“We think one of the hits penetrated it enough to depressurize it. He was still conscious when we brought him onboard, pounding at the glass to get out,” the astronomer explained.
Jadz pulled the cutting torch from around her and fired it up. “Stand back. This is going to spark.”
She went along the sems of the life pod hoping that these lines would be where the metal was the weakest. Without protective goggles, she had to cut at a strange angle. Still, every now and then she had to stop put out sparks on her clothes. A couple of sparking cinders singed the skin of her forearms.
Mouse must have sensed her hesitation. “No one’s here. You fixed their shuttle, so they went out to take closer readings of the nebula. They were so excited.” She gave a little roll of her eyes as she spoke.
The door before them slid open, revealing that Mouse had spoken truthfully. The Astrolab was empty.
“Whatever you did to get it up and running, thank you!” Mouse said.
The station needed a lot of work. Mouse had been right about it needing a lot of upkeep. Jadz fell into the easy rhythm of pulling maintenance records for each area of the station and just getting to work.
“Have you eaten anything today?” became a frequent question from Mouse, who often showed up with a wrapped sandwich in hand which she tossed at Jadz with a wink. “Don’t stay too much passed your shift.”
“How many people are here now?” Jadz thought this might be a good time to change the subject.
“The station is meant to be run with minimal crew since it would be mostly astronomers. There’s usually one United officer here, and they generally sleep a lot, along with a communications person to help run things. Right now, we’ve got seven astronomers, me, and you.”
“Does that make you the communications officer?”
“You got it. See how I did that? I communicated my position to you without actually telling you in words.” She wiggled her eyebrows and grinned. “I’m good.”
“I see that.” Jadz took a moment to enjoy the revelry of a new friend before putting her hands on her hips trying to take the same commanding stance her father had for many years. “But I don’t want my story being communicated to all the astronomers here.”
Mouse overlapped her hands on her heart and fell backwards on the bed. “Oh, you wound me!”
“I’d rather have them keep their eyes on the stars rather than me.”
“Oh, see? You’re sharp. Yeah, you’re going to do just fine here.” Mouse sat up, then stood. “Well, I guess there’s nothing left for me to do here. I’m sure you want to unpack, settle in, and explore the three centimeters of space we have here. Don’t worry, I think I can find my way out.”
Jadz watched Mouse as she started to leave and found herself wishing the other woman wouldn’t leave. It was nice to have someone to talk to. “Hey, Mouse, he was a commander.”
Mouse opened the door before turning. “See? I knew it. You’ll tell me more. I’m good at communicating.”
After Mouse had stepped backwards out into the corridor and shut the door, Jadz found herself smiling. This place might be at the end of the universe, but it was exactly where she needed to be.
A quick note about my free fiction: this is raw draft with little editing. I don’t know where the story is going, or if it’ll even get completed on the blog. But it’s fun to do.
The clips from this story stay up for a limited time and then they will turn back into a pumpkin.
Let’s proceed, shall we?
Deep Space Omega (#3)
by Dawn Blair
Pulling her legs up to sit cross-legged, Mouse settled in to be more at home here than Jadz felt she was doing in trying to put her scant belongings away. It didn’t help that she had an observer.
“So, tell me about that last boyfriend, the one you’re running from.”
“I’m not running,” Jadz lied. “Look, my mom always had two pieces of advice for me: don’t pick in high school, and don’t pick on a starship. She said both ponds of choices were far too small to find true love in considering how vast the universe was.”
“And I take it that you didn’t listen.”
“No, I wish I had though.”
“So who’d you pick in high school?” Mouse leaned forward with a wide, eager grin on her face.
“Tsk, no one. I’d been with most of those kids since elementary school, preschool days for some. My parents never got transferred. I remember watching some of my classmates eat paste or Tersilian worms, and not always separately.”
Mouse blenched, her face pulling like she might vomit at the thought.
“Let’s not forget the huffing of scented markers. There was this one kid, Lalmin… he stuck two, one in each nostril, up his nose and kept them there until he passed out. I was one of the lucky ones that got to help roll him to the infirmary. Yeah, not the people I wanted to date. I knew way too much.”
Mouse shook her head, but it was in total agreeance with what Jadz was saying. In that moment, Jadz decided she liked Mouse, even if the girl was a bit inquisitive.
“That brings us to,” Mouse said, holding onto her legs and rocking slightly back and forth, “who you picked on the starship, if you didn’t pick in high school.”
“Yeah, that doesn’t matter. He was just a guy.” Jadz shrugged.
“Just a guy doesn’t send you fleeing all the way out here. No, you had to get away. Was this before your first transfer, or why you left your second posting?”
“First,” Jadz said, not really sure why she was answering these questions at all. Did she really want to talk about it?
“So what was his name?”
Jadz sighed. “Yeah, I really don’t want to talk about him.”
“Hmmm, ranking officer, huh?”
Jadz wasn’t thrilled that Mouse could obviously read the situation like a book. Did she have mind reading powers or maybe it was in Jadz file.
Mouse laughed. “This is a small space startion, but if you think your story of unique, think again. That lug who was just in here, I’m married to him. I’d rather be out exploring space, but what can I say? I do have a thing for astronomers. He loves it out here. Most people don’t stay long; they get cabin fever. I’ve met a lot of people and heard a lot of stories. In the universe over, love messes people up.”