“Airlock 7 seal has failed,” the computer’s disaffected voice said. Kershaw slammed his fist on the console and tried to think what to do next. “What would Smats do?” He asked himself.
The doom-faced engineer, Silas Smats was tough to hold a conversation with, but could fix a hyperspace engine with a paper clip and some protein butter. Or he could have fixed it. He was in the engine room when the pods exploded. Kershaw wished he’d never laid eyes on those alien things, but Flanger wouldn’t stop talking about the benefits to science. Kershaw wished he’d never laid eyes on Flanger either, but medical skills were few and far between out in the Aphelion Worlds and he had to take what he could get.
He hoped Flanger had been in the cargo bay when the things exploded. Would have served him right. They ripped the ship in half, at least as far as he could tell.
Kershaw looked down at the console of his battered and broken ship, one room smaller now that Airlock 7 had failed, and there weren’t many rooms left.
Seven hours earlier Flanger had run onto the bridge, his long blond hair flapping behind him. “Kershaw, we have to stop! Seed pods off the port bow.”
“What is this? the navy?” Kershaw asked the way he always spoke to Flanger, with irritation.
“No one has ever seen Galmorean seed pods in the wild before. Why the scientific implications are…they’re overwhelming!”
“We’re not a science ship, Flanger. What do you want me to do?”
“Bring them on board. We’ll take them to Milton where proper science can get a hold of them.”
“A lot of things happen on Milton. Proper science isn’t one of them.”
“There’s room in the cargo bay. We might as well carry something.”
“That’s a lot of trouble for science.”
“I’ll double my fee if you don’t.”
“Your fee only doubles if the wounded doubles. And right now I’m considering adding you to their number.”
“Alright then, if money’s what you’re after, I’ll pay proper passage AND still patch up whoever needs it.”
Kershaw mulled this for a moment. Every penny in the coffers made life easier. “You’ll pay for room and board?”
“And cargo expenses?”
“Yes. Fine. Ya greedy son of a Joogla beast.”
Kershaw smiled. “We’ve got a deal.”
He didn’t smile long.