Flash fiction: The Appointment

Ensign Aidan Bane is about to start his new life onboard The Dauntless. But first, he must attend a secret appointment.

The Dauntless was the first Explorer-class starship in the fleet. It was designed for long-haul space travel, equipped with state-of-the-art engines, captained by the war hero Sharon DeSouza, and manned by the best crew the Planetian fleet had ever produced.

So, what was he doing onboard this ship?

Aidan Baine, his belongings in a small backpack slung across his back, found the room he was looking for. And like he promised, the most distinguished Admiral of the fleet had kept his visit quiet.

They stared at each other for a long time before Admiral Edward Baine said: “Hello, Aidan.”

“Sir.” He stepped into the room.  

“Your mother told me that you received your orders today. I see you wasted no time reporting for duty.” His father gave him a small smile.

The Dauntless. Congratulations, son,” he said, slapping him on the shoulders.

Aidan stiffened, taken aback by the sudden contact. He immediately regretted his reaction because his father quickly took away his hand to clasp it behind his back. Edward pretended that he didn’t see Aidan’s reaction, but he obviously did.

For both their sakes, Aidan played along.

His father headed to the cabinet near the windows and began looking through the shelves, searching for something.

It was still strange to see his father smile when all he remembered was disapproval. His father had been making a conscious effort to be genial and warm since Aidan returned four years ago.

He did not wear it well.

Aidan wondered what the psychiatrists told him to elicit such a change. Perhaps having his son nearly die in his arms was a game changer.

After the war, Aidan barricaded himself away from everything he knew. He fled to the Outer Worlds, and drowned himself in Synth, trying to forget. But one memory stuck: The one with his father holding him with tears down his cheeks.

They told him that his father had tracked him down only to find him minutes away from death in front of a dark alley bar on a planet not even on the star maps yet.

Perhaps it was the memory of his father crying, but Aidan cobbled his life back together and against all odds or logic — he was accepted into the Academy.

That was four years ago. But Edward Baine still seemed unsure about how to conduct himself with Aidan. He felt the same, so they both danced around each awkwardly, trying far too hard not to dig at unhealed wounds.

“Wine?” The Admiral lifted a bottle up. The light from the nearby moon made the label sparkle. He recognised it immediately.

“Mantoran vodka?” Aidan lifted an eyebrow. It was a brand particularly coveted by soldiers during the war. “You got your hands on contraband?”

Edward chuckled. “Come now. Mantora is now a trade partner. Although I must admit — this one required a favour from an Outer World ambassador I know.” He handed Aidan his glass.

Aidan settled on the couch.

“Frankly, I find it puzzling,” Aidan said, taking a sip.


“With my record, I would have been glad to get a posting on a patrol ship cruising the asteroid belts. But The Dauntless?”

The question hung between them.

His father frowned heavily, and for a moment he was transported back to the many times when he was called up to his father’s study to endure a lecture.

“If you think I have anything to do with your appointment, Aidan, you’re quite mistaken. Captain DeSouza personally handpicked the crew and would not tolerate any interference. Even from me.” 

“I didn’t mean to accuse you, father,” he said quickly.

“Aidan….” Then his father cleared his throat. “So, your mother was wondering if you need help packing?”

“I don’t really have much. Just a couple of clothes and my slate and I’m done.”

“I see.”

Another awkward silence.

“I’m proud of you, son,” his father said suddenly.

Aidan stiffened. He stared at his glass, running a finger around the rim. Then, he shifted his eyes to his father. He grinned when he saw that his father was also staring at his wineglass.

“Thank you,” Aidan said softly.

Edward looked up, surprised. He nodded. Took another sip.

Too much had happened between them for them to be best buds, but he could at least leave with the knowledge that he had earned a fraction of his father’s approval — something that had eluded him all his life.

“Here’s to new adventures.” Aidan raised his glass.

His father smiled, and they clinked their glasses.

The Appointment is set in the Distant Stars universe. You can download the novella, Heretics of Thran, free, and buy the first book of the series, Shadows of Corinar.


Mystic Pop-up bar

(From left) Manager Gwi, Wol-Ju and Sung Jae.

Cast and characters

  • Yook Sung-Jae – Han Kang-Bae
  • Hwang Jung-Eum – Wol-Ju
  • Choi Won-Young – Manager Gwi

The story

With just a touch, Kang-Bae has the unfortunate ability to make people share their deepest, darkest and saddest woes. It has complicated his life massively to say the least.

One day, he bumps into Wol-Ju who discovers his ability. She becomes super interested in him because his unique ability could help her fulfill a centuries-long goal of resolving the grudges of 100,000 souls.

Not exactly a people person, Wol-Ju finds it challenging to get people to pour out their woes to her. (She’s not exactly the touchy-feely type.) But Kang-Bae will allow her to speed up the process and get her job done fast. An especially valuable talent now that her deadline is fast approaching.

If she’s not able to meet her 100,000 goal in time, she will end up in (gasp) hell.

My thoughts

I was really bored during COVID-19 lockdowns and Mystic Pop-Up Bar felt light and funny enough so that I didn’t have to think about killer mutant viruses, so I decided to try it.

However, I was pretty sure that I would quit it in an episode or two out of boredom. When it first came out I was influenced by a review that said that the show didn’t offer anything exciting, so I assumed it was going to be a yawn fest.

I was pleasantly surprised! I loved Wol-Ju. I totally didn’t recognise Hwang Jung-Eum, who played her. I often found her acting a little too screechy for my liking, but she totally embodied Wol-Jul here. Her shrieky ways was perfect for hot-tempered bar madam Wol-Ju, and her comedic timing made it even better.

What I like about the show

Quirky fun, with an unexpected angsty plot that threads throughout the show. The show deceptively begins on a heavy, sad note – making you think that it’s a tragedy. Then it quickly becomes a fun, quirky show and for a while, we forget its tragic start. However, we will soon understand the haunting beginning of the show, and the tragic tale comes to a very satisfying conclusion at the end of the show.

What I didn’t like

That it’s so short! The drama is only 12 episodes long which was unusual for a Korean drama, which is usually about 16 episodes long.

I would have loved to see more of our trio, especially after all the secret histories were revealed in the last episode.


Very – the drama/grudge of the week episodes is all memorable and fun in their own way.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars!