Logbook entry

Openflanker / 27 Aug 3305
With Linka Where Eagles Dare

My AspX thundered toward the surface of the moon, its nose aimed squarely at Eagle's Landing, the hull creaking and popping as it slowed rapidly from the Glide, transitioning to normal thrust. It lifts the body out of the seat, momentum still carrying you forward against your harnesses, then settles you in again as normality strikes. I heard a small groan over the intercom, Linka wasn't quite used to this yet.

I pulled back on the throttles setting them to 50% as the ship shuddered and shook. I'd used smaller engines to save weight, something common in exploration ships. The down-side is that slowing the couple of hundred tonnes of ship takes a little more planning. I had transitioned out of the glide at just over 5km and I needed to get a wriggle on to slow her down. I contacted flight control and, after getting landing pad 6 right in front of me assigned, I lowered the gear and nosed into the bay.

The AspX settled onto the pad and the mag-locks pulled her in with a massive clang, signalling the engines to power down. Suddenly it was quiet, just the faint ticking of systems cooling. I selected the option to enter the hangar and we dropped down into the station, spun around, and shifted back, lights popping on and humming softly.

Eagle's Landing is not the most luxurious place in the galaxy. It was carved roughly into the surface of the "a" moon of planet 2 in the Eagle Sector IR-W d1-117 system. The purpose was to create outposts on what became the Colonia Highway, resupply stations allowing beaten and battered ships to land and repair on the way to Colonia. A lot of the outpost is subterranean, hangars and ship repair facilities taking up the majority of the space, air filtration and water purification systems taking the rest. Everywhere you go you are followed by the sound of banging or the buzz of welding, sparks flying.

I went to the station offices, a small batch of offices that smell like damp earth and wet ferro-cement, and handed over my expedition data at the local Universal Cartographic desk. They are used to large amounts of expedition data here and they have the fastest connections to the UC mainframes possible. Of course, these are distributed throughout the galaxy. The funds transfer of millions of credits happened immediately and I headed off to find lodgings.

At the berthing reception I asked for two rooms. I was still being a little sensitive to Linka, I had no idea what she had been through and what the past years had been like. I knew pretty much nothing about her but I wanted her to have some privacy. However, Eagle's Landing is small and, despite being this far out, popular. There was a room, it was suitable for two and had separate beds. It was, the reception clerk told me with a small gleam in her eye, cosy.

We had a bite to eat, the cuisine is suited to those without the gift of taste, then headed off to find our room. It can be called a room because it had two beds, a shower and running water. If these hadn't been in there it would have been suitable for the storage of brooms, buckets and mops. There was just enough room to move about, just about, and privacy was non-existent.

I felt bad, I know I shouldn't have but I did. We both sort of didn't really know what to say. "I'll head out while you shower, will be back in 10." Linka smiled, "Thanks", she said blushing very slightly.

I headed out into the station and looked at what facilities there were. Apart from grotty eateries there wasn't a lot. If it was just me I'd be OK, but I found myself wanting to give Linka the best. I had nothing to feel guilty about, apart from a few impure thoughts perhaps, but I had this strange need to do something nice.

It was strange to have someone to share this experience with. Thus far my career as a space pilot had been largely a solo affair. It had been a life choice made in the wake pf personal tragedy as a way to run and run. I'd run and run, and run some more, thousands of light years, but wherever you go what you choose to take with you, however unwillingly or however much you deny that you're taking it, will always be with you. I'd let it dull me, it had been a source of solace as I tracked and hunted bounties. But it made me feel...... nothing. Even with the brief companionship of a fighter pilot on-board when I finally managed to get a fighter hangar had not created a personal relationship of substance, even though I did miss her company when we first parted weeks ago. It was as if suddenly now there was something that was stirring some alien thing inside me that I'd forgotten and, even, actively suppressed. I felt vulnerable and I didn't like it, which contrasted with feeling needed and loving it.

I came across a small shop that sold clothing, very basic stuff like coveralls and whatnot. But they did sleepwear. I bought some in, what I imagined was, Linka's size and some in mine. When you solo through the universe sleepwear isn't a priority. 10 minutes being up I headed back to the room. I needed that shower and a shave. In my youth I'd had one of those popular gene mods done that gives you facial hair. When we are young we are desperate to look older, when we are older we are desperate to look young. But now the coarse and fast-growing muzzle annoyed me, especially now that it was merciless in revealing grey hair.

I knocked on the door, swiped the keycard and opened the door. She was stood at the end of the bed in a towel and I was riveted. With her wet hair she looked like the most fragile thing in the world. Her shoulders were heavily tattooed, marks of ownership designed to destroy the soul, that make someone a product. She looked down at her feet, as I imagined she'd done countless times before.

I managed to stop staring long enough to hand her the sleepwear I'd bought then made a very clumsy and bashful exit. A few minutes later she opened the door to reveal that my ability to work out someone's size was under-developed. The sleepwear was way too big. I laughed out loud, the tension inside welling up to make the laugh more booming. She joined in and we stood there just laughing to the point of tears. "Thank you," she said and, as she walked past me to stand in the hallway while I showered, gave me a small peck on my very hairy cheek.

{Tune in for the next episode, coming really soon!}
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