The corridors kept turning to the right.
That didn’t seem to make sense. Three turns should of put her back where she started, but then the corridor changed colour, from one particularly fascinating shade of metallic chrome to a slightly darker, yet equally as perplexing shade of chromium metal. There didn’t seem to be much point to it.
The corridors still seemed to be staying the same length as well, as far as Mateo could tell anyway. The lights were set to dim and weren’t changing when she hurried along. She had gotten too used to rooms that acknowledged her when she wandered into them, raising the lights so she could actually see the other side of the room. Her bedroom would play either a light rendition of Sandra and the Blue Bergs, or the instrumental track from Back to the Future, depending on whatever mood she was in at the time.
The bedroom was gone now of course.
There were no hatchways either, she noted. That she thought was a sort of standard. Ships of any kind were made of sections put together and while she could see the lines where each part of the ship was stitched together, she couldn’t see what counted as the hatches. Every ship floating in the sea of nothing was designed to seal itself into sections in case of fire or parts of the ship deciding it was time to separate from the family and go off exploring on its own. This ship couldn’t be an exception. Cost cutting wouldn’t include door removal no matter what.
Then again, it probably didn’t matter. Abandoned was the main word she was using for this place at the moment. Long windy tunnels. Lots of grey and no light. She had only come across one porthole that let her confirm that yes, she actually was in space. The gravity sinks were on and her lungs were not attempting to leave her in a desperate search for an oxygen rich environment, so that meant power was on at the least. In retrospect that could have gone badly for her. All she needed was to be thrown in a methane environment and her hate of Grognar would very quickly diminished along with her functioning brain cells.
So it couldn’t be abandoned and yet very much felt like it was. At the very least it was recently inhabited, not only due to the power but by the fact she was dumped here by a pair of hands. The shadow she could have imagined, but she was here right? There had to be someone else.
She stopped at a hatchway. A small one in the wall, rather than one in the corridor. She pressed its button and watched as it slid open with a crunch that sounded like bones were breaking in the attempt. It was a storeroom. Empty, but the first room since her scrap heap.
Literally empty actually, except for the walls and air. Wasn’t an empty room a kind of blasphemy on Cruisers? She wasn’t quite clear of how true it ran but every room should be used for something, even if only to be shoved full of cargo for other people or something. It was too small to be a function room. It didn’t matter. She carried on.
Two more empty rooms later and she felt like screaming. Why did this ship even exist if it was so empty? Corridors empty. Rooms empty. Her room was full of bolts and scrap and bent sheet metal and all manner of crap. Mateo’s stomach groaned, more out of the monotony than out of hunger she told herself.
The fourth room was a mess hall. She wasn’t going to complain.
Though a place for food, it too was abandoned. Lines of tables and chairs, somewhat scattered. No plates or cutlery anywhere. It wasn’t simply out of use. It was like it had never been used in the first place. There was a vending machine though, with a line of Cono bars inside. She pressed the button and got one for her troubles. Still tasted good. It probably wasn’t very smart to have eaten it.
It was in the fifth room that she saw the Igne.
A bulking mass, its metallic shards folded in on themselves with every movement, its single eye floating in the middle of its mass. It didn’t seem to have noticed her, its focus occupied by a series of dismantled devices on the workbench before it. She couldn’t see what it was working on in particular, its large body in the way, but it seemed to be making its way through a pile of junk, cataloging, reassembling. Either way it looked like it had worked through a lot but still had lots more to do.
Mateo had never spoken to an Igne before. She wondered if she should consider trying. It turned to face her and she froze, looking round without moving to see what she had done to make noise. Could it just tell that she was there? Sensors or something? It stepped towards her and she switched to considering running. Did they come with weapons? It wouldn’t need them. The Igne was big enough that grabbing both her arms and pulling in opposite directions was more than enough to deal with the intruder before it.
Just two more lunging steps and it was to the right of her, picking up a toolbox and heading back to its job. It didn’t seem to care that she was there, not that this stopped her from staying frozen to the spot. A flickering to her left caught her eye. A screen sat buzzing away to itself.
It looked like a security monitor, planted into the wall, though kind of in a weird place being dead centre like that. She shimmied towards it, trying not to make sounds so that the creature that knew exactly where she was and didn’t care wouldn’t hear her. The monitor showed a corridor. Empty. Grey. Dark.
She pressed the button to the side of it, switching the image to another featureless corridor. Then another room full of scrap and another. Then a corridor. Then another room of scrap with another Igne, sorting through scrap. More scrap. Another corridor. A bathroom that looked like it catered to humans and thronons.
Another scrap room with another Igne in it, and a girl looking at a screen in an odd place dead centre of the wall.
That’s when it hit her.
“Oh no,” she said, uncaring for the presence of the Igne. “No, no no.”
She dashed over to the other side of the room, plexiglass showing the nothingness of space covering the far wall. She could see nothing but space, but if she pushed her face against the plexiglass she could just make out the metal of the ship’s exterior. Grey metal. Flat, yet merged, like it was made out of different parts and smooshed together.
“Erm, mister Igne?” She called out. The Igne spent a few seconds twisting something on the workbench, then turned to her, it’s light red eye observing her quietly. It said nothing.
“Are we on a Tech Junker?”
The Igne continued its monologue of silence while staring straight at her. The monologue turned into a thirty second long tirade at the benefits of keeping quiet at all times, which the Igne prided itself as a great proponent of.
It then looked away and got back on with its job of sorting through metal junk that was probably technical in purpose.
“Yep,” Mateo said to herself, because the Igne sure didn’t care,”We’re on a Tech Junker.”