Listen in to The Good Ship ‘Sea of Stars’ by Jane Jago on Tall Tales TV

Jane Jago’s strange sci-fi is being presented by Tall Tale TV

When Cargo Freighter Zulu/973 found it, the sleek little flitter was floating aimlessly in space, sort of halfway between the mining belt at Beta#32 and the transport station that orbited Jupiter II. It was much more elegant and aerodynamic looking than the ugly cargo hauler that nudged it with an armoured loading claw. The claw poked a bit more firmly and it drifted, with no more sense of direction than any of the other bits of space junk the traders had amassed on their journey.
    “Seems dead.” Captain Clearwater remarked to nobody in particular. “Let’s have a look then.”
    His communications officer turned the cargo hauler’s docking camera to face the wreck. She seemed to be in going on for perfect condition – clean and shiny and with some sort of earthside oriental script scrawled across her slightly flared bow.
    “Get Leah up here.”
    Somebody scrambled. Clearwater wasn’t a man to be kept waiting. Leah Su arrived promptly. She was as poised and unruffled as ever, but her bulky escort was red-faced and sweating. 
    “Su reporting for duty, sir.”
    “You’re the nearest thing to a linguist we have hereabouts. Can you read the writing on that ship?”
    “More or less, sir. It says something like ‘sea of stars’. Very roughly. I guess it is the name of the vessel.”
    “Probably is. Can you see an identifier?”
    “No sir.”
    “Me neither. And I reckon that makes it fair game. Whatever spoilt rich boy lost his toy out here, I’m thinking finders keepers. Even if nobody has put a bounty on her, she should fetch a few bob for salvage. I’m going over to have a look. Take the con Su.”
    Clearwater may have been greedy and even unprincipled, but he wasn’t fool enough to go and inspect a possible salvage vessel on his own. He gathered up a sizeable force, and broke out the blasters. 
    In the end, there were a dozen space stevedores, wearing their exoskeleton work suits, in the airlock, along with the captain, his first officer and the ship’s metallurgist. The inside door sealed and they put on their helmets before Su began pumping out the air. It took a good ten minutes before it was safe to open the big doors into the blackness of space.
    As the doors slowly slid back into their pockets in the hull, Clearwater straddled a jet scoot and headed for the flitter. First officer Ganges clutched the sissy bar behind his captain’s ample backside, and the rest formed a chain behind Ganges clipped together by lanyards attached to their tool belts. It wasn’t the most comfortable way to travel. But it wasted the least energy and Christopher Clearwater abhorred waste. Particularly if he was paying for whatever was being wasted.

You can hear the rest of the story at Tall Tale TV

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