just kind of a long day. Ran into an old friend, got into a little scrape, it was alright.” Ian answers, “But I did manage to find us a pretty good gig. Also, Jenn, this is Harper Takata, she’s gonna be staying with us to make sure we get the job done.”
“I’m very pleased to meet you Captain Wyles.” Harper says trying to shake hands and introduce herself to her new captain.
Jenn looks at the outstretched hand and back at Harper. “Uhh… hey.” She awkwardly reaches around with her right hand to try and grab it, giving her a half-hearted barely gripping handshake. “You can just call me Jenn.”
The chef turns around as well to join the conversation, “I’m the Drifter’s cook, Dakota. Pleased to meet ya.”
“Well uh, just give her a room then, I guess,” the Captain addresses Ian.
“Alright! Come on, you gotta meet Sasha and Gary too.”
“Uhh, ok,” Harper responded, following Ian out of the room.
Rob walks around the couch and sits in the gap on the cushions between Jenn and Dakota, “So what are we watchin.”
“Just some martian western flick we found, it’s alright,” Jenn explains.
“So, new face on the ship, eh? That could be fun,” Dakota starts.
“Yeah, I mean, she’s pretty cool I guess, kinda weird though,” Rob answers.
“You’re one to talk,” Jenn chimes in.
Dakota laughs while Rob lets out a sarcastic, “Ha ha.”
Harper and Ian enter the mess hall to find the ship’s mechanic and navigator sitting across from each other at the dining table, eating dinner and enjoying one another’s company.
“Guys! This is Harper. She’s with the company that just hired us and she’s gonna be living with us for a bit while we’re on the job. Harper, this is Sasha our engineer and Gary our navigator.”
“Hey. How’s it going?” Sasha asks the new addition
“Oh, it’s a, goin alright,” Harper sends back, trying her best to be casual.
Gary introduces himself to her next, saying, “Pleased to meet you, Harper.”
“Uhh, you too.”
“Alright, well I gotta show the new girl to her room,” Ian gestures for Harper to follow him, “This way,” as Sasha and Gary give her a heartfelt adieu and return to their dinnertime conversation. “So your room is going to be down here with all the other main living quarters,” Ian explains as the two make their way down a small hallway featuring 4 doors on either side. “Your room is going to be right here.” He pulls open the third door on the right to reveal a private room featuring a full-size bed, a small desk in the corner, a recessed closet off to the side, and a gray carpeted floor.
“Thanks,” Harper expresses. She drops her bag onto the carpeted floor with a muted thump and sits on the bed.
“Can I get you anything else?”
“No, thanks, I think I’m just gonna turn in for the night actually if that’s… okay.”
“No problem, just let anyone know if you need anything.”
Ian leaves to rejoin the group back upstairs in the living room, closing the door behind him. Harper kicks her shoes off and gets back up. She removes her jacket and cargo pants, gently folding and draping them over the back of the desk chair. The new crew member pulls back the linens on the cleanly made bed and slips in between the sheets, letting out a deep sigh. She stares at the ceiling for a moment, contemplating what horrors could await them in the days to come.