Thursday, June 27, 2013

Signs of Trouble

Signs of Trouble

Day 5


0946 Hours


Smitty finished checking a connection and looked at where the girl's legs stuck out from under the navigation console. She's too close. When I remember what she looked like in wet clothes - No, I can't think about that, or I'll get another erect- Too late! He kept his back to her and adjusted his clothes. Think about something that has nothing to do with women.

He jumped when she called. "Mr Smythe?"

Keep it short. "What?" Don't look at her. Don't think about her. Don't-


He started across the room before he realized he had. "What's the problem?" He reached the navigation console, stared at her shapely legs.

"Umm. Well, - This is embarrassing." One hand smoothed her uniform tunic over her flat abdomen. He hastily averted his eyes. "I can't remember where I am."

Memory loss! MacGregor warned me. What do I do? What did he say? Take her to dinner? That can't be right! He took a deep breath and lowered himself next to her. It's not her fault. She's ill. So I can't chew her out! "You're aboard the Fireball," he told her quietly. "On the auxiliary bridge."

She bent her legs, then crossed them. Smythe suddenly had a wondrous view of the crotch of her uniform shorts. He felt his own crotch grow tight as she laughed. "I don't have amnesia! But I've been in so many consoles these past few days, and ... uh ... I ..."

"Just tell me what the problem is." He folded his hands together, to keep from reaching for her.

He heard a sigh. "I was working, but ... got distracted."

Daydreaming about Bugalu, I suppose. He realized she had hesitated a long time. "Happens to everyone." He was dismayed at how gruff his voice sounded.

"Do you-?" She stopped, switched her legs around. "Anyway, I can't remember if I'm in the weapons or the science console."

Is that all? "Navigation," he told her in relief. With a final involuntary glance at her abdomen, he prepared to get up.

She groaned, and he wondered what was wrong now. "Going to force me to work it out myself, are you? Well, I suppose that's fair. Okay, let me take a good look here-"

He sank back in surprise. I didn't say she had to figure it out! I told her what console she's in. It should have been obvious as soon as I said it! If she were an engineer, it would have been! Well, she's not engineering, she's communications. And sick. She should be abed, having fun, and I could-NO!

"Girl," he said hoarsely. Coffee! Break for coffee! "Let's go have a cup of-"

"That's it!" she declared, her legs straightening. "That's a Lesko Coupler! I kept thinking it was a Boris Connection or an Eisenhower ... but it's not. It's neither of those; it's a Lesko Coupler, which means I'm in the navigation console!" She scrambled out of the console and sat on her knees, her face inches from his.

Bright green eyes in a cream face. Pale freckles under the outer edges of the eyes. Delicate red lashes, long and sensuous, matching the red, arched brows. Everything about her is ... irresistible. Regulations be damned! I've got to-

"-Wind up on your bedside," she stated.

"Yes, " he agreed, ready to lean forward to taste her lips.

"I sure didn't want that!" she declared.

What? No, I suppose not, when she's got access to Bugalu. It wasn't my bed she was talking about. Then what did she say?

"I don't imagine you've noticed any difference, yet, Mr Smythe, but I've been studying. I really want to stay on the Fireball." She lowered her bright red face.

She wants to stay on the Fireball because Bugalu's here. That figures. I find a woman who ... and all she can think about is another man. I've got to get my mind back to engineering. He leaned back against the console and sighed, closed his eyes for just a moment. "We should get back to work."

"Of course," she agreed. "Now that I realize it's a Lesko Coupler, it's obvious I'm in the navigation console."

"Yes, navigation," he agreed, dragging himself back to his feet. He looked down, saw her cleavage in all its glory, and hastily looked away. His throat tight, he commented, "Lesko Couplers are engineering," MacGreg will have my head if he thinks I've had her study engineering! "Perhaps you'd best ... stick with your field." He turned away.

"But Communications is done," she protested. "And ... electricity is electricity."

