Author: Amelia Brown
On the first day of the transport job, I stepped off the docking bay, heard the door seal airtight behind me, and then the ship jumped.
Which came as a surprise to me. I was supposed to be the one flying the ship. And I hadn’t sat down yet. Not to mention the fact that it was a single-rider vessel and I was staring at an empty pilot’s chair.
I’d like to say I panicked, sat down, and got a grip on the ten tons of fiber-alum steel. It could have saved me a conversation. But instead, all I felt was my brow crease as I watched the stars whip past like tiny streaks of light.
‘Hello?’ I said to the vacant space around me like an idiot.
‘Hi,’ a voice came back. It reverberated around the cabin, as though the sound came from everywhere. That was when I started to panic.
I turned around and stood with my back to the star-studded glass shield. It looked exactly the same as it had before the ship jumped: empty.
‘I, uh,’ I said in the beautiful, coherent prose that came to me naturally. ‘Let’s just hold…’ I tried again, but of course, I needed a question that got to the root of the situation. ‘Did you just make the ship jump?’ I finally asked.
‘Yep,’ came the voice again.
Tension started building just behind my eyes, as my hand inched toward the laser hanging off my hip.
‘And you would be?’ I kept my tone steady and unphased, but I was definitely phased.
‘Uh, Stan, is it? Tell me, Stan, did I plug in a personal computer chip?’ I asked Stan casually while beads of sweat began to spread across my body.
‘Nope,’ Stan said.
‘Alright, Stan,’ I said, my fingers gripping my laser’s handle. ‘Do you think you could do me a favor and turn the ship around?’
And that was when Stan began to laugh. A slow, maniacal chuckle that grew deeper, faster, and caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand straight up.
But then, I heard it. The clink of metal on metal.
I strode over and whipped open the e-vac closet. A tiny personnel tech was squatting inside holding a broadcast comm-link hacked into a panel computer; his cackle slowed, then died.
I stared at him, and he stared back.
It was less than a second before the bastard turned the ship around. But I had to hand it to him; all in all it was an interesting first day.