In her five years of being on the ship called Sanctuary, Rowen and her crew had always been busy transporting cargo or passengers. She was able to do the required maintenance mostly by herself and kept the ship flying like a bird.
She also paid her people well, with the money they earned. In return they gave her devotion and hard work. Some jobs were more dangerous than others, but never had the crew failed to deliver on what they promised. Over time, they had become like a second family. She would be devastated to lose any one of them.
This stopover on Saturn, was both to replenish their dwindling supplies and take it easy, at least for a few days or so. Rowen vaguely recalled memories of her father coming to similar marketplaces. The streets were lined on both sides, with stalls selling everything, from homewares and food, to ship parts and weaponry.
The locals were lizard-like in appearance, but non-aggressive in nature. They and other races who either called this planet home, or were just visiting, could be invaluable sources of information. They may also get you either into or out of trouble, depending on who you have a chat with. But that was just a part of the life everyone lived these days. No sense in complaining.
The year 3046 changed humanity forever. Space exploration had turned into space habitation. Within fifteen years, terraforming had made the planets safe for humans. Colonies were established throughout the solar system.
Basic combat and survival training was compulsory, to secure a place in any unknown territory. Life forms were found everywhere, not all of them friendly. But things eventually settled down. More or less. Here was the opportunity to learn about real alien civilizations. Why not make the most of it?
Scientists of course, had to go and mess things up. They captured and performed illegal experiments on a lot of these creatures. The aliens, now trapped in their cells, came up with a plan. Escaping from their imprisonment wouldn’t be easy. A few of the guards seemed to be sympathetic. They were the ones who finally stepped up to help.
The entire building was blown to pieces. Those scientists who tried to get away, were taken by the authorities and punished for their crimes. As yet, no-one could work out who had funded this project or how it could have remained secret for so many years. No doubt there were other facilities which should also be eradicated.
Norman Whittaker was a former space pilot. He now made his living training others. He set some freed prisoners up with a ship. Each had attributes that might prove useful. The only condition was that his daughter Rowen be the captain. She knew the inner and outer workings of the craft, even better than he did. He trusted her completely and assured the aliens they could do the same.
She was his youngest, the daughter who was most like her mother, in looks and personality. She inherited the copper colored hair and blue-grey eyes. She even had Selena’s smile. Rowen had proved often enough, that her acquired skills were just as good as anyone else’s. Norman only wished his wife were still around. Selena would be so proud of their now grown up children.
Rowen was confident within herself. She could get the job done. Those she worked alongside soon began to appreciate the efforts she made in her chosen profession. She also gained admirers. She was a very pretty and talented young woman. But her life was solely dedicated to her ship and crew. No time for romance. When her father suggested the addition of alien crewmates, she was excited at the prospect.
Jyneres was from Mars. Her species had long white hair, cat eyes, sharp nails and teeth. They were tall, athletic and very agile. Arndor hailed from Pluto. His blue skin, gills and scales were perfect for underwater travel. Jupiter had beings which looked more like hairy beasts. Triten was big and strong. His people used to be slaves to the other humanoid type race that shared their planet.
Rowen’s second in command Karl, watched over the aliens carefully. He wasn’t sure taking them on had been a good idea.
As the years passed, he was obliged to admit that he was wrong. The other human onboard was Jules, a teenage runaway who once tried to rob them. He was up for all kinds of adventures and was remarkably accurate with a weapon, be it blaster or crossbow.
His mischievous ways sometimes caused a ruckus. He didn’t know when to shut his mouth. But nothing bad had ever happened to him. He'd clearly been born under a lucky star. His kind of obvious crush on Rowen, faded as he grew older. Now he merely saw her as a big sister.
Rowen handed over her last credits, for a brand-new toolkit. This was recently manufactured and would make ship repairs so much easier. Expensive, but totally worth it. “Pleasure doing business.” “Have a nice day.” She waited for the rest of her friends, in a cantina bar. The atmosphere was rather subdued today, then again it was only the late afternoon. But the drinks still flowed, and the place was never empty.
You couldn’t really miss her team in a crowd. Hardly any of the pilots she knew, were willing to have aliens as crewmates. Distrust, fear and hatred of anything that wasn’t human, still existed, even now. She was something of an outcast herself, but her fierce reputation was well deserved. Nobody would dare to cross her. They wouldn’t be foolish enough to even try.
Several months ago, Karl met a woman he’d fallen head over heels for. Gilda. She ran an orphanage on Saturn. She never turned her back on a helpless child, regardless of what they were. She had mixed species volunteers and paid workers, who relied heavily on donations. A previous relationship, had left her with a two year old boy she named Colin.
Karl asked Rowen if he could bring her to the ship for dinner. Gilda's cousin had offered to look after her son. “Of course, I think it’s about time. We’d all like to see, just who this special woman is.” The aircraft was always clean and tidy, but she asked Jules and Ardor to give it a brush up anyway. Later that evening, when she saw Karl and his lady friend walking towards her, Rowen noticed immediately what a striking couple they made.
His jet-black hair was tied in a ponytail. Gilda allowed her red locks to flow free. He still wore his armor and looked very threatening. She had on a woven dress and boots, but still carried a gun on her belt. The connection between them was definitely there. Rowen sensed that Gilda was nervous but trying not to show it. She welcomed her with open arms. “Come and meet the rest of our crazy family.”