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“I want to do the thing,” said Captain Wendel, piloting her ship.

“We can do this thing,” reinforced her dear partner Leiv from the copilot’s chair. With a quick turn, they navigated toward the next drift along the Brave Crossing, the tenth drift from the point of departure. It was Wendel’s signature ritual, her established finding point in case anyone thought to look for her along the road they were traveling. She hadn’t posted up at a drift since Drift turned X, so this instance had a ceremonial feel to it. Going to the tenth, no longer the ninth.

Once they settled in, they set out a picnic to hash over details before going straight into the contract. Leiv Gruun took his time to get really into the document and read all the fine print. Gretz felt able to breathe in this pause of activity. “That was a heavy situation down there,” he said, breaking a companionable silence across the foldout table, “and now I’m not there. Now I’m in space.”

“The way things are right now, we’ve all come from trouble in different places, brother.” Leiv paused his reading to nibble a biscuit. “You can relax here in the stellar breezes.”

Eventually, Gretz got up and wandered to the cockpit, where Wendel was lounging athwart her captain’s chair. She didn’t like being near Leiv when he was doing a contract reading. “Have you heard from anyone else?” Gretz asked, scratching his abdomen in sleepover comfort mode.

“We came to you first, after I got Leiv. If I hear of more things that want doing, it would be more than I can handle right now. You know I ignore almost nothing.”

Gretz looked around at fine points of some upgraded interior panels. “So, what happened to Drift 9?”

“Well, it’s Drift X now! Yes, with the alphabet pronunciation which makes the ship sound ten times cooler. Maybe you can ask Drift X.” She evaded giving the full story, but introduced the possibility of talking to the ship. Gretz nodded as comprehension of this strange reality dawned.

“I can tell I’ll need the time for a full discussion.”

“Drift is as opinionated as ever.”

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