"Station Eclipse 5... Eclipse 5, come in." The line popped and hissed as if someone pushed on the respond button before closing his side. Amateurs. "Coming in is code for answering the line, in case you forgot. If you can hear me, respond with absolute silence." Orn paused for a moment before smugly sliding open the comm line, "Good, glad that's all settled."
Orn leaned back into his chair, a highly sought after lower lumbar support system that could tip to nearly 105˚ before you'd find dwarf all across the bulkheads. Pilots were notorious sticklers when it came to their chairs and only their chairs, some even turning down vaunted positions on the most luxurious star cruisers because the chairs weren't customizable.
He thudded his right boot upon the excessive glass console, missing partially vital controls. Whatever idiot thought people would love seeing all the wires, diodes, and other electronic doodads to keep them from flying straight into a sun hopefully was tossed into one himself. Orn tried painting sections, but the shit always scraped off or melted when they dropped through a pinch. To remedy that situation, he took to "borrowing" the old-timey posters for acts on whatever floating hunk of rock the ol' girl set herself down on. A session of "Gabbing with Godot" hovered over the impulse drive he was supposed to be watching, but the traffic around the station was calm for once. It was the perfect time to sit back and...
"What's the situation?"
In the old days, Orn would have sat straight up and pushed a few of the less important buttons to look busy, but he'd been on this bird for nearing three (or was it four?) years now. The cap'n would see straight through it anyway. Instead, he swiveled slowly to her, unraveling the last of his stash of rope candy into a slightly stubbly mouth. "Not much," he slurped through the red goo.
The captain, as she hated being called, shifted back on her bare feet, more than likely roused from a nap by the proximity alarm. Orn preferred to do most of his dealings in the middle of the night. The graveyard shift asked few questions aside from "Where's the coffee and when will it be in me?" Her lip curled up, pulling with it the deep scar running down her right cheek; a landmark she refused to ruminate upon.
"Pull the other one, Orn. I can see the blighted station out the windows," Variel pointed out their too numerous windows at the orbiting waylay station, one of five above Samudra's ample coastlines.
Orn's excessive brows crocheted as he stared out the windows. They graced them with a near panoramic view of whatever existed outside the bridge; which for about 99.999% of the trip amounted to blackness, stars, then -- for a change of pace -- more stars and blackness. The things bothered him. Anyone who spent more than a three hour cruise on a ship knew how easily a high powered nub of grit could shatter right through one...assuming the shields were down, backups were dead, and you smashed your noodle on the way to sealing the hole. Still, the mere possibility unnerved anyone with stardust in their veins.
"The station's out," the dwarf informed her, slurping down the last of his treat and reaching under his swivel chair for a drink of something other than thrice recycled "don't ask where it's been" water. His black gloves scattered around a few empty bottles of a drink decorated with fizzy bubbles.
Variel placed her hands upon a playbill about a dryad who thinks it's actually a man. She leaned out, staring into the carousel-like station rotating above the crystal blue planet. Most of the strip was dark, long since silenced for the families sleeping off their busy days ahead or behind them. Lights only burned on the lower maintenance deck and the top floors for those who think they're more important than maintenance.
"Flip the comm," the captain ordered, her voice all business despite the cottony pair of pajamas she'd waltzed onto the bridge in. Orn half expected to find an embroidered bunny.
"A'right, but it won't do you any good. They must have their gnomes in charge of docking." Despite his protesting, the dwarf pulled the switch, his right hand flickering momentarily over the blue tab covered in a fruit sticker.
"Eclipse 5, this is the Elation-Cru looking for a docking number. Please respond," Variel rolled her neck back, trying to blink away the last of her sleep. If this weren't the heart of "the safest ports in the galaxy" she'd probably be nervous about the quiet comms.
"Eclipse 5?" She continued before turning back to Orn, who lifted his massive shoulders and slipped another boot overtop his first. He'd pull out his PALM and start playing Spacecolony if the boss wasn't staring right at him. "I say, is anyone there?"
"We have coin?" Orn threw out.
The static popped and a voice, higher pitched than was typical for most organics, screeched across the flight deck, "This is Eclipse 5, oh bloody hell! Who let those little brats in here to dick with the controls?" some shuffling drifted across the space, a few pops answered back, and the voice returned much less like a rodent freebasing helium, "We have you on sensors, Elation-Cru."
"Sensors," Orn snorted, "look out a bleedin' window and we'll wave back at ya."
"Docking port 75-C is open. You'll be in the Happy Jellyfish lot," reported the man who was probably wiping sticky chocolate off his control panels.
"Joy of joys, we get to be a spineless blob of tentacles."
"Orn," Variel warned softly.
"Right, fine, uh," the dwarf flipped the switch back, "This is Elation-Cru, Ecstatic Jellyfish, got it."
"That's Happy Jellyfish," the weary voice stressed, "I see you're registered with the dwarven embassy. A proper customs officer shall be out in an hour."
"Right, Happy Jellyfish over and out," Orn mocked, flicking off the channel and punching in a few numbers. Docking was fully automated after one too many rich snots got wasted on Lavabombs while skittering about the galaxy in Leap-pods that somehow always wound up in the main director's lobby, the lady decals ripped to her nude waist. Pilots needn't bother with parking, but Orn liked to appear busy.
Variel sighed, this part of the galaxy made her itch. The surest way to snap was waking every day with forced joy and a shit eating grin. She laid a hand on the dwarf's shoulder as she leaned down to him, "Wake the others, I'm sure the twins have some unholy business they'll be getting to."
"What about her?" Orn asked, his eyes flickering to a smashed bulkhead that someone refused to repair on principle.
"Are you two...again? Fine, I'll talk to her. Gods know there's got to be something broken on this ship that'll cost all our money to repair."
Orn smiled, his overlarge eyes twinkling as he broke the comfortable silence of the ship by powering up the automated wake-up call. A charming cackle of a rooster bounded about the ship as bouts of twinkling music followed. The lilting, cheerful voice -- certain to have driven entire systems of people to utter madness -- chimed in, "Wake up sleepy heads! There's a big day ahead of you among the stars!"
The fact that everyone despised the thing with enough furor to power the ship across twelve light years encouraged Orn all the more to use it every chance he got. As Variel turned to leave, most likely to put on something that wasn't wearing to the point of being see through, the dwarf cheerfully called out, "Captain off the bridge."
She flipped him off before the doors could close.