Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Revealing Lunch / Smitty's Welcome Speech

Revealing Lunch
Day 2 (cont)
1211 Hours

Once Yellow Dog left the mess hall, MacGregor noticed Mac standing at attention, hand raised in a salute, reporting to Smitty. There he goes, giving the girl a hard time. Why can’t he just assume that anyone assigned to us knows what they’re supposed to know, and wait for them to prove him wrong? Poor kid. And her probably sore this morning, too. That was not an easy workout she put herself through in the gym last night.
The captain dismissed the girl, and Drake dawdled over his pudding while she got her lunch. She received plenty of offers to share a table, but none she seemed inclined to accept. Looking for a familiar face? Maybe mine will do. “Mac,” he called as she walked past. Green eyes turned toward him, and he indicated the opposite chair. “You can sit here, if you like. I’m almost done.”
She took one more look around the mess hall. “Thanks, Mac,” she stated as she sat in the proffered chair.
“My name’s MacGregor. I’d appreciate it if you’d remember that.”
“I remember your name just fine, Dr Drake MacGregor,” she returned softly. “It’s just too long.” She cut her hot roast beef sandwich. “You have any idea how long it’s been since I’ve had anybody I could- or would- call Mac?”
That sounds interesting. Let it slide. “There’s no other MacDowells aboard the Fireball,” he stated.
“Not surprising. Is it significant?”
“You said you had a brother here,” he reminded her.
“And you tried to look him up? Why?” She took a bite and waited.
Because I’m old-fashioned enough to ask for permission to woo you? No, I’m certain how she’d react to that. Made a promise to myself, anyway. It’d be easier to ignore these openings if she didn’t provide so many. He shrugged. “You got a brother aboard or don’t you?”
“Sure. Bugalu.”
He froze, a spoon of pudding half-way to his mouth. Bugalu! “Not biological.”
She grinned and drank some iced tea. “Of course not. Adopted.”
“Which one’s adopted?”
“Both,” she answered and stirred gravy and potatoes together before looking up. She sighed. “You look confused. I’ll start from the beginning.” She glanced at the chronometer and grimaced. “My brother Matt went to the Academy, and when I followed, Matt had to take care of me.” She rolled her eyes. “Not an easy job for 8 brothers, back home, so Matt alone was doomed. He drafted Bugalu to help. That seemed to work, so we adopted each other.”
He shook his head. “Hard to imagine, knowing Bugalu.”
She grinned. “A reversal of roles, you’re right.” She got another forkful of food ready. “But it works for us.”
He watched her eat for a minute, marveling at her revelations. “What about us? Are we going to be friends?”
She groaned. “I forgot to ask!” She glanced at the chronometer again and reached for her tea.
“Well, make up your mind, because if we’re not going to be friends, I might as well bed you.”
She dropped her glass, and tea flew everywhere. Face suddenly white, she started cleaning the spilled liquid with her napkin. “You said there were other options!”
“True,” he admitted, handing her his napkin. “But I can’t see myself ignoring you. You, uh, you got some on your uniform.”
“I can’t go back to duty like this! I’ll have to change!” Jumping to her feet, she grabbed her tray and hurried away.
He watched her leave. Bugalu’s definitely got his work cut out for him.

