13. Kids.

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Captain Toes was doing routine paperwork and ‘net surfing when his comm went off, “yeah?”

“Capt’, we are about a week out from Earth…and we have received a request from Specter to pick up a traveler.”

Crap, he hated these detours. They would have to drop out of hyper and restart…

“How far out?”

“They have a hyper shuttle, and would intercept…plus they will pay our orbit fees…”

Well, money’s nice and no course alterations. Of course, there are no orbit fees since this was related to escape pods

“Guess it’s set then. When would they dock?”

“In about an hour.”

“let me know, capt’ out, ” he cut the connection.

“Aye, capt, and thanks”

He picked up the essay that Tori had presented in her English class. Interesting topic, and was very much written by a 12yr old. Her teacher was worried about her state of mind, was concerned Tori might be depressed. Of course she’s depressed!!! Her whole world blew up, she went from being a kid on the fast track for engineering to being an independent person and able to play with other kids. He didn’t see anything that would lead him to the teacher’s concerns. He hoped she’d stay with the Alice Marie and was already working on a project he felt she’d be good for. He opened a private channel to PackRat Salvage. He discussed the final arrangements for transferring the escape pods and also a tour of the orbital scooper. He asked Tori to come to his office.

Tori wondered what was wrong, or if anything was at all as she got dressed. She liked living alone and the lack of uniforms was also nice. She decided on basketball shorts and a oversized t-shirt. She tossed her hair, and with a last look she headed to Captain Toes office.

“Hello Tori. I see you are comfy…come on in. I wanted to discuss this essay. Very good writing, so much emotion…and confusion. So, how’s life for you? Your teacher is kinda concerned and wondering if you were…well…suicidal?” He watched her expressions, too young and inexperienced in the art of deception, confident he’d see any problems. Tori laughed.

“For real?! I write about losing my family and the excitement of playing with other kids. Missing my family…geez!!!”

The captain waited, and yep, Tori started crying. Just a kid in an adult world. He didn’t intend on discussing the information he had about the other Zapps he’d seen on the List. It wasn’t necessary. He let her cry and resisted the urge to play daddy. Tori didn’t need that, nor did she need teachers waving flags.

“OK, do you think you could pass an advancement test in English?” That would serve his needs and move Tori away from this teacher who could create some real problems for Tori.

She sniffled and nodded. Captain Toes told her he’d set that up, and after entering some data into his computer he let Tori talk and regain her composure. He then sent her to school and asked her to email him with any issues. He stressed that she could back out without any repercussions.

Tori left the captain’s office and headed for school. She didn’t really want to “test out” of English but a suicide report would seriously curtail her chances of being a ship captain…EVER. After school she went to her room. While surfing the ‘net she found out that Zachery Toes was a very interesting person. There was so much she didn’t know about Earth but she was beginning to relieze that colony life was really bland.

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