Part Two - 10 - Hopper

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"Captain's log, first entry. The captain being me, Allan Roy. I'm still not used to it. Finally, I have my own ship. She is a wreck. She needs a lot of work before she can fly but she will fly. I bought her from a scavengers crew with whom I have been flying for the past few weeks. They laughed when we sealed the deal. They think they ripped me off. But they just don't see her potential. The Capricieuse, that is my ship's name. An old model, capricious in her needs. But I know that she will fly me to every corner of the universe, of that I have no doubt. Now, all I need is a crew. A good one. Captain's log over."

Three years, two months, and 22 days later.

Hopper pushed a dark hair strand out of his eyes, took a deep breath and focused all his strength into his arms. His muscles bulged, and a vein appeared on his forehead. Finally, the pipe moved and came to rest to its original spot. The weird noise the engine had been making for the past two days finally stopped.

"Good job," came Kala's voice from above.

She was sitting lazily on the steel walkway going around the engine room, looking down at him. In the last three years since she joined the crew, she had slowly grown into a woman, and Hopper had a hard time not following her every move with his eyes. Her dark silvery hair was now falling wildly over her shoulders, her blue eyes like an oasis in the stuffy and smoky environment of the engine room.

Kala spoke, bringing his attention back to the matter of the ship, "I think the pipe breaking was just the consequence of a bigger problem. There is still too much pressure in the generator."

"I see. Some days I wonder why you guys still pretend I'm the mechanic here," said Hopper with a smile, "when you are obviously more gifted than me on that matter."

"Wrong. I can connect with the ship and pinpoint what's the problem. But I have no clue about how to fix any of it. You are still the most qualified for that. You are very skilled," she said.

This time, he laughed openly, almost blushing. He rubbed the soot off his face, surely actually adding more. He balanced the monkey wrench over his shoulder. "Well then, guide me from here and I will do the rest."

That's when the captain's voice came out of the speakers, "Hops, please tell me you're done with the repairs."

Hopper brought his bracelet to his mouth and opened the line, "Getting there captain."

A groan resonated through the communication, "Hurry up, those marjhals are driving me crazy."

The day before, the Capricieuse had landed on an uninhabited planet called Herksus-12. There they found a farm in the jungle, which, until the previous week, was breeding marjhals. Marjhals were weird animals the size of a dog, with shells made of a precious material that could be sold for quite a good amount of credits on the black market. The farm had been abandoned because they realized they had been sitting on a massive active volcano, ready to explode at any moment.

That didn't dissuade the scavengers.

"Bah, I think it's safe to assume the volcano won't just suddenly erupt while we are there. We will barely stay an hour," the captain had said.

To what Moira had answered, "Sure. Because we are known for having luck."

Indeed, once they scavenged all they could, including five specimens of the precious animals, the ship went in red alert, a problem in the engine. They were now stranded on top of an awakening volcano. But still, that didn't seem to be the captain's main concern. The marjhals, they discovered, had a tendency to serenade each other at night, in the hope of finding a mate. Their high-pitched sounds could be heard from every part of the ship. Mercifully, the engine room was loud enough that they were somehow subdued there.

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