“You in or not?” asks Mizar.

Sunset Over Aldra

“Listen, we should just go. They’re clearly occupied, she’s passing out, no one will even know,” says James in a low whisper. “You heard her. They’re trying to pin a murder on us. We need to move.”

“Seriously? I know what I said earlier, but they got us out of town. We’d probably already be in chains or worse if they hadn’t done us this solid.” Aidan glances over to Oslo and watches her eyes flutter in and out of consciousness. Her makeshift bandage soaked in blue.

“I’m just saying, if we are going to have a chance to bail and make a run for it on our own, this is it.” The laser fire outside settles and the empty market feels silent but deafening at the same time. Aidan’s conscience screams with dissonance.

“No. You said I should trust more and I’m doing that. We don’t know what could happen tomorrow or in the next week. The captain could come. He will come. We stand a much better chance with backup until we can make it somewhere more desolate, the next galaxy maybe.”

“He’s right. The short one, he’s right,” says Oslo as she coughs and resituates her bandage. James’ eyes widen and his cheeks flush. “Don’t worry. It’s really none of my business, but you guys are much safer with us until you can get further from his reach.” She coughs and winces from the searing pain. Aidan rushes over to apply more pressure to her wound.

A clatter of metal being thrown and muffled voices travels through the busted window facing the alley. Aidan looks to James who nods in agreement, following Aidan’s lead for the first time since leaving Earth as teens, children really. Oslo reaches a trembling hand up to rest on Aidan’s shoulder and smiles with warmth and appreciation for his presence. Her wound obviously causing concern and her sudden sentimental nature.

“Osloooo?” a voice calls from just outside the door. “Are you guys in there?”

She motions for James to respond. Within moments, each member of the crew has a hand under the weight of her body, sharing the effort to carry her to safety. A rusty caravan waits in the alley, fueled up and ready to go. Vera bangs on the back hatch as they load their wounded comrade into the hold, clearly taking credit for the mechanical skill that secured the newest mode of transport.

One by one, they take a seat on the skinny metal benches lining the cargo hold, leaving enough space for Oslo to rest and Mizar to patch her shoulder. The crew of mismatched women that span color, size, and species look to the men and await their choice.

“You in or not?” asks Mizar, the first she’s actually spoken to them directly.

James touches his upper breast pocket, feeling for the gem that will secure a future for him and his lover. He switches his gaze to Aidan who’s leading their journey now and carries himself as such. Tougher, more confident, and ready to take the lead, Aidan awaits his choice but is already sure of his own. He chooses survival over pride.

“You’re sure?” he questions.

“They saved our asses back there when they didn’t have to. If they hadn’t, they’d probably be sitting on a pretty profit right now. And you told me to learn to trust more. Can you really argue with that logic?” Both men look back to the caravan, Zya motions them to come on.

            The sunsets over the ransacked Aldran town as the caravan heads further inland toward the humid forests of Xanther. Aidan and James ride hand in hand as they watch their past fade further into the distance and they make room for the possibility of a new crew in their future.

Produced by: Eugenio Zorrilla.

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