"Yes. I just meant, you don't need to study engineering." I can't look at her. I can't stay here, or I'll make a fool of myself. Get back to work, Smitty. If you can't manage that, at least look like you have. Joints stiff, he started across the room.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

No G Swimming

No G Swimming

Day 4 (cont)


1930 Hours


MacGregor broke the surface of the water and continued into the air. When he touched the wall and turned, he saw Temple come in, followed by the tall dusky AmerInd. Beth, I owe you big for this one. You did even better than I asked. He kept waiting, but no one else entered. He swam through another water blob to reach the nurse's side. "Where's Mac?" he asked quietly.

"She's a heavy worlder. No G doesn't agree with her."

"Blast! I didn't think of that."

"If it's any consolation, she was looking forward to a quiet evening alone in her room."

"Well, we tried. Thanks, Beth." He glanced at the AmerInd. Maybe she'd like a quiet evening in my room. Blast, Bear's already moving in. His eyes moved to the toffee-colored woman doing the backstroke in a far corner. I've never gotten so much as a 'come hither' glance from Abdulla, but she's a good looking woman. Especially in that two-piece suit.

Abdulla braced herself against the wall, ready to return the other way. Seeing him, she paused and one eye slowly winked. That was a come-hither look if I ever saw one. Before he could move closer, though, Captain Burke approached the lieutenant. Jane! I thought the disadvantage of being able to swing both ways is that, as captain, she can't swing in either direction between furloughs.

YD and Tall Bear were using him as a turning point as they played tag. YD slid past him with hardly inches to spare. Bear didn't make the turn, but ran into the wall with a gentle, "Oops." He bounced slightly, floundered as he regained his equilibrium. "Hello, Mac."

MacGregor whirled, the gravity situation forgotten, had to grab Bear's arm to steady himself. She came! No, she's not here to swim. Beth was right. She's clinging to a handhold in desperation, and she's green. "Here to swim, Mac?"

"I need Abdulla," the redhead stated. "Is she here? I ... someone said-"

"Hey, Abbie!" Tall Bear called.

Abdulla, no longer talking with the captain, frowned. "Abdulla!" she corrected.

"Got your attention, didn't it? Mac's looking for you."

The woman swam to the redhead, stopped near the white fingers on the handhold. "That shirt's got to go," Abdulla decided. "It's a terrible color for you, and doesn't fit."

"Yeah, "Bear agreed. "Sounds good." He reached for the top button, but Mac's hand caught his in a painful grasp.

"Mac!" MacGregor put his hand over hers. "Let him go."

"They never listen to me," Mac complained, and shoved the brave's hand away.

"Sorry, Mac," Bear told her. "I was joking." He grimaced. "Didn't think."

Abdulla waved the security man off, and he faded away. "Mac, what's wrong?"

"No G," Mac growled, her eyes clamped shut. "I won't be here long," she promised herself. "I just need a question answered."

"Then ask so you can get out." Abdullah glanced over her shoulder as Smitty made a soft landing behind her, ready to start another lap.

Mac swallowed, still green. "When a quasar spews..." It sounds technical. It's caught Smitty's attention; like it's more advanced than he expected. Wait a minute. Why does she need a question answered? Wasn't she having a quiet night?

"Well, yes and no," Abdulla responded. "You haven't mentioned the configuration of the rest of the system, or any near-by systems."

"Near-by systems? How near?"

"There's formulas that use the configuration and proximity of other systems. Let me get dressed, and-"

"No," MacGregor interrupted. "Not tonight."

"Why not?" Mac asked.

"Take the night off," he told her. "Have some fun. If you still feel you need to study after shore leave, there'll be plenty of time then."

"Right," Abdulla agreed. "Save that for after shore leave. I was about to play tag with the doctor." She was? He grinned as the slim woman placed a cool hand on his shoulder. "You're it, doctor," she stated, and stroked toward the main water globe.

