Author : Tim Hatton

The hull was a likely prospect. Nothing much else caught his eye. The inside seemed neglected – full of potential indeed, but sorely neglected. There were also certain crucial updates missing from the internal computer system. The map array was as recent as his salesman’s overcoat. Jack noted with slight surprise that even his home world was uncharted.

“And you said this craft was used for freight delivery – “

“Yes, yes,” the unsavory salesman injected, cutting Jack off in mid-sentence, “not a sturdier hull anywhere, sir. Max load exceeds 23 tons.”

Jack moved a short distance to the left in order to avoid the spittle shower that erupted every time the sleaze-bag spoke.

“It doesn’t seem to have made very many deliveries, though,” muttered Jack, “the map entries only cover the nearest seven systems…”

Despite his tone, Jack rather appreciated the virgin nature of this particular Trellis Shipyards Courier Class. He had always admired the smooth curves and easy movement of the Trellis ships. Imagining his first craft to be from that elite stock brought a slight tremble to his hand.

The trouble with Jack was his own virgin nature. He had never piloted his own ship into space and the uncertainty ripped his confidence apart. He had never seen a terrible accident or been in any firefight. No, there were no terrible memories. As of yet, there were no memories at all. He was simply too insecure. Nothing else brought so much wonder and so much terror to him like the thought of striking out on his first voyage. His life was not exactly fulfilling there on Phams, but at least it was safe and steady.

“I’m sorry Mr. Gantry, I just don’t think today’s the day…” Jack began to make for the exit. He cast a sorrowed glance back at the Courier and tried to block out the nagging protestations of Gantry, the salesman. He reached the gate and looked down briefly at the cluster of signs on its grate. A yellow and blue ad caught his attention. It flashed a message at him; “Meet you’re true love today! You only get one chance at life, don’t let this opportunity slip…” Jack stood dazed.

Sure life was safe, secure and easy on Phams, but to hell with Phams! The universe was out there. Just a few miles away, adventure, uncertainty, thrill and peril was resting, staring at him with a thousand bright eyes cast against a never-ending onyx sheet. What a waste he was!

He turned around and resolutely strode back to Gantry. Without a word, he transferred in the required funds and firmly, wonderfully, pressed his thumb on the scammer and felt the lasers probe his pupils. A green light confirmed his identity, and Gantry, now smiling genuinely, passed Jack the slot disk that belonged to the Courier.

“She’s all yours Jack,” said Gantry.

With a smile and a thrill of fear, he climbed the hatch into the heart of his mistress and resolved to express his undying love for the universe to which he belonged with every new journey he endeavored upon.

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