Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Simple Game of Pool

Simple Game of Pool

Shore Leave, Day 1 (cont)


1920 Hrs


The more Capac thought about spending the evening with Bugalu and Mac, the more he felt like an intruder. “I should find something else to do,” he stated as they approached the nightclub.

“Too late.” Bugalu grabbed the Peruvian’s arm, drug the other man with him. “She’ll be here any minute.”

“But she wants you, not me,” Capac protested.

Bugalu pulled him through the door. “We’re going to play pool, Capac. You like pool.”

“Yes, but I—“ He stopped, unable to go on, because he saw the woman in question, already playing pool. Just watching her gave him a fever.

Her pants were tight, exhibited her shapely legs. Her hair was a mass of red curls instead of her usual topknot, which brought out her vivid green eyes. Her leather vest revealed most of her breasts. When she leaned over to take a shot, he felt his temperature climb higher.

“She’s perfect,” he breathed.

“Behave.” There was irritation in the negro’s voice as he pulled his friend forward. “Hello, Mac,” he greeted her. “You had supper yet?”

She stood up slowly and leaned against the table. “Hello, Bugs.” It took her a moment to recognize Capac. “And Capac. Yes, they insisted, after shopping. Thought I was drinking too much.”

“You’re showing it,” Bugalu stated.

“It's under control.” She started to grip the cue stick again, but missed at first. Green eyes shot defensive anger at the helmsman, though he didn’t say anything.

“Are you going to fight again?” Capac whispered. “Her mood’s bad, and you’re tense.”

Bugalu gave him a sharp glance, regarded the redhead again. “Capac, if we do, tell us we’re being stupid. Say it loudly and repeatedly. Forcefully. Until we hear you.”

Mac looked up, staggered slightly as she stared at the Peruvian. “He’ll never be another Matt.”

“There’ll never be another Matt,” Bugalu agreed. “We have to make do with what we have. You’ve been working on that yourself.”

She shot, missed the target ball. She stared at the errant cue ball, lowered her head to the felt table and giggled. “I can’t believe I missed that shot!”

“Mac-“ Bugalu began.

One white hand waved at the whiskey bottle sitting on the table's edge. “Put it away, Bugs? I’m a little too drunk.” Bugalu snatched the bottle, tightened the lid. “Under the table.” She moved slowly around the table to her next shot. Her condition wasn’t obvious, but she kept a thigh pressed against the table.

Bugalu bent over to look.

Mac raised a hand to catch the attention of the waitress. When that woman approached, she asked, “You two want something?”

“Tom Collins.” Bugalu stood up, minus the bottle.

“Beer,” Capac stated.

"I'll have an Irish Collins," Mac stated.

"You just said you were drunk!" Capac reminded her.

"A little drunk," she admitted. "I need to slow down. But not stop!"

Capac turned to Bugalu. "Are you going to let her keep drinking?"

"I can't stop it," Bugalu stated. "She knows how much she can handle."

"You're odd, Capac," Mac stated, taking another shot. Two balls fell into pockets. "Most men try to get me drunk, not convince me to stop."

"He's not the type," Bugalu stated.

She looked him over as she moved along the table. Besides her thigh, a hand slid along the table, guiding her. "I thought they were all the type."

"What about me?" Bugalu asked.

She grinned. "You're the exception that proves the rule."

Bugalu shook his head. "Things aren't always absolute, Mac."

The waitress returned with their drinks. "Who's paying?"

"This round is mine," Mac told her.

The waitress evidently had an imprint of Mac's bankcard. "Need a table?"

"No, we'll be playing pool," Bugalu responded.

"I'll finish, we can start a new game." Mac took careful aim.

"How was shopping?" Bugalu asked as the 7 found a pocket.

She grunted. "Didn't start well. Got better, though. Educational."

"Educational?" Capac repeated. "Shopping?"

"Yeah. I learned things about men." Another shot; only 2 balls were left. "Even a few things about you, Bugs."

"Abdulla told tales about me?" he asked.

"Not exactly. Mostly they spoke in generalities, but sometimes they got specific. About you, Tall Bear, MacGregor... all sorts of guys."

"Yellow Dog spoke? Hard to imagine."

"She was her usual self. Mostly it was Abdulla and Beth."

"Beth!" Bugalu was suddenly tense. "Beth helped you shop?"

"Yeah." Only one ball remained.

The negro sighed. "After last night, I'm sure she didn't have anything nice to say. I'm surprised she could tolerate you."

"She seemed fine." She took a shot, but missed the final ball. She gave Bugalu a glance. "She was your date last night? One that... didn't go well?"

"That's putting it mildly," he muttered.