Mac, eyes still closed, gave a tiny nod and muttered, "I was a 3rd wheel last night, don't want to be one tonight." She adjusted her grip on the handhold. "I'll save my questions."

Meaning she'll still study. Drake frowned. Mac felt for the doorway with one hand. "Mac, why can't you just take the night off?"

"If she wants to study-" Smitty started.

Mac jerked, her eyes flew open as she whirled to face the engineer. In the process, she lost her grip on the handhold, started to float away.

"I said take it easy on her!" MacGregor growled and reached out to wrap an arm around her waist as an anchor. She batted his arm away. "She needs time off, not enforced study."

"There's nothing wrong with study," Smitty returned. "She's only been assigned to tugs before she came here. It's natural she needs to study. There's nothing wrong with that!"

"It can wait!" MacGregor returned hotly. "I don't want-"

A cry interrupted the argument. Drake turned to find Mac encased in a water globe, eyes round in panic. I tried to catch her. No, she has to touch me, or it's not acceptable. He reached in to offer his hand, grabbed a wall handhold with the other.

Mac grabbed the proffered hand with a painful grip. Drake could feel bruises form on his arm as she scrambled up it. At last, she found a handhold and slammed her back against the wall. Space, I never imagined her body was that good! Her wet clothes plastered to her form revealed every curve. Large breasts rose and fell as she panted in fear, the nipples erect from the water's chill. Her ribs narrowed into a tiny waist, which then flared dramatically into round hips, although the abdomen was completely flat.

"Space!" Smitty propelled himself away.

"Got to go," Mac breathed, her face both white and green. She rolled herself through the doorway, into the hall. Now that her world had an up and a down again, she climbed to her feet, tried to squeeze fluid from her soaked clothes as she headed for the locker room.

"Wow," MacGregor breathed. "I never-- "

"Incredible," Jane agreed in his ear. "Not a stitch of underwear. And that's as far as I'm going with that thought. Good night, Duck." She started for the opposite exit.

"What a figure," Drake breathed.

"Doctor." Beth suddenly wrapped her arms around his neck, pressed her body against him.

What in space -? "Beth, don't tease," he begged.

"You promised you'd behave," she reminded him.

"That's why I didn't follow her," he returned.

"Let me finish," she complained. "Your mind may be willing, but your body hasn't gotten the message." He realized he had a erection.

"If you think this is going to get rid of that you are badly mistaken."

She grinned. "Perhaps you need to follow Mr Smythe's example."

"Why? Who's he making out with?"

"The water." She shoved him into a cold blob that quickly cooled his heated blood. "Abdulla said you're it," she laughed.

"Not for long," he promised, and joined the game of tag.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Devious Drake

Devious Drake

Day 4 (cont)


1624 Hours


"Good evening, doctor," Beth greeted her supervisor outside the mess hall. He must be waiting for the captain or Smythe to join him. "Did you get your problem figured out?"

"I'm working on it. Do you have plans for tonight?"

"Are you planning another all-nighter? I'm not up for it," she joked.

"Neither am I. I'll be lucky if I don't fall asleep during supper. I thought, if you don't have anything else planned, that you might take Mac to the pool."

What's he up to? "In what capacity? Chaperone? Date? She's not my type."

He smiled. "How about friend? Bugalu's got a date tonight, and she's on her own."

"Why don't you ask her?"

"It might sound like a date. And she doesn't date," he reminded her.

"Okay, I'll ask. Any idea where I might find her?"

He grinned. "Inside, eating supper. Thanks, Beth. I owe you. Again."

"Not for this. I was wondering what to do this evening. Swimming'll be nice." Inside the messhall, Mac was not alone, but Beth didn't let that stop her. "Mind if I join you?"

"Please do," Mac pled. "YD's talked my head off!"

Temple grinned at the yeoman. "How do you tolerate such teasing, YD?"