Smitty’s Welcome Speech
Day 2 (cont)
1543 Hours

Smitty closed panel E19 and stepped to the next one, a bit closer to MacDowell. She glanced at him, reddened, and buried her face inside her open panel. I thought it was slow this morning, but it’s worse this afternoon. That’s only 3 panels for me, and how many for her? Two? Every time I move, she throws a scared look at me, turns red, and pretends to go back to work.
Afraid of me. Well, a little of that’s a good thing in a subordinate.
Afraid I’ll ask another killer question like the first one. I won’t. After that one, how can I go backwards to hailing frequencies and start again? I’ve really messed this one up.
He glanced at the time. So late. If I’m going to give my usual ‘welcome aboard’ speech, I’d better get to it. “Lieutenant.”
She whirled to face him, slamming her panel closed. “Sir!”
Her eyes are so green, so big. That’s the fear, I suppose. He pulled his gaze away and began pacing as she stood trembling in something that vaguely resembled standing at attention. This won’t be easy, with no idea where her trouble spots may be, no faulty answer for a reference. It’ll have to be generic. I haven’t given one of those in years.
He launched into his usual initial bawling out of a new subordinate, stumbling now and again, with no specifics to work with. It took longer than he expected; it was past the end of her shift when he finally reached the end of his speech. “There are a lot of things you may need to know on the Fireball that you had no cause to concern yourself with aboard the-“ No, not that name. “-aboard a tug. You should have studied these items already, before coming aboard. But regardless, Fleet regulations say you get six months to prove you’re capable of handling the job. If it was up to me, you’d only get sex days.” Did I really just say sex? Never mind, keeping going! “You’ll be tested on what you know once a month until you pass or your probation is over, whichever comes first. Believe me, if you don’t pass, you won’t be here past the half year. Understood?”
“Yes, sir,” she stated, a slight quiver in her voice.
“Good. Report here at 0800. Dismissed.”
She turned and ran for the door, hesitated to take something Abdulla offered her.
“Abdulla,” Smythe greeted the Arabian communications officer. “You’re off duty.”
“Yes, but this seemed a good place to find Mac. I assumed you’d be giving her the usual greeting. When I got it, though, I remember it having more—“
“Details?” he wondered.
“Passion,” she finished, coming inside. “Were her answers not acceptable?”
He grunted and turned to put tools away, something MacDowell had neglected to do. “What did you give her?”
“I didn’t give her the answer!” the dusky woman bristled.
He looked up sharply. “She came to you for help with a question, didn’t she?”
“She did. Can you blame her? Nobody’s going to know the answer to that when they first come aboard. I was appalled you asked it at all, let alone as your first question!” Not as appalled as I was. “I didn’t give her the answer. I helped her work through the equation, which she had already found.”
I’m not used to being bawled out by one of my underlings. Even if I deserve it. “I meant this afternoon,” he told her. “When she left just now, you handed her something. What was it?”
“Oh. That was a review disk. Help with the complex equation was not the only help she asked for. Good night, Mr Smythe.”
The vixen was one step ahead of me all the time!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Unexpected Question / Plea for Help / Smythe Gets His Answer

Unexpected Question
Day 2 (cont)
1124 Hours
Smitty closed the Auxiliary Bridge Engineering E29 access panel and glanced at the chronometer. This is going slow. Maybe it seems slow because I have no idea how she’s doing. He looked across the room to see her standing at communications, head and hands inside the open C32 panel. Is that the same place she started this morning? I can’t remember. Surely not.
He moved to the E13 panel. Coppery hands kneaded white shoulders, worked down the pale back- A clatter and hissed word brought him back to the here and now. MacDowell had dropped her spanner. As she bent to retrieve it, he got a good view of a rounded rear tightly encased in red uniform shorts. “Everything okay?” he asked.
She glanced up from adjusting her spanner, her face red, and turned back to her work. “Yes, dear.”
What did she say? He approached her as she closed the access panel.
She glanced his way nervously. “Yes, sir. Everything’s fine.”
I swear she called me—No, of course not. The acoustics must be bad. He reached her as she opened the next panel. “How are you doing?”
“How long since this was last done?” she asked, rubbing her sleeve along her jaw. “It’s very dusty in there.”
There was a smear along her jaw, and a wisp of red curl had come free from her chignon. Emerald eyes watched him from a milky white face, a dust of pale freckles on either cheek. “Too long,” he answered. Too long since the last shore leave. Too long’ til the next one.
She grimaced. “Well, I really should be clinging as I do you now.” She turned and reached into the panel.
He blinked. “What?”
She refused to look at him. “I said, I really should be cleaning as I go, you know.” She rubbed her nose with the back of her hand. “I would have been in deep sh- trouble if I had let any of my panels get half this dusty on the Bartholomew.” Smitty winced, though the name didn’t refer to him.
“Probably a good idea,” he agreed. “But not right now. Dust what you need to in order to make sure everything’s working properly.”
“To see how good I am, I know the routine,” she stated.
How good she is? She’d be damned good in bed, I’m thinking. Well, don’t think it! She’s here for a reason, so get to it, man! He cleared his throat and found himself reaching for the smudge on her jaw. He pulled his hand away, snatched a question out of the air and asked it.
She looks absolutely frozen, staring into nothingness. Obviously, she doesn’t know. How long is she going to stand there before she admits it? “Well?”
She turned to face him, her lower lip trembling and fear in her eyes. “I don’t know,” she whispered.
That figures. “Well, you’d better go find the answer,” he told her. “Don’t dawdle; bring it to me right away.”
“Yes, sir,” she breathed, and was gone. Lilacs. She wears lilac perfume. He frowned, trying to remember their conversation. What in space did I ask her?

