“Are you SURE the cargo bay is going to be secured?” Mikka asked Miles Koin, the chief engineering specialist on their ship. Well, actually, it was Mikka’s ship. And that was Commander Gan Mikka of the XSS Savior to you.
The two of them looked at a giant squid-like creature, currently tied-up but still writhing about in a large container designed to simulate the ocean and pressure of its living environment. Its roars could not piece the soundproof glass, but its mouth still opened wide, showing off its numerous fangs and snarls.
Koin, who usually went by Miles but for Mikka’s insistence on using surnames among members of her crew, glanced around the room and grimaced. “There is absolutely no way to know whether that monster is secured in there,” she said. “Its abilities simply have not been studied enough, and if it breaks out of its container, the ammonia could–”
“Okay, let’s dump it.”
The two of them looked over at Dr. Yvanetta Yammoh, unconscious in a suspension chamber. Her vitals were fine, but she took a nasty blow and had been unconscious for the past two days. Mikka knew that Dr. Yammoh would highly object to abandoning the mission, no matter how dangerous it was. For all the work they did…
“Actually…” Mikka said. “Come with me to the deck.”
They left the cargo bay and began walking through the narrow corridors of the ship. the XSS Savior was the only remaining in-service ship in the fleet of the X-9 Taiwan cruiser class The ships were nimble, but flaws in their design– such as the oddly-placed wall that Mikka just bumped into– ended up making them inefficient and prone to being destroyed in medium-sized explosions. Mikka was offered upgrades many times over the past decade, but she refused each time.
She got better bragging rights this way.
There were only seven members of their small crew; their AI system Maenad did the grunt work, so they only needed specialists.
“Commander on the deck,” said pilot Wins, a teal-skinned genotype from the planet Calexork, one of the strange planets where DNA modification was not only allowed, but actively encouraged. “What is it, Commander, sir?”
“Wins, really, you know how I think of all these fancy formalities,” said Mikka. “Lay off.
“But, Commander, sir, you are extremely formal.” And Wins, having grown up in an experimental artificial-schooling environment, was as bad at detecting jokes and sarcasm as she was good at steering around small-sized spacecraft.
“Is everyone here? Actually, of course everyone’s here, we’re about to take off. I want to ask you.” She cleared her throat, ready for speech time. “We finally secured the creature and are scheduled to leave for Veicion almost immediately. However… there have been concerns about the safety of our return trip, what with the giant monster on-board.”
“Concerns for safety? Is our ship not prepared to hold the creature?” Wins asked.
“Probably not. But… if we drop it now, we just wasted twenty-four thousand en and Minister Malorious will probably call a bounty on us. Furthermore, Dr. Yammoh would be very displeased if we–”
“So you decided we should keep it on-board after all?” Koin asked.
“Actually, no, I was going to leave it up to a vote.”
“The way you’re reasoning it, it doesn’t sound like much of a vote…”
Mikka shrugged. “Fine, then. We’re not dropping it. We’re going to return to Veicion, figure out why the gnack they wanted this creature so badly, and pick up our monthly paycheck. Is that fine with everyone?”
The five crew members on the deck nodded in unison.
“That’s fine then. Let’s take off.”
“Starting takeoff, Commander, sir,” said Wins.
The Savior’s engines flared on and it blasted into space. As the planet quickly became a blip in the distance, Mikka looked back at Dexon-C and shook her head. “Good riddance.”
It was time for them to go–
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.