"She gives as good as she gets, believe me," Mac stated. "Anyway, I wouldn't tease her if we weren't friends, Liz."

"Beth," she corrected.

"Short for Elizabeth. I don't like being like everybody else, so-"

"No, not Elizabeth," the nurse corrected, and lowered her voice. "It's actually short for Bethlehem." Mac stared at her for a moment. Shock, I suppose. Well, somebody was sure to tell her, sooner or later. It's too good a joke not to.

"I can't call you Ham," Mac stated thoughtfully. "It doesn't fit. And I still don't want to be like everybody else..."

"You are definitely not like anybody else." Beth cut her roast beef. "Look, I'm at loose ends tonight. Why don't we all go swimming?"

YD nodded. Mac considered the question. "I didn't realize there was a place aboard to swim. There wasn't on the tugs."

"Oh, it's your first time? It'll be an adventure. The room is spherical, below the arboretum. The water is a huge globe in the middle. Most of the water. There's no gravity, so swimming is-" Beth stopped as Mac's face developed a sudden green tint. "What's wrong?"

"I'll pass," the redhead muttered. "I don't care for no gravity."

Of course not; she's a heavy worlder! What was MacGregor thinking? "We can do something else. We could-"

"No, don't let me spoil your night," Mac returned. "I plan an early night. Della told me not to wait up for her. I didn't plan to, but I think she meant she wouldn't be home tonight, so I've got the place to myself."

Well, I tried. "Maybe we can get together on shore leave."

"Shopping," YD suggested.

"Shopping?" Beth repeated. "For what?"

"I need clothes," Mac stated softly, embarrassed for some reason. "Abdulla, YD and I plan to hit the shops at 1000 on day 1. Would you like to join us?"

"That sounds like quite a gathering already," Beth demurred. "Too many cooks-"

"We need a lot of cooks," Mac stated. "I want a whole new me. And don't have a clue how to do it!"

Temple laughed. "Okay, count me in. Sounds like fun."

"Assuming I get any shore leave."

"What do you mean? If you get first day, then you're either early or split shift."

"I don't know that I'm getting day one. Or any day. I'm just hoping."

All those lost shore leaves. "What do your orders say?"

Mac stared at the food on her plate. "I haven't got any orders about it."

"Some supervisors aren't the best with paperwork. But surely Mr Smythe has given you some indication-?"

Mac glanced up, lowered her red face again. "Lt Cmdr Smythe hasn't said more than 2 words to me today. And they were not about shore leave."

That doesn't sound right. What did MacGregor mean, he's working on it? Smythe is a reasonable man. "That sounds like he's trying to act like YD," Beth suggested.

Mac grimaced. "Either she's infected him, or ... he can't stand me." Mac tossed her napkin onto her tray and stood. "I wonder if Della's gone yet. Have fun, you two."

Flustered, Beth continued her meal, as YD sipped her tea. Eventually, Beth changed the subject."YD, how do you communicate with her?" The dusky woman regarded her levelly for a moment, and Beth laughed. "Magic! Okay, keep your secret."

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Drake Spins a Tale

Drake Spins a Tale

Day 4 (cont)


1217 Hours


Smitty wasn't sure how long he'd been staring at the lunch menu, just as he had no idea what was on it. He stepped forward and growled, "Just give me something." I won't taste it, anyway, so it hardly matters. With his tray of food in hand, he turned and headed for the captain's table.

"How is the work progressing?" Jane asked as he approached.

"Terrible," he returned, falling into his chair. "MacDowell hasn't done more than one panel this morning." Neither have I. If my question scared her, that first day, my behavior last night has petrified her. If I get within 10 feet, she stares at me like ... like a trapped animal or something. All the right curves, and plenty of them. Just having her in the same room is ... intoxicating. Space, I need a drink. That'll have to wait.

"Jane, I was hoping I hadn't missed you." MacGregor sat down.

