Today’s Story-a-Day prompt asked us to write about a secondary meeting. Basically, write the scene where the main character meets a secondary character. Well, I’d already written scenes with the main character meeting most everyone in her crew (fellowship, posse, gang, clique, whatever you want to call it). But I’m close to having two main characters. I’m not even sure if I’ve decided who is the main character really.
Here’s the thing, my original idea was to take inspiration from Doctor Who. I wanted my Doctor-esque character and my companion character. But I had to make them different, obviously, so they would be time travelers or travel in a box. Or perhaps a sort of Sherlock and Watson but in space!
And then I didn’t want to write a straight up science fiction story because I’m too fairy tale for that. But I wanted it in space. Some people won’t want to come along because I created an impossible universe. Maybe somewhat inspired by Ray Bradbury as well, but with a lot of Hayao Miyazaki thrown in.
Anyway, I decided to write about the character who was going to be my Sherlock Time Lord but who ended up being someone completely different and the day she meets a colleague who will always have her back.
Tasanko didn’t sit down to wait. She’d meet the Archivist who walked into the room on her feet. The chill in the room helped her focus, and the crisp, snugness of her new uniform reminded her to stand up straight. A glance at the viewing screen on the far wall told her the ship had left the port. On time, of course. Sovereignty ships were never late.
She patted her pet beast on the head. Bow, a monstrosity of a hybrid creature gone wrong, grabbed attention wherever he went. He was parts Earth buffalo, Jupiter wolf, and mystery. Pets were forbidden on starliners, but she’d talked her way into an exception, promising to study its life cycle and investigate its origins. She didn’t really care where Bow came from, however. She liked his company.
“Who,” she asked her beast, “will come through that door?” Protocol was clear. Any crew member who was free could greet her and check her into the system. But Tas had read about the ship’s captain and how she ran things. Odds were another Archivist would be assigned the job.
Tas had narrowed it down to the three Archivists already assigned to the ship, and she’d studied the files on each of them, which was why she’d ruled out the Head Archivist, Gela Vye. Gela, Tas guessed, wouldn’t want to appear as if she had time to meet the new recruits. Tas checked her communicator, tempted to message Marcel and see if they’d greeted him yet. But she resisted the impulse as a good Archivist was supposed to do.
Bow, whose head came up to her waist, sat down with a thud. “Patience,” Tas said to him, “is the mark of a true Archivist.”
He swung his massive head to look at her.
“Well, you’re mine. And that makes you an Archivists by default.” She nudged him with the toe of her boot, but he took no note of it. Back at the Academy, she could take him into the fields for long runs. Sometimes he’d even go on a hunt, coming back to her with blood on his jaws. But now he’d have to live confined on a ship. There’d be no running through the corridors like he’d done in the dorm.
Tas looked back at the door. If Gela Vye didn’t come to welcome her on board, that left Eunyoung Kimberly Moon, the second in command, or Shalanda Kennington, who, according to her file, was the Sovereignty’s highest ranking historian as well as the ship mortician. Just how busy was a mortician on a ship this size? A click came from the other side of the door, and Tas bet herself the mortician would be the one to open it.
“You look pleased with yourself already,” Shalanda said, striding into the room and paying no attention to the 500 pounds of monster keeping Tas company. “I’m sure you haven’t done a damn thing yet.”
“Over two-thousand crew members on this ship, ma’am, and I knew you’d the one to walk through that door,” Tas replied. “I’m just pleased I was right.”
Shalanda’s mouth turned up at one corner. “Of course you did. The Sovereignty doesn’t assign idiots to its best ship.” She paused. “And if idiots actually ever do find themselves assigned here, the universe takes care of them pretty quick. Idiots are always the first to morgue.”
Tas didn’t flinch when Shalanda gave her the once over. “This is the only Sovereignty ship with an Archivist who also works with the dead,” Tas said. Of all the files she’d read, Shalanda Kennington’s file had the most gaps even though the Sovereignty never liked empty spaces in its files.
“And what do you think that means?” Shalanda
“That I want you on my side,” Tas replied.
Shalanda let slip bit of laughter, and then pointed at the massive animal. “That’s bigger than I expected.”
“His name’s Bow,” Tas replied, letting a hint her feelings for the beast into her voice. “I’m studying him for the Archive. He’s an illegal hybrid and we still don’t know who created him.”
“A well-funded one by the looks of that thing.”
“Sure.” Tas nudged Bow with her foot again, and this time he limbered to his feet. “And well-hidden.”
Shalanda stepped closer to Bow and knelt in front of him. She stared into the creature’s eyes. “Usually when i come across hybrids, they’re dead. This aren’t known to live long. And most of the time, they have an obsession with wings, trying to make all kinds of things fly. Cats. Snakes. Giraffes.”
“Giraffes. It’s an old Earth mammal with a long neck. Although on Earth, they’re now extinct, like most everything else. But supposedly there’s a small herd of them on the remote Saturn savannah.” She patted Bow on the side of his wide face and stood up. “Hybriders like to see what they can make fly. But your guy here seems like his creator took his science seriously. No wings. No extra eyes. No horn in the middle of his head.”
Tas suddenly felt proud of her beast as if she’d been responsible for his creation. “He’s smart too.”
Shalanda stopped admiring the animal. “C’mon, rookie. I’m going to give you the tour and the introductions.” The doors slid open for them and they walked side by side into the corridor. “You must’ve been something else back at the Academy to be assigned the Hypatian,” she continued, walking briskly. “You’ve never proven yourself out in the field like the rest of us.”
Tas had expected this. She and Marcel were both fresh from the Academy and by rights should’ve been on a small outpost somewhere labeling files and boxes. “I don’t second guess orders,” she said. “I just follow them.” Bow, for all his size, easily kept up, coming along behind her.
Now Shalanda let out a full laugh. “I’ve read your file. I think I know how you feel about following orders.”
They walked by a few other crew members, who cleared the way and stared at Bow, his fur shining brown and thick in the corridor lights. Tas chose not to say anything to Shalanda’s last comment. She wasn’t going to explain herself.
“Welcome aboard the Hypatian Starliner, Tasanko Fray. I think you’re going to do just fine.”