A hermit doesn't seek or enjoy the company of others, unless circumstances require it.
This bit of hermit wisdom described the wizened Old Man Noot. Not an ounce of fat on him, with long greying hair streaming from his beard and the top of his head. But when he looked at you, his bright blue eyes revealed a curious mind.
Noot, like many of the others who inhabited the abandoned space station at the edge of the Sirius system, was a space drifter looking for a place to stay off the grid, out of the mainstream and away from nosy authoritarians. He wasn't the first to show up at the station, where he had to sign an agreement before he was allowed a space in the eerie structure. This was a waystation for those who ran out of options, it provided shelter, access to supplies and was run by those who lived there. Working at odd jobs around the station was exchanged for a room and food supplies.
"Noot!" someone called out. The old man turned to see the station master, who was 'in charge'.
"Got a job for you. It's down on level 15. I need someone to check the anti-grav equipment on that level. Someone reported hearing strange sounds coming from the room there. See if the equipment has been vandalized, or if it's a human problem."
"You think those new people may be filching stuff?"
"Possibly. Take your weapon and your wits, might need them."
"For the usual pay?"
"Depends on how much you have to do."
"All right, I'll do it, but I get to choose my options for the pay."
"Sure. If I don't hear back from you in a few hours, I'll send down a finder."
Noot didn't like the finders, all nose and no brains. He scrummaged in his equipment box for his spacesuit, the lightweight one, his tools, and a some extra ammunition. Never hurt to be prepared. He grabbed some emergency supplies and water. He was ready.
As he descended to the 15th floor, he wondered what he'd find this time. Last time he checked for noises he found a large family of rats. Rodents seemed to endure anywhere in an oxygen environment. Noot thought the rats hitchhiked on one of the early starships.
All was quiet when Noot arrived on the 15th floor, so he let himself into the anti-grav room and cautiously entered. He didn't want to alert anyone or anything. He held his breath as he couldn't see further than 8 inches in front of himself. He activated his helmet light, just before he heard a noise in a far corner of the room. Grunts and mutterings reached his ears.
Noot crept to within 10 feet of the corner and saw a human figure on a bedroll. He couldn't tell if the human was armed, so he gently told him, "Hello. My name is Noot, and I'm here to help. Identify yourself, please."
"Starship Pilot Mondero, recently on the trade ship Europa. Where am I?"
"You are on Outpost Station #6. We don't get drop-ins, Mondero, or encourage stowaways . How did you get here?"
"I'm a pilot, a starship pilot, who argued with his commanding officer. It didn't go well, so they deserted me here on this station, saying they would send someone to rescue me."
"Are you going to claim refugee status?"
"I don't know."
"What noise were you making? We got a call about the amount of noise in this apartment."
"I wasn't wrecking the equipment, if that's what you mean. . ."
"Never mind what I mean, get up and grab your gear. Have you got your identity docs?"
Noot took Mondero to the station master, and advised him that the prisoner was a pilot of starships, who had some recent misfortunes. . .
"A pilot, eh? We can use a pilot, if you can fly our small starships."
"Let's see 'em."
Odiwa took Mondero deep into the underground storage. "There they are."
Mondero stared, interest showing in his eyes. "Wonderful. The small scale blackbirds of Stealth. Haven't seen those for years."
To be continued. . .
WEP - Write, Edit, Publish, a flash challenge
It's time for another WEP challenge - with the support team of Nilanjana Bose and Olga Godim adding their imaginings and creativity. Thanks to Denise and Yolanda for being the hosts!
Be sure to check all the other entrants on the WEP participation list!
Would you want to live in an abandoned space station? What would cause you to have no choice but to live in this structure?
Please leave a comment to let me know you were here. I'll respond. Thanks for stopping by.