Warp Riders – Chapter 4

The smell of coffee brought the Captain out of her tent as the green sun set. The Bosun and the Stowaway were working in quiet organization around the makeshift stove, and the Navigatrix was pouring herself a mug. No Engineer yet; her sleep cycle seemed to be slightly different.

No one was wearing their uniforms properly anymore. The Bosun had stripped down to her work tank; the Navigatrix had abandoned the ceremonial cape and gauntlets. The Captain would have worn hers, but evacuating the ship had cost her most of a sleeve.

The green light had an uncanny effect on the Navigatrix’s copper hair; sometimes it almost looked black in the light. The Captain thought it gave her a bit of an occult air; pale face and dark hair and those long, long limbs.

She was kneeling as she added spices to her coffee, and when she looked up and caught the Captain’s eye, she shot a wry half-smile through the haze of the stove.

“Guess who just finished the pot.”
“First time you’re awake before me and this is the shit you pull.”

She made her way over to join the Captain, and gestured with her cup.

“Want a sip?”

“The way you spice it? I can smell it just fine from over here.” Cinnamon and cloves, pepper and a pinch of salt and something sweet. “Impressed you got the Bosun to rescue your spice rack.”

“Got her to grab my best mug last night, too.” The Navigatrix nudged the Captain with her foot and proudly showed her the faded logo.

“Navigatrix, you piece of shit.”

The compass rose, sword and skull were all there, framing the cafe name, “Pirate’s Cove”, in melodramatic pink.

“That’s a fucking latte mug from the cafe on Ereb.”
“Oh, it might be!”
“This is when you tell me that you stole a shitty mug -”
“- well, now -”
“- from a cheesy theme cafe -”
“- okay, but -”
“- on the last planet we got arrested on?”

She winked. “You know I love a keepsake.”

The Navigatrix had never been the most straightforward person – folks who read star charts rarely were – but after they’d found the Orb, she’d become fully enigmatic.

The Captain hadn’t had this banal a conversation with her in, well, since they’d first left time. She didn’t trust it.

“I guess I’m glad you still found time to plot a route out of there, in between your thievery and cafe patronage.” The Captain felt herself getting angry. “Let me know when you make any headway on figuring out this novelty-tchotchke-free moon.”

But the Navigatrix never seemed up for a fight when the Captain wanted one, and she nodded as if that was a reasonable thing to say.

“You know, it’s a refreshing challenge, using analogue methods to locate us, both galactically and temporally. The light does complicate it.”

They both turned to watch planetrise, and watched a flock of aerial creatures scatter as the pink rays brought colour back to the landscape.

The Captain tilted her head back, trying to find the darkest part of the sky; between sun and planet, not a single star was visible.

“Talk to the Engineer. Get your equipment up and running. We need to know when we are.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.