Capac was confused. "Even so, why would she hold it against Mac?"

"Because we argued about Mac."

"Oh." He nodded his understanding. "She was jealous."

"Not really," the helmsman stated thoughtfully. "She... I was so worried about Mac, I couldn't pay any attention to her."

"Worried about me?" Mac took another shot, then drained half of her drink. "I've taken care of myself for 6 years, Bugsy."

"You keep saying it's been awful," he returned, "without any details. How can I not worry?"

"I got myself to the Fireball, didn't I?"

"Which you still haven't explained."

They are fighting again. I hope Bugalu remembers he told me to do this. "You're being stupid! Don't argue!" They turned to him in surprise, and he shut up.

"He... might have potential," Mac stated after a moment.

"Maybe, but he needs work," Bugalu returned. "Which takes time. We need help immediately. You've already figured that out, haven't you?"

She finished her drink and signaled for another, started racking the balls. "Ready for pool?"

Bugalu grimaced and drank a chunk of his own beverage. "I have a message from your uncle." Mac's face turned red. "Meet him at his hotel."

She fumbled with the balls, and several escaped. "I won't!"

"Why not?" Bugalu asked softly. "You come to my room all the time."

Capac was surprised. She does?

"That's different!"

Bugalu caught a ball as it rolled towards him, and sent it back. "How?"

Her face was still red. "Because he's new at the job, and it'll take practice."

How can he be new at being her uncle?

Bugalu nodded. "I'm out of practice, so I understand completely."

She froze, and her face drained. After a moment, she slowly raised her head. The two stared at each other. Neither said anything, but Capac could feel the tension between them skyrocket. They don't sound like they're fighting. But so much stress! Do I tell them they're being stupid again?

Bugalu sighed and selected a cue stick. Capac did the same. "I'll go first," Bugalu stated. "Unless you want to, Capac."

"It should be ladies first!" Capac protested.

"Mac hates to break."

"Right," she agreed, taking her new drink from the waitress. "Bring another," she instructed. "I'll go last." She took a hefty drink.

Bugalu aimed, and Capac stepped next to Mac. "You don't seem to be slowing down," he observed quietly.

She faced him, eyes large, and grinned. Well, I don't think I've made her mad. "You're sweet," she said. "Weird, but sweet. This isn't straight whiskey, and it's your turn."

My turn? To make an observation? "You're beautiful."

She blushed and tensed. "Mac," Bugalu's voice held warning.

"I meant, to play pool." She stepped away.

For a while, they simply played pool. The tension faded, and Capac found it pleasurable to joke and laugh with these two. Mac drank 2 or 3 drinks for each one that Bugalu consumed, but she didn't seem to get any drunker.

Then Bugalu paid for drinks and turned to hand Mac's to her. She came around the table, stopped just before his hand pressed into her bosom. They stood frozen, staring at his hand, separated from her only by a scrap of air and a few laces. Bugalu straightened his forefinger and flicked one of those laces. "Tighten that up, Mac." He placed her drink on the table edge while she pulled the laces tight.

"Oh, don't do that," said a voice from near-by. "I'll just haf ta untie it again."

Bugalu ignored the fellow, but Mac gave him an icy stare and tied the laces in a double knot. Picking up her drink, she tossed a portion of it down her throat.

"Mac," Bugalu whispered. "He's not worth landing in the brig."

"He's a baker!" Her voice was hard but just as quiet.

"Baker was never worth it," Bugalu stated. "Forget him. Capac, your turn."

"I always dreamed of a Morale Officer like you, Red," the gruff voice continued.

Morale Officer? That's a term for Sexual Release Officer from the mining ships. She is not going to like that!

"Keep dreaming," she said coldly. "Your turn, Capac."

Capac took his shot, and Mac considered her options. Eventually, she leaned over to aim. The deep-voiced man got up from his table, staggered over, and put a hand on her rear. Mac's cue fell as she whirled. Her left hand caught the intruder's hand and bent his thumb back, while her right fist pulled back to hit him.

"Mac! No!" Bugalu jumped forward, forced his way between them. "Don't, Mac!"

"He touched me!" she hissed.

"Oh, I'll do more than that, beautiful," the man stated. "You are too good a Morale Officer to pass up."

"I am not a Morale Officer!"

"I'll make allowances for inexperience, though I find it hard to believe," the man returned. "Get outta the way, Little Guy. The lady deserves a man."

"I'll kill him!" Mac declared.

"You might!" Bugalu agreed, and she blinked in surprise.

"Kill me with pleasure," the big brute sneered.

Bugalu ignored him. "Mac, you're trained to think things through, so do it!"

"Think what through?" she demanded.