Plea for Help
Day 2 (cont)
1149 Hours
Abdulla was nearly bowled over by the red figure that raced out of the ship’s library and headed down the corridor. Then the other woman slid to a halt, and came running back. “Abdulla!”
“Mac, why aren’t you-?”
“You’ve got to help me! I expected to be grilled, but the very first question has me stumped, and all I found in the library was this complicated equation, of all things! I can’t get kicked off now, I’ve worked too hard to get here! Please, Abdulla, give me the answer!”
“No, I won’t give you the answer,” Abdullah stated. Stumped on the first question? That’s bad. Mr Smythe always starts with general questions and keeps getting harder, to see where the knowledge starts to falter. And if she’s stumped on the first question- She’s so desperate. How can I not help? Not that it will do any good. She sighed. “What’s the question?
Mac took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and recited a question. That can’t be the first question he asked! More like the final one. Unless she misunderstood? “Show me the equation you found.”
They entered the library, where Mac’s fingers flew over a keyboard, bringing up a technical manual. “There,” she said, pointing to a very long equation on the screen. “I’m not real good at math,” she stated.
There has got to be a mistake, this can’t be the question he asked. “Are you sure he said quasar?”
Mac’s eyes rolled. “Abdulla, believe me, that question is seared into my memory.”
She sighed. I hope she’s got it right. “Okay, you’re looking for a range, so we don’t have to be exact in working this equation. Now, this first symbol here-“
“That’s the speed of light.”
“Right. Times nine, so round the speed of light down and multiply by ten.”
“That’s pretty simple.” And so it went, through the entire equation, until they arrived at an answer that — hopefully — would satisfy Mr Smythe.

Smythe Gets His Answer
Day 2 (cont)
1203 Hours
Burke looked up when Smitty put his tray down at her table and sat down with a sigh. “Hard morning?”
“You could say that,” he mumbled, adding cream to his tea. “Where’s MacGreg?”
“Didn’t feel like joining me.” She moved her fork to indicate a table further along. “I think he wanted to ogle one of the new girls.”
The engineer scowled. “MacDowell.”
“I don’t think so. I haven’t seen her since you took her down to the auxiliary.”
“Oh. Right.” He bit his sandwich, so she returned to her own meal.
A shapely red uniform strode up to their table, and the redhead in question saluted. “Sir, the answer to your question is 157 to 163 megahertz.”
Smitty took another bite and chewed it thoughtfully. Leaving the girl standing there with an unreturned salute. He is not happy with her. She glanced at the tight red uniform. Wouldn’t blame Duck for ogling this one. She glanced at the doctor’s direction. But he seems totally absorbed by the AmerInd yeoman. Also a good choice.
“Lieutenant, refresh my memory,” Smitty requested.
“What was the question?” Smitty asked.
He must be mad, to toy with her like this. What did she do to get him so upset in half a day?
“Sir, your question was-“ what followed was a slew of words that, individually, Jane understood, but in their current string, made no sense to her. He looks aghast, horrified. Did she mistake the question, bring him the wrong answer?
Smitty took a drink, his eyes on the tabletop, but the cup rattled when he put it down. “Yes, that’s an acceptable answer to that question. Thank you, Lieutenant.”
And still he leaves her with an un-answered salute! Does he expect her to stand there all day? Well, I don’t. Burke tossed a salute at the redhead. “Dismissed, MacDowell. Get some lunch. Report back to the auxiliary bridge in 30 minutes.”
MacDowell hesitantly lowered her arm. “Yes, sir. Thank you, captain.”
The girl left, and Jane looked at her engineer. “Something wrong, Smitty?”
He stared at his food. Scowling at it, actually. What’s she done? It’s almost like he’s taking it personally.
“That can’t be the question I asked,” he finally muttered.
Can’t be? “Then she brought you the wrong answer. What did you ask her?” I’d like to think I could keep up on a technician level, at least, but that question sounded miles over my head.
He glanced up at last, his face ruddy. “I don’t remember.”
What in black space-? “Then why can’t it be that one?”
He looked up in horror. “I wouldn’t expect Abdulla to know the answer to that one! Not without looking up the equation first!”
“Not a question you would expect a tug communications officer to know. Well, if you were nearing the end of your questioning-“
“That’s just it!” he hissed. “That was the first question! I just ... blurted it out. And once it was asked, I couldn’t take it back!”
“But you don’t remember if that’s what you asked.”
“No, I-“ He lowered a completely red face to his food again. “I’ll be blasted happy when shore leave gets here.”
“We all will,” she returned. Never known Smitty to lose track of his thoughts while working. Maybe I should talk him into taking all 3 days of shore leave. Ha! Like I could!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Day 2 (cont)
0717 Hours

