1. Toes.


He listened to the drives as they roared through space and sighed.

He hated hyperdrive.

Nothing but the noise of the tired GE Max Ion Drives and the creaks and groans of an aged freighter way out of specs but, by God, making money…Woohoo!!
Captain Toes sighed again as the com buzzed;

“Capt’ you gonna miss the morning round table.”

“Ahh shit,” he tossed the covers and put his naked body in motion, “Comin’ mate…save me some coffee and don’t go to war without me.”

“Aye capt..out”

He stepped on D-O-G’s tail and the old dog yelped…sorry… After a shit, shave, and shower Captain Toes headed for the Officers Mess for the daily round table.
The round table was breakfast with the major players in the operation of the ship. Heads of the departments responsible for life support, gravity, drives, nav/com, food service and others.
A bitch session, but a necessary bitch session that resulted in smooth operations of a space ship. Today the olefins unit was to present a quarterly efficiency report and he had an e-mail from ship stores about the dwindling supply of COLD GOO; the stuff that was used for repairs to the heat shielding of the ship. He’d have ask the olefins folks if they could do their magic.
As he headed to the meeting he paused to meet crew members with their issues, maybe to flirt, or simply to say hi. D-O-G went his own way, the aging dog not caring to much about the whereabouts of his owner.

The ship was a relic of the space race, after NASA had folded but right before the General Trade and Social Relations Agreement (GTSRA).
It had seen service as a battleship, a troop transporter, a refugee barge and a ship graveyard, before an auction put it in the hands of Captain Toes and his motley crew of rebels. It had seen too many refits and emergency underway repairs but it was loyal and a real work horse.
It was a delta-wing-class vessel; 1750 ft bow to stern; 1000 ft port to starboard, and had a rated cargo carrying capacity of 175,000 tons. The ship had a fleet of service vehicles which allowed planetary landings when gravity was too strong for the massive ship. She could process methane ice into various products; currently they were en route to deliver 45,000 cubic ft of natural gas to NASA 6.
NASA 6 is a small cold moon and they are always ready buyers. This time though, it was a rush order as they had lost a 500,000 cubic ft tank to a meteorite and a much smaller tank meant shut downs and a lot of very cold people. He turned one last time and…


Captain Toes stumbled, fell forward, shouldered the wall and finally sat firmly on his ass.

Total silence.

The scariest thing to hear in space was silence, when running hyper anyway.
It meant total power failure…maybe even life support.


Ok, so we have life support…and now emergency lighting was flickering on…Ok, good…So, the ship lives.

Toes got himself to a com panel and called a damage assessment team to the bridge…Damn morning bitch session can wait…

“Ok, capt’, we have experienced a major bearing failure in one of the GE Max Ion Drives. The hyper drive control took a serious power surge. It appears that a basketball-size bit of iron may have penetrated the hull, hitting an oil bath cooling line which caused the bearing to overheat and fail”

Well, that was a sucky bit of news…,

“Do we have components for repair?” Toes thought quickly; “Com, notify NASA 6 that we lost hyper and update our ETA. Environment, what is our life support status? Are full systems online?”

“Capt’, repairs are under way on the drive unit, a slap patch is holding and a hull repair team is currently removing debris. Repairs should be complete in a 4 to 5 hours,” he looked over at the medical officer, “over to you Doc…”

Toes listened as the Med officer made his report;
“Small stuff mainly captain. 6 children injured, from a nine year old with a broken leg to a female crew member who lost an eye – appears she was doing her eyelashes at the time – and one crew member suffered minor burns when she lost her coffee down her chest, but I’m told all injuries have been attended to.”

The captain listened to all the reports and determined once again that the ship may not be very good at dodging space debris but in the end it was a damn solid vessel. He thanked his crew, closed the meeting, and headed to the morning bitch session, and breakfast.

The hull was repaired, the drive brought back online and, after about 12 hours, they resumed their trip.
Captain Toes ate breakfast and solved problems, then closed yet another bitch session and returned to his cabin.

He hit the privacy button on the com, cranked up some Zeppelin, put on some pjs and collapsed onto his couch.

“Com, any news?”

“Aye capt’, NASA 6 cordially invites you and your crew to a presentation dinner”

“Oh damn,” he had been expecting this, but that didn’t make it any less of a pain in the ass, Toes couldn’t stand those stuffed-shirt events where he had to be pleasant to everyone, “and I was hoping to do a spot of ancient city exploring tomorrow as well.” He took a Jamaican gold cigarette from the pack, lit it and inhaled deeply. He’d have to get a new supply soon, but for now he could relax. With privacy mode set on the com he’d not be disturbed. He could chill for a bit.

He set his alarm to alert him when they were near NASA 6 and had dropped out of hyper. Twenty minutes later he was snoring loudly and dreaming about ancient cities, the stars a silent blur past his window as the ship continued its journey through the void.

Captain Toes hated formalities, despised them. He stared in the mirror, adjusting his tie. After delivering a load of methane to NASA 6, the National Council invited the good captain and his team to a celebratory dinner and presentation. And one thing captain Toes has learned in his long career is you accept invitations to dinner from happy people; especially customers. So he donned his stiff, itchy suit and the uncomfortable noose of a purple tie.

Toes was more of a tee shirt and pj kinda guy, and has been known to sit in the captain’s chair in hot pink union jacks. (Which isn’t that strange considering the ship was on auto pilot and the crew had been relieved for family time while they were in a long hyper run.) Most of the time he wore blue jeans and tees…and flip flops.
He didn’t require uniforms as a rule and certainly not shoes; other than flip flops. There were dogs and cats and various other critters on board, so, yeah, you might find a wet spot or a poo pile on occasion. They were an independent freight delivery contractor and chemical producer, they had aquafarming and livestock; His ship liked to brag to visitors that they had mud puppies! They were not scared of trying new foodstuffs and had amassed a huge collection of recipes. If you were traveling with captain Toes you were probably gonna eat good. The staff were certainly not health freaks or exercise junkies and most were maybe just a little overweight. But not overly so, because only about 100 of the ship’s 500 strong population didn’t have regular jobs. And most of that 100 were children, from infants to teenagers.

The captain himself was 5’4” and had a bit of belly – “My baby bump” he’d joke – and like most space travelers he had short, somewhat stubby legs. He had mangled his left arm in a nasty docking bay accident a few years back and the cloned replacement hadn’t replicated too well, so it seemed at first glance he had the arm of a young boy. It hung wrong and no amount of effort would get it to lay flat against his body. He adapted and would adjust any fool’s nose who had his doubts about it’s functionality.
He was an avid history buff, especially music and movies and claimed he had the perfect Willie Nelson hair doo.
Most of his crew just ignored his history lessons.
Except the kids, lots of kids would look up stuff he referenced and try to outdo each other.
So his ship was alive with ancient classic music; stuff like Cream, Three Dog Night, The Beatles, Run DMC, NWA….on and on…blasting ship wide even.

Ancient movies were stored on hard drives for private viewing, with titles like Convoy, Man From U.N.C.L.E and Black Hawk Down all of which seemed so corny now, especially the space movies. There had been plenty of heated but good-natured debates on the logic, or rather the lack of it, surrounding movies about space travel.

In short, captain Toes ran a solid ship with a generally happy, if somewhat unruly crew.


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