"You are Gaelund," he reminded her. "Stronger than 3 men combined! He is obviously a miner, spends lots of time in no-G, therefore a lot weaker than he looks!"

"Hey!" the man protested.

"Easy, Buddy," one of his friends said. "Didn't you hear? She's Gaelund."

Bugalu went on. "Combine your power, security training, and his frailty, you could easily kill him."

"Security training?" the big brute muttered, confused.

"I'll be careful," Mac said angrily. "He deserves a beating, and I'll give it to him!"

"No, you won't!" Bugalu returned.

"Watch me!" With one hand, she pushed him aside, then took a step toward the big miner, who unthinkingly stepped backwards.

"Lieutenant!" Bugalu barked, and both Capac and Mac came to attention.

The redhead turned her head, disappointed by his betrayal. "Don't, Bugsy."

"I out-rank you," he returned, teeth clenched. "Shall I make it an official order?"

She stared at him, furious, hands clenched into white-knuckled fists. With a growl, she spun, punched the pool table's edge, which snapped as the plastic broke, leaving an impossible dent. Bending over, she grabbed a shopping bag from under the table, then started for the door.

"Don't land in the brig, Mac," Bugalu called after her. "I'll leave you there until the end of shore leave!" She was gone. Bugalu now turned his attention - and anger - on the miner, who was staring in disbelief at the dented plastic. "You should be more careful who you insult!"

The bartender came over, scowled at the damage. "Names and bank card info. The magistrate will review the tapes and decide who pays."

"It's the redhead that did it," the big brute stated. "Let her pay for it."

"You upset her!" Bugalu spat out. "Even a blind man could have seen she wasn't interested!"

"Don't you two get started," the bartender interrupted. "Buddy, you've been through this before. And if you're Fleet, you know, too. I get the names, addresses and bankcard information on all persons involved. The magistrate reviews the tapes, assesses damages, and authorizes payment from the proper accounts. Red got away, but you two won't."

Frowning, the big miner dug out his bankcard. "Buddy Gates, of the mining ship Diana." The bartender scanned his card and gave it back.

Bugalu offered his card. "Lt Bugalu, Helmsman, SS Fireball. You already have the bank info for Lt Colleen MacDowell, Communications on the Fireball."

"Communications!" Buddy exclaimed. "You said she was security!"

"I said she's had Fleet security training," Bugalu corrected. "Her brother was a security officer, and they sparred together. A lot. So in effect, she's had the training."

"Not the same," the miner complained.

"You wouldn't say that if she'd hit you," Bugalu stated.

"She's been working out with Tall Bear," Capac added, hoping he had the hang of saying little but implying much. "He's Second in Command of Fireball's security."

"Enough," the bartender warned. "From the looks of that table, Buddy, you're lucky. Don't know if your luck will hold. You'll all be notified of the magistrate's decision. Now, move on."

Buddy sighed, stopped at his table to gather his friends, and left. Shaking his head, the bartender returned to his work.

Bugalu took a deep breath. "I wasn't sure she'd obey my command voice."

"I didn't know you had a command voice," Capac stated.

"Wasn't sure, myself." Bugalu picked up the drink Mac had left behind and finished it. "Let's find some girls."

"Shouldn't you go after Mac?" Capac finished his beer.

"She knows where I'm staying. Or we'll meet up the day after tomorrow. If she doesn't find me then... I'll get her out of the brig." As they headed for the door, the negro asked, "Tall Bear?"

"And Ferguson."

"Ferguson's a cook."

"They both lift weights."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lots and Lots of It / Shopping Party

Lots & Lots of It


Shore Leave, Day 1

0915 Hours


Bugalu glanced at the door to the liquor shop, then winked at the comely blond who was window-shopping nearby. She had repeatedly glanced at him as he leaned against the bulkhead, and now smiled invitingly. The shop door opened, and Mac slipped her arm around him. Surprised, the blond quickly left the area.

“All done,” Mac reported, and showed him the bottle in her other hand.

That can’t be all she got. “Did you get enough?”

“This is for immediate drinking. They’ll send the rest to the ship. I got-“

“Don’t tell me!” he exclaimed, and clapped his hand over her mouth. Her brow furrowed in confusion. “Technically, I’m your superior,” he explained, letting go of her. “If I know you’re sending more than your allotment of booze to the ship, I’m required to do something about it. Like report it. And there goes your stash.”

She nodded. “I never thought of that,” she stated. “Scary.”

Scary is remembering her smashed up against me in the transport pod. No, Bugs, don’t think about that. “Well, let’s just concentrate on having fun,” he suggested, turning onto the station’s central business corridor.