Bugalu glanced at his chronometer as he emerged from the shower and hurriedly pulled on his uniform pants. With a sigh of relief, he retrieved his towel from the bed and began to dry himself more thoroughly. The door to the hall opened, and Mac came in, her uniform immaculate, and her red curls confined to a simple top-knot. “You’re late,” he accused. And it’s a good thing, too, or I wouldn’t have been dressed.
She didn’t answer, just came forward to put her arms around him, placed her head against his chest. As he returned the hug, he felt her breathing get ragged. “I’ve missed you so much, Bugsy. I’ve needed you so much. When Matt died-“
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you,” he whispered. “I didn’t hear about the Flame for a month. Academy roommates aren’t considered relatives.”
“The Fleet can be stupid,” she stated softly. He felt hot tears on his chest.
“You’re getting me all wet,” he complained lightly.
“You weren’t that dry to begin with.” She stepped away.
He used his towel to dry her face. “Still don’t wear make-up?”
She laughed and took the towel, turned him around to dry his back. “Women wear make-up to trap a man. And since I’m not allowed-“ She tossed the towel over his shoulder, and bounced onto his bed, leaned against his pillow.
“Wish you’d get over that.” He slipped his uniform tunic over his head.
“I don’t know. Sometimes it makes sense,” she returned. “Otherwise, I’d be some tug captain’s floozy by now.”
An interesting remark. Seems too definite to be something brought on by her papa’s dictates. Sure would like to know how she got that stripe! “I can’t see you being anybody’s floozy. And where did you pick up that word, anyway?”
Her face blanched absolutely white. “First assignment.”
“Did they tell you what it meant, or did you have to figure that out?”
Now she blushed. “It didn’t take long. To figure it out. It was pretty obvious.”
“You could have asked.”
“I did,” she returned, and reached out to touch the hologram on his bedside table. She looked longingly at the redheaded security cadet on the right side of the hologram. “By the time Matt answered, I knew.”
“I get the definite feeling,” he stated, turning to check his hair in the mirror, ‘that you have not had an easy time since the Academy.”
“Not since you and Matt graduated,” she agreed.
She still had 2 years there. And that would have been hard enough, but she hasn’t complained about that. “Well, you’re here now. So tell me,-“ He stopped, hand reaching for the pair of socks he’d left on the overnight stand. Socks that weren’t there now. “Where are my socks?”
She glanced at the stand. “What socks?”
There she goes, trying to look innocent. “Give me my socks.”
“What socks?” she repeated, but he could see a piece of dark material peeking from behind her.
“Give me!” He lunged forward to grab them, began to tickle her to make her release the socks. “Come on, give me!” They wrestled for possession of one pair of socks that were identical to many other pairs in his dresser. It’s good to hear her laugh.
Someone cleared his throat. They stopped to see who it was. Ryan. It figures. “What do you want, Ryan?”
“I wouldn’t mind doing what you’re doing.”
“We aren’t doing anything!” Bugs declared, even though he knew what it must look like. Us on the bed, me atop her, our uniforms maladjusted, and her topknot loose. Yeah, I know what he’s thinking.
Ryan grinned. “Still, I like the looks of it. When you get tired of Bugalu, sweetheart, you look me up.”
“Get tired of Bugsy? Never.”
“When he gets tired of you, then,” Ryan stated loud enough for them to hear, but pretending they weren’t supposed to. “I thought you might like to get breakfast, Bugalu, but I can see you’re busy.” The Irishman turned and left.
