They found her in the Lithium Flower, a bar off Macrency in the Denpanar district. It wasn’t the first time, it’d been one of her haunts before she’d left home. Just like back then they found her upside-down in a terminal velocity cabinet, the simulated wind keeping her in the centre of the space. Her eyes were closed and she might have been asleep.
Thornben Rorge looked quellingly at his son and cleared his throat. Her eyes opened then, surprised, she said, “Father! I’ll just get out of here.” She reached out, grabbed the handrails on either side of the door and neatly flipped herself upright so her feet were on the floor.
“Your brothers and sisters call me Dad,” he observed sadly.
“Well, you had to be the disciplinarian far less with them than you did with me,” she shrugged.
“Your mother and I didn’t adapt well to having, well, you as a daughter,” Thornben admitted. “You weren’t the typical Navigator child or teen.”
“That’s because I’m not a Navigator,” she sighed. “The genetic lottery gave me an entirely different life path, even if they can still trace it back to the Meddlers.”
“Taggert-,” her father began.
“Please, I go by Taggery or Tagger these days. Taggert isn’t a girl’s name outside Navigators’ circles. Do you want to grab something to drink and we can talk?” She smiled as her brother looked around uncertainly, comparing his tailored robe to the sarongs, fatigues and djellabahs that filled the room. “Don’t worry, Tellin, they can do you a pot of real Serangan tea.”
Ten minutes later the three of them were settled around a back corner table near the kitchen. Both the male Rorges looked uncomfortable but Taggery relaxed into the role of informal hostess, pouring the tea and handing around the plate of little cakes. When they all had tea in front of them she asked pleasantly, “So, what did you want to talk about?”
“You came into Serapas Port but you didn’t come to see us.” In response to Taggery’s questioning look her father added, “Your Aunt Renart saw your name on yesterday’s consolidated incoming crew manifest and told us that you were here and weren’t due to leave yet.”
“Yamma,” her brother used an affectionate name for their mother, “is hurt that you haven’t been by already.”
“She was the one who told me that I’d charted my own course and not to come back to her with my problems when I chose to go off to school in Yorli,” Taggery replied gently.
“You’d just turned down the position she got you when your application to the Astrolabe,” he named the Navigators’ trade school, “was rejected. She didn’t mean you should stay away forever.”
“Didn’t she?” Taggery smiled briefly. “I chose not to be a second rate Navigator who only had a position through nepotism and to instead go out and find something I could be good at.”
Their father interposed, “And did you?”
Taggery gave a genuine smile this time. “Yes, I did. I’m a Pilot. Mother’s right about the ancient family heritage: our lines go back to the Meddlers’ breeding studies for co-dominance on the Pilot gene-complex. It’s not, which is why you’re all Navigators.”
“We’re statistical anomalies.”
“Yes, there should’ve been more like me.”
Voted With Her Feet 2 is here.