“Lio coh jwei ji neong hur ho deh yung duh buhn jah j’wohn.” Jackson swore as he yanked his bleeding hand away from the electronics it was in moments before. He sucked on the finger as he looked down angrily at the evil piece of electronics. He had been working for days to get the thing to work and work correctly and it just wasn’t cooperating.
Can prolly get to work on some kind of scanning equipment. He grumbled to himself as he as he wrapped a greasy rag around his bleeding finger. Might as well have just said I could find the Earth that was. He picked back up the sautering gun and went back to work with a heavy sigh.
“How I’m gonna do this gorram thing I’ll never know.”
Jacks looked back down at his hand, the blood soaking through the rag heavily. “Fine.” He stood up giving the piece of equipment another dirty look as he headed out to the lounge and first aid.
He walked into Alice’s little kitchen and shoved his hand under the tap. The ship was quiet. Most of the other members of the crew were asleep in their bunks. This was the time Jackson liked the most. Only the hum of the engine, his engine. It seemed to settle his nerves hearing the low hum. He looked down at his hand. The blood still flowed from his sliced finger.
“Jackson?” Sitting in the corner, a soft velvet blanket pulled around her shoulders and a delicate glass vial resting on the table in front of her, the diminutive companion made her presence known to the distracted mechanic. “What did you do this time?”
Jackson jumped, water from the tap splashing all over him and the counter.
“You scared the hell out of me.” He said breathing heavily as he turned of the tap and rewrapped his finger.
Her chuckle warmed the room. “I am sorry.” Those violet eyes sparkled as she reached out to remove her little bottle from view. “And a little insulted. I’m not accustomed to men being able to walk past me without at least noticing me.”
Jackson echoed her laughter. “Then let me apologize,” he bowed his head, “and promise I will never ignore you again.”
“Much better.” She held out her free hand and beckoned him closer. “Now get over here and let properly wrap that.”
Jackson sat down on the opposite side of the table from Vanya and held his hand out across the table. “That huen dahn of a new sensor I’m working on for the boys decided to bite me.”
With skill born from entirely too much practice, Vanya wound a clean cloth around his finger. “Well you are tasty,” she teased, tying off the bandage. “But maybe this is a sign that you need to take a break. Even you can’t work nonstop.”
The sides of Jackson’s mouth curled up. “Well you know how hard it is to say no to the boys. Besides, who knows what we’re gonna end up against and we need all the edge we’re gonna get.”
“That’s true on any given day.” She drew her hands back from him, letting them come to rest in her lap. Her fingers traced the smooth glass of the bottle in her lap as she considered the issue of saying no to the boys… or keeping things from them. “I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with something amazing.”
“You have a lot of faith in me.” Jackson grinned. “And we just met.”
The companion gave a shrug, doing her best to keep a straight face. “Well you do manage to keep the ship in one piece. Most of the time.”
“Hey!” Jackson said retrieving his hand, the smile staying on his face. “You can’t blame me for that, they haven’t had a decent mechanic in here in…” he gave it a lot of thought, “I don’t even know when. It’s gonna take a while to get her working at top form again.”
His words brought a sad twist to her smile. “The same could be said for most of us. But since no one has fallen out of the sky yet…”
“I wouldn’t joke about that.” Jackson laughed. “There’s a floor panel in the hold missing a few rivets, might just step on it too hard and off you go.”
“So if I ever feel the need to get rid of anyone…” She joined him in his laughter.
“That would be the prime spot.” Jackson nodded.
The glint of wickedness in the companion’s violet eyes was not altogether faked. “If only I’d known about it sooner. So many wasted opportunities.”
“You scare me.” The mechanic eyed the companion.
The two went silent for a few moments. Both not really talking, the hum of the engine filling the room again. Jackson’s eyes landed on the small glass phial in her lap. “This may be rude,” the mechanic said finally, “but what’s in the phial?”
Slowly, almost reluctantly, Vanya set the small glass bottle on the table between them. “The end of a tradition,” she told the mechanic. “And a bit of mail that I’m not entirely certain my brothers will be thrilled about.” She tapped a fingernail against the stopper on the phial, shaking her head a little.”Apparently, Samuel is a regular enough client that Shinon felt comfortable in sending a rather personal package to him.”
“That doesn’t sound good.” He said leaning forward and looking closer into the phial.
“It’s not dangerous.” The companion shook her head, auburn tresses falling across her face. “It’s…”She took the phial from the table and held it up between them so that the fine gray powder inside caught the light. “It’s my father. Actually, all my male ancestors. All the worthy Jahnatts stretching back for countless generations. Unfortunately, the line stops with my father. The poor man died without a son.”
“I…” Jackson stammered not really knowing what to say, “I didn’t know. I’m sorry.”
With another sad smile, Vanya set the bottle on the table once again. “Don’t be. Despite my tragic gender, my father had a good life. I doubt very much that he’s complaining. He’s been alone for too many years. Now he’s with my mother again.” She shrugged and pulled her feet up beneath her in her seat, wrapping the blanket a little tighter around her delicate frame. “I imagine this means I’ve inherited the family estate as well. Not that I plan to return to Bellerophon anytime soon.”
Jackson nodded. “I haven’t been on a civilized planet in,” he stopped to think, “well let’s just say it’s been a while.”
Jackson rubbed his eyes and sighed. “We’re all bit damaged on this boat.” He laughed mirthlessly.”I haven’t spoken to the admirals since I resigned my commission.”
“Do you think you ever will?” She leaned her cheek against the soft velvet of her blanket.
Jackson shrugged. “I don’t know. Probably some day, but…well the war ripped a lot of families apart.
The companion nodded and placed a hand over his. “I spent a lot of time living in a someday. I think I’m done with it.” Her violet eyes caught his as a genuine smile began to tug at her lips. “And the thing is, when a family gets ripped apart… sometimes a new one is formed without you even knowing it.”
Jackson snorted. “You know my first week here I almost got shoved out the airlock right?”
“I’m sure it was a love shove.”
Jackson’s head rocked back with laughter. “Yes of course.”
“I will say though,” he said, his laughter dying out, “it does seem like they will do almost anything for their friends.”
A frown creased the redhead’s flawless brow. “Very true. So, hypothetically speaking of course, if you were an overprotective brotherly sort who had an inclination to shoot people who threatened your sister figure… would you be concerned about a package that found its way to your sister?”
“Hypothetically,” Jackson smirked, “I prolly would be. Is it something they should worry about?”
Vanya sighed, running a hand through her hair. “The part of my brain that thinks like they do likes to point out that if my mail can find me through Samuel then someone properly motivated could certainly do the same.”
“Vanya,” Jackson leaned in, “they are going to want to know they, we want to be able to protect you.”
She watched him for a moment then smiled. “Thank you, Jackson. I’ll find the time to tell them,” she promised, reassuring him without being too specific.
“I wouldn’t wait too long,” he grinned, “they tend to throw people out of airlocks for that.”