Bugalu groaned. By the time I get to the bridge, the whole ship will have heard we had a quickie. Well, if it keeps some of the men off her back for a while, maybe that’s not too bad. Give her some breathing room. For a while.
“You going to get tired of me, Bugs?”
He turned back, found green eyes watching him. “One doesn’t get tired of a sister.” He climbed off her and the bed. “One endures them.” She grimaced and threw the socks at him. He caught them and tossed a comb back to her. “Straighten that uniform and hair. I’m not sure you made a great impression on Lt Cmdr Smythe yesterday, so don’t give him anything to complain about today.”
“Right,” she agreed, and climbed from the bed with a grimace.
“What’s wrong?” She’s not as bouncy as usual. He sat down to put his socks on.
“Just stiff. I had a rough time last night.”
“Who with?” It was out before he remembered who he was with.
He froze in shock. “What?” Ferguson might have enough muscle to counter-balance hers. Did he force himself on her?
She turned to him in confusion. “Ferguson spotted for me.”
Spotted. Weight-lifting. Of course. What was I thinking? That’s she’s a gorgeous redhead, and everybody wants her, but I already knew that. He pulled a boot on, and she smoothed her hair.
“It wasn’t going well, until that doctor guy showed me the variable-gravity station and set it for Gaelund. And then I overdid it. So today I’m stiff.” She took a final look in his mirror, adjusted her uniform, and turned to face him. “How’s this?”
He pulled his second boot on, got up and settled into them as he looked her over. Taking the comb, he worked a wayward curl in with the rest of the hair headed for the topknot.
“It won’t stay there,” she warned.
“Probably not, but it can at least start there,” he returned. “So, tell me about your roommate. How do you like her?”
“I haven’t found anything not to like.” She fussed with the lay of his uniform. “I haven’t seen her yet.”
That’s odd. “Do you know her name?”
“Della Harris, they tell me.”
He laughed. “What a mis-match!”
“Uh oh. She’s going to hate me, isn’t’ she?”
He shook his head. “Della’s not a hater. If you haven’t met her yet, it’s because she slept over with someone. You know, had a date.”
“Oh.” Her fingers were suddenly trembling, and she clasped them together. “How does that work, exactly? I mean, if one has a roommate-“
She’s getting inquisitive about sex. My little sister’s growing up, I guess. He put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “First, we don’t all have roommates.” He glanced at his single bed. “So, for example, if I had someone sleep over, then her roommate could have someone sleep over, and his roommate, and so on. Theoretically, the entire ship could be having one big sleep-over. In Della’s case, she might deal with the roommate situation by making it a threesome.” Her body jerked away from his hand and she blushed deep red. Not quite grown up yet. “Just let Della know that that’s not something you want to be involved in, and she’ll work around it. Anyway, if you work opposing shifts, it might not come up that often. Now, you ready for breakfast?”
“Breakfast. Yeah. I guess.” She turned for the doorway.
Wait. There was a reason why she came this morning. He pulled her back. “You had something to talk about. Urgent, you said. So go ahead. Talk to me.”
“Oh, him,” she muttered, and the blush that had faded deepened again.
Him? Who?
“No, it’s nothing. I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. Come on, I’m starved.”
He allowed her to pull him out the door and down the hallway. A man could be a molehill for any other woman, for any man is going to be a mountain for Mac. Still, if she’s not ready to talk after all, what can I do but be here for her when she is ready?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mr Winthrop / Hot Time in the Sauna / Disturbing Dream

