"Therny, you awake up there?"
That was Gwiver, his supposed assistant, and emergency back-up, just like in the rule book, with the exception that "assistant" and "emergency back-up" were supposed to be two separate bodies. Any wise, it was a silly question, even given Gwiver's standards, since he'd seen Therny Chirs squeeze his long and lanky self into a pallet lift maintenance bay a ship's hour ago, and it wasn't like there were two ways out.
An hour he'd been working on the double-dorfle-damned thing, not in the cargo master's job description, not by a long Jump, it wasn't. Ought to have a real mechanic at the job. Mechanic? Engineer! He slanted a look at the several pieces of metal that weren't suppose to come loose from the main housing. Horrifying as that discovery had been, it really wasn't really surprising. Not having a proper mechanic on-board—just one more way that the line cut corners, and saved itself, so the story went, a goodly amount of money.
Therny Chirs shook his head, only half at himself and his jerry-rigged repair, then he punched the button that, in theory, cycled the lift door to full-open.
This time, for eighteen wonders, the door did open. To a point.
Chirs's helmeted head was pressing against the putative ceiling of the bin and his eyes a hands-width above deck level. He could, this time, actually see out, onto the dock, the slight breeze going past his ears letting him know that the ship’s proper over-pressure was at least functioning.
He watched as several pairs of legs passed close, pushing a cart, probably cutting corners across what was marked out as their private work area. Out on the dock’s main way, half a dozen pilots, arms and mouths in motion as was usually the case with pilots in a group, strode by with a will. Probably coming from the bar, or maybe from the regional cruise ship that taking up four gates at once and making the working ships crowd hard into the rest of Codrescu Station's ramps.
In the wake of the pilots came a smaller figure, small enough that Chirs's small window on the dock drew its attention. He thought it was a child, even as it bent closer and he saw its eyes—as knowing as any of the pilots’, those eyes, and looking at him with interest. It came closer, the shadows shifting over the oddly-shaped face—