A/N: This is a fic based on a series of ten prompts over at the 10_what_ifs community on livejournal. The theme set I'm using is Spaceship. So , if you've figured it out, this is going to be a AU fic centered around a freshly graduated medical student, Ino Yamanaka, trying to survive the crew of the Courtesan and the hazards they bring. The particular prompt for this chapter is 6. Crew.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
What The Hell You Looking At?
This isn't quite what I expected. Ino couldn't help but think. She looked at the papers in her hand, and then back up at the spacedock. She had been dropped off by shuttle craft at eight hundred hours on the desert dry planet of Tauroses. After the three hour shuttle ride from the Coalition Academy, she had just wanted to find the nearest hotel and pass out. But no, she had to trudge up and down the crowded space docks, getting nasty looks because of her black Coalition uniform. Tauroses was still well within the inner circle of the Coalition, but the docks on any planet were always rougher areas, harbouring criminals and dissenters. The looks did little to settle the nerves that were causing the butterflies in her stomach. It reminded her of her first days at the Academy, when she was far from what she knew and she was a stranger. It wasn't turning out to be a great day.
And now she had found what was supposed to be the ship she was assigned to. It was the right dock, hell it was even the right make and model of space craft. She just didn't expect the ship she'd be stuck on for the next several months to be so ... rickety looking. There were dings in the hull from either careless driving or running into space debris. The hull's paint was aged to a beige colour, and wasn't the shiny titanium white of Coalition ships. The ship's belly was open, and she could see the would-be passengers getting their gear settled in the cargo bay.
The Courtesan's Fan, the merchant vessel she was now stationed to, wasn't part of her ideal scenario. Being fresh from graduating her medical program, she knew she didn't have any hope of being assigned to one of the upper class New Galaxy Coalition ships. Or even being assigned to a Coalition Ship, period. Still she had hoped that her high marks might have gotten her onto a classier looking ship.
"She's studier than she looks."
Ino startled, almost dropping the duffle bag slung on her shoulder. Ino looked around for the voice, but couldn't pick out where she had heard it from in the crowded pier.
"I'm over here."
Ino looked again, noticing the maintenance ladder built into the side of the ship. Her eyes following the ladder up let her finally see the owner of the mysterious voice. Sitting precariously on the edge of an open porthole was a girl Ino would guess was close to her own age. She was pretty with a curved mouth, and soft brown eyes. Chestnut hair was interestingly styled – long bangs framed her face, with small beads tying the loose ends together, the rest of her hair was kept away from her face by being pulled into a high bun.
Shading her eyes with her free hand Ino called up, "Are you a crew member of the Courtesan's Fan? I'm supposed to meet someone about -"
"You're the medical officer, right?" The woman called down. "I'll be right down."
Ino watched as the girl clambered down the side of the ship with more ease than Ino would have ever imagined. Not only that, the girl treated the dangerous twenty-foot height as if it was nothing. The stranger had quickly gained Ino's respect for that alone – she was personally terrified of heights.
When the girl finally made it to the ground safe and sound, she stuck out her hand for a traditional handshake. "I'm Haku. I'm the pilot of the Courtesan."
Ino grasped Haku's outstretched hand, "Ino, the medical officer. But you already knew that."
A wide grin flashed on the brunette's face. "Well it's not hard to figure out. We don't get too many Coalitions officers running around in this planet, not unless their running in packs. Your black uniforms kind of set you apart."
"Tell me about it," Ino grumbled.
"Let's get you inside and settled in, it's got to be hot in all that black."
Ino hummed in agreement, and followed Haku into the cooler interior of the ship. Black was not a good colour to be wearing on Tauroses; a planet renowned for its dry, hot seasons. Coalition regalia wasn't much suited for hot temperatures, either. The heavier wool and cotton mix of her jacket was making her sweat unbearably. The heavy cotton pants she was wearing wasn't helping much either. Neither was the cap she had to wear as part of her uniform. She could feel the sweat clinging to her scalp under the French braid her blonde hair was twisted into.
Ino blinked, trying to get her eyes to adjust to the darker interior of the Courtesan.
"As you can see," Haku gestured, "this is the main storage area for the Courtesan. It's also the biggest area of space we have on the ship, and is our main exit and entrance. It's a little different than most Coalition ships, where the storage bay is along the bottom, and the entrance is separate."
"I can see," Ino noted.
"Not liking my impromptu tour guide speech?" Haku teased.
