Landing the ship on the planet while screwing their brains out was probably a bad idea, and when Zelda heads off to see what sort of barter might work out to fix the ship, she learns that some negotiations require a bareback approach to her back door. Toss in a closer-than-close encounter with wazzies and Zelda has to revisit her views on the joys of rear entry.
~~~~~ Excerpt ~~~~~
I stared at the image of Rodeo, the planet we were approaching, on the large monitor. It was pretty. Most of them are. Truth is, you can't tell anything by staring at the images of planets unless you have a shitload of special filters, but I like to see the places I'm going to be walking on, get a sense of them, even if it doesn't mean shit. Hey, it's just a harmless quirk. Veteran space travelers are entitled to a few quirks.
On the other side of our console area, I saw Rollo shuffling his light blue bulk into the navigator's chair. He grinned and started strapping himself in. "You know, Zelda, this one is going to be a rough entry."
I smiled at Rollo. "Aren't they all?"
"Any entry into an atmosphere is a little rough, but the atmosphere on this planet is what we technical types call lumpy."
"Lumpy, Rollo? Really?"
"There are weird swirls distributed randomly throughout the middle regions that contain micropockets of energy. When we hit them it will fuck over our trim and make for a wild ride. Temporary loss of control and all that. Goddamn bouncy, I expect. I bet it makes predicting the weather hell too." He toyed with some of the nav controls like he knew what he was doing. "Zelda, are you sure you want to put down here?"
That made me laugh. "Seeing that the engines won't get us to another place where they might be repaired... yeah, I kinda think we better. Floating around in space is fun only if it's on purpose."
He shrugged. "Okay then."
Rollo is a great partner and we are well matched for our work, which is running a rather rundown interstellar tramp cargo ship. It takes a special bonding for a crew to work and we were right there. Think about it. First, there's the hassle of being partners in a venture that is rather shaky from the startthat's always a source of tension. On top of that, the cargo ships that outfits like ours can afford tend to be slow and steady, as well as kind of dirty and held together with baling wire. That means the runs between systems can be rather long and boring. If you aren't well matched... well, you hear those stories of ships found in deep space with the crew dead but no sign of intruders. Close confinement makes murder understandable.
Happily, Rollo lacks the nasty habits that can make being confined in a small space with another creature for a long period of sheer torture and doesn't seem to mind mine. On top of that, he's a good cook if you don't mind simple food. I like simple if it means I don't have to cook.
Rollo is a beautiful teal-blue Zand. I don't think I've met any other Zands, although I've read the little about them that's been published. I met Rollo in a sleazy bar where he'd landed, having run out of money. I was there because my mate had quit, deserted me in the middle of a cargo run, hauling some crap in WONDER, which is my dodgy ship. I didn't like the bastard, but he was also my navigator. In all fairness, he quit because I couldn't afford to pay him. Rollo suggested we form a partnership, which only costs me cash if we actually make any money and he gets sweat equity, although Zands don't seem to sweat. Luckily we hit it off.