Hello everybody. Been a couple of weeks since I've posted. I've got some personal news that I'll share in a separate post.
This is the second story in my Vesta plot line. It's a little shorter. I had some trouble with it, I'm not quite sure what the next steps will be at this point. I know where I want the story to go, but I'm not quite sure how to get there yet. I'll figure it out eventually though.
Next story will be in the Propheteering plot line. Hope you enjoy the story!
Jeff carefully guided the Memphis towards a docking port of Vesta Station. He was very apprehensive about his upcoming meeting with his grandfather. That, coupled with his sorrow and guilt over his father's death, had him on edge. That was why he jumped and yelped when his cousin, Devon, popped his head in the cockpit to ask if they were docked yet.
"Devon, you startled the crap out of me!" Jeff exclaimed. "We'll be docked shortly. If I don't crash us into the station because of someone distracting me!"
Devon mumbled an apology as he backed out of the cockpit. Jeff concentrated on the docking procedure. A few moments later, the Memphis was secured to the station and Jeff went through the post-docking routine. When that was finished, Jeff sighed. He knew that he'd overreacted to Devon and that he'd been on edge since... he didn't want to think about that right now. Or ever, for that matter.
He finished locking down the cockpit and left it. He just hoped that it wasn't the last time.
Jeff walked through the ship in a half daze as he made his way to the airlock. He didn't know how his grandfather would react to what had happened, but he knew that it wasn't going to be pretty. The light on the airlock showed green for equalized pressure and Jeff opened the door. He was surprised to see his grandfather and two of his uncles waiting for him on the other side. His two uncles had their own ships and they weren't scheduled to be back at Vesta until next week.
"Hello, Jeff," his grandfather said.
Jeff could feel his blood pressure rising already. "Hello grandfather," Jeff responded. "I wasn't expecting you to be here, I was heading to your offices."
His grandfather gave him a smile full of pity. "Jeff, you must be beside yourself with grief. We didn't want to extend your wait by making you walk all that way."
Jeff knew that something was amiss now. His grandfather, Matthew Watson, wasn't particularly known for his empathy. Jeff cautiously replied, "Thank you, grandfather, but that's not necessary. We can go to your office." Jeff tried to push his way through the three older men, but his two uncles stopped him by lightly grabbing his arms. They weren't rough with him, but they made it clear that they wouldn't be letting him through.
Jeff sighed and looked to his grandfather. "What's this all about?"
"Well, Jeff, I'm afraid that I'm going to have to give command of the Memphis to Devon," he said.
"What?!?" Jeff yelled. "You can't do that! The ship was my dad's and it should go to me next!"
Matthew shrugged. "Doesn't matter, really. I can assign the ship to whoever I want. It's apparent to me from the reports I've gotten from the others on the ship that you're not ready to captain it."
Jeff shrugged off his uncles' grips and took a step back. "You think Devon is? He's younger than I am!"
Devon's dad, Bartholomew, said, "Only by a couple of months!"
Matthew made a dismissing motion and said, "Enough! The decision is made, Jeff. You can stay aboard the Memphis as First Mate, if you like, but Devon will be Captain."
The thought of staying aboard the ship with someone else at the helm made Jeff feel sick, even if it were his best friend. Well, former best friend at any rate. Who else would have "given a report" to his grandfather. He looked at his two uncles and his grandfather. It was obvious that they weren't going to let him win this fight. He would have to come back and fight this battle another day.
"You don't know what you're doing, grandfather. This is a big mistake," Jeff growled. "I'm taking my things and leaving the compound."
Surprise showed on his grandfather's face. "Wait, wait. Don't go overboard, there, Jeff. I don't want to drive you out, I just think that you need some time before you're ready to captain."
"The die is cast, grandfather," Jeff said. "You made your play and I'm making mine. Maybe I'll come back one day, but I don't think that it will be anytime soon."
Surprise was replaced by a look of respect on Matthew's face. "What will you do out there?" he asked. "I can't protect you once you leave the family, you know."
Jeff nodded. He knew that people without one of the large families to back them had a rough life on Vesta Station, but he had an idea that might make it all worth it, in the end. "I don't know for sure, yet," he lied.
Matthew sighed. "Well, kiddo. I can't stop you." He took a step forward and put a hand on Jeff's shoulder. "You're welcome back at any time, Jeff. I mean that."
Jeff nodded again and turned to go back into the ship. I just need to pick up a few things." Jeff went in and his uncle Bartholomew followed to make sure that he didn't take anything that wasn't his. After gathering a sackful of his items and all of his money, Jeff left the ship. His uncle walked him through the family compound and to the exit that lead to the common area of Vesta Station.
Jeff paused just inside the door and took one last look back at the compound. It would probably be a while before he returned. He sighed and left the compound.
He glanced around. The common area was part market and part roadway. It linked the compounds of the major and minor families and served as a neutral ground for meetings between them. Because of this it was also the most dangerous place on the station. Muggings and stabbings were quite common. No one knew if it was due to the families sniping at one another or desperate criminals without a family to support them.
Either way, Jeff was prepared. He had taken a blade and a pistol from his room before leaving the ship. He headed towards the right, away from the more prosperous part of the station towards where the smaller families had their compounds and where the general quarters for anyone without a family were. It wasn't long before he reached the only temporary quarters that the station boasted. He entered and went to the desk on the inside. The man behind the desk had one hand below the table, obviously holding a weapon at the ready, while he spoke to Jeff. "Good afternoon, young man," he said. "How can I help ya?"
The man's tone was anything but friendly. He might as well have said, "If you don't belong here, get out."
Jeff cleared his throat and said, "I need a room for a couple of days."
The man looked Jeff up and down. "Ya sure, rich boy? This ain't exactly the best place for someone like you to stay."
Jeff looked down at his clothes and realized that they probably gave away his place as a member of one of the high families. He sighed and thought that he'd have to get some more conspicuous clothing. "Yes, I'm sure."
The man shook his head and brought set both hands on the desk. "Alright then. Just so you know, people play for keeps here. If ya lose something, it's gone for good, ya understand me?"
Jeff nodded. "Yep, I can take care of myself."
He got to his new room a few minutes later. It wasn't anything special, basically just a bed and bathroom. Jeff got the room organized as he wanted it to be and went to bed. Tomorrow, he would try to find some pirates.