The empty and sterile halls came slowly to life as overhead lights blinked on through ceiling grates; their glow revealing blue paneled walls making a hexagonal through way. As air slowly filled the chambers with a slow, low hiss the whimper of an executive key could be heard in a comm panel on the other side of the wall, along the frame of a shuttered bulkhead door. The clacking noise of large heavy gearing came from within the wall and the door slipped back a few inches. A pair of gloved hands slipped in and took grip on the door.
“If you could just give me a hand,” the older voice asked.
A second set of gloved hands slipped in and pulled the door back nearly the rest of the way to reveal two men in light duty space suits. As they stepped back the second man gripped his shoulder with a very faint grunt.
“You okay there, son?”
“Yeah,” Justin said, massaging his shoulder, “just recovering from a thing. Pay it no never mind.”
“Well, okay then. Like I was saying, you can see that even though some of the systems are tapped from sitting derelict, the main pile is still hot. Need to keep the suits for a while since she’s been down for so long; take some time to get atmo and grav back to full.”
“I’ve had some experience in low-G, Mr. Tannen. Go ahead and lead on.”
“Well, okay then.” And they bounded down the hall like two balloons on their last day of helium. “Been in the yard as long as I can recollect, now”, Tannen continued. “She’s had some wear and tear on her, but the superstructure is still intact and hull integrity still sound; minus that bit at the end of the main hold, of course.”
“You know much on her history, Mr. Tannen?”
The old man turned with a smirky smile, “call me Buford, son. ‘Mr. Tannen’ makes me feel all too respectable. Or Biff; most folks call me Biff.”
Justin smiled back. “Okay Biff. So, the ship; what do you know on her?”
“Not much, I’m afraid. Kind of inherited her when I took over the salvage yard, to be honest on it. Her and a mess other junk orbiting that there rock. Most else you can tell from the view back on the shuttle. She’s been around some, but she’s a tough girl. I don’t think there’s been one of these in, oh…”
“Three generations,” Justin finished for him. There was a gleeful look on his face and Biff could see it plain as day through the helmet visor. Like a kid in a toy store.
“She seems to be a touch older on than that, though,” Justin continued. “Probably part of the 2500 series.”
“Boy knows his ships,” Biff said as he used the executive key to open a service tube hatch. Justin, again, helped him pry open the door, this time favoring his left shoulder some. “You had some sort of spill, or something?”
“Something,” Justin replied hesitantly. “It’s all patched, but the doc and I had a disagreement to how long resting it would take.”
“Well the lift don’t work much either, right now, so if you’re up to a climb…?”
With a motion Justin followed Biff up the service tube ladder. The low gravity made the climb easy, but as they got closer to the top they could both feel their weight starting to return to them. Before too long they were at the flight deck door. Instead of using the key, Biff tried tapping a couple buttons on the console. It flickered to life and the door, with some effort, slowly slid open.
“Ah, seems like the system’s finally booting up.” Biff stepped into the flight deck – which sat four, and immediately stepped to a free standing console and chair station on his right. After initializing the panel, he took a couple readings. “Yep; we’re good,” he said to Justin as he unlatched his helmet. “You can unsuit some, if it’ll make you comfortable.”
Justin unlatched his helmet and set it on the command chair next to him. Biff worked some controls and slowly all the dash panels came to life with a very low hum. Justin looked out over the dash and through the canopy to the view outside; framed by the edges of the ship. Other large derelicts, some in pieces, were in orbit around the moon of a rocky giant. Just beyond there was the faint curtain of stars. With a smile Justin dropped himself into the navi station on the right and began going through pre-flight. Biff watched eagerly.
“Now I’m sure she’ll need a new chart account; you’re on your own for that. But sure’n she’ll get you out of this system, at least, on her own with a few solid days of wrenching.” He watched as Justin punch up more system data with a curiousness. “You, uh, seem to be familiar with her, already.”
“Not this model, no. But they used the same basic layouts and controls through the later half of the model run.” Justin sat back, very satisfied. His eyes followed the dash panel to the ship registry slot and pulled out the packet fold. He flipped through the pages, but couldn’t find what he was looking for.
“Yeah, I know,” Biff answered before Justin could even speak the question, “and I ain’t got no answer why the registry don’t right match up with what’s painted on her hull. There’s a line that refers to conscription, but that’s all that’s noted. She’ll fly legit with it, though.”
“What’s this symbol on the registry,” Justin asked.
“Yup; ‘D’. I had a friend look it up. Some sort of letter. Probably core world stuff.” A beeping sounded out from a panel next to Biff. “Well, the drive system is online, if you want to have a peek at it. Won’t do too much without some help, but…”
Justin leapt to his feet, and both men grabbed their helmets. “If it’s there,” Justin said through a huge grin, “then it’s just another formality of the tour; just a signature away from a done deal.”