A few hours later, the Sulky Slut pulled out of hyperspace. Before it, mighty Jupiter loomed against the star-strewn blanket of space. Most of the crew had awakened at that point, and were huddled in the dining hall over steaming cups of coffee and day-old bagels.
After breakfast, the crew went to the bridge, where they had been directed to gather via neon-colored notes taped to their doors while they were sleeping. Captain Nole Tachora stood at the viewport in his usual dramatic fashion, hands clasped behind his back as he looked out onto the huge planet filling the window. The tiny black shape of Sultaives Station hovered in the distance above the outer atmosphere of Jupiter.
The crew staggered in, yawning as they went. Chase, one of the ship’s engineers, came up beside Nole and looked out on Jupiter. “They’re amazing things, gas giants,” he said.
“You’re a gas giant,” Nole said automatically, never taking his gaze off the stormy planet below. Chase gaped silently for a moment, then turned and walked back to join the crew behind him.
Nole turned around. “I wanted to gather you all here to speak to you for a moment before we head to our destination today. Now, I realize I’ve been a little harsh lately, and I know I can’t be the easiest guy to work under sometimes.”
Yentz, one of the cargo workers, muttered something under his breath, causing a ripple of muffled laughter to course through the people beside him.
Nole pointed to the door. “You. Out. You get to stay on the ship today.”
“We’re getting off the ship?” one of the crewmembers asked.
Nole let out a tense sigh. “Now see, Yentz, you made me ruin the surprise. Get out of here — go feed my fish or something. Out.”
Yentz left the bridge, relieved that he would actually get to be alone on the ship for once. His crochet habit had suffered as of late because of interruptions and distractions.
Nole turned back to his crew. “We’re going someplace magical today. A land of plenty, where there are all-you-can-eat buffets, casinos, hookers of all shapes and sizes, and even those street entertainers who pretend to be statues!”
Senys, the ship’s maintenance guy, nodded and grinned, while others groaned quietly.
“My friends, I am giving you the day off to relax and unwind in Port Europa!”
“Aw, yeah!” said Senys, and he went to high-five the cargo worker beside him. The man ignored him, and so he played it off by scratching his beard.
“This is my way of saying to you, ‘please forgive me for being an ass, I want you to go enjoy yourselves, so here’s a bonus for you all to go out and spend however you want to, completely on me, and I promise to try to be a better captain in the future’. Alright?” Nole said.
The crew perked up at the mention of the bonuses they would be receiving for the day’s excursion, and cheered and clapped, despite the fact that Port Europa was one of the worst-rated travel destinations in the system.
“Okay! Now let’s get this ship down to Europa!” Nole said, and turned back to the viewport as the bridge crew hurried to their stations.