6.4

Jerret had cooked up more of the meat by the time Calvin finally got up the next day. He sat eating in silence, watching Jessie wander around the far edge of the clearing.

“What do you think you’ll get done today? Maybe get an emergency signal out?” Jerret prodded the fire again, keeping it burning low as a little leftover meat finished.

“I don’t know what to say…” He said, fiddling with his food idly.

“I’m pretty sure the standard ‘ship in distress’ will work. We just need someone with a not broken ship.”

“Oh… right.” Calvin mumbled, taking another bite and chewing on it thoughtfully. Jerret followed his gaze over to Jessie and frowned.

“That’s enough time wasted.” He got up, grabbed the collar of Calvin’s shirt before he could protest, and hauled him back inside. He deposited the man at his computer roughly, “You don’t get to mope around wishing we were all buddies while we’re stranded. Get to work.”

“I’m not moping.” Calvin protested as he started up the system.

“I’ll check on you later, but it looks like a storm is coming in so I’m going to try and scrounge up more food in case it’s too wet for a fire later. Don’t let me catch you wasting time or I stop being nice.”

“This is you being nice?” Calvin flinched a little as Jerret loomed over him for a moment, only relaxing as the man turned without another word and headed back outside. He turned back to his monitors and began the long argument with the ship about letting out a distress signal. He could manually take over the signal but without the ship helping it would just be noise without meaning.

***

Jessie was reemerging from deeper in the woods when Jerret when back outside.

“Stay close to the ship, it’s going to storm soon.” He called out to her, gesturing to the clouds overhead. She hurried over to him, her arms full of what looked like rocks. Halfway to the fire she stumbled and fell headfirst, losing her cargo. Jerret hurried over to help her up but she got to her feet quickly and started gathering up the rocks again.

“I found these! I think we can eat them!” She shoved a rock at Jerret as he tried to check a small cut on her forehead.

“Are you okay? That was quite the fall.”

“I’m fine, Mr. Jerret. These look like potatoes, right?”

“Uh…” He looked down at the dirt covered lump. It did look like a potato, oddly enough, “I guess… but I don’t know for sure.”

“Well the computer would know. You should ask Mr. Calvin.” She gathered the rest of them up.

“Why don’t you?” Jerret rubbed some dirt off the lump.

“I don’t want to talk to him, he made everything bad.” She scooped the rest of her load in her shirt and carried them over by the fire, stacking them in a pile just.

“Yeah, he did… but maybe you could at least pretend to forgive him? At least till he fixes the ship?”

“I don’t care if he fixes the ship, he already ruined everything.” She sat down in the dirt next to her potatoes, glaring stubbornly at the fire.

“Everything isn’t ruined, someone will come along and get you back to your dad.”

“No, it’s not gonna be the same!” She threw a chunk of dirt at the fire and it flickered away from her.

Jerret could feel his teeth grinding from frustration, “I’ll ask him.” He grumbled, heading back inside. Calvin was still sitting at the console, muttering to it softly with the lights dimmed. The man jumped a little when he realized Jerret was in the doorway.

“I got a message out!” His face was a bit flush  and he coughed nervously, “It’s not much but it should get someone’s attention.” He pointed to the text on the screen which just read ‘Calvin Sutro’ followed by a series of numbers. Jerret put the potato down on the desk.

“Jessie thinks these might be edible, can you check?” He read the text again and hesitated as Calvin picked up the lump.

“A… potato? Well this planet was terraformed a long time ago, even though nobody settled this far out. I’ll have the computer check… you okay?” he had noticed Jerret staring at the screen finally.

“That’s your last name?” He pointed at the second word on the screen.

“Uh… yeah. Why?”

“I just… think I’ve seen it somewhere before.”

“Probably from the fights. Branding was a big deal for my father.”

“Must be.”

Calvin could hear the lack of conviction in his response, but the computer beeped before he could question it further and he turned to one of the other monitors, “Computer beat us to it… It’s a weird hybrid, little sturdier and starchier, but edible. You’ll have to cook it for a while though.”

“Huh… guess this’ll mix things up a bit.” Jerret took the lump back and headed back outside, leaving Calvin to his work.

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