Belial carefully guided the console controls of his space freighter’s laser drill over the dense asteroid’s surface. The joystick would begin vibrating whenever rough spots occurred, but after having mined asteroids with his dad on countless trips from their colony. Belial had become accustomed to the feel of overly rough asteroids. Belial loved space, the freedom of movement, the beauty of the various stars, planets; and other objects that floated throughout the vast emptiness. It’s the reason why whenever a mining contract came through, he was the first to bid on it.
The sharp shrill of an alarm snapped Belial out of his own thoughts to his ship’s proximity alarm, designed to alert him of objects coming too close. As he opened up a holographic monitor and controls; Belial recognized the shape of a medium-sized spaceship in orbit around a large asteroid near the one he was mining. “This can’t be heading towards me!” Belial shouted as he quickly hopped into the seat at the ships’ helm. Pushing the ships’ throttle to ½ power Belial guided his ship to a safer position to get a better look at the other ship. Belial focused on scanning the other ship, and shortly the computer brought up a diagram of the ships’ interior and indicated there was still one occupant. “I wonder what’s going on here?” Belial said to himself as he prepared to dock with the other ship.
Completing the docking process, and ensuring everything was in order Belial then moved to put on a spacesuit and retrieve a Mark 23 pistol from his locker. He didn’t expect to encounter anyone dangerous on board, but because they were 1 light-year from an outpost, pirate ambushes were always a common threat. As he undogged the entrance to the entry platform, Belial couldn’t help but wonder what had a light space freighter this far out from an outpost. Stopping at the other ship’s entrance, Belial ran his hand over the sensor to see if the door was functional. With a loud click, it swiftly opened allowing him into a small decompression room. “This is cozy,” Belial remarked as he checked the ships’ systems to ensure life support was functional. The air was a little stale but breathable; as Belial removed his helmet – and taking in a deep breath. He caught the faint smell of pizza, “Obviously, someone is here.” Belial thought to himself. He didn’t want to take the chance of running into pirates, however, his gut feeling told him he wasn’t in any danger. “Hello! Anyone home!” Belial shouted. A deep silence was his only reply, Belial continued to look down the main corridor peeking in and out of compartments, scanning for any available signs of life. He caught sight of a sign pointing to the direction of the galley. “Well, while I’m here; I might as well get something to eat.” Belial took a final look around before making his way towards the galley.
An Alarming Surprise.
The ship seemed to be fairly in order, with no sign of a hostile boarding. “Now where could the crew be?” Belial thought out loud. A loud clatter from the far end of the galley caught his attention, and instinctively Belial moved in the direction of the sound. As he moved from table to table the shadow of a small figure was briefly seen darting into a darker corner and behind a counter. His hand tightly gripped the handle of his weapon as he squinted to get a better look into the corner. “Hey, whoever you are; I’m not a pirate it’s ok, you can come out.” Belial coaxed as he inched closer to the corner. As he moved closer the outline of a child could be seen. Getting down on his knees, and leaning forward Belial took a good look at the child. She looked to be around 8 or 9 years old, and besides the fact, she seemed to be abandoned and scared looked to be quite healthy. “Hi young lady, my name is Belial; are you here all by yourself?” Belial spoke softly as not to scare the little girl. Her hands that had been crossed to shield her face slowly lowered for her to get a good look at Belial.
Belial pulled a candy bar out of his pocket, “I tell you what, how about some dessert?” He slid the candy bar over to her as a trust offer. The little girl looked longingly at the candy, then Belial; “My daddy told me not to take candy from strangers, and you mister is a stranger.” She said in a soft voice. Belial smiled, “I know sweetheart, but I’m also a stranger that wants to help you. Where are your parents? How long have you been on this ship?” The little girl shrugged. Belial took a look around as if expecting to see someone, a parent, a sibling… “Well seeing as how I told you my name, what’s yours?” Belial asked offering his hand to help the child up. She eyed his outstretched hand with doubt, but slowly took his hand and stood to her feet. My name is Jordan, Jordan Michelle Slaughter.” Jordan said confidently. Belial was surprised how quickly the little girl went from shy and timid to standing and pronouncing her name with such confidence. “Well it’s nice to meet you Jordan Michelle Slaughter,” Belial replied with a smile. “You still haven’t told me how you came to be alone on this ship? Where is your family?”
