*Wordcount: 1424 words.
A continuation of this, because… Because.
Beyond Horizons, the space-faring vessel Janey had commandeered from its drunk captain, was a C-class cruiser. It was large, ugly, and unwieldy. Such a vessel usually required a crew of at least 20 to keep it functioning at its bare minimum.
When it had been just her and the captain, they had achieved the space travel equivalent of drifting on the ocean on a piece of plywood.
Of course, Janey’s robotic crew was growing. A whole eleven members at this point, after a few months. She had hoped for faster progress, but things turned out… Trickier than she’d expected.
For example, she realised she didn’t know how to pilot a spaceship.
Nor did she know how the med-bay worked, or the navigation systems, or the communications systems… The list went on.
She was a skilled engineer, no doubt, but that usually meant fixing and maintaining the machines, not operating the systems and software. And, I mean, piloting looks easy enough. That damn drunk did it just fine!
Janey sunk into the uncomfortable captain’s chair, and looked at the makeshift min-bar.
She thought it looked awfully tempting.
Instead of giving in to those most stupid of thoughts, she continued her learning. Most of it was trial and error, and she needed a clear, sober mind to keep things from breaking too much.
She’d lost the navigation systems through a series of blunders, cursing, and some light bashing. The communications systems were damaged, but damned if she knew how. Or why. At least she’d gotten familiar with the ship. She knew how to go forwards, and how to stop going forwards, and… Well, baby steps.
Plus, she’d gotten her robots to take over the more simple jobs. She was never a software gal, so the programming was frustrating at best, but she had managed to figure out some basics and get them working the kitchen or looking busy (which, Janey was convinced, was what most crews did).
The large ship trundled slowly through space, and Janey wished she knew where she was going. Stupid navigation systems with their stupid… Brokenness.
She’d considered setting up the distress beacon, but she was far out in the middle of nowhere, or, in other words, space. The point is no one would reasonably be nearby, and space pirates weren’t unheard of (a thought that made her heart flutter with just the faintest excitement), and she’d rather not risk it.
Besides, she’d just gotten her hands on this baby! Sure the going was rough for now, but she’d figure it out eventually, and she’d always wanted to be a captain.
Well, actually she hadn’t. She’d instead been content to sit underneath everyone in her cosy engineering deck, the engines whirring around her, surrounded by like-minded gearheads, tinkering and fixing her days away…
The thought tempted her, but she shook it from her head. No, now that she was a captain (which she damn sure was, damn you if you think otherwise), she had a taste for it. She couldn’t go back.
Besides, she would never have been allowed to build her beautiful robots on a regular ship, with its boring crew and stick-up-his-arse captain.
No, this life would suit her fine. She just had to… Figure it out.
When the cargo-hauler hailed her she nearly tipped right out of her chair.
What in the hell was it doing out here, exactly, and, for that matter, who did it belong to? Human, she hoped.
She tried to respond to the hails, but her ship only shot out brief bursts of static. Ah, so that’s how it was broken. Good to know.
Fifteen minutes later the docking alerts went up.
She got a brief look at the ship; it looked small for a cargo ship. Small enough to not need a crew over fifteen, she hoped.
She looked around the bridge, at the space which was supposed to hold a monitor (thanks, cap’n she thought), at the control station that had been forced into a serviceable mini-bar, and at the robots that bumbled around doing little and less.
An idea popped into her head. Surely she wouldn’t act on it, but…
It wouldn’t hurt to have a look, would it?
They were human, alright. They joked and shouted and tried to be quiet, which made enough noise to let her keep out of sight. They clearly thought this was a ghost ship, which wasn’t far from the truth actually.
They’d left their docking hatches unattended, and open. Morons.
Their ship was nice, she thought. Clean and attended to.
Unfortunately, she found that creeping around on a ship she wasn’t familiar with was much harder. Still, she was confident she was remaining out of sight. And, without a clear idea of where to go, she decided show herself on the tour.
She was almost seen, once, when four crewmember went running down the corridor she was slinking along. She’d slipped into what turned out to be a bathroom just in time, while also managing to hear what they were saying.
They’d found her robots, which was a pretty bizarre thing to find on a ghost ship floating in the middle of nowhere.
Good, at least someone could admire her handiwork. And the fewer people on this ship, the better.
Eventually Janey stumbled on what she’d been hoping to find: the cargo hold. And oh boy, it was better than she could’ve dreamed.
It looked like an engineer’s wet dream, with bits and pieces stacked in crates that littered the sizeable hold. A few disengaged cars were in the hold too, and a light personal aircraft. The things she could build with this!
She caught herself drooling, only slightly, and decided to have a quick rummage.
With her modified baton and presumably little time left, she made her way in the direction of where the bridge should be.
She hadn’t been sure it would go this way, but here she was. Hoping like hell she could steal this ship without much trouble from the crew, build a robot arm-I mean crew, and cement that whole ‘space pirate’ thing that had been bouncing around in her head.
The bridge, which she was expecting to be bristling with people, maybe some security, and a whole lot of resistance, was, in fact… Empty.
She hadn’t heard or seen anyone on the way here, either.
She couldn’t steal this thing unless she was sure the crew was out of the picture or subservient, she couldn’t risk any surprises! So, she went to check.
The ship, which was smaller inside than she’d thought at first, was indeed empty. At least as far as she could tell.
The docking hatch had one person on watch, which would have done them some good earlier. He was fiddling around on a tablet, doing a bad job of watching anything.
From deep inside her old ship, she heard some crashing and banging, and the occasional shout. Or, wait, was that… Laughter?
Well, curiosity killed the cat.
She wasn’t a cat, of course, so she assumed that meant she was safe.
The ‘guard’ was struggling against her, but her baton was wrapped around his throat, and every now and then she lifted it up and switch she’d taped on, lighting it up with crackling electricity.
“I said, ‘what are they doing?’”
“Look, let me go, what the hell are you doing!”
“Quiet!” Janey hissed, punctuated by electric crackling. “What. Are. They. Doing?”
The man said nothing.
Janey crackled the baton again, swiftly losing what she had left of her temper.
“Answer me you god damn moron idiot, c’mon!”
“I thought I was being quiet?” The man sounded genuinely confused.
Janey groaned. “Overall, yes. Talking, quietly, no. Now, talk. Tell me. Tell me. Tell. Me.”
“I don’t know! They just told me to watch the hatch, for some rea… Oh. Look, they always leave me out of the fun,” the man actually pouted, “but I think they found some robots or something. They wanted to smash ‘em, you know, for laughs.”
Janey actually growled.
She made the buffoon disengage the walkway, and break away from the ship. He followed order like the meek little mouse he was, and Janey decided she would think about keeping him. Maybe.
Above all, this ship actually had auto-pilot! Sweet merciful auto-pilot. She tied up her new hostage, shocking him a few times for good measure.
She started up the auto-pilot, and set their destination for elsewhere for now.
The ship broke off quietly, and slipped into the inky blackness of space.