Saturday, June 25, 2011

Part I, III

  The engine on any spaceship is a complicated, impressive thing.  The engine on the Golden Algae was complicated, impressive, shiny, and huge.  The man that was keeping them working was the exact opposite.
  “Well, if it isn’t madame captain,” an old man said in a thick drawl, limping up to me.  He wiped his hand on his pants and held it out to me.  “Greg Fetisoff, at your service.”
  “You’re Fetisoff?” I asked, shaking his hand.  He smiled, showing several missing teeth.
  “Yes, ma’am.  But most people just call me Ol’ Gazook,” he told me.
  “Indeed.”  Twitchy, Gazook…  The ship hadn’t even left port and we were getting nicknames.  I had a feeling that before long they would have a nickname for me, too.
  “Yes, ma’am, this is a fine ship you’ve got here,” Gazook said, looking aimlessly around.  “Got a good engine in her.  And I’ve been around my fair share of engines, yes ma’am.”  He looked at Twitchy and squinted.  “You’re a mind reader.  I can tell.”
  “Yes, sir,” she said, blushing slightly.
  “That ain’t nothing bad,” he assured her, patting her arm.  “I’m just saying.”  He looked at Rimana.  “You’re a shifter, aren’t ya?”
  Rimana nodded.  “A cat.”
  “Always preferred cats, myself,” he muttered.  He looked at me.  “And everyone knows you’re a jumper.”
  “They do?” I asked, surprised.  Granted, my name is a slight giveaway, but still…
  “Well, with a name like Velose you can only be one thing,” he said.
  All right, my name is a huge giveaway.  “What are you?”
  “Well.  My home planet is Xzob, and that means my eyesight is better than most people could achieve with cyborg implants.”
  “So you can actually see through things?” Rimana asked, starting to grin.
  “Anything and everything,” he said innocently.
  She kept grinning.  After a minute he got it and backpedaled so hard I had trouble not laughing.
  “Now,” he stuttered, “my attention is on these engines here, and of course I would never–  I don’t use my eyes to…  That is–”  I held up my hand.
  “It’s all right, Gazook.  Rimana was joking, of course,” I told him.  Rimanas’ eyes were glowing again.
  “Was I?” she asked softly.  Somehow my elbow landed in her ribs.
  “Well, we have to go see the doctor,” I said, holding out my hand while Rimana coughed.  “It was nice meeting you, Gazook.”
  “Nice meeting you too, Captian,” he said, shaking my hand.  “The doctor is a fine young man, he knows his business.”
  “I’m glad you approve,” I muttered, turning away.  We walked into the elevator.  “Elevator, deck five, please.”
  “I’m fine, how are you?” the elevator asked.
  “Fine,” I said cautiously.  “Deck five, please.”
  “I’m fine, how are you?”
  I looked at Rimana and Twitchy.  “Deck five?” I asked.
  “I’m fine, how are you?”
  “Carter did say it was broken,” Twitchy reminded me.  I sighed and walked out of the elevator.  Gazook looked up.
  “The elevator is…  Slightly broken,” I said, rolling my eyes.
  “Er, yes, ma’am.  Just don’t say ‘elevator’ and it will take you where you need to go,” he told me.  “I’ll fix it once we get moving.”
  “All right.”  We walked back into the elevator.  “Deck five,” I said, cringing slightly.  The elevator started moving.
  A moment later it stopped and the doors opened.  We were at the docking bay.
  “Sick bay is deck fifteen,” Twitchy said cautiously.
  “Ah.  Well, as long as we’re here we might as well look around,” I shrugged, stepping out of the elevator.  The docking bay was busy, like it ought to be.  Hardly anyone noticed us in all the commotion.  Those that did said hello or nodded before hurrying off to various places.  I looked around for who was directing everything.
  Something that looked like a big marshmallow attached to a smaller marshmallow with a white toothpick caught my eye.  The smaller marshmallow started moving in circles, pushing the larger marshmallow ahead of it.
  “What’s that?” I asked, pointing.  The marshmallow turned, and my jaw dropped.
  “That would be a sheep,” Rimana answered.  “A space sheep, to be precise.”
  “What?” I stuttered.  “How did a sheep get on my ship?”
  “That is lieutenant Bob,” Twitchy said.  “He went through the academy on Lemarac and passed with flying colors.”
  “Seriously?” I asked.
  “Yes.  It was supposed to be a joke, but the sheep actually passed somehow.  So they had to give it a commission on a ship.”
  “You know,” I said after a while, “when we met the main engineer I started to have a bad feeling.  It almost went away when I decided he does have a clue what he’s doing.  But now that feeling is back.”
  “I suggest we meet the doctor now,” Rimana said, touching her scar again.  We walked back to the elevator.
  “Elevator, deck fifteen please,” I said.
  “I’m fine, how are you?”
  Twitchy sighed, Rimana laughed.
  “Never mind,” I growled.

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