"I hope you're more talkative than Smitty today," she returned. "He just sits there scowling at his food. I thought he liked fish and chips."

"What?" Smitty looked up at the mention of his name. "Sorry, captain, I was ... thinking." He forced himself to eat.

"Thinking?" MacGregor repeated, studying the engineer's face as he stirred his coffee. "Or sleeping? You look terrible."

"I didn't sleep very well," he admitted.

"Work isn't progressing very well with the new girl." Burke picked up her cup, studied the chief medical officer. "You look tired yourself, Duck."

"I spent the night ... researching a case."

"I wasn't aware we had anybody in sick bay." Jane frowned.

"We don't," MacGregor stated. "The ... patient ... doesn't realize she has a problem. Or won't admit it. I can't tell which, right now."

"How does someone not know they're sick?" Smitty asked. I don't normally ask about his work, but anything to get her off my mind.

"In this case, it's stress-related," MacGregor returned. "The stress has been accumulating for years, from what I found. She's just done her best to cope. But it the stress isn't bled off, neutralized ... well, it won't be pretty, if she goes over the edge."

He isn't making sense. That's why I don't ask about his work, I guess. I need an engineer to talk to, someone to-- His wandering eyes fell on the redhead and Bugalu, sitting several tables away. She doesn't look happy, even with her lover right there.

She seemed completely uninterested in food. Bugalu cajoled her into each bite. When she picked up her iced tea, her hand shook so badly, Bugalu took it away from her. She leaned toward him. Kissing in the messhall! Hardly an appropriate place--! But she only put her lips next to his ear and whispered. Bugalu frowned. She persisted. He reluctantly agreed. She continued talking, then he got up and moved off. Looking happier, she made an effort to eat while he was gone. When the negro returned, he handed her an iced tea, which she promptly drank.

She already had an iced tea! A tall glass of cold brown liquid hit his shoulder as he entered the small recroom. He had a sudden urge for something much stronger than coffee. That wasn't iced tea! It must have been whiskey! An entire months' ration, I would think! And again with lunch? Not acceptable!

"He's probably dreaming of undressing a new girl," MacGregor stated.

Smitty rounded on the doctor indignantly. "I am not!" Creamy white skin, firm large breasts, all the right curves and plenty of them. "I would never do such a thing!"

MacGregor looked confused, a fork of shepherd's pie halfway to his mouth. "Isn't that what it's called when you get a new crystal and peel off the layers of packing material? Undressing the crystal?"

"I heard it was a favorite activity for you," Burke muttered.

"Oh." He felt his face flush, and lowered it to his food. "Yes, it is."

"What did you think I meant?"

"Don't bicker," Jane admonished. "Smitty, she's your subordinate. How do you think she should be handled?"

Thoroughly. Repeatedly. With great relish and pleasure. I shouldn't be thinking like that! "Who?"

Burke sighed. "Lt MacDowell. Please try to pay attention, Smitty, Duck was just saying that she needs a vacation."

"She just got here!"

"True," Jane agreed patiently. "But apparently, she wound up on Captain Nash's bad side on her last assignment, and she didn't get the shore leave she should have gotten. Hence Duck's concern."

"He's concerned, is he?" Trying to make brownie points, more likely.

"She's a powder key waiting to explode," the doctor stated. "She shouldn't be working, if you ask me. But without any outlet to help her relax, I'm not sure off-shifts would do much good."

"Your professional opinion is that she should be in bed?" His bed.

"Actually, I think she should enjoy herself with friends, rather than be forced into inactivity. She's not the kind to sit still."

"She's new aboard. She doesn't have friends, yet, I assume," Burke stated. "Any friends she might have made are on their regular duty schedule. So opportunities for relaxation on ship are limited. Again, any suggestions?"