Mr Winthrop
Day 1 (cont)
Capt Burke
1859 Hours

Jane lowered herself into the hot, bubbling water to relax her aching muscles. Smitty gave me a workout tonight. Not great form, but he's got stamina, I'll give him that.
Someone bumped against her leg. She ignored the newcomer until a hand started traveling up her leg. She opened her eyes to see Winthrop grinning. "Captain," he greeted her. "If you really want a workout, maybe you should try a security man, instead of engineering."
I should have transferred him off a long time ago. "It's a sport for us, not a profession." She sat up and scooted away from him to adjust the water jets, settled back down removed from him.
"Maybe we could try one of my sports." He looked ready to slide after her.
"Are you sure she's here?" someone asked as a herd of men entered the whirlpool area.
"She wanted a hot bath. This is as hot a bath as she can get aboard," Ferguson said.
"Excuse me, bosses," stated a copper bunch of muscles as he settled into the water between her and Winthrop.
It's ... exciting to have Tall Bear in the water next to me. He’s risking angering Winthrop. Well, Winthrop was angering me. Thankfully, Bear doesn’t get fresh, not with me. Pity. Stop it, Jane. Shore leave isn’t far away.

Hot Time in the Sauna
Day 1 (cont)
Lt Cmdr Smythe
1902 Hours

Smitty reclined on the top shelf of the dimly-lit sauna and let the heat seep into his taxed muscles. Captain gives as good as she takes. Maybe better. I couldn’t concentrate tonight. I'm lucky I didn't break something. I should just concede she knows karate better than I do.
Someone entered. He ignored them, hoped they would do the same. A moment later, he heard a low moan and tried not to frown. Lovers. Not exactly private in here. Can’t realize I'm here; must be too caught up with each other to notice me.
"Oh, I hurt!" He involuntarily peeked. MacDowell! And Bugalu, I suppose. No, the skin's not dark enough. He focused his gaze, and found the second person to be a tall dusky woman with long black braids. Copper hands pushed red hair aside, kneaded the white shoulders and back that sat between her dusky legs. "That doctor was right, I should have taken it easy. It's just- It's been so long! And it felt so-o-o good!"
Okay, so she's been with Bugalu. What's it to me? Nothing. It can’t be anything to me. He closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on relaxing, on letting the heat soak his aching muscles. Of course it felt good with him; I've never heard one of his dates complain yet. But then, I've never heard of one of this dates going off to be with someone else immediately after, either. None of my business. People swing both ways, sometimes.
He stayed where he was, eyes closed, barely daring to breath, unwilling to impose himself on the two women at such an intimate moment. The time came when he would have normally gotten up and left because the heat had become unbearable, but he stayed where he was. How long are they going to be here? Finally, when he thought his lungs might sear from the heat, he heard a soft slap of skin against skin.
"Thanks for the rub-down, YD," he heard Colleen say. "I'm ready for something cold to drink, want to join me?"
Yes! A stiff drink, over rocks. Lots of them!
"Water," was what the other woman said.
"Well, of course water," the redhead said, standing up. "I'm not stupid. I think I've sweated out about a gallon this evening. Come on, I'm buying. Maybe we'll run into your beefcake brave, and you can pick up where you left off." They left, the opening of the door producing a momentary cooling of the room.
Smitty sighed and sat up, realized his muscles were tense, but in a way that had nothing to do with his earlier karate practice bout with Burke. If this had been a more private a place ... no, no, one of them is my subordinate, and the other-- Who was the other one? I don't remember seeing her before. Pretty enough, though.

Disturbing Dream
Day 2
0228 Hours

Smitty wasn’t sure how long he had spent in the sauna, but he had almost reached that wonderful state where he was completely relaxed. Too relaxed to get up and leave. Shortly after that, he knew from experience, the heat would start to become uncomfortable, and he would then be able to find the energy to leave.
He wasn’t sure when the women had arrived in the sauna, only that he opened his eyes and they were there, on the bench across from him. Coppery hands kneaded white shoulders and then worked down the pale back. When those hands threatened to release the woman’s towel, the redhead turned to face her companion, pressed their bodies together as her towel fluttered to the floor. Dusky arms held her close as tan and strawberry lips met in a torrid kiss that ignited the air Smitty drew into his lungs.
Smythe jerked awake, found himself sitting straight up in bed with the sweat running down his body as if he were still in the sauna. Black space, why am I dreaming about them? If I’m going to a wet dream, there’s women aboard who are available to me. And plenty of women from the past I could remember fondly. What those two choose to do together is no concern of mine. I have to agree with the Captain, I’ll be blasted happy when shore leave gets here.