Jordan cast her eyes down suddenly and was silent. “I’m not sure, I took a nap, and when I woke up no one was here and all the alarms were going off.” She said finally “I was so scared until you came!” Jordan gave Belial the biggest hug and buried her face in his shoulder. Belial slowly stood up looking around to assess more of the situation. Besides the mess that Jordan had made preparing lunch, there weren’t any signs the crew abandoned ship due to an attack. “Perhaps the ships’ navigations computer can give us a better idea of what happened, huh?”, Belial said to Jordan as he carried her out of the ships’ galley.
Belial and Jordan hurriedly made their way down the main corridor towards the bridge to access the ships’ navigation computer. Belial took notice of Jordan’s appearance, even though her hair was a bit unkempt it didn’t appear that she had been stranded for too long. “Was it scary having been on your own without your family?” Belial asked suddenly. Jordan looked at him and nodded shyly, “I miss my papa…” she said sadly placing her head back on Belial’s shoulders. Comforting Jordan, Belial rounded the corner and entered the bridge sitting her down in one of the piloting chairs while he sat in the one next to her. He had to do a little bit of hacking to access most of the information that was needed.
Soon Belial learned that they were on a family vessel and had ventured into the asteroid field accidentally only to be ambushed by pirates, the ship’s computer even recorded that it had been boarded by crew members of the pirate crafts. It was curious that Jordan could have slept through all the chaos that must have taken place. “Where were you sleeping?” He asked as his curiosity got the best of him. “C’mon, I’ll show you my favorite spot to take a nap.” Jordan
replied and Belial got up to follow her. They walked back down the main corridor and made a left to a smaller one that eventually stopped at a small engineering closet. On the floor were several stuffed animals, blankets, and more left-over pizza. “No wonder you couldn’t hear anything.” Belial told her, “It’s rather loud in here, how are you able to even sleep?” Jordan shrugged as she picked up a stuffed bunny and tucked it under her arm.
“Well, now that that mystery is solved, let’s head back to the bridge and see about getting out of this place. Since Belial’s ship had better weapons, he figured that he would haul the abandoned vessel with his ship’s tractor beam. Setting the abandoned ship in neutral drive the two headed back to Belial’s ship. As they walked Jordan began talking more about her family and where they were going before her being stranded, and Belial likewise told her about his job as an ore miner and everything he enjoyed about his job. “Can we be friends Belial?” Jordan asked suddenly, “… everyone needs a good friend.”. “I would love that, Jordan! And your right having a good friend is one of the best things a person can have in life.”
Belial helped Jordan get settled in his ship’s co-pilot seat and began strapping her in. “You’re going to need this, I’m not the smoothest pilot.” Belial joked. Jordan laughed, “No thanks probably a better one than my dad…” The thought of her parents caused a sad look to come across her face as she wondered where they possibly could be. Belial recognized the look on her face and gave her a hug, “It’ll be ok, Jordan; we’ll find them. For now, though let’s get out of this asteroid field and to a place that’s a little safer.” The closest outpost for them was the Hollowman outpost, in the Sirius system a light-year away. It was a medium-sized trading outpost and the best place to begin looking for Jordan’s family or at least get more help in tracking them down.
Belial set in the coordinates and adjusted the navigation systems to give them a safe route to the outpost. “So, before I get us into hyperdrive, you want a tour of the ship. We have to clear this asteroid field first.” Belial asked Jordan’s eyes lit up at the thought of seeing a ship different than the one her parents owned. “Do you have any turrets?” She asked excitedly. Belial couldn’t help but laugh again, “Yes this ship has three, but they aren’t toys, so we’ll wait until you’re a little older for some target practice, ok?” “Ok, sounds good,” Jordan replied as she climbed out of her seat and followed Belial to tour his ship.
As they cruised out of the asteroid field to their destination the two unlikely friends continued to talk about what they hoped awaited them at the Hollowman outpost. Belial wasn’t even sure where to begin, but he couldn’t just abandon the girl at a Starport. Sure, they had an Interstellar travel support office that normally dealt with lost children. He was moved to do more, though. He looked over at Jordan as she continued to chatter away, something about elements her father taught her.
“Hey, speaking of which; I never did finish that last mining run.” Belial interrupted, “Care to help me on the next one, it’s on the way, and we might as well get it out of the way.”. “There won’t be any pirates this time, right?” Jordan asked. “No, no pirates,” Belial replied with a big smile.