Continuing with my exercise in short stories based on the Star Citizen universe, here is the first part of the greater story I am writing to help create my game character and his history. The first part of this, the backstory, can be found here.
Transitions, Part I: An Erik McKetten Tale
She had red hair. Like his mother, like him. Of course, his mother’s red hair wasn’t curly, was usually worn long and braided, and kept religiously clean. The girl’s hair was short, curly, and so dirty it stood out against against the dingy metal walls of the lounge. She couldn’t have been much older than he was when he joined the UEE Army. And, judging by her appearance, her life wasn’t going any better than his did back then. Just another scrapper on the drift.
She looked up at him and smiled. Her face was pretty, even through the dirt, and her eyes glowed bright blue – almost feverish. Her smile wavered with a sudden twitch. So, not just a scrapper, but a slammer. Not that he could blame her; you live that kind of life, you might need a little boost to your courage. SLAM was good for that. He knew that one from experience.
He smiled back and she jerked her head away.
He looked up at the waitress. Or waiter. He wasn’t sure. The andro community confused him. There weren’t many andros on Jord, at least not that he was aware of, and they didn’t often fit in with the military types.
“Um, yeah. Got anything from the east?”
“How far east?” The voice was decidedly more masculine than anything else. Male, with andro appearance. He wondered if the man had been cut. Some of the more dedicated ones went that far, he heard. Didn’t know it first hand. Not that there was anything wrong with them, he just never met one he was interested in enough to unzip their jumpsuit.
“Min ain’t that far east, ginger pants. But, no, I don’t got nothing from Min. Have some fuel-grade clear stuff from Spider, though, if you’re looking for a taste of home.”
Ginger pants? What the hell did he…oh. Oh!
“Pretty much. Not by name, though. Same quality stuff; same fire in your gut.”
“I’ll take it.”
The waiter walked off and returned with a tumbler.
“Ten? For venom? Is your boss a Banu?”
The waiter smiled with no humor, “No, but the only skiff with the frats to run homebrew from Spider is.”
“Of course. Here.” Did Banu even have testicles? Again, not something he knew about from experience. He reached up and put his thumb on the proffered Glas.
The waiter watched the credit charge approve.
“Thank you, Erik.” He said, reading the name on the confirmation screen.
Erik sipped the drink and coughed.
“Yeah,” he grimaced, “you’re welcome.”
Erik “Cat” McKetten tapped his MobiGlas to wake it up. The thin, clear, rectangle of glass lit up, displaying the recent charge to his account and the remaining balance. Four hundred and three credits. Not much left of the small fortune he saved during his enlistment. But the expenses were worth it. Today he would get her. Today would be the start of a new life – a better life – for Cat. It was a long battle with the Advocacy, and many sacrifices were made to get his citizenship, but she was coming back. The last remnant of his home, the only other part of his family to survive the screams of Marine Nails in the skies over Breida.
“McKetten? Erik McKetten?”
“Yes?” The woman approaching him wore a clean suit and looked uncomfortable in the dingy lounge.
“I’m Elaina Cho. I’m here to give you your tags. Your Glas and Citizenship Card please.”
He offered the MobiGlas and the laser-etched silver card. She took both, examined them, and then tapped something into her own, larger, Glas.
“There you go, Mr. McKetten. Congratulations on your citizenship, and thank you for your service. You’ll find your father’s ship in Hangar 275DE. Breathe easy.”
Twenty minutes later, he stood before the hangar door, a tired mechanic beside him.
“Don’t think she works, friend.” The mechanic grunted.
“We tried to fire her up a few times. Never got nothing working. Just life support. Something wrong with the computer is my guess. Surprised she wasn’t scrapped. Origin parts are worth some cred.”
Erik’s heart skipped a beat. Please, he thought, please don’t tell me I went through all that for a dusted ship.
The doors shuddered, groaned, and ground open. One by one, the pale overhead light panels flickered on. Their wan beams captured the dust in the air, suspending millions of tiny particles in their dance.
And there she was. Twenty-three years since he laid eyes on her; twenty-three years since his parents were killed.