Warp Riders – Chapter 3

The Stowaway had shown up after their last gig. The four of them had fled back to the ship after things had gone sideways. They’d quickly battened the hatches and dropped through the warp, back out of time, and it was only afterwards they noticed them hiding in Lucy’s old bunk.

They weren’t a crew that got stowaways; the Engineer had set up very fiddly locking systems on all the doors of the ship, the sort that took a whole choreography of twists and turns to unlatch. So the first thing the Captain asked their guest was how the hell they’d gotten in.

But the Stowaway didn’t tell her. Couldn’t, maybe.

They opened their mouth and made noises, but not noises anyone thought of as, say, words. Noises that kind of slid in one ear and out the other, warped and slippery, without leaving any meaning behind whatsoever.

So the Engineer got them a keyboard to type on, and they frowned and made a good effort, clicked all the keys, and hissed audibly as the screen filled with punctuation and numbers, continuing to add more for a few seconds even after they raised their hands.

So the Bosun pulled out her personal notepad, tore off a sheet, and handed an analogue pen to the Stowaway. They all gathered round and watched as their guest wrestled with the pen, sweating and huffing, failing to make it put anything on the page that resembled a word.

At which point, the Navigatrix threw her hands in the air and called it futile, and they left the Stowaway in Lucy’s old bunk, locked the door, and spent another hour arguing as a crew over whether it was worth the risk to drop back into time immediately and kick them off.

In the end, they hadn’t really gotten around to it, was the thing.

There was always a lot to do between gigs, even without the pressure of time weighing on them. The ship needed repairs, their equipment had to be patched up, and this time, so did the crew themselves.

It didn’t take long for the Bosun to talk the Captain into unlocking the bunk and putting the Stowaway to work in the kitchen; and now it felt almost like they’d always been there, in their terrestrial outfit, silently doing odd jobs in all the quiet corners of the ship.

That was the thing about living outside time; it was hard to be sure of duration. 

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