Coffee and Cat Food
1 — Fire Alert
The asteroid hits the second I'm about to set down my cup of synthesised coffee.
It's just a bump really, probably not hard enough to damage the ship. At least nothing indicates hull breach. Nonetheless, the impact makes me spill my drink, spreading the still steaming liquid all over nav comp and scalding my fingers.
The loss of the bittersweet brew doesn't bother me. It's a poor replacement for real contraband coffee at best. But the nav desk suffers from the unexpected assault. A short-circuit triggers a screeching siren, and acrid smoke curls out of one of the ship's primary systems. Immediately, a second alarm overlays the first, the result an ear-splitting cacophony.
I drop the empty cup, mutter a heartfelt curse, open the fuse box, and cut the sirens before they render me deaf for the next couple of hours. A long history of similar incidents taught me exactly where the tiny, unobtrusive switches are hidden.
Before I find time to check the obvious impairment to nav and the potential one to the ship, comm interrupts me. The buzz announces the presumably worst consequences of the asteroid incident.
"Captain, what happened? Are we safe? Captain? Answer, for holy toad's sake!"
The mundane swearword proves my main cargo is seriously upset. Her shrill, stilted voice hurts worse than every alarm I triggered on this freighter so far, and that's some. This is the primary reason I hate shipping dustsiders on lengthy hauls. If possible, I stick with veteran space hands. The pay is less, but so's the hassle. Even then I keep contact to a minimum to spare my sanity. Though admitting the bitter truth, I rely on passengers to bring in the dough. One single run with my current perishable freight supplies the cash for the long overdue, massive overhaul at Europa-5.
Another burst of annoying gibbering disrupts my lapse into self pity.
"Captain, are you up there? Hello? This communication set fails to work properly, typical for this box of junk you insist to call spaceship..."
The offensive voice ponders on but fades to a mumble when I turn down the volume. I ignore it and fetch my toolbox. Before I succeed to pry open the smouldering console, the bridge's airlock hisses. My heavy jacket is the only object in reach to cover nav. I throw it over the source of trouble and steel my nerves for the unavoidable encounter with the senator's daughter.
However, today seems to be my lucky day. Instead of the esteemed lady her bodyguard squeezes his broad shoulders through the narrow lock. My private kingdom immediately feels cramped.
The guy is young, in his late teens probably. He's nicked the body of Apollo, or Heracles, to give these bulging muscles justice, black curls and sky blue eyes included. Yeah, I'm into Greek mythology, so what? I believe my ancestors came from that way and allow myself pride in my heritage. Better than follow the toadies' blasted excuse of mainstream religion, in my biassed opinion.
By the way, I'm not stupid enough to raise my hopes concerning juicy mister bodyguard. He is obviously head over heels into his mistress. Pity, as she stands so high above noticing him, she'll never acknowledge him, although he reads every wish from her lips. Disgusting.
I cross my arms and give my best impression of a person in competent control. Heracles' deep voice is a soft rumble, his accent pure dustside.
"Captain, Lady Schroeder's nap was disturbed by a shaky sensation. Also, she is worried by failure of the communications unit. Are you able to deliver satisfactory explanations for the current situation?"
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Lords & Ladies of the M'Verse: An Ooorah AnthologyScience Fiction
Each of the 100 stories featured herein will be set within a Universe of the writer's creation, all being a part of a larger, shared Multiverse. Writers have free reign to tell the story they wanna' tell and providing...