I Can Fix Her

Cohost writing prompt: @make-up-a-starship-pilot — Starship pilot who can fix her

"What happened to your engine?"

"Oh, hi, AJ," Velma says, from mostly inside the nacelle cowling, tool cables snaking across the landing pad from the hookup point. "Nothin' much, she's not wrong wrong, just got about half a beach of sand in the intake."

"Runnin' nickel and dime ore loads again," AJ says, neutrally.

"I can hear you," Velma says brightly, voice muffled slightly by the machinery, and starts knocking crusted particulates off something with the blunt end of a tool. "I can hear you judgin'. Thought you were done nickel and diming, Velma. Thought you scraped some cash together, you were gonna upgrade your handling gear and start doing container runs, for real for real this time."

"So how come," AJ says, and watches Velma slither feet-first out of the engine, all slim and toned and sweet, then takes her eyes off and squints into the heat-shimmer distance so she doesn't get caught looking when Velma turns around.

"You know," Velma says, bright and brittle. "You know how come. You know how it is. Cee had a thought and it was a real good thought, honest and she totally woulda asked first before spending the money except for she didn't, and then — I dunno, she had a different thought and lost interest, or the thought turned out not to work and it's not her fault, everyone's out to get her, why am I even asking, why do I always doubt her, if I didn't doubt her shit wouldn't go to shit, or — whatever. Who keeps track? Whatever. We had the money, and now we don't and we're emergency broke forever again, and it's more nickel and dime runs that only barely pay for themselves, that bust the engine every two or three of 'em."

"Damn shame to keep doing that," AJ says to the distance. "...To your engine."

"No worries; I can fix her!" Velma says; tone poisonously, self-disparagingly bright.