Note: Has been updated as of 11/28/16.
Juke Box Hero
Her fingers twisted and gripped at the metal grates that made of the floor of the ship. The sudden vacuum of space pulled at her leg, yanking her back and threatening to steal the air of the room. Her eyes met and locked with the emulsified android that watched as her grip began to slip. Her thoughts raced in her mind, wondering if this would be her last moments. As her grip loosened more she closed her eyes, her fingers letting go of the grate; the chase was finally over.
A small ship sits docked in a vast space station, it’s only marking the bold letters of it’s name emblazened on the side; Clementine. The captain sits in the cockpit humming a tune to herself, she is an older woman, tall and lanky, the only weight on her is that of age. She reclines back in an aged chair, letting out a loud sigh as a shiver courses through her body.
The captain adjusts herself, zipping up her jacket to fight off the cold. Her eyes wander to the side window of her cockpit, empty space stares back and she falls deep into thought. No matter how long she had been a captain few things would always be with her; One was her chair, which she had had since her first ship, some now derelict cargo junker. The second was a hatred of the cold, wintery grasp of space, a natural cold no amount of warmth could cause her to forget.
The ship is docked on a Space Station that lay as a dying shell, a freckle on the planet that would soon fade away. Presently it was a busy place she watched merchants, criminals and soldiers pass by her ship, none more interesting than next.
The captain looks away from the vacuum of space, instead taking comfort in the passing soldiers and merchants who are also visiting the space station. She felt her eyes grow heavy with a need for sleep when a voice deeper in her ship shouted out. “Captain,” the voice was loud and boisterous as the captain jumped slightly at the sudden noise.
“What is this time,” the captain shouted back, turning in her chair to look at the source of the voice. “What is it this time,” the small man mocked the captains response, his face covered in oil from the ship. “The blasted Glaive Beam’s out!” The captain sighed and fell back against her chair before pushing herself up and leaning against a console to talk with the mechanic.
“What about the Chain Vulcan,” she said with a heavy sigh. “Does that still work at least?” The small man’s eyes rolled as he let out a loud groan. “Of course it still works,” the man shouted. “What kind of mechanic do you take me for?”
“The best, Zed” The captain said, a smile crossing her lips. “The best.”
Zed’s ragged hands rubbed against his temples, muttering frustratedly. “Well as the best mechanic,” Zed said, sarcasm dripping from his words. “I can tell you without any doubt that the chuffing Vulcan will not replace the blasted Glaive Beam!”
The captain smiled at the now shouting Zed. “Calm down old man,” she said, knowing full well her name calling would only anger Zed more. “Once Rico gets back we’ll head out for repairs.” Zed grumbled to himself as he glared at his Captain. “Fine,” he finally said, spit flying from his mouth. “I’ll be in the engine room if you need me.”
Vahn allowed herself a loud sigh as she slumped against the console she was standing in front of. After her nerves had settled she pulled a small rectangular device out of her pocket and began thumbing through it. She slumped more when her eyes laid themselves upon her bank account. While not quite ‘in the red’ money was getting tighter than her flight suit on a bad day. The gurgle of her stomach pulled her from her inner thoughts and using what little energy she had she found her way to the kitchen.
As she approached the small alcove that functioned as the kitchen she saw a small blue glob of strange material sliding against the kitchen floor. It’s body twisted and churned as it opened cabinets and placed utensils on the countertop. It gurgled once it saw the captain approaching. “Lost your translator again,” Vahn asked, sitting at a bar stool, opposite the blob. The blob replied with a seemingly sad series of gargles. “That’s fine,” Vahn said with another sigh. “Just another bit of money Rico can spend on my behalf.”
The blob gurgled questionly at it’s captain. “Just the usual,” Vahn said, reaching into her hand for an electric cigarette. Loud gargles of anger escaped from the blob. “Lay off Mobius,” Vahn said, frustrated. “No amount of your rants is gonna get me to stop.” Mobius gurgled quietly as it went about the kitchen, preparing a meal for it’s captain.
