Apex of the Songbird, Episode 11 – The Ash Heap of History

“Ash! Hey, Ash!”

“I’m listening!”

“You’d better be. Hand me that spanner, would you?”

“This one here? I think this one might be better…”

“Hmm! You could be onto something! Alright, we’ll try it. We’ll make a mechanic out of you yet!”

~*~

Ash woke up in a haze. He usually did. He was not a morning person, even though there technically wasn’t a “morning” in deep space.

He had been dreaming about…

…well. Something that didn’t bear thinking about. Not when there was work to do.

He slowly pulled himself out of bed, and slipped into a pair of jeans he wasn’t sure were clean and a tank top. After that, he slipped into a pair of good boots, a pair of coveralls. He liked it mostly because it had places to put all of his stuff.

After grabbing a cup of coffee, he set his dataview down to the news ticker and started to get to work.

A small ship like Songbird required constant work, especially since he was the only mechanic on-board, but he didn’t mind. It was rewarding. Everything he put into her, she gave him back in kind. He had always been taught, a ship is like a lover; you treat her nice and she’ll look after you.

It was early, perhaps five in the morning–Zane started roaming around 7am, and Jayna and Mari didn’t wake up until maybe 9ish, so he had plenty of time to work out anything he needed to before they woke up. He flipped open one of the nearby machines, hooked himself in with his tool caddy, and got to work.

“News ticker, please, for the Rada galaxy.”

“…Mineral imports from the planet Iphiko, in the Lishumi system, have been spiking in price after a number of veins of industrial-grade platinum were discovered on Iphiko Prime, the main continent on the world,” said the news ticker.  

Ash only really half-listened to the ticker most of the times, but it made good background noise.

He hopped up in-between two crevices and started recalibrating one of the dampeners. Ever since that little incident he made sure to check them every day even if they weren’t hitching. He realigned them, and then noticed something else was moving just a little bit more than he liked.

It was maybe forty-five minutes of this spot detail before something pulled him out of his reverie.

“…and news of strange criminal activity has started to plague Haihan North.”

Ash swore as he nearly drove a screwdriver through his thigh in surprise. He dropped what he was doing and paid closer attention to the ticker.

“Haihan North has recently been the spot of a number of terrorist attacks by an unknown organization. The targets of the attacks have all been Mega-conglomerates that have recently looked into buying more property on Haihan North.”

Ash listened closely. He picked up the tool. It wasn’t his business. It was… troubling. But it wasn’t something he needed to worry about. He tried to get back to work.

“If the pattern continues, it appears that the next set of attacks will happen in the city of Renuak, one of the major banking sectors on the planet.”

“According to our analysts, the attacks have been-“

Ash switched the ticker off. He stood stock still.

Then he threw his screwdriver against the hull.

“God damn it all,” he said.

 

~*~

 

Mari was only halfway through her bowl of cheerios when she heard someone rummaging around in the armory. She looked up, mid chew to see Ash already dressed.

“… Aren’t you normally still tinkering this time of morning?”

“I do have other interests,” said Ash, smirking at her. “Occasionally. How about you? Aren’t you normally still sleeping?”

“Couldn’t sleep, had a dream about… well,” Mari colored after a moment. “Uh, pop stars.”

Ash laughed. “Now I’ve got no shot, huh?”

“Invest in some eyeliner and we’ll talk,” said Mari, winking.

Ash smirked. “‘Scuze me,” he said. “Found some work for us.”

Mari looked up. “Oh, did we get a new job?”

Ash nodded. “Just a basic cargo run. Not a big deal. I need to just meet with the port office to get us under a false ship name, and I’ll be back in about an hour, God willing.”

Mari quirked an eyebrow. “We’ve never had to do this sort of thing before,” she said.

“Not everywhere has the same rules and regulations,” said Ash, shrugging. “Some of them are sticklers for checking all the little details.”

Mari nodded. “Well, good luck with the bureaucracy,”

Ash rolled his eyes. “Yeah yeah.”

He waved to her on her way out, closing the door behind him.

It felt seriously shitty to lie to her like this. But they didn’t need to be involved with this. And with any luck, he would be back soon, and then he could just get on with his life.

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