Friday Snippet #20

Another story time snippet, yay! But in case you’re wondering, there’s only one more part coming so it’ll be over soon.

This is part three, so first you should read part One and part Two. Somehow these parts are just getting longer and longer, though I think the last one will be shorter than this. But I’m not sure. We’ll see!

WriteInJournal_by_Walt_Stoneburner
Picture by Walt Stoneburner

Hatcher looked up. “Thanks for helping. I really had no idea what I was doing.”

“Good, you’re honest. Makes life easier.”

“And how honest are you? Are you in the habit of rescuing idiots?”

“Nah.”

“Then what do you do?”

“Succeed at what you failed miserably.” Ferris pulled another datasphere from his jacket pocket, rotating it at eye level.

Hatcher blinked. “You didn’t…”

“It wasn’t my plan but I had to get something out of helping you.”

Hatcher was even more confused now. “You steal stuff? Really?”

“Judging? Really?

“I’m not judging, I’m asking.”

“Thinking of joining the industry?”

Hatcher looked away with a chuckle. No one wanted to become a thief, right?

Ferris slipped the sphere back to his pocket. He straightened up and stretched, looking at each end of the alley. “You’re in luck, kid. I’m leaving this place tonight and I can give you a ride if you want to ditch this place. Which I think you should. I’m pretty sure some of your ‘friends’ are waiting for you and they’re not going to give you a hug.”

“What?” Hatcher jumped up and glanced around. Had Corday heard of his failure and decided to get rid of him? Corday wasn’t known for giving second chaces and Hatcher held no value to him. He would become yet another example of what happened when you failed.

But could he leave either? He knew nothing of Ferris so the offer was suspicious in the least. Yes, the man had saved him with the merchant but had also gotten something out of it for himself.

“What do you want in exchange?” Hatcher asked, shifting weight from one foot to another. There was nothing for him at the station except Corday and his associates. He wouldn’t miss them and he wouldn’t be missed.

Ferris shrugged. “You must know something. Mechanics? Electronics? Data levels?”

“I’ve done some maintenance to the machines below,” Hatcher said. “No one has taught me but I figure out things fast.”

“My ship could use an extra engineer.”

Hatcher’s eyes widened. “You own a spaceship?”

“No, my ship is a row boat… Didn’t fool you? Maybe you’re not hopeless. I do have a spaceship. The crew is quite pathetic though, so I’m sure you’ll soon appreciate my concern for engineers.”

“I’ve never fixed a spacecraft,” Hatcher said even though his brain was screaming at him to shut up. He’d only been on a spaceship once but he couldn’t remember anything about it. Interplanetary travel was restricted for those with heaps of money or who were important enough to get a free ride. Even all professions on board spacecrafts were off limits without proper education. Except now.

“No one taught me how to navigate,” Ferris stated with a shrug. “I’m sure you’ll manage.”

Hatcher looked at one end of the alley, convinced half the people there were working for Corday. He turned back to Ferris, nervous but not scared. There was no usual warning flutter in his stomach. If anything, he felt an urge to leap forward and clutch on to Ferris to make sure he wouldn’t back down on the offer. “Can I see your ship?”

Ferris grinned. “Sure. But let’s take a shuttle. I’d hate to get my jacket covered in blood if we run into your friends.”

Hatcher didn’t protest. They exited the alley and grabbed the first shuttle pod  – expensive taxi as Hatcher called it – that flew past them. When they reached the ship docks Hatcher swallowed hard, fearing Ferris would ask him to pay half – he was sure he couldn’t pay even fifth of the end sum. To his relief Ferris paid the fare without a word before stepping out into the cool docks.

The docks always amazed Hatcher. From gigantic cruisers to merchant ships to maintenance shuttles, the docks were always brimming with spacecrafts and workers. For them it was just another day at work, but Hatcher envied them.

“This way,” Ferris said and headed towards docking bay C, which was reserved for small cruisers and civilian crafts. Big corporate, logistics and C.C.O. ships always got the best spots on bays A and B.

Hatcher glanced over his shoulder every couple of steps, unable to relax. If worse came to worse, he still had the datasphere to give to Corday’s men. Somehow he knew it wouldn’t be enough. Alerting the police was unacceptable even if you managed to escape charges. His face was now saved to the police database and if he was connected to another alert, there would be deeper investigations. Corday wouldn’t want to take that chance.

“Keep up, will you?” Ferris called.

Hatcher hurried to catch up and then nearly bumped into Ferris when the man suddenly stopped. “What?” Hatcher demanded, trying to see if their way was blocked.

“We’re here.” Ferris smiled over his shoulder. “That’s my darling.”

Hatcher’s eyes followed the pointing finger to a spaceship docked right next to them. The ship wasn’t exactly spectacular. It had been clearly made of scraps and spare parts – the models and materials of the parts didn’t match, and there were dents and scratches – but it held an odd grace. Big white letters spelled Torrent on its side.

“Looks… nice,” Hatcher said, wondering what kind of a mess the ship’s insides would be. If they were made from scraps too, he doubted he could be of much use.

“Nice?” Ferris looked hurt but then a smile broke through his frown. “She’s the best little scrapship you’ll ever see, I promise.”

While the term ‘scrapship’ didn’t exactly convince Hatcher, Ferris’s attitude kept him calm.

Ferris glanced beyond Hatcher and his smile wavered.

Hatcher turned around, spotting a man looming at the edge of the bay with a grim face. The man turned away but it was too late. Hatcher’s stomach clenched. “Corday’s man,” he muttered.

“Figures. Let’s go.”

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