“Passengers had a water leak an hour ago.” The air suddenly seemed to sharpen.
Water had been critical to interstellar travel from the beginning. Reclamation tech had never lived up to its promise, and building craft with large enough water supply tanks proved too expensive for most. So, ships like the Pinoche carried less water, relying on carefully planned stops along the route to collect ice.

Although incredibly clean, like the rest of the ship, the floor in the corridor showed its age with scuff marks and scratches, the kind paint doesn’t hide.  As she strode along, the worn metal grating beneath her feet rattled occasionally.  Kaylah tipped her head back to examine the conduits running overhead behind a series of grates.  Several were taped together with what looked like duct tape.

“A budget ride is a budget ride,” a family friend had warned as they said their last goodbyes back on Earth.  He had added earnestly, “but it will get you there in one piece.  The captain’s a good man.”

“Whatever that means,” Kaylah thought.  She pulled her coat tighter.  The air smelled musty but better than in the passenger rec area.   On any given day, when too many of the unwashed crammed into the converted cargo hold… Her nose crinkled in disgust.  She understood the need for limited water rationing, but she didn’t have to like it.