A peal of laughter reminded Smitty of the tickling session the night before, and he glanced at the couple. Bugalu wasn't tickling, merely grinning. Her mood seems marvelously improved. Mine would improve, too, if I chugged that much alcohol. She's drunk, no doubt. "She can't have a vacation," he growled. "We're in the middle of space. If we put her off on the nearest planet for a week, we wouldn't be anywhere near to pick her up. Shore Leave's coming. Surely that's soon enough!"

"It has to be, I agree," Jane stated. "She'll have to make the best of shore leave."

MacGregor frowned thoughtfully. "What shift did you assign her to, Smitty? Maybe I can make some arrangements."

Arrangements for the two of them. "She might have her own plans for shore leave, doctor. Perhaps Bugalu-"

"Bugalu, yes." The doctor nodded. "I'll have to get him involved, too."

He's planning a threesome! How does he know she's willing?

"Willing for what?" Jane asked, looking confused. "Did I miss something?"

"Willing?" MacGregor asked. "I never thought she might refuse Bugalu. You're right. She should do what she wants, not what someone else thinks is good. I still need to talk to Bugalu. What shift did you say she's scheduled for?"

"I didn't." Both of the other officers stared at him. "I ... haven't decided yet."

"Well, I'm early shift," MacGregor stated, and frowned. "Ideally, she'd spend her leave with Bugalu, doing whatever they did at the Academy to have fun. On the other hand, I don't think a split leave would be a good idea. Not this time."

"What do you think, Smitty?"

"I haven't given it any thought," he returned shortly, and took a bite.

Jane watched him thoughtfully, her dessert forgotten. "Duck, you said it wouldn't be pretty, if she reached her limit. Smitty's working with her and has a perfect opportunity to watch for symptoms. Maybe you should give him an idea what to look for."

"I'm not a doctor!" Smitty protested.

"But you are there," Jane pointed out. "In a position to observe. Duck?"

"There's lots of possibilities. Stress produces different reactions in different people. Some of the worst, I suppose, includes memory loss."

Can he mean all those times her work has slowed to a crawl as she works out what she's doing?

"Inappropriate behavior."

All those times she called me 'dear!'

"Inordinate anger."

She actually wanted to punch Jones.

"And wild mood swings."

Last night in the turbo lift, when she threw herself at me, than opted for Bugalu.

"That's the kind of thing you need to watch for, Smitty. We don't want our new communications officer to have an emotional breakdown just days after arriving, do we? It wouldn't look good on our record. Or hers."

He gave up eating, pushed his tray away. "If I notice any symptoms, what should I do, MacGreg? Send her to you?"

"She needs to relax," MacGreg repeated. "Being sent to a doctor seldom has that effect. So, given the constraints we've already listed, you might ... I don't know, break for coffee? Crack a joke?" He hesitated, added, "Authorize a 3-day shore leave?"

So he can have an entire day with her without Bugalu. That's what this is about. I never thought he'd pull something like this. But she's enough woman to make a man do things he wouldn't normally do.

"I'll keep my eye on her," he agreed sourly.

"That's settled, then," Burke stated brightly. "Now, what shall we do this evening? Tae kwondo?"

Smitty groaned. "I'm not up for that," he stated firmly.

"We haven't been swimming for a while," MacGregor stated.

Jane considered the idea. "Not my favorite activity aboard, but I can handle it. Smitty?"

I'd rather go to bed early. But I'm not sure I'd get any sleep. "All right." He glanced at the clock and prepared to leave. "About 1900?"

"I can help," Bugalu stated as he followed the redhead past their table.

"You have a date tonight," she reminded him. "I ruined Blossom's fun last night. I'm not going to do the same to ... whoever you're seeing tonight."

"But last night-"

"Bugs, you took care of it. I'm fine. Go have fun."

I need an ice cold shower.

"See what I mean?" MacGregor asked softly. "She doesn't realize what stress is doing to her. Keep a close eye on her, Smitty. I'm counting on you."

He doesn't know what he's asking. "Smitty sighed. "I have to get to work."