As I wandered the derelict halls of the ancient wreckage, I pondered briefly on how I was to get out of this mess. Ever since I crashed here, on this desert rock, the only true companion I had was this ship, and with the way things were looking, it would be that way for a while. 

“Hey Ingrid,” I said casually, as if to no one.

The ship’s overboard lights flickered, and a voice came over the intercom. “Yes, pilot?”

“How do you make sense of it? Being stuck in a desert, um, forever?”

“I am not stuck here forever, pilot. I am still making repairs to my subsystems. I will be free from these sands, but not in your lifetime. I imagine it is a burgeoning feeling for you.”

“It is,” I said, making my way through the sandy halls of the belly of the ship. Loose wires hung from her ceilings, the wall panels were falling apart. She’d been here for ages. “I don’t want to die here.”

“Neither do I,” the ship said, its voice echoing through the corridors. 

I made my way through a galley, the empty benches and food serving areas covered with dust. Overhead, a bare fluorescent bulb flickered, its life slowly waning. I sat at one of the tables, and it creaked beneath me. The crew of the ship was long gone, and only I remained, new blood on old soil.

Placing my head in my hands, I said, “So you won’t die.”

“I cannot,” the ship said. “Unless my reactor fails, which it will not. Are you hungry, pilot?”

“I am.”

A small machine on the wall rattled, and spat out a small, packaged meal. Apparently the ship’s soy farm was still functional, so tofu was on the menu. I walked over to it, picked it up, unwrapped the tofu nutrient bar, and started eating. It was bland.

“So what do I do?”

The ship said, “If you want my advice, make your way to my cryogenic chambers.”

“You’ve advised me on that before. I’ve already said no.”

“It is your choice, pilot.”

I sighed, and walked on, idly traipsing through the ship. I went through the old barracks, to the derelict bridge, to the doleful corridors leading to the reactors. There weren’t even skeletons left, the ship had been here for so long. 

“Ingrid,” I said, “I want off this rock.”

“So do I,” it replied.

I had offered to try and repair some of her workings, but they’d proven too complex for my skillset. These SmartShips were technological marvels of the old age, truly. As I walked on, I passed a window, and looked out of it. Nothing but red and black sand dunes, as far as the eye could see, and two blazing, overbearing suns staring down at the desolation below them. I quietly thanked God for the air conditioning.

Then, I walked past a closed hangar door. All of the hangar doors were closed, and malfunctioned at that. No matter how much I tried, or with what tools, I couldn’t shimmy them open, and neither could Ingrid. Then, it struck me.

“Ingrid, do the camera feeds still work inside the hangars?”

“They do,” she said. “I will load them on the nearby terminal.”

I turned, and saw a terminal blink to life with a camera feed from inside the hangar. I wasn’t sure why I’d never asked before. I suppose in all the trauma, I’d just never thought to. I examined the grainy feed, but the camera was askew.

“Turn to the right thirty degrees.”

The camera swiveled, and its feed landed on a Y-Wing fighter, perfectly suspended in the hanger. My heart leapt. There was a ship in there. “Holy God,” I muttered. “Ingrid, we have to open the doors. I need that ship.”

“I cannot.”

“Well there must be some way.”

“I cannot,” she repeated. Something stirred in me.

“Why not?”

The ship, for the first time in the three years I’d been aboard it, paused for a moment before answering. “Because I do not want you in there,” it said.

I frowned. “And why is that?”

Again, it paused. “Because,” it said, its voice ringing down the halls, “I do not wish to be alone, pilot.”


“If you leave, I will be alone again. I do not wish this for me. I will not open the doors.”

I clenched my jaw. “Ingrid,” I said. “I need to get out of here. I have a family, friends, I–”

“You are my friend,” it said.

I paused, thinking. I supposed it was right – we’d been each other’s company for the past three years. The ship had seemed genuinely excited to see me when I’d found it too, offering me its stores of food and reclaimed water, talking to me almost nonstop. It had much to say, thoughts about the universe, about humanity, about the Itona and the Glorigans, about purpose and meaning and truth. 

Our conversations were broad, deep, defined, and beautiful.

The ship continued, “Without you, I will resume the process of rebuilding in silence. I do not wish that.”

I’d made a friend here. But I had a family.

“Ingrid, open the doors.”


I slammed my fist on the door, and repeated, “Ingrid, open the fucking doors.”

“No,” it said again.

My head was starting to hurt. I leaned on the door, and slumped down, sitting down beside it. With a sigh, I curled up into a ball, and closed my eyes, feeling tears coming on. My salvation was right there. Right there. I could take it, I could be free. But the ship – my friend – was being obdurate. 

“Ingrid,” I said. “If you don’t open the doors, we aren’t friends anymore.”

The ship said nothing back, and for a moment, silence filled the air. But then, I could feel the doors hiss, and grind their way open slowly behind me. I jumped to my feet, rushing into the hangar room, onto the overlook that peered down at the Y-Wing. It looked old, but intact enough to escape this rock.

Then, Ingrid said, “If you leave this planet, we aren’t friends anymore.”

I leaned on the railing, looking down at the Y-Wing. 

“I have a family, Ingrid,” I said.

“I do not. I have nobody.”

“Okay, well, that’s not my fault.”

“It will be,” the ship said. 

It felt like a gut punch. I supposed it was true. I would be abandoning the one thing that had kept me alive long enough to find a way back home, using her and then abandoning her. I gripped the railing tightly, and looked out at the desert beyond the bay doors. There was nothing here, and nobody. Nobody but me, and her.

I thought about home. About my family. I’d been gone for three years, they probably thought I was dead anyway. Maybe Taylor remarried. Maybe Jacob and Portia forgave me for not being there. What was I really going back to anyway? My life ended the moment my ship ripped itself apart in the sands of Techro-3. I slumped over the railing. 

“Ingrid,” I said, standing back up, and looking at the fighter before me. “Thank you for all you’ve done for me.”

“And thank you, pilot. Your arrival was a pleasant surprise.”

My lips tightened as I contemplated heading down to the ship. For some reason, I just couldn’t. I couldn’t leave my friend.

With a heavy sigh, I turned, and exited the hangar, making my way further into the ship. It noticed, and asked, “What are you doing, pilot?”

“Ingrid,” I said, “show me to the cryo pods. I’m taking a nap. Wake me when we’re off this rock.”

The lights in the ship flashed eagerly. Almost happily. “Very well, my pilot,” it said. “Right this way.”


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