I had originally posted this a few days ago, but deleted the entry. Not sure how much of this story I want to put out into the universe just yet, especially since it's an unfinished piece. This is the beginning scene:
“Cargo aboard, sir. Freight lockers secure.”
“All of it stamped?”
“Just like it were legal.”
“Excellent. Knew I hired you for a reason.”
Haldis grinned. “Aye, captain.”
“Three cabins, sir.”
Kristoff rubbed his chin. He needed a shave. “Only three?”
“Wyatt was delayed, counting all those crates, so Corrigan stood as steward.”
“In that case, thank God for any passengers at all.”
“With your permission, captain, you haven’t met ‘em. You see the ugly looks they’re giving each other, you might not be so thankful.”
“How many times I have to tell you, Haldis? No paying customer is unattractive. Well, rarely unattractive.”
“Yeah. I mean, yes, captain.”
“What’s all this sir and captain stuff?”
“It’s for the passengers. Sir.”
Kristoff narrowed his eyes; grinning, Haldis didn’t blink.
“Get below”—Kristoff nodded toward the companionway—“and hold on to something.”
Engines—beautiful things—quickened until their thunder became a deep-throated howl. No mortal song was sweet as this. It shuddered through the ship beneath his feet, hummed along his bones, up his back, out his fingers, through his skull. Braced against the railing, Kristoff swayed as the Martina Vega spread her silver wings and lifted from her slip.
Each change in the rhythm and pitch told the story: queuing for departure, angling for trajectory, increasing speed, resisting the planet’s gravity, roaring through the atmosphere. Flying free.
The radio on his belt crackled. “Wide open, Kristoff.”
He unclipped the radio—old Earth tech, but it worked—and held down the broad gray button on the side. “Good hands as always, Finney. Join you in five.”
“And don’t you forget it.”
c. 2008, Keanan Brand