I spent the next month working on the scout/courier starship.
One might think it was a lonely time for me but I was too busy to really notice. One of the things you begin to realize if you plan a life or career in space is that relationships are at best temporary and being alone is quite common for some people who take to space. My mother was a scientist who was killed on an expedition. My father continued to raise me but I never saw any part of her again. My last memory of her walking into a small spacecraft for transfer to a lab ship in orbit. I knew she might not come back, that is the nature of space and living in it.
I have been on many spaceflights and lived on three different worlds in three different star systems. I might not ever see people from the first place I lived ever again. I am good with that as I have also seen things that many of those people will never see. Most people stay on the same planet for this reason: they want to formulate long term relationships. It is a rare person for whom the adventure among the stars means more than closeness to another human being. It is not impossible to have a long term relationship and be a space traveler, but it has a lot more risks. Space travelers are content often to have their adventure and move on, never seeing the people they adventured with again. Some folks end their wanderlust and settle down once they find a place that finally feels like home. Me, I had lived in a lot of different homes. Home is where I am.
The repairs to the scout starship did indeed take a month. It was basically not really in need of repair just routine maintenance. The enclosed grav vehicle was pretty much the same. They design these things to take a beating. I mean a republic exploration team may stay out for as much as a year and the whole thing has to be reliable. They often carry spare parts for everything so when something breaks they just fix it. In my case, I found that I could do some of the routine stuff fairly easily. I would check the computer on the bridge and it would tell me what to do. Slowly but surely, the open hatches closed and things were fixed or replaced.
The scout ship only needs a crew of one to operate – the pilot. Courier pilots fly alone for the most part but the ship does have three other staterooms. Often these are used by government officials or special personnel. Otherwise it is only about transfer of information which is handled by the automatic computer transfer system. An exploratory team is a different story as there is usually a team of four – Pilot (captain), Engineer, Exploration Specialist and Scientist. Because scout ships are designed to be flexible, they are ready for either mission at a moments notice. There is also an asteroid belt mining version of the scout courier used by belters but the scout service does not deal with that.
I knew I could fly the ship as I had learned this in school. There were; however, two major problems once I got the multiple routine stuff finished. According to the computer, this ship had been pulled out of rotation to have its power plant fully maintenanced. It wasn’t critical but it was overdue. I didn’t have the knowledge to do the work on it, so I was hoping it would hold for one more trip. The other problem was fuel although this was actually not as big a problem. I could skim a gas giant to get it with the scoops that come standard on a scout ship. The thing is I had never done that before but I would have to do it twice to get to the nearest planet. It was four parsec jump but I only had a jump two drive so it would take me a double hop. I would have to skim the gas giant here in the Regulus system and then at the halfway system to the only other populated planet nearby – Aurora IV.
My daily routine became fixing things on the ship, eating meals, and heading into town periodically to look around to see if I had missed something. These trips yielded nothing more of use other than some food. I would then end my day by having supper and watching some halo-video for a while and then head to bed. If I was feeling too lonely I would watch a dirty movie and drop one of my hands between my legs. I got through it by maintaining strict security procedures to learn starship procedures. I wore my jumpsuit when outside the ship, although it was the hot season so I would often strip down the top half and tie it around my waist so only my undershirt would be showing. A couple of days it got super hot, so I tore the undershirt off too. I mean who as there to see my knockers. I kept my gun on me and at night I lifted up both ramps and sealed them. I would activate the sensors and early warning system while I slept. Nothing ever happened but I wasn’t going to get lazy because of it. At night I would shower off and sleep in my skin and when morning came I would start it over again. The only thing that changed was my hair grew into a short mane that was just below my ears and slightly down my neck.
My body gave up a few more secrets. I cut myself once. I cleaned it and bandaged the wound, the next morning the cut was almost gone. A day after that I couldn’t see where I had cut myself. I only really had to sleep six hours. I would eat and when I was full, I would stop eating. My body was incredibly efficient with food and water. I was amazed and I didn’t know why this was. My treatment was only supposed to be for longer life but this seemed to be much more than that. There were definitely things I didn’t understand but wanted to know more about.
Finally after 32 standard days, all the hatches were closed and the grav vehicle was stowed away along with a months worth of food and any spare parts I could find. I increased power to the power plant and fired up the grav modules. I was sitting in the bridge in the pilot’s station. There are three other stations for engineering, sensors and science but they were empty. I pulled up the landing gear but the ship hovered in place and then I slowly moved the ship forward out of the hanger. I smiled as the polarized windows kicked in as we headed out in the sun and I felt the artificial gravity kick in. Everything was green lights so once I completely cleared the hanger I lifted the nose up and kicked in the maneuver drives and shot forward into the sky.