Darkness. Hot fume ridden air filled his lungs making his head swim. Voices warbled inaudibly from somewhere behind him. His ears were still ringing when a voice burst painfully into his earpiece.
“Moz? Can you hear us?”
Morris coughed volcanically before thumbing his mic switch.
“There.. There was vapour in the drum compartment. We must still have a leak.”
Morris reached upwards and began pulling himself out of the Eagle’s smallest module bay.
He emerged from the ship into a junk strewn old farm building. The eagle sat next to a well used but corroded agricultural tractor. Behind them both were dozens of old looking metal canisters and boxes. This was Mulligan End Farm. Several kilometres from the surface base at Dobson Field.
In the two weeks since their last visit from Mikos, the pirate duo had made only one further appearance before seemingly giving up on them for easier prey just as the trader had predicted.
Euan had been overdue for the weekly fuel and supply sortie out of system. Commander Marsh had ordered him out and for Morris to join in on fixing the Eagle. Nobody could recall when the old fighter had last left the planet but Tanner and his two sons had toiled away nearly every rest day for the last year working on the antique spacecraft until finally her thrusters tore into life once again. Yesterday Morris had been given the dubious honour of flying the old bird for the first time on a short hop to where the rest of the Eagles spares were kept.
Bex and his sons stood looking up at Morris.
“Moz, take a break. You’ve been in there for the best part of an hour. I’ve been in and out of this ship for months and you are leading on the explosion count after one day.”
Morris slid from the leading edge of the wing and landed on his feet but only just.
“I don’t think she likes me.”
“Nonsense, she’s feisty though, make no mistake. Go orn, bugger off to the pub. I’ll send one of the lads if I need help.”
The Dog and Sextant was empty save for an old lady at a table under the biggest window smoking a long wooden pipe and reading the colony paper.
The old woman pushed herself up from the armchair onto her feet and turned to face Morris with a smile.
“Not seen you about ere afore.”
“I just dropped in for a few days.”
She eyed his flight suit, gave a chuckle and made her way behind the bar.
“Ah you’re the lad who blundered in with that noise yesterday. I’ve not eard that sort o racket since years back.”
“Yep, that’s me. Morris. I’m helping fix her up.”
She reached up and grabbed a large glass from above the bar.
“Bloody death trap those things. They have some sort of power over folks like you.”
She pulled a tap and poured a reddish brew into the glass.
“You given er a name then? My Frank named is one. Called it; Stellar Record ee did.”
“Frank? Was he in the Lancers?”
She shook her head, set the drink down in-front of Morris and took a pull on the pipe.
“He was a trader. Safe as houses he used to say to me. I said; maybe so Frank but our house don’t get taken pirate hunting does it?”
Morris took a long sip of the drink. It was slightly bitter, warm on his lips at first but cooled pleasingly as he swallowed.
He set the glass back down, noticing ice crystals where his fingers had held it.
“What became of him if you don’t mind me asking?”
She plucked the pipe from her mouth and poured herself a small glass of clear liquid.
“Died ee did. Twenty year back rest is soul.”
Morris felt awkward. Wishing he’d not asked.
“Not to worry lad, it was a long time afore that when I saw him last. Ee was my brother you see. Fixed that old ship of his forty year back and buggered off to the stars to make is millions. Well, turns out ee did.”
She held up her glass as to make a toast, Morris obliged.
“Thought Frank had forgotten us all back ere til the lawyers rolled up.”
Her name was Persephone Harper, Percy to her customers. Her Brother Frank had spent 49 years trading, fighting and smuggling. He’d made it to Deadly but had died somewhere near Tionisla when his ship, a Puma Clipper had been jumped by a whole wave of pirates.
Apparently Frank had struck it rich and had over the years owned nearly every ship ever built. The executors of his estate had told Percy that Frank had lost everything before he died except that first old Eagle fighter, and now this was hers along with thirty thousand credits.
Morris strode back into the barn an hour later holding a black ships key up in-front of him.
“Bex, fancy a trip to Eranin?”