Jaimie Argonath stared up at the great ships from the rooftop of her dad’s parts shop. Some had huge sails, others, massive engines, but they all floated weightlessly in the pale pink clouds of early morning. One of the more unusual ones had a big building glued to the bottom of it, upside down. Jaimie watched that one with interest for a while, but nothing happened with it. A little further down the docks, a large sailing ship was loading supplies. People were up in the sails and going up and down the gangplank, lifting up larger crates with the dockside crane. It looked so easy, like a dance or something…
“Jamison Argonath, get down here and help me open the shop!” Jaimie’s father, Patrick Argonath, called. Braiding her hair quickly, she scrambled down the drainpipe and slipped into the store.
The store was filled with gears and gizmos of all shapes and sizes, as Jaimie passed the shelves, she absentmindedly ran her hands along the shelves, tracing the teeth of the gears with the tips of her fingers, as if counting every one. Patrick, a large man with a dark beard and hair, eyed her impatiently.
“Operate the register while I work on the repairs,” he said, brushing past her to the back of the shop, where his cluttered workbench lay. Jaimie pulled a small, multi-bit screwdriver out of her pocket, and took down one of the gizmos, turning it over and over in her hands as she looked for flaws in the device. After a few moments, the little bell over the door rang, and Jaimie’s two sisters, Addison and Catherine, entered. Both taller and more graceful than their elder sister, they looked down upon her with something like pity.
“Jamison, just because we own a shop full of greasy gizmos, doesn’t mean you have to look like one,” Addison said, taking a handkerchief out of her pocket and reaching towards Jaimie with it.
“And do you think you should be wearing… that?” Catherine chimed in. Catherine was the youngest of the three sisters, and she took her cues from Addison. “What would mother think, if she were here to see you?”
“How would you know what mother would think?” Jaimie replied bitterly, dodging the handkerchief and looking down at her work clothes, her rough shirt and leggings, covered with the brown leather apron she wore in the shop. “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”
“Jaimie, Addy. Come on, you used to call me that all the time,” Jaimie protested.
“Jaimie, you could at least try to wear a skirt in public.” Addy tried again. Jaimie rolled her eyes.
“What I’m wearing is fine, and practical,” she protested.
“Still,” Catherine held up a plain brown skirt. “Just put it on, so you don’t look like a rigging rat.”
Jaimie sighed and snatched the skirt from her sister, yanking it on over her leggings. She adjusted the apron, and looked meaningfully at the two of them.
“Better?” She asked.
“Much,” Addy said, coming around the counter and tying an apron around her own waist. She folded her very clean hands on the countertop, and watched the door intently.
“A watched door never opens,” Jaimie mumbled, walking along the shelves again. Someday, these parts would fly away, attached to some great ship, but she was stuck here, on the ground.
That was when the man walked in. He was tall, and dressed in a long leather coat. His face was weatherbeaten, and scarred, like most of the men who came into the shop. It was clear he was an experienced sailor.
“My captain needs a new radiator, for a T-14 boiler engine.”
“We’ve got those.” Patrick said, coming around to the counter. “What year is the engine?”
“It’s a ’93,” the man replied.
“So, a full replacement part will be about, 150 creds.” Patrick said, matching the man’s stony expression. “But we can look at the engine you’ve got, and see about a repair for about, 50 creds.”
“I’ll do it!” Jaimie volunteered. “I could take a look at it. Chances are you won’t even need a replacement.”
The rough man nodded. “Sounds fair,” he said. “If it can be done today.”
“We can have a technician at your ship at 10.” Patrick said.
“That will be just fine.” The man said, reaching into a pocket of his coat and pulling out several of the coppery coins that were the main currency throughout this part of the galaxy. He tossed them on the counter, and began to head out.
“My captain’s ship is the Eclipse Cathedral, at Dock 8.” With those words, he left.
Jaimie grabbed her toolkit from the hook and began to throw various tools and gadgets into it.
“I’ll go and repair the engine,”
“Secure your sails, Jaimie,” Patrick said. “I’m going to do the repairs.”
“No buts. The Eclipse is one of the roughest ships I’ve seen in port. I don’t trust that you won’t get hurt.”
“Can I at least come with you?”
“No, stay here and mind the store with your sisters,” Patrick took down his own, larger, toolkit and began sorting through the tools.
“Fine,” Jaimie mumbled, slipping out the back door once again. There were plenty of people to mind the shop.
From her perch on the roof, she watched her father stride confidently across the docks to where the Eclipse lay. It was the ship with the large building fixed to the bottom. It was a strange thing to see, an upside-down cathedral, affixed to a great, hulking starship. As she watched him go, a plan began to form in her mind.
A few hours later, Jaimie watched her father leave the ship from behind some crates. While she’d waited, she’d cut her hair, as short as she could, changed into a pair of more loose fitting trousers, and bound her chest as flat as she could. She’d taken grease from the devices and smudged it on her face. With any luck, she’d look like any young engineering apprentice. Keeping out of sight until Patrick had gone back into the shop, she approached the ship, toolkit in hand.
“Ahoy the quarterdeck!” She shouted, trying to make her voice lower.
“Ahoy,” came the shout from the deck of the ship, high above her head. “Who are you?”
“I’m here to apply for a position aboard your ship.” Jaimie said, “Let me aboard.”
The gangplank was lowered, and Jaimie was ushered aboard. Some men called for the quartermaster, who Jaimie recognized as the man who had come into the shop that morning.
“What do you want?” He asked.
“Sir, my name is Ja— James, James Argonath.” Jaimie said, ducking her head respectfully. “I’m here to apply for a position aboard your ship.”
There were some sniggers from some of the men, but Jaimie held her ground.
“I’m an engineer, sir. I’m good with machines. They wouldn’t need me much on a sailing ship, but on a steam-ship—“
“I see…” The quartermaster said. “There was an Argonath aboard earlier, repairing our engine.”
“Yes sir, he’s my uncle.” Jaimie stuttered. “So… can I join your crew?” She added after a pause.
“We will see. Wait here,” with that, the quartermaster was gone again, leaving Jaimie to stand, awkwardly on the deck.
After what felt like an eternity, the quartermaster came back, with another man in a long leather coat.
“My name is Gartorius Graendel Galvere,” he drawled. “But everyone here calls me Grave. I am the captain of this ship.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir, I—“
“Yes, I hear you want to join our humble crew.”
“You think you have what it takes,” Grave said, “To brave the perils of space, with nothing between you and the solar storms but a bulkhead?”
“I think I can take it, sir.” Jaimie replied, staring straight ahead.
“And which position are you applying for?”
“Engineer, I can work in the engine room, keep the boiler going. I am willing to work for my keep.”
“And work you will, sailor.” Grave said, nodding. “Welcome aboard the Eclipse Cathedral, Mr. Argonath.”