Expansion Means More Maintenance

12 minutes read


A small cargo spaceship limped its way through the Bellude system; the external lights flickered inconsistently as they struggled to stay lit. The ship’s rear engines only had three of the five thrusters firing, while the other two had the slight glow of pilot fire but no thrust. Inside the craft, there was bickering and the sound of metal hitting metal.

“Why the fuck does nothing work on this ship?” A woman’s voice called out.

“Because the owners of this piece of junk don’t understand expansion requires more maintenance.” There was a brief pause from the second voice. “Well, I think one of them does, but they can only do so much.”

The first individual popped their head out of the flooring grate, dragging a hefty component up with her; on her overalls was a name badge that read.


“Well, do you think you could tell the hard-working one that this part needs to be replaced? Without it, we are going to have significant power distribution issues for the lighting on the exterior of the ship.” Kestra watched as the other worker stared blankly out the window tapping their front teeth together. “Oi, Clara. You there?”

Clara turned back to Kestra with her tongue in between her teeth, grinning.

“yes, no, not really. Sorry, I kind-a spaced out there; what were you saying?”

“Oh, spaced out in space? You space head!” Kestra laughed back at her.

“You’re a space head, you goon.”

“If you liked it, then you should have put a space on it.” Kestra sang back.

“Wait, stop all this.” Kestra changed their tone to very serious.

Clara followed suit, standing taller and dropping her grin.

“This part,” Kestra said, waving the part in her hand around. “This needs to be replaced. Currently, we just have all the lights running off one feed.”

“What does it mean if they are running off one feed?”

“Well, either none of them are working because there is too much load, and the circuit has blown, or some of them are on, and all the others are off, or maybe the lights are flickering as they all compete for the power. But who knows?”

Kestra shrugged once normally, then proceeded to continue shrugging at exaggerated levels that Clara matched as she danced around on the floor grates that Kestra was standing in.

“Can you please actually help me out of here? I hate being on the floor.”

“Oh yes.” Clara said, dropping their shoulders down and reaching down to help Kestra.

“How is it that I am the one going down in the grates if you are the skinny one?”

“Well, it is because you are shorter than me, so you are closer to the ground.”

After Clara pulled Kestra from the grates, she squatted down.

“See, look at all this distance I had to travel, and I am still not under the floor yet.”

Kestra squinted, nodding her head.

“You did go a long way to end up not under the floor. You do have a compelling argument.”

“Also, you know, that little thing where you are the mechanic, and I am the pilot.”

“Ah, du doi.” Kestra said, smacking their head. “Forgot about that one.”

The two of them laughed as they put the floor grate back in place, and Clara took the part, scrubbing the filth off an identification plate so they could read it.

“Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t think they actually make these parts anymore. It has the four-eight-three format of identification. That means it is Gen four tech, right?”

Kestra sighed and pulled out a little device, tapping on the screen.

“Yes, that does mean that it is not in circulation, but it is not because it is Gen Four and we are Gen Six; it is because we are Gen Six, and that is Gen Two.”

“Oh…” Clara said as her face looked shocked.

“Read me the number; I will see what the equivalent is nowadays.”

Clara read out the number, and Kestra groaned as the results popped up.

“Well, if that part was in production, being a simple mechanical piece, it would be a couple hundred.”

“I assume the new ones are not that cheap.”

“No… the new ones are all electronic, using very expensive parts, and are all like a couple thousand each.”

“In other words, we are never getting that part.”

“Yup, because the owners don’t spend money, and because of that, we have to drive this shit bucket around looking for scrap heaps that are probably more functional than us and take those parts for this ship.”

“I can look on the marketplace for the part, see if there are any second-hand ones.” Clara said, unsure if it would help.

“I mean, yeah, but that is not really our job; they should be doing it, not us.” Kestra said, putting her small device away. “I am just sick and tired of all the extra work that we end up doing as a convenience to the people who don’t even look after the equipment we use to navigate space. Which is like super hard to survive in.”

“Oh, I had a cousin who survived in space for like a month.”

Kestra looked up at Clara, smiling in disbelief.

“In a spaceship.” Clara muttered, grinning.

An alarm started to quietly sound, an intermittent three beeps that had a short pause in-between.

“Oh, a thing, a thing for us to do.” Clara said, running up the stairs and heading to the cockpit.

“No, I am not running.” Kestra said, pouting as she watched Clara run up the stairs.

“I can see up your dress from down here.” Kestra yelled up.

“I am wearing pants, ya weirdo.” Clara said as they made their way to the cockpit.

Kestra slowly made their way up the stairs; each time they moved to a new flight, they would test the handrail, avoiding the ones that wobbled too much for her to feel safe. By the time she reached the cockpit, Clara had already gotten to work.

“I have adjusted our course. We should be coming up on the wreckage in about ten minutes.” Clara pressed through a couple extra buttons before turning back to Kestra on her swivel chair, poking out her tongue, then trilled obnoxiously.

Kestra sat down, feeling her chair shift in ways that it should not have.

“I am really growing tired of all the broken shit in this place. I just want to be provided with something that isn’t about to cut me and fill my veins with rust.”

Clara looked at Kestra expectantly, her eyebrows raised, and her lips pursued.

“More rust.”

“More tetanus!” Clara shouted in return.

“But seriously, I do understand what you mean, especially with how much effort we actually put in to keep these junk heaps running.”

Clara pointed around the cabin at all the makeshift repairs that they had made.

“Like that, that, that, and all of those.” They said, with their arms spreading wide so they could gesture to the entire collection of small repairs they had made. “I am the pilot, I should not have to be doing this stuff, and it is not like you can focus on these small things; you are busy making sure we don’t go dead in the water.”

