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Table of Contents Chapter 1

Trance's Tale


Time: CY 10088 May 5166
Location: Bathsheba spaceport

"Hey, spacer. Looking for a good time?"

Harper looked at the young woman who had just approached him. She was only a few years older than Trance and would have been pretty if she hadn't been wearing so much makeup it functioned more like a mask than a beauty enhancement. Then there was the fact that her eyes were showing the pearly hue of a Flash addict.

"Uh, no thanks," he said raising his left hand and pointing at his finger to show the wedding ring he was wearing. "I'm waiting for someone."

"What your wife doesn't know won't hurt her," pressed the prostitute. "Come on, I bet I can show you tricks she's never even thought of."

"But I do know," came a voice from behind the woman. "And I seriously doubt that you can show him anything I haven't already done with him."

The woman whirled around to see an outraged Trance, holding her and Harper's infant daughter Aurora, and an equally outraged Beka standing behind her. She started to speak then stopped as if a memory had made its way through her drug addled brain. "Grape?" she asked tentatively. "Is that really you?"

A mixture of emotions passed over Trance's face. Outrage was replaced by puzzlement when the prostitute called her by name, then puzzlement was replaced by recognition. "Jenni?"

"It's me Grape." The woman looked at the infant in Trance's arms, then at Harper and finally back to Trance. "Married and with a kid. You've done well since you left us." She looked at Beka. "You the mother in law?"

"No," said Beka, not quite sure how she should be reacting to the woman. "I'm the master of the starship Eureka Maru. Trance is my environmental systems technician."

Trance handed Aurora to Beka then stepped forward to take a closer look at her old acquaintance. "What 's happened to you Jenni? You swore you'd never use Flash. And what are you covering up with your makeup, bruises?" She took one of Jenni's hands turning it over to examine the skin on the underside of the arm. She then moved some of the woman's hair taking a look at her ear and neck. There was a distinct yellowish tinge to her skin "You've got jaundice," said Trance. "The Flash is destroying your liver."

"You were always good with medicine, Grape. Good at other things too. I guess we should have listened when you told Concepcion and me to come with you. Environmental systems technician on a starship as well as having a family. You really did find your perfect future."

Trance tugged on her friend's hand. "You need to come with me, Jenni. There's a clinic not too far from here. They can check you out and refer you to someone who can help you with your Flash usage. I can pay for it."

Jenni disengaged her hand from Trance's. "It's too late for that, Grape. I've seen the docs. The damage to my liver's too far gone. I've got to go. Fagin will beat me senseless if I don't bring back my due. I'll tell Concepcion I saw you. She'll be glad to know you're doing well. Good luck and stay safe."

"Jenni, wait," cried Trance tears beginning to form in her eyes. But the other girl continued walking.

For a moment there was silence as Beka and Harper tried to digest what they had just witnessed. Then Beka spoke up. "Trance, do you remember when I told you that there was going to be a day when you would have to tell me about your past? It's that day. We're going back to the Maru. Then you're going to tell Harper and me all about Jenni and this Concepcion and Fagin and just what you were doing on Bathsheba when I found you."

Table of Contents Chapter 1