Chapter 1.2

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Sam kicked the side of his pod again and it sparked a little, but nothing turned on. It was well and thoroughly dead.

“Piece of garbage.” He pulled his shirt off and tied  it into a makeshift bag, filling it with supplies and the small transmitter from the pod. Before the pod had started spinning there had been a city in the distance. He found something to write with and marked down the part numbers on the pod. He would have to have words with the cat that had sold it to him. Immediately after launching he’d lost autopilot, and navigation soon after. It was only luck and breaking open the control panel that had landed him on a planet. He found the picture that had been framed on the side of the pod and took it out of the now shattered frame, sliding it in his back pocket carefully.

The sun was setting in a direction he would have to call west for now, and he oriented himself to the northeast. It would probably be tomorrow before he arrived, but a city that big would be hard to miss.

***

Officer Levins had excused himself to get some food and Jessie found herself alone at a booth in the cafeteria. Everyone was busy eating or moving through the room to somewhere else. It seemed to be the central hub of the ship, oddly enough. This ship was clearly not intended for fighting. She’d seen two other officers besides Officer Levins and nobody had the rigid posture of military. She twisted around in her seat, feet resting above her, and stared out at the crowd again. There were a lot civilians, but no other children.

“I didn’t realise I invited a foot monster to lunch.” Officer Levin’s voice interrupted her thoughts, “You may want to sit upright though, much easier to eat with your hands.”

“Feet are just as good as hands, you shouldn’t discriminate.” She could hear him chuckle from under the table as he set something down above her. She righted herself, straightening out her hair a little. There was a plate of vegetables and what seemed to be actual chicken in front of her. Misa couldn’t cook chicken, or didn’t like to at least. Her appetite disappeared as quickly as it had reappeared at the thought of him. “I’m not hungry.”

“You should try a little, they’ve got proper cooks on this ship.” Mark gestured at her plate even as he ate from his own, but quickly shrugged and focused on eating. They sat in silence for a bit until he was almost done. “So how old are you, miss Mitchell?”

Jessie frowned at her plate, then at him, “It says in my file.”

“A gentleman never reads a lady’s age in her file.” He retorted, plucking a carrot off of her plate and placing it on his own. She frowned at it but said nothing.

“I’m eight.”

“Really?” He seemed a little surprised, almost dropping the next piece of carrot he had stolen. She speared a piece with her fork and ate it before he could steal it.

“Really. Misa says I’m petite… but I’ll get bigger.” She stabbed the plate a little hard retrieving another piece from him and winced at the scraping noise it caused. He didn’t react, other than to hold his fork near her chicken. She ate the piece of carrot and quickly snatched the chicken away. She bite off as much as she could and struggled to chew, still holding the rest of it on the end of her fork. He just smiled and finished off the last of his food.

“So until we get someone to come pick you up, is there anything you’d like to keep entertained? Something to read?”

Jessie made a face at him and managed to swallow the last of her chicken, “I don’t like reading.”

“Then something to watch, a game?” He took her empty plate and put it on top of his.

“I like bird shows.” She offered, glancing at a man approaching them.

“Bird shows?” Officer Levins raised an eyebrow and looked ready to ask more until someone tapped him on the shoulder.

“Sorry to bother you, Mark. The new…” The young man seemed to notice Jessie suddenly and cut off a word, “The guy is yelling something about a book, that the others…” He stared at Jessie again then turned back to Mark, “Can you go deal with them, please? I can’t get the paperwork done with them screaming.”

“Um, okay.” Mark stood up, picking up both plates, “Can you find Miss Mitchell here some… bird videos? This is Calvin, by the way, he’s our lead computers guy.”

“Technical officer.”

“Yes, computers guy. He’ll help you find something to watch and I’ll find you later so we can not eat dinner together, alright?” He nodded a goodbye and hurried off towards the medical area. Calvin stared off after him, then looked back down at Jessie. She met his stare with a silent frown and he cleared his throat.

“You stare a lot.” She said, climbing out of the booth. He blinked consciously and took a deep breath.

“Sorry, I spend more time with computers than people. It’s easy to forget social-” He stopped himself and looked down at the screen he was holding, tapping at whatever was on it. “You want to see bird videos?”

“Aunt Sarah shows me bird videos a lot. They talk about the different kinds and where they live and they show the really big ones flying and…” Jessie trailed off as Calvin started tapping his screen, still looking at her. He blinked a little too deliberately and looked away at the screen.

“Sounds like documentaries. I should have a bunch of those I can put on for you in the theater.” He gestured towards a hallway to his right.

“You have a theater?” Jessie couldn’t help grinning a little. Misa never had a ship with a theater, they only had little vid screens.

“It’s nothing too fancy, just a couple dozen seats, but there’s snacks there too and it’s got a really cool sounds system that-” He cut himself off, clearing his throat again, “It’s pretty nice. I won’t bore you with the technical stuff.” He gestured for her to follow and headed down the hallway.

***

Mark knocked on the back door of the theater softly and the door opened. He slid inside and shut it quietly, sliding into the seat next to Calvin.

“Bird documentaries. That’s what she wanted to see?”

“Four hours of bird documentaries… She’s been staring at them perched in her chair the whole time.”

“You’ve been sitting back here the whole time?”

“No.” Calvin hesitated, “I was sitting right behind her at first, but it was kinda weird.”

“Weird?”

“Just something about the way she was acting… hey don’t laugh.” Calvin elbowed Mark as the officer covered his mouth to surpress his laugh.

“I’m sorry but you complaining about someone acting weird, I mean come on.”

“Whatever, it was weird. And don’t volunteer me to babysit like that again, you know I’m not good with strangers.”

“And this is how we learn to be good with strangers.” Mark patted him on the shoulder and stood up as the current video ended. He strolled down the aisle and stood next to Jessie as she blinked and rubbed her eyes. She looked up at him as the lights came back on. “It’s about dinner time, Miss Mitchell, would you care for some food?” He noted a handful of candy boxes in the seat next to her and looked back at Calvin. Calvin buried his face in his screen and pretended not to see him.

“Did you hear from Misa?” She frowned as he shook his head.

“Don’t worry, messages take time. We’ll probably hear from him tomorrow.” Mark put one hand on her shoulder and she forced a smile for him.

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