With a sigh Vahn opened the thumb of her metallic arm, lighting her cigarette. She took a puff as she examined the arm that had replaced her old one, lost in some long forgotten event. She leaned back in her stool, her eyes wandering to the roof of the kitchen as Mobius toiled in the kitchen.
Several minutes passed as Vahn took quiet drags from her cigarette. As Mobius placed down a plate of food for her Vahn’s handheld began chirping, marking the return of the last of her crew. “Oi, Rico,” She called out, her voice echoing throughout the ship. “Everything go alright?” She put out her cigarette and shoveled down the tasteless fiber Mobius had prepared for her before getting up to meet Rico halfway down the hall.
The Spindly android did not appear happy to see her, his false rubber face emulating a frown. As Vahn caught up to him she smiled a devious smile noticing a small bag barely hidden by his robotic body. “I can’t believe you sent me down there alone,” Rico said, his voice crackling like some aged recording.
“You’ll thank me later,” Vahn said, patting her cyborg crew member on the shoulder. Rico sighed and walked past his captain. “Hopefully before I’m killed by raiders,” his modulated voice dripping sarcasm.
“That’s the spirit,” Vahn chuckled before grabbing the bag out of Rico’s grip, the cyborg turning in an attempt to snatch it back. She reached into the bag, holding Rico back with her foot. “What do we have here,” Vahn said, pulling a small package out of the bag an image of a mechanical suit drawn on it’s side. “Another ARMS figure,” Vahn said, frowning as she looked at the clear front packaging. “Wow, they’ve really improved the quality.” Vahn tossed the package to Rico who’s brown eyes had a familiar glow in them.
“I know right,” Rico said, a familiar beginning to an all too familiar conversation. “I’m just jealous that I never got to pilot one,” Vahn sighed, mimicking Rico quietly in his next words. “I always saw them back home on Exeos.”
“It’s not that impressive,” Vahn said walking past Rico. “Just another tool of war.” Rico went to place his new purchase in the captain and his cabin as Vahn headed for the bridge, planting herself in her chair and looking over the command console in front of her. “I can’t believe you,” Rico’s voice came from behind causing Vahn to turn in her chair. “You took Mobi’s translator again.”
Vahn cracked another devious smile at Rico. “You give him that Translator and you’ll function as a hood ornament for Clementine.” Rico shook his head, taking his spot on the console of the ship. “Hey captain,” Rico said, a blinking light flashing in his face. “Did we lose weapon systems?”
Vahn sighed. “We lost the Glaive Beam,” she said, annoyance clear in her tone. “We’ll get it fixed on the next stop, I’d like to get off this station as soon as possible.” Rico shrugged and began the normal checks, grabbing some black tape to cover the blinking light, making a mental note of the need for more tape.
After refueling and permission checks Clementine whirred to life. It’s engines quietly screaming as the the ship detatched from the station and headed out. Once the ship was on course Vahn leaned back in her chair her eyes focused on flying. Rico, however gawked at the open space, planets spattered throughout their visuals.
“Seeing planets from above always gets me thinking,” Rico said, his voice breaking the silence Vahn would prefer. “About what,” Vahn said.
“The planet humans came from,” Rico said, turning to face Vahn, who had slunk back into her chair, quietly drifting off. “It had to be perfect,” he continued, wonderment in his voice. “For us to have survived so long on it.” Vahn sighed. closing her eyes as she listened to Rico wax poetic.
“Who can say,” Vahn said, her voice perfectly mimicking her as she lazily dozed. “But like all good things it had to end.” She scoffed. “Hell things end faster when people think they never will.” A frown crossed her lips as she peeked open her eyes. “Though the Mors probably didn’t help much.”
Rico nodded, seeing the disdain in Vahn’s face. “I did see a few Mors while I was off ship.” Vahn’s frown turned to a scowl as she adjusted herself in her chair. “Then it’s good I didn’t come with,” she said, dread laced in her voice. “Wouldn’t want to be crossed off their kill list.” Rico frowned as the atmosphere turned grim and turned back to the console, finally letting the captain get her nap in.