Author : Matthew Green
There were rumors of course, most were squashed, but on a ship full of soldiers with nothing to do but watch the stars go by, rumors happened. It was like getting cleaning detail, no use trying to prevent it, just grab a space suit and scrub.
The most prevalent was that the war was over a year ago and the ship was just squashing various rebellious factions that hadnâ€™t got the news. Higher-ups didnâ€™t let the lower-downs know this because that would result in a drop in efficiency. All very scientifically tested and all that. People spreading these rumors brought forth facts such as how little equipped the pockets of rebels were and how each trip between hold outs took longer to get to. Most were wiped out and the rest were getting harder to find. That explained the lack of any form of action for several months now.
Another, more frightening rumor was that they had miscalculated when the ship had sling-shot around that black hole. Somehow we were slung into the far reaches ofâ€¦ somewhere and didnâ€™t know where home was. That one scared me the most. As a maintenance tech, I was privy to the storage holds of the ship, and I knew we only had enough food in stock to last six months at most. The commander told us that mail transmissions had been turned off so the enemy couldnâ€™t triangulate our position. That was four months ago and by now everybody knew the truth; burst transmissions couldnâ€™t be tracked that way. The rumor mill liked to churn that one out during the late shift. I used to like working at shipâ€™s night. Some people complained about having to step outside and brush off the antenna arrays and scrub out the various vents and sensor assemblies, but I enjoyed it. It got me out and moving, and I liked the view. Well, I used to like the view, now I just wanted to live under a sky again.
I heard another voice that I recognized. â€œHello Roy,â€ he greeted.
I was on cleaning detail, again, and turned toward the suit that was approaching. He waved one gloved hand at me as I stared into his gold visor. Suits didnâ€™t display the occupant’s rank like normal uniforms did.
â€œThatâ€™s me, me matey.â€ He said in his pirate voice.
â€œDamn man, they said you were dead.â€
â€œThat was the rumor.â€
I turned back; the brush I had been using had drifted to the end of its tether. I retrieved it with a practiced move and resumed brushing dust off the antennas. They coated easily out here in the nothing.
â€œDonâ€™t bother, at our speed itâ€™ll be years before weâ€™re close enough to use that.â€