"Not at all," the blonde tried to convince, "it's just been a long day –"
"And you're probably want to take a nap and a shower," Haku finished.
Ino sighed. Trust another girl to catch on quick. If it had been one of her old officer buddies they would have never caught on. "That sounds lovely."
Haku smiled fondly. "Well it'll have to wait a bit. You need to go down to the medical bay and account for our supplies. I'd hate for us to fail to follow Coalition protocol."
Ino gave a heavy sigh, "And, which way is the medical bay?"
An airy laugh, "I'll show you."
Haku lead the way, taking some stairs and turning down a tunnel-like hallway that branched out into several other halls.
"These older ships are built to last, but they can be a little topsy-turvy until you can get your head around them," Haku explained as Ino followed the twisting path that was set.
"But don't worry, it's a small ship compared to those Coalition behemoths! I guarantee, after a week you'll know the Courtesan like the back of your own hand. And ah, here we are."
They turned down another hallway, which instantly opened up into the medical bay. The familiar white walls and the smell of chemical disinfectant settled her nerves. She felt instantly at home.
"I'm just gonna list off what we need. Do have something to keep track of what I say?" Ino asked.
Haku held up a small touch-screen piece of tech.
Ino nodded and listed off supplies and quantities. Their medical supplies were mostly in order. Only some of the medical equipment needed replacing. Some of their antibiotics were old, but that was perfectly normal. From what she understood from her assignment papers the Courtesan only carried passengers from time to time, and most of it was before the newer legislation. According to Coalition protocol, space vessels only needed to have a Coalition trained medical officer if the number of crew members exceeded eight or if the number of passengers exceeded five and the length of passage took more than four weeks. With a crew of five and a sporadic history of taking passengers, the amount of medical supplies were actually in better condition than she would have guessed. There was only one that was of major concern.
"Odd, typically I would have expected an excess of gut for sutures. But there's next to nothing," Ino commented.
Haku shrugged while tapping on her tech. "Zabuza probably used it to floss his teeth. He does that sometimes when he runs out."
"Odd practice," Ino couldn't help but say. "We're also out of pain killers, like seriously out. There are no lower grade painkillers like aspirin, and very little of the high grade stuff, like morphine. Actually scratch that," Ino said, as she dug further in the cabinet, "There's also no morphine either. There's some codeine, but not much. Now that's just odd."
"Not really," Haku argued. "Zabuza and Kisame were cleaning in here a couple weeks ago. The pair of them are such klutzes. They probably broke the little amount we're allowed to carry and never told the captain to replace it. That stuff isn't cheap."
Haku pocketed her tech in her kimono-styled jacket. "I'll pass the list off to one of the boys. There's some final shopping that needs to be done. Do you have any requests? Any kind of tea you like? Canned good?"
"Please tell me you have some dark roasted coffee?" Ino begged.
"That we most definitely will have," Haku laughed. "Come on, I'll show you to your room."
Ino followed the other woman out back into the hall. Several more twists and turns later Ino found herself in the passenger's dorm if the number of people milling around was any indication.
"Sorry you're not set up in the crew dorm – it would be much quieter – but there's no room and your closer to the infirmary this way. I hope you don't mind."
Ino dropped her bag into the room Haku had indicated. "It's fine." Ino looked around at the room that was going to be hers. It was pretty standard fair. A double bed was nestled into a wall, with several sliding doors in the two other walls that would be used for storage. If there were more than a single passenger staying in the room, the space behind the sliding panels could be used for bed space. The air was a little stale, but that would eventually air out. The space was small, but it wasn't like she would spend a lot of time there. She'd typically spend a lot of time in the infirmary, a very easy place for her to be found in the case of an emergency.
The blonde kicked off her boots before flopping onto her bed. It was just a mattress, and an old one at that, but Ino could feel her body heave a sigh of relief.
"I'll come back when it's time for the ship to leave," Haku whispered as she left.
"Mhmm," Ino hummed back as the door whisked shut.
The blonde woke up from her nap with a jolt. For a confused moment she couldn't remember what woke her up or where she was.
A polite knock on the door jogged her memory.
"It's open," she called out stuffing her feet into her boots.
A familiar brunette stuck her head around the corner. "Sorry to wake you up, but we'll be taking off in a half hour."
Ino massaged at her temple, trying to ease away the sleep headache that was coiled there.
A frown appeared on Haku's pretty features. "Something the matter?"
"Hm?" Ino responded, "No, I just need to walk around. Still a little sleepy I guess."
