Nearly out of breath, Jenny rounded the corner and paused for a moment, glancing back to see if she'd lost them. Jenny looked around; she was in a shipyard. People were milling about everywhere; traders with their carts of ware, families with their luggage as they tried to find passage to greener skies, all different kinds with so many different stories jumbled together in a great mass of noise and color. Over all this she could hear her pursuers coming closer; Jenny would have to either hide or keep running. She did enjoy running, except that right now she was so very, very tired.
The ship closest to her had its ramp extended, and the only person standing nearby appeared distracted, talking to a trader as she twirled a paper umbrella every color of the rainbow. Jenny couldn't imagine anything evil of such a girl, or that she would be traveling on anything but a decent ship, with decent people. Her decision made, Jenny dashed up the ramp and hid amongst some crates. After a few tense seconds, she peeked around the corner of her boxes; the girl with the umbrella had not noticed her.
Jenny breathed a sigh of relief and made herself comfortable; all she had to do was wait here long enough for her would be assailants to get bored, and then slip back out among the throngs of people in the shipyard. Of course, there would still be the little matter of stealing her shuttle back, refueling, and finding another planet to go to that was within her small ship's limited range, but Jenny was content to worry about those things later, and just enjoy this brief respite. She had been running for such a long time. It had seemed like fun in the beginning, but perhaps it was only fun when you had someone running alongside you.
Jenny quickly rejected that thought before it could continue to its inevitable and painful destination.
27 minutes, Jenny decided, should be long enough for it to be safe for her to leave her hiding place, and soon enough that she was unlikely to be discovered by the people who owned the ship. Jenny didn't fancy escaping one disaster simply to step into another. What was the phrase that funny old man had used, the one she met last week? Oh yes, 'out of the frying pan and into the oven', he had said. Of course, Jenny didn't have a clue in the slightest as to what a frying pan or oven looked like, but she like the sound of the words. She loved meeting people, and learning new things, liked it even more than the running, she had discovered. Because Jenny, in her mere 283 days of life, found she had a lot to learn, about everything, it seemed. It was exhilarating most of the time, so many new things to discover each day, places to explore and people to meet.
But some days, like today, it was overwhelming, and confusing, and she felt so ignorant and out of her depth, and so very, very alone.
25 minutes now.
Jenny settled in to wait, closing her eyes and letting the seconds trickle over her as they passed. Like a gentle breeze or the sound of the ocean, it soothed Jenny whenever she did this, just stopped and listened to the gentle hum of Time. Not that she knew that's what she was doing of course, or had any inkling of its significance. She just wanted to relax.
So relax she did.
So much so in fact that she began to doze, ever so slightly, but just enough that she was startled awake 7.46 minutes later as the sound of boots loudly coming up the ramp registered in her brain. Jenny scrambled to peek through a crack in one of the crates, and swallowed uneasily when she saw that two pairs of boots had stopped not three feet away from her hiding place.
Jenny took a breath and ignored the pounding of her hearts as she strained to listen; the owners of the boots appeared to be arguing.
"I don't think it'd be all that dangerous for us to stay just one more gorram hour."
"See now, I agree with you on about two words outta' that sentence; you don't think."
The first pair of boots muttered several things Jenny didn't quite understand ,something about not getting any decent trim in months, and then a resentful sounding remark in another language, and just because the second pair of boots had decided to become a monk why did he have to suffer? Jenny couldn't be sure, First Boots' voice was very low and growly.
Second Boots didn't seem to appreciate these comments very much, as he interrupted First Boots very loudly.
"I don't wanna have to explain this again. I'm already in a bad mood over the fact that we're so desperate we're doin a job for Badger, which makes me just a mite twitchy considerin' what happened last time we had dealings with him, not to mention the fact that I'm currently down a gunman until Zoe heals, so I think even someone with your limited thinkin' abilities might be able to understand why I wanna get off this rock as soon as possible!"
Jenny jumped as Second Boots bellowed; First Boots scuffled uncertainly but remained silent.
"And last time I checked was still the captain of this ship, meanin' I get to say when we leave. Now get this cargo strapped down so Serenity can take off, dong ma?"
Jenny heard Second Boots stalk away, leaving First Boots behind grumbling.
She looked through her peephole to ascertain where First Boots was exactly; if she could just slip out unnoticed before they pulled up the---
Jenny positioned herself, ready to sprint for the exit that was now quickly disappearing. If she went now she could just clear the ramp and land on the ground below. One, two, thr----
In her anxiety over the ramp, Jenny had ceased to pay attention to First Boots, who had just dumped a weighted cargo net across her hiding place amongst the crates and boxes before leaving the cargo bay, still muttering. She sighed as she watched the ramp close, unable to escape.
For better or worse, Jenny was now a stowaway on a ship called Serenity.