7/9/20233 min read

The atmosphere within the Nomad was somber, a veil of unspoken words hanging heavy in the air. We nestled ourselves within the cozy confines of the dimly lit dining quarters, the subtle hum of the engines providing a melancholic melody to our silence. Gramps, sitting at the head of the table, appeared softened under the ambient light, his once vibrant eyes now mirroring a distant melancholy that made my heart ache. Beside him, Ravager and I attempted to hide our own deep-seated fear.

"Never thought I'd be at death's door, talking about my life story," Gramps began, his voice barely above a whisper yet carrying a weight that commanded our full attention. He took a shaky breath, steeling himself before continuing. "Many moons ago, I had a wife. She was like a breath of fresh air, a light that kept me grounded." His voice cracked slightly at the memory. "But fate wasn't kind to us. She fell ill, barely past her thirtieth birthday. She... she didn't make it."

He fell silent, his gaze unfocused as if lost in an apparition from the past. "The years that followed were a blur, a meaningless haze of existence. My days were shrouded in loneliness, the memory of her laughter my only solace. I spent over 40 years hitting rock after rock...after rock. Each passing hit, I was just trying to remember her face. Then one day, I couldn't remember what she looked like. I couldn't remember her smell. I couldn't remember her voice. Everything but her name was lost to me."

A bittersweet smile crossed his lips as he turned his attention to me. "And then, Moe, I found you. Or rather, you found me." His hand patted my arm lightly. "That day, drifting in the black void of space, I was ready to embrace the cold arms of death. I had cut my own lifeline, but in my final moments, fear caught up to me. I hit that distress beacon, with the faint hope of being saved. And you, Moe, you were my guardian angel. You gave me a reason to live. Since then, every day has been a blessing I won't ever take for granted."

His gaze shifted to Ravager, who was watching the exchange with bated breath. "And Ravager," Gramps began, his tone more somber, "I'll be honest, I didn't hold out much hope for you. You were rough around the edges, a menace in your own right. But one moment changed my perspective."

He paused, his eyes boring into Ravager's. "The fear I saw in your eyes when we were about to hand you over, it wasn't for yourself, but for him. The desperate plea in your voice when you thought your crew was going to kill the kid, wasn't that what you said? 'They'll murder him! Give me your gun!' And in that instant, I knew I could trust you. You'd do everything to keep him safe..." His finger jabbed in my direction, emphasizing his point. "That moment of humanity, that was your turning point. I might be losing pieces of what's in here," he tapped his temple lightly, "But that moment, that fear, that desperation... I will never forget."

He sighed heavily, his eyes downcast. "We are a patchwork of our past, stitched together by our choices and experiences. And while we may be broken, may be scarred, we are better for it. We are not the people we once were, and we can never go back. Remember that. Never forget who you've become."

The silence that followed was a heavy one, filled with unshed tears and words left unspoken. Ravager's stoic facade crumbled, tears streaking down his face as he struggled with the reality of Gramps' words. I remained silent, Gramps' heartfelt confession echoing in my mind. I had faced death before, but this... this felt profoundly different.

Ravager, choking back his sobs, finally found his voice. But it wasn't sad. It was angry. Not at Gramps, not at me, but at what the universe had just put on our doorstep. "Gramps, I... I won't let you go. Not like this," he said, his voice rough with raw emotion. "There's got to be a way. I know a smuggler in the Thesian galaxy. He owes me a big one. It's a long shot, but I can't... I won't just stand by and do nothing."

With that, Ravager stormed out of the room, his resolution hardening with each step he took. The echo of his departure hung in the air, an unspoken promise filling the room with a potent mix of fear, hope, and unwavering determination. We were far from defeated. This was just the beginning.