~ * ~Inside the compartment, the old Jupiter 1090 engine sobbed a steady drone interspersed with a strong counter beat creating a soothing song. Renna felt comfortable here, a place where only training and skill counted. Like most engine rooms, the walls and floor were gray and sedate, a holdover from when ships were crafted of steel rather than the molecularly engineered alloys.
The huge man waited for her by the main console. She stopped a meter from him. He looked at the deck, shifting his weight from foot to foot, looking ready to bolt. He glanced up. “Vera verges code.”
“Vera?” Renna asked, barely able to understand the man’s guttural, heavily-accented speech. She tried to ignore his state of undress. He wore no shoes, which was against all Markham codes, his bare feet slapped against the deck with each step. She could only glance at him and look away again. Ship Dog remained unaware of her impertinence and embarrassment since he never looked at her.
Renna’s gaze slid to Ship Dog’s face, avid curiosity at his statement about his progenitor overcoming her diffidence. A lightning-fast gaze rose to hers and swiftly fell away. Sweat beaded on his forehead. She noticed talking took him effort, as some of her kin—those most often culled. She stepped back giving him more space.
“Needs refit.” Ship Dog’s shoulders slumped as he drifted away to hover over various panels, appearing to read the screens. He explained the problems one by one, using fewer words than her understanding demanded, making her repeat back expanding on his clipped comments. Renna made mental notes. “Questions?” Ship Dog asked clearly wanting none, the focus in his quick glances aimed above her head.