Daddy was pleased that I had a job offer, but less happy when I told him i would be mechanic on a spaceship.
He was downright grumpy when the Captain came on the mule to pick me up with my stuff.
‘She’s never been off this world.’
“So she said.’
‘She ain’t trained on spaceships, all’s she got is what I taught her, and I ain’t trained on no spaceships, neither.’
‘I understand that.’
‘She’s pretty young.’
Then the two of them just stood sorta glaring at each other for a bit.
‘I need me a mechanic that understands my boat. She spotted and fixed what my trained mechanic couldn’t’
‘She can do that. Got a knack. A talent.’
I could see Daddy softening.
‘What’s your boat?”
‘Serenity’s a Firefly 03.’
I didn’t know what that meant, then, I didn’t even have no boobs when the War ended. And we didn’t have no celebrations when it did. Daddy’s eldest was killed at Sturges.
So they stood there for a while.
‘No wonder you need a mechanic, them Fireflies is older n me. ‘
‘Good mechanic can keep her flying forever, if the parts is available.’
‘Did we settle wages?’
‘She’ll get ten percent of the profit after expenses, her own bunk, and free run of the kitchen.’
Daddy nodded. ‘She’ll do.’
I hugged him and ran upstairs to my bedroom and started packing.
When I came down the Captain was gone and a tall brown woman was there instead.
‘Zoe Alleyne. First Mate. Captain sent me to get you settled.’
Daddy looked uncomfortable, and Mum was cry-smiling.
‘Ms. Alleyne? You’ll see that she comes to no harm?’
‘There’s just four crew, M’am. You’ve met the captain and me, we got a pilot who seems harmless enough. Then your daughter.’
Mum looked happier that I wouldn’t be the only female on board.
‘You remember your coming up. You remember to be a good girl and mind your employers like they was your parents.’
And Mummy kissed me and Daddy kissed me, and I got on the mule with Zoe and that was the last time I saw them for near on two years.
I got my coveralls on and got stuck in with the engine. Weren’t nothing much wrong with it, cepting needing cleaning, so I scrubbed it down with solvent and listened to her complaints.
Mum had sent a box of garden stuff with me, and an apple pie from our tree out back. At dinner, which was pretty awful, cept for the pie, the captain listened to me babble on about what Serenity needed and agreed to buy a few parts if I could find them at Honest Austin’s salvage. I told him that Leroy always gave me good prices and Daddy usually sent me to pick stuff up for him.
The pilot said,’That does not surprise me a bit. ‘ and Zoe gave him a funny look.
After dinner, I went back to the engine room and set up my tool bench. The captain came with me.
‘Do these tools belong to Serenity or to Bester? Cause I like to keep my things where I can find them fast and keep them nice.”
‘When he left, he was swearing something fierce. I don’t think he’ll be back.’
‘He left?’ I had missed that part. I thought I would be working with Bester, and maybe screwing him too. He wasn’t much of a mechanic, and he wasn’t much for helping a girl out, but he had a nice body and good enough in a tumble.
‘Don’t need more than one mechanic, boat this size.’
I was shocked at how much trust the captain was putting in me. I was pretty sure I could handle it, long as I could call Daddy on the cortex if I ran into a big problem, but this was more responsibility than I thought I would have.
‘So she’s my baby? I’m the only one who can keep us flying?”
‘Pilot knows about the navigation and computer systems. And he worked a bit with Bester, until he stopped. Huh. Gave up, more like.’
There were tools all over the place. Captain watched me as I found them and put them in order with my own. I had to put some aside for cleaning. Bester wasn’t much for helping his tools out either. Only tool he thought about was his dick, reckon.
The captain watched as I cleaned my hands. ‘You’ll be wanting your bed soon. Long day. I’ll show you your bunk.’
My stuff was already in the bunk. I guess Zoe or the captain had put it there.
There was only one light, a glarey overhead thing with no shade. The walls were mostly grey, except where they were rusty, and everything was dirty. Not deep down dirty, just not used in a long time. One wall curved in over the little bed. But there was new mattress, still rolled in its burlap sack, and pretty good cupboard space and a cortex screen so I could listen to music or watch my stories. And there was a sink.
The captain read my mind. ‘There’s a head with a shower at the other end of the hall. And..” He pushed the sink up and a commode swung up. I couldn’t help it, I laughed.
The captain smiled back. I think that was the first time I had ever seen him smile. Mostly he looked sad or angry, like he couldn’t stop thinking about something that tore him up and he couldn’t do anything about it.
‘Zoe’s next door to you, the pilot across the hall, and I’m in the biggest cabin next to him. It says Captain on the door, if you need anything.’
‘I think i’m good. I’m really grateful for this job, captain.’
‘Do it right, and you’re here as long as you want to be. Screw up, and I’ll drop you back home.’ The frown was back.
‘I have a question, though.’
‘What’s your name? Everybody just called you Captain.’
‘Captain’s fine, but my name is Malcolm Reynolds. What’s yours?’
‘Kaywinnet Lee Frye, but Kaylee’s fine.”
‘Kaywinnet. Pretty.’ He smiled again.
And since I still was feeling excitable, I took his hands in mine and stroked my thumbs over his palms. ‘You’ve been so good to me, Malcolm, is there anything you would like from me?’
He snatched his hands back. ‘I’m your captain, Kaylee, not your boyfriend.’ His frown was back and he climbed up the ladder and out of my bunk.
But I had made him smile.