The Hammer-on was not a big ship. It was not a fast ship. Neither was it well armed or particularly attractive. In fact, the only reason why the members of Ezekiel’s Flight continued to use it was because starships were expensive, and their lead singer, Stephan Gear, had won it in a particularly nasty game of Scrabble-Jack. Now, it did get them where they needed to go (most of the time,) and it let them move around the galaxy relatively unnoticed (which is good for a group of people on the lam,) so they kept the ship under their wing, despite its many, many flaws.
“How we doing, ART?” said Stephan, joining the robot in the cockpit.
ART, short for Automatic Robot Timekeeper, served as the band’s drummer (as well as coffeemaker, copilot, and anything else requiring any ounce of actual skill.) They had purchased ART after the loss of their previous drummer, who they had jettisoned into space for the following offenses:
1. Being a bad drummer.
2. Creeping out the rest of the band.
3. Eating the last of Stephan’s Cosmic Cheeziez (this offense being the last straw).
The regime change had been more fortuitous than they previously imagined, as it soon became clear to them that ART possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of not just everything musical, but pretty much everything in general. The band had made sure to take advantage of this wealth of knowledge over the course of their tour, and had no plan of doing so any less in the future.
“Excellent, Stephan. We have been cleared for landing on Ziljain 7.”
Stephan patted the robot on the back.
“That’s great, buddy. Well, seeing as you’ve got things pretty much handled here, I’m going to run to the back and grab some refreshments. You want anything?”
“You know I do not require anything. I do not know why you always ask.”
“Tradition, I guess. Call me when we touch down.”
Stephan joined his bandmates in the ship’s galley. Q, dressed in an obsidian trench coat, rimless glasses and combat heels, daintily sipped on a darjeeling tea. Jerry, dressed in a stained tee, shorts, and sandals, drank a beer.
“We’re T-minus fifteen, folks,” said Stephan.
“Thank goodness! All the recycled air makes my stomach churn,” said Q.
“What’s the matter? I thought you liked recycling.”
“Not when it’s recycled through the bowels of an condemned engine. I swear, I’m probably breathing in more CO2 than actual air.”
“Well, with all your green endeavors, you’re half plant already, and plants love CO2.”
Q rolled her eyes and went back to drinking her tea.
Stephan turned his attention to Jerry.
“Whatcha drinking, good buddy?”
“Now there’s the stuff. Toss me a bottle would you?”
Jerry reached into the fridge, pulled out a cold brew, and tossed it towards Stephan. He caught it. Barely. Still, he lifted his glass up to the heavens with great bravado and charm
“Well team, here’s to our next gig. May it prove profitable beyond our wildest imaginations.”
“Still not the Atreyu,” said Q, “We’d be there now, knee deep in fans, money and free swag, if Bass Clef here hadn’t gone asking for treble.”
“I said I’m sorry. How many times do I have to say it before it matters?”
“I don’t know. Try a few hundred times more, then maybe it will sink it.”
“Guys! I know we’re not in the most ideal of circumstances, but that just gives us more of a drive to succeed.”
“Or suck,” said Q, “Can’t spell suck-ceed without it.”
“C’mon now,” said Stephan, undaunted. “We’ve got to make the most of this, and we won’t get anywhere by all this in-fighting. Now, are you gonna join me in this toast, or is this gonna be a infuriating exercise in dysfunctional team building.”
Both of his fellow band members suddenly looked very distracted.
“Ugh! Remember what happened on the last planet? You don’t want that, do you?”
Q lifted her glass. Jerry followed suit. Stephan grinned.
“All right then… Everyone in? Good… To success.”
“To success,” the others replied.
With that, Stephan opened his beer, which, after having been well-shaken during the handoff, exploded all over him. Q laughed. Stephan looked around for a towel, just happy the other two were having a good time, even if it was at his expense. In his heart of hearts, he really had no clue of how their next gig would go.