Dear readers, tonight with us is a security officer from a merchant spaceship. She is here to tell us about rebels, inhospitable planets, murder teddies, and tyrannical governments.
Good morning Mrs Kumar, so, let’s start with an easy one. Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
I grew up on a space station orbiting the planet Kilkenny in the Union of Irish Stars, part of a family of Spacers. Being part of a nomadic people meant that there was a lot of travelling in my youth, although pretty much all within the Hyades Sector. Stations are safe and predictable in some regards, but boring in others. It’s always 20 or so degrees Celsius and dry…
Did you have any favourite toys as a child?
Yes, I had a lovely playset of the Mir space station from the 20th century, with seven little space figures, various docking craft and extendable solar arrays that really worked. I passed it onto a niece.
What do you do now?
I’m the Security and Safety Officer on board the fast merchant ship Tulyar, based out of New London. We’re a container vessel shipping agricultural goods from that particular Garden Planet and industrial goods back.
As Security and Safety Officer, my job there is to look after the guns, make sure that the escape pods are functioning and ensure that no-one smuggles their cat on board. We do not want another biosecurity breach, no thanks.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
I would hardly call it an ‘adventure’. It involved us taking a trip to a prison planet filled with deadly jungle things, run by the particularly nasty regime that runs Bangla. They decided that instead of executing people, they’d send them on this planet where the environment or the wildlife would get them. We were being paid to rescue a rebel leader and things didn’t exactly go to plan. For one thing, we didn’t think they’d actually do to the prisoners what they said that they’d done… and it had some rather messy consequences. Then we found out another rather dark secret.
How did you end up going there?
Our cargo was seized by Customs because some idiot decided to smuggle in sexual enhancement drugs in a cargo of freezers for his own personal profit. That’s not very smart when you’re a Spacer. It draws too much attention to a community that has a reputation to maintain.
We couldn’t get any other work and ended up taking that assignment…
What did you think when you saw the planet in question?
To be honest, some of it is a blur with all the stuff that happened to be me, but that place is a really stupid place to build any form of human habitation. Just too many things that can kill you, quickly or slowly.
What was the scariest thing in your adventure?
Not exactly an ‘adventure’, like I said… since I don’t remember the carnivorous plant, the choir of grunting murder teddies takes the prize.
What is the worst thing about living on a spaceship?
You can’t crack open a window or go for a walk outside without dying painfully. Also, if you have an argument with anyone, it’s difficult to avoid them.
What is the best thing about it?
You’re not fixed to one location, so if things get a bit hairy, you can get out of Dodge – or any other system – quickly. Especially on a ship as fast as Tulyar – it may be old, but it can still get a shift on.
Tell us a little about your friends.
‘Tulyar’ is a pretty big ship with room for up to 25 crew members. We’ve had quite a bit of turnover lately after the last adventure, so I’ll focus on one of the people who has stuck around.
Our youngest crew member is Maria Penzance. She’s an Apprentice who we took on six months ago to train her up for a full starship career. She’s very smart and knowledgeable; in fact, she managed to get us involved in our latest escapade through a contact who I won’t name to protect her identity. Not that Maria is in any way to blame for the cluster that ensued.
Particularly good shot as well.
Any romantic involvement?
Yes, I’ve been married for four years to Daniel O’Hanlon, a sweet, handsome, and very caring man.
We also have a baby daughter, Kimberley, who looks adorable even when she’s filled her nappy. She lives with us on the ship but can’t legally be considered a crew member as she’s fifteen years too young for that.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
The Bangla Republic. A dictatorship ruled by an ideologue named Goran Marvin, who engaged in wholesale violent purges of his opponents. We’ve got quite a few refugees from his rule living in New London and also back in the UIS.
I didn’t like them – and then I visited Destitution. Their method of dealing with prisoner escapes is excessive to put it mildly.
What’s your favourite drink?
Drink? I’m partial to cherry vodka. Very tasty and potent enough to take the edge off a bad day.
Come on. I’m 23, not seven.
I’d say lacrosse, but that’s hardly relaxing. To be honest, at the moment, with Kimmy being well, a baby, sleeping.
What does the future hold for you?
We’re getting ready for a ten-month journey out of the Hyades Sector towards Inner Space on a trade and flag-flying mission for New London. That’s going to involve a visit to Sol, where I’ve never been. Most people in this sector haven’t and so I’m pretty looking forward to it.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
Well, in that case…
I’ve got a foster sister named Sonya Ward-Meyer. She’s very much the maligned sheep of the family, what with her joining the Terran Union Navy. Joining the navy would be bad enough, but the TU one? Really?
Thank you for speaking with us, Mrs Kumar.
No need. Just doing as my Captain ordered.
Adam Carpenter was born in the 1980s but is too young to actually remember them. He’s been a fan of Doctor Who since before it was cool, has a keen interest in railways and is generally very handy to have on your quiz team. Having had an interest in creative writing since primary school, he has just published his first novella, Murder Planet, with another two in the works.
You can find Sunita on the pages of Murder Planet.
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