There was little for it, they were stuck in the cheap sleazy hotel for another night. The Captain that had offered them a place and had then changed his mind less than five minutes before he had been due to close the hatches, had thrown them off the ship….but had kept their gear, well what gear they had managed to get on board. They still had their personals in kit bags.
Kat swore again. She had given up thinking and just used what ever words sprang into her head. Sal just laid back on the bed, this wasn’t the first time this had happened to her, but poor Kat – her first time out riding round the stars and this happened.
They were in a dank, dark room barely three metres by four, there was a corner shaped off for the bathroom, and two beds, one down ether side with just enough room to squeeze between. The light flickered, giving a buzzing noise as it did so.
“I have enough to get us drunk” Sal said, growling from the left bed.
“Ok, let’s go do that” Kat managed to eke out between some new swear words; she was sprawled on the other. Sal didn’t know where the younger woman – if you would call a sixteen year old drop-out a woman – had learnt some of her vocab.
“There was a bar three doors down,” Sal was thinking of cheap booze, and the hotel would cost more if they used the vending machine in the corridor outside. “Might meet some people too.” She was also ever hopeful. How she had managed to keep that after ten years ship hopping she didn’t know. She hoped that Kat would keep it too.
Kat looked at her; the young eyes that Sal had first seen three months ago as she had been told to take the new girl in and show her the ropes on the clapped out tin can that they had been riding on? Those eyes had a dullness to them that hadn’t been there before. A tiredness – after just three months, Sal didn’t think Kat would take to this life long-term, and if she did there would be drugs involved and all the nasty side that she had managed to keep out of – she’d heard of some girls whoring out to the entire ship to pay for passage when they didn’t want to work. Sal shook her head, she wouldn’t think of that, she liked Kat and would keep her under her wing and try to keep her together – keep her sane and out of trouble.
After a quick visit to the small bathroom to freshen up, they made sure that the room was secure, then headed out and down the docks. There were a lot of people stumbling about in the artificial twilight, staggering really, going between the bars and clubs. Cheap booze and cheaper drugs were common out on the far reaches of the Confederation; the local enforcement companies played both sides and sold more of the drugs than any of the drug dealers. They only went after the dealers when they started to cut into their profit margins. Sal knew they needed to find a ship heading back towards the League of Trade, where the stations and the planets cared about the safety and wellbeing of the general populace, where the stations didn’t dim the lights at mid shift – making a dangerous life more so.
As they entered the bar Sal took a good look round and pulled Kat to the empty table she’d seen towards the back; there would be no age checks done here, but best keep her out of plain sight if she could. It would be easy, more of the dingy twilight in here, there was music and the general din of people crowded together.
Looking at the automenu by the table she punched in an order for a bottle of vodka and two glasses and waited for them to arrive. She looked round the room and made a note of everyone there, clearly not a high-flying bar, and it would be doubtful she’d find the type of captain in this place that they needed to get them to safer places. Tomorrow she would start looking properly, going to the jobs system and seeing if any positions had been posted. But tonight they would get drunk and Sal would make sure Kat got back to their room safely and unharmed.
She paused her musing when the waiter brought their drink – he looked at Kat, paused for a moment and then emptied his tray onto the table.
She watched him as he made his way back to the bar.