Kestra tucked in her lips and inflated the space behind her top one, nodding in agreement.

“Yeah, but as annoying as these guys are, the others really aren’t much better, so the hassle of changing companies honestly…”

“Isn’t it worth it?” Clara interrupted.

“Yyyyyyyuuuuup.” Kestra said with exhausted exaggeration. “Anyway, I can kind of see the thing we are going to be jumping; I am going to get ready; I still need to get our scrapper up.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot about him. Did you actually see Ned before he came on? He usually says hi, but I just realized that he didn’t do that for this trip.”

“Na, they went straight to their bunk. I saw them enter it; they looked exhausted. Oh, and it is not Ned; we got a new guy.”

“Aww, I liked Ned.” Clara said disappointedly.

“But you do like meeting new people too.” Kestra responded.

Clara pointed to Kestra. Her eyes opened wider, and her head nodded slightly.

“This is true; well, I hope the new guy is cool.”

“Hmm, me too.” Kestra said in agreement. “Anyway, I am going to go and sort shit.”

Clara stood tall, smacking her heels together. She saluted Kestra.

“Yes, captain.”  

Kestra laughed to herself before wandering back down into the ship, leaving Clara alone in the cockpit. Clara spun her chair back around, watching the monitors for more information on the scrap heap that they were approaching. The closer they got, the more she stared out the window, watching as the ruined vessel became clearer. She was about to look away to adjust something but had to do a double take; she stared out her window intently, leaning forward in her seat, her eyes squinted, her jaw tensed, then loosened just enough to mutter.

“What in the Verse is that?” She said as her face started to be illuminated by a golden light.

Meanwhile, Kestra was down below getting ready for the trip over, packing tools into a bag and dragging them over to the airlock, while there she got into her space suit, leaving the helmet off, placing it down by her bag, she headed out to find the scrapper.

Arriving at his room, she knocked on the door to no avail.

“Urgh, I don’t want to have to go into this room; please just be awake.”

Kestra said, knocking much harder and for a longer time.

Still no answer; she was a little concerned about cracking the door. She looked inside, slowly inching the door open she called out.

“Hello, Mr. scrappy man; we have arrived at our first mark.”

Inside she saw the scrapper kneeling onto the hard grates, wearing only a tight pair of briefs, his body adorned with scars of strange symbols, his ears covered by headphones as he muttered under his breath with his eyes closed, head bowed, and hands put together in a religious fashion.

Kestra’s hand slipped on the door handle, pushing the door open more it hit the opposing wall, and the scrapper’s eyes opened. Suddenly, he cocked his head toward Kestra, who nervously smiled.

Clara was sprinting through the ship, calling out to Kestra; panicked, she screamed her way into the airlock to see her gear set up, but no her.

“Kestra, where are you?”

As Clara was screaming, the same golden glow started to flood into the airlock, catching Clara’s attention. She looked out, and the panic really settled in.

“Kestra, please! Where are you?” She screamed as she ran to other parts of the ship.

“I am sorry; I did not mean to scare you. My name is Izayah.” He said as he put on a shirt. “I probably should have introduced myself before we departed, but… but I… umm, can you hear someone yelling?”

Kestra snapped out of her little stupor to hear Clara screaming.

“Oh no, that is Clara!”

Kestra turned around to see Clara sprinting down the hall at full speed, nearly colliding with Kestra. She grabbed her shoulders and stared deeply into her eyes.

“We, I don’t know. There is a person made of light standing on the wreckage. Then I moved to the airlock, and they were there too.”

Kestra re-coiled as she looked at Clara.

“Your eyes, they have changed color; they are….”

“Golden?” Izayah said with excitement.

Clara looked up to see the scrapper as he hastily put on pants, her eyes nearly glowing their radiant gold that slowly faded back into the pale green they used to be.

“You saw them; you saw the light. I knew this was the right ship to get onto.”

“What are you on about?” Clara looked back down to Kestra. “What is happening?”

“I don’t know, I just came up here to see him praying with scars all over him; you are talking about a person of light. I am so confused.”

“Don’t be confused; we are about to be visited by a god.”

Izayah ran to the airlock; the other two looked at one another and followed. When they arrived, Izayah had over rid the safety protocols, opening the airlock without the safety systems in place. As the other two screamed to stop, the large external door opened; no air escaped, but golden light flooded in, bathing the three in it, their eyes changing color.

The being stepped inside, raising their arm into the air. Their glow faded slowly, so they could see the image of the individual, a naked humanoid that had both masculine and feminine features. Once their hand reached full extension, they bent it at the elbow, brought their hand down to their head, they pulled on it until another head phased out of the first. Then pulling more, they pulled a whole body from the first, then standing before the three humans was the god, split into a male and female form.

Izayah dropped to his knees, throwing his shirt to the ground. He wept as he witnessed Light split into two. Clara and Kestra’s jaws were open in disbelief, and despite their desire to run, they found themselves stuck, incapable of moving.

“I am here for you; I am here for Light. Please, golden veil, use me; let me support your goals; I can be what you need.”

The female part of Light looked down, grinning.

“And so you shall.” She said with a soft voice.

The male part of Light looked confused as it stared at the two others, then a wave of fear rolled over as light could see a pair of eyes floating behind them, staring at Light with rage.

“You two.” The male part said. “You need to go; you are guarded goods.”

Before either of the girls could say anything, they were standing in a workshop, cold and familiar. Before them were the owners of their company, staring in disbelief at Clara and Kestra’s sudden appearance. But then one of them looked at the girl’s eyes, watching the gold fade from them. Their eyes widened, they dropped the tool they were holding, and panic escaped their voices as they spoke one word.