Nickel and Marthammer were the ones who stayed awake while everyone else just drifted along with the ship like a hundred Sleeping Beauties. With everyone else in cryo for the two year trip to the mining colony, it was up to custodians to make sure that everything stayed ship shape. Being a custodian certainly wasn’t a job most envied. There was no glory whatsoever for keeping the ship running, and, worst of all, almost nothing to do to pass the time.
A delicate balance had to be struck to create a custodial crew who could creatively fix any potential problems, but not become distractions for each other. That wasn’t a problem for Nickel and Marthammer, who hated each other almost immediately. Nickel was the sort of fringy hippy that Marthammer hated, and Marthammer was exactly the sort of oily Neanderthal that grated on Nickel’s nerves. Their mutual disrespect kept them buried in the job for the first few months.
In response to Marthammer’s seven hundredth bout of tapping against any available surface, rather than his customary cascade of muttered curses, Nickel decided to take a more productive route, and he added an improvised poem to the beat provided. Granted, it painted an unflattering portrait of Marthammer’s mother, but he had to admire Nickel’s artistry.
Marthammer was an artist in his own way, being extremely well versed in recreating certain portions of anatomy, much to Nickel’s amusement. The pair took up practicing this art with wax pencils on the faceports of the crew’s sleeppods. When their art supplies ran out, they raided the ship’s cargo bay. This may have happened more than once.
As their last day of solitude was drawing to a close, surveying Nickel’s reasonable facsimile of a bocce ball court and Marthammer’s nearly recognizable drum kit, the men had to admit that they would miss this time shared between just themselves. They could think of no better way to celebrate than to clink their pouches of juice that had been crudely fermented in an improvised still. The legality or even wisdom of this was the concern of the people waking tomorrow. Nickel and Marthammer had nothing to worry about. They were just custodians.