Fractured Time


7/9/20233 min read

We were a haggard bunch. Our bodies, bruised and battered, bore the marks of a brutal fight. The silence in our ship was absolute, interrupted only by the sound of our collective, weary breaths. As we recovered from the shock, the realization of our victory against the cannibal colony settled heavily in the air. We had made it, but at what cost?

Chef was hunched in the corner, his form diminished. He didn't have the bulky build of a warrior, but he'd fought fiercely. He was a jolly, hearty chef in a pirate-infested universe, but now, something had changed. His face was shrouded with an expression I'd never seen before—quiet, somber, lost.

He finally broke the silence, "Ever heard of an off-worlder tracking the local moon cycle?" His question, unexpected as it was, caught me off guard.

"I can't say I have," I replied. "Why?"

"I was trying to keep track of time," he began, his eyes focusing on something unseen. "On the day I got here, it was the last day of the full moon. We're currently on day 12 of the crescent moon cycle, right?"

Taken aback, I checked the ship's lunar calendar. "Yeah, that's right. How did you know?"

He paused, calculating, his face scrunching in concentration. "Then, I've been gone for about three moon cycles... Three months."

Silence fell again. This time it was more profound, more suffocating. The weight of the revelation sat heavy in the air.

"No rest for the weary," Chef murmured, breaking the silence. His voice was hoarse, raw from screaming, the aftermath of the unthinkable violence we had encountered. He raised his gaze to meet mine, and I saw something there—a plea, an apology, a need to unburden.

With a heavy sigh, he began. "Did I ever tell you about my family?" His voice was soft, his gaze distant. The question hung in the air, heavy and significant. I shook my head, and Fitt, who had been silently nursing a fresh wound, did the same.

"Actually, I assumed you were hatched from an egg," Fitt piped up, attempting to lighten the mood. The resulting silence fell flat.

Chef cracked a half-smile, a momentary reprieve from his burdens. "Not quite, Fitt," he responded, his tone holding an echo of his usual humor. He then turned serious again. "I was heading home to them. I'd been on a delivery run. I didn't expect to be away for long, just enough to earn some credits. My wife, Lilly, and my little girl, Lila, they were waiting for me."

"And then, I took this delivery job," he continued. "I thought it was simple, just another run. But they locked me up, kept me in the dark. I had no idea what was happening, what day it was..."

"But you have something that most of us don't," he added, serious now, "a place to start looking. Most of us, we don't even have that."

Chef was silent for a moment, absorbing the words. "That's true, Fitt. I need to get logged into a hollow device to see if my wife has left any messages for me. Does anybody have one?"

I knew we had one somewhere. I had used it to keep in touch with Ravager. We hadn't spoken in months, but I knew I could find the device pretty easy.

"We have a ship, we have a crew, and now we have a mission," I said, my voice firm. "We start looking where you last knew them to be. We follow the breadcrumbs, Chef. We bring you home."

Fitt leaned back, crossing his arms over his chest. "You know, Chef, I think Moe's got a point. Besides, I'm getting tired of seeing the same old faces. Wouldn't mind meeting some new people... even if they are your family."

The joke fell a little flat, but it got a chuckle out of Chef, and that was good enough for me. We were in uncharted waters now, each of us carrying our burdens.

"Thank you," Chef said, his voice barely more than a whisper. His eyes were soft, filled with gratitude and a new determination. "Let's find my family."

"Sounds like a plan," Fitt replied, giving a mock salute. "But first, let's get off this moon. I don't fancy becoming a cannibal's dinner anytime soon."

"Agreed," I said, rising to my feet, having found the transmitter and handing it to Chef. "Let's move. Time's of the essence."

As we prepared for the journey ahead, I looked at my motley crew—Chef, Fitt, and me. Each of us lost in our way, but finding solace in our unity. Whatever lay ahead, we would face it together.