Haku made a suggestion, "We'll take the long way to the cargo hold then. Just follow me."
Ino sighed before resolutely tagging along. "What's the long way?"
A head of her, Haku responded, "Well, all the passages in the Courtesan are actually part of a loop. There's a running hall that goes to the observation deck, through the mess hall, to cargo bay, to the infirmary and all the way to the back where the engine is. From the engine room you can take another hall back to the cargo bay, or you could go back the way you came."
Ino nodded. "The secondary hall would be for heat ventilation and proper air circulation right?"
Haku hummed, "That's right. There are also smaller passages that stem from the bigger one; they lead to the dorms."
Ino nodded again, noticing a very distinct change in temperature. Sweat was starting to collect on the back of her neck. "I take it that we're getting close to the engine room?"
Haku flashed her a smile, "Smart girl. Hey, since we're here you should meet-"
"Will you shove off?"
Angry voices further down the hall grabbed both their attentions. "Seems like they're at it again," sighed Haku.
Ino followed Haku down to the hall, and to what looked like the entrance to the engine room, the voices becoming more audible.
"-we're not reaching maximum thrust. If we installed the proper AI system we-" a younger voice rang out.
"If I told you once I've told you a thousand times-" an older, deeper voice argued back.
Haku crossed the threshold into the engine room without hesitating. Ino followed a little less bravely. She really didn't want to get involved in what sounded like a nasty argument. She followed anyways, her skin tingling at the sudden increase of dry heat from the engines. She was still in full uniform, and it felt like she was suffocating in the dry hell.
"Have you not been listening?" A man in his twenties shouted. Dark eyes and dark hair contrasted against his pale complexion. His hair was long and shaggy, and his bangs hung in his eyes. Ino couldn't help the happy little flip-flop her stomach did when she looked at him.
Across from the boy with the ebony hair was an older man who towered over him. The older man had broad shoulders and his arms and chest had strong muscle definition. He also had dark hair, but it was closely cropped to his skull, and he had a much darker complexion. The older yelled at the younger, "I have, just long enough to know it's total fucking bull-"
"Zabuza," Haku cut in, "language, please."
The older man, Zabuza, grumbled darkly, but didn't really argue. The younger man looked chastised.
"Hey, Haku," the boy said awkwardly.
Haku gave a small smile, "Hello, Sasuke. Trying to convince Zabuza to install the new AI again?"
Sasuke gave an exasperated sigh, "It would save so many-"
"Over. My. Dead. Rotting. Corpse. Boy," Zabuza ground out.
Sasuke had a look on his face that looked like he was spitfire-ready to jump into their previous verbal argument. Haku coughed politely before anything could be said.
"Boys, this is Ino Yamanaka, our new medical officer. The one the Coalition sent?"
Sasuke looked bored and Zabuza just wore the same dirty look that he had been wearing since Ino had walked into the engine room.
"Ino," Haku, continued, "this is Zabuza, our chief engineer and also the ship's mechanic. The one next to him is Sasuke. Sasuke is our communications officer, as well an engineer himself. He deals primarily with the more delicate tech on the ship."
"Hello," Ino provided politely. She didn't seem to achieve much acknowledgement.
"Sasuke, we're going down to the cargo bay. Care to walk us down?" Haku phrased it like a question, but Ino got the sense it was less a question and more of a command.
Sasuke stuck his hands in his pockets and headed for the door. "Sure."
Ino followed suit, but Haku hung back. "I'll see you later, Zabuza?"
The older man grunted something that could be labelled as a positive. It seemed enough for Haku, if the smile on her face was any indication. "Alright, then."
Haku lead the way again; Sasuke was several feet ahead of them, intent on ignoring them both. Ino couldn't help the little sting of hurt that she felt.
"Sorry about that," Haku apologized, "If I left them alone they would be arguing 'til Tauroses' sun went supernova. If Zabuza didn't clock Sasuke into next week first."
"It's okay," Ino assured, "I don't mind keeping my first day on the job as quiet as possible."
Haku couldn't help but give a little laugh while turning around the corner, with Ino right on her heels, laughing too.
All she heard was a yelp from Haku right before all Ino remembered was landing on her ass.
"What the-" Ino mumbled.
"Will you watch where the fuck you're going?"
Ino looked up, and felt her breath catch in her chest. Towering above her was something rarely seen this close to the inner sector of the Coalition.
"What the hell you looking at?"