Chapter Five

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Gaylen again approached the booth in Port 12, and was again greeted by Per.

"So, you're setting out?" the man asked.

"Sure am." Gaylen tapped his backpack. "Got everything I need."

"Including your crew. I let those four folks through."

Per pointed at the door to Dock 3.

"You're the last one."

"Good. Then I'm signing out."

Gaylen touched the DNA scanner, and Per signed the Addax up as 'Departing'.

"I'll need you to leave inside of one standard hour," he said.

"I know."

Gaylen slid him a few extra bills.

"Thanks for looking after my ship."

"My pleasure," Per said with a grin that matched his words.

Good relations with port managers were a fine future investment.

Gaylen walked through and into Dock 3. Inside waited his new ship, and outside it stood his new crew. All had varying degrees of luggage. Bers had a great big camping bag. The white-faced Ayna had a single satchel bag. Herdis the soldier-medic combination had a rifle case over one shoulder, a medical bag over the other, and two cases at her feet. And Kiris had a medium-sized soft bag. Jaquan was simply relaxing with his back against the airlock.

"Welcome!" Gaylen said, powered by excitement for a moment before getting a grip on himself. "I see there's nothing to wait around for. So Jaquan, if you would..."

His friend opened the airlock and was the first inside, while Gaylen was the last. Herdis and Ayna looked about with strong interest as they entered. Bers touched the exterior in some weird, meaningful way as he put his foot inside, and muttered something inaudible before continuing.

"Right. I'll go through a quick introduction," Gaylen said. "This is the entry area, and there on the opposite wall is our medical station."

It consisted of a table that could be folded out of the wall, as well as various panels holding medical supplies. Herdis put her two larger bags down and walked over to it, pulling the panels open in quick succession.

"Good," she declared. "I see you have the basics."

"Yes. Of course, the best treatment is to simply not get into trouble."

Gaylen turned to one of the two door into the aft section.

"That's the cargo hold."

He entered and the others followed. The space within was largely empty, and took up both floors of the ship. Up above was a small balcony, and loading equipment dangled from the ceiling.

"So we're transporting air?" Ayna asked with a grin.

"Yes. Yes we are."

Gaylen crossed the entry area and went through one of the two opposite door.

"Here we have the engine room, Jaquan's little paradise..."

The heart of the ship hummed away, keeping alive all the big and little things needed to pass safely between star systems.

"... and opposite is the storage."

He pointed at the two opposite doors, lined up perfectly with the others.

"That's where we keep the spare parts and the backup rations."

He led the group back into the entry area, then pulled on one of the two strings dangling from the ceiling. The hatch above opened and down unfolded a narrow ladder.

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