She scrambled over the railing and made it hurriedly to her brother’s side. She scraped her right knee in the effort. He was lying where he fell in the middle of the arboretum. The sky portal was still open to the stars, especially Veda 257, the star whose system the ship was now a temporary part of. Bright starlight streamed in to nourish the food plants and her late mother’s flowers.
But when she reached Wosely Moonskipper, he was no longer alive. The Lupin’s slug-thrower had penetrated his energy shield and hit him in his stupid melon of a head.
“How could you do that to me, Wose? How could you leave your baby sister all alone aboard a starship going nowhere in an unexplored star system?”
Of course, the dummy didn’t answer. This was, however, the first time he had an actual good excuse for it.
She looked over at the smoking pile of debris that was all the derfbag Lupin space-werewolf left behind as Wosely had disintegrated him. Stupid Stardog pirate! He got what he deserved.
But, wait! The pirate had brought his vehicle aboard in order to try to get ahold of the Moonskipper family spacecraft.
She lamely spent a dozen extra minutes trying to get Wose to raise himself from the dead. But 53rd Century medicine didn’t work like that. Full resurrections had to be carefully planned ahead of time. Wose hadn’t planned in the early morning hours to accidentally allow a dog-headed alien pirate to come aboard and murder him. At least he had the good sense to shoot back before he went down. No telling what would’ve become of twelve-year-old Cissy if he hadn’t.
Then she went to inspect the Lupin’s remaining possessions. In the docking bay she found the little two-man space skiff, an anti-gravity pod with a sub-light engine. A wonderful thing to have if she hadn’t lost Wose. the only one who could drive the thing. That was the good thing about old Wose. At thirty-five he knew how to build, fix, or repair practically anything that could travel in space.
That was the next problem to think about. She was alone on the starship now. Since Mom died and her father went so crazy with grief that Wose had to maroon him on that jungle moon seven months ago to prevent him from flying the ship into the heart of the nearby star, they had simply wandered. Nobody remaining on board knew how to navigate other than randomly drifting from star system to star system by line of sight.
Food was no problem. The arboretum produced all the organic matter they needed to create food from the replicator. And Wose had taught her how to scoop fuel from the outer levels of the clouds in a gas-giant. But how was she going to pilot the thing? And what would she do when something broke down?
She was moping about in the bridge when she happened to open the right storage drawer in the captain’s table. There were two books inside that immediately caught her eye.
She grinned to herself. She still had to see to Wose’s funeral. But she was grateful that Mom had taught her to read. She now possessed the ship’s owner’s manual that explained enough about everything to make life on a starship possible, and a copy of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.