“I saw the blond,” Mac told him. “You could probably still catch her, if-“

“Mac, I promised you the whole shore leave,” he returned. “Except for shopping. So, until you meet the other ladies, what do you feel like doing?”

She tugged at his sleeve and he stopped. She chugged a third of her bottle. He waited patiently, knowing it was better to stop and let her drink, rather than make her try to both drink and walk. “I’m not used to having shore leave,” she stated as they continued walking. “What do you usually do?”

I usually have a date on my arm. “We could play no-G ball,” he teased.

“Very funny.”

He grinned, unable to say anything else for a moment, as they passed the open doorway of a noisy game room. He stopped and looked back at the place, then turned to face her. “Did you ever learn to play Phybu?”

“I manage a passable game.” She took another drink.

“Hmm. Only passable, huh?”

She stuck her tongue out. “Passable means you haven’t got a chance!”

“You’re on!” They turned back for the game room.



Shopping Party


Shore Leave, Day 1

1316 Hours


Abdulla considered the turquoise outfit she had pulled off the rack. This has possibilities. She turned to Beth. “What do you think?” she asked, holding it up.

Beth looked at the outfit. “Wrong color for Mac.”

“Oh, of course, not for Mac. I was thinking about me.”

“The color’s good,” Beth decided. “But do you like that neckline? Seems like it would make your neck look short.”

Abdulla gave the outfit another look. “You’re right.” She put it back, and glanced at Mac, who was taking a gulp from her whiskey bottle, her laced up leather vest trying valiantly to keep her decently covered. “Where did she get that top? It doesn’t look her type.”

“Borrowed it from YD,” Beth returned. “What YD was thinking, I have no idea. Every man who sees Mac in that can’t take his eyes off her.”

“And that differs from her uniform how?” Abdulla asked.

Beth laughed, then shook her head. “It’d drive me crazy.”

“I don’t think Mac even notices,” Abdulla stated.

“She’s afraid to notice,” Beth returned. “If she notices, it’s real, and she’s to blame.”

“What, exactly, would be her fault?”

“Sometimes colony societies develop weird beliefs. Especially about sex. The woman always gets blamed.” Beth looked at two outfits thoughtfully, and then turned to the others. “Mac, give us some clues, at least. What do you like to wear?”

“Pants,” the redhead stated firmly, and took another drink. “I just want clothes that aren’t sexy.”

“On you? Can’t be done.” Look at that bleak look on her face. Oh, space, all those missed shore leaves on the Bartholomew! “Mac, if you’ve had problems with unwanted attention from crewmates, I can’t blame you for being worried. But the Fireball is not a tug. If you have problems with anyone, you have a lot more avenues for lodging complaints. Captain doesn’t tolerate misbehavior. You can relax and be yourself.”

“I can’t hit them when they get obnoxious,” she stated.

“Oh, space, no!” Beth declared. “Don’t do anything to wind up in the brig!”

Abdulla felt herself go pale. “Absolutely stay away from security,” she agreed.

Mac looked confused. “Tall Bear seems … not too bad.”

Abdulla and Beth both smiled. “Tall Bear can be … wonderful,” Abdulla stated. “But he’s only the A shift supervisor for security, not the chief officer.”

“Stay away from Lt Cmdr Winthrop,” Beth advised. “The man is slime.”

“Worse than slime,” Abdulla agreed.

“All men are slime,” Mac stated, and hesitated. “Well, most of them.”

Yes, she’s definitely had problems. But obviously, she doesn’t feel that way about Bugalu. “Look, what clothes you wear is your decision. Like that top you have on today.”

“What about it?” She tried self-consciously to adjust the item in question. “Bugsy liked it.”

“I’m sure he did,” Abdulla agreed quietly. “He likes cleavage.”

“MacGregor, too,” Beth said, and blushed at Abdulla’s questioning glance. “I’ve worked with the man for years!”

True, but-- Maybe I’m too suspicious. “Well, if we’re going through what various men like, Tall Bear likes shapely legs. Winthrop likes a woman to be naked and in his bed, and the closer she gets to that, the better he likes it.”

“No matter what it takes to get her there.” Beth shuddered.

Winthrop again. He’s not worth this much attention. “If you’re into women, Captain Burke likes a tight butt.” Now Beth raised a questioning eyebrow, and Abdulla became defensive. “I’ve noticed where she looks when she thinks no one is watching.”

“And Smythe?” Mac blushed as they both turned to her. “Well, you mentioned everybody else I know,” she muttered.

She must be worried about him. Makes sense, after seeing her record. “Mr Smythe does not fraternize with his subordinates,” she stated firmly. I’ve told her that before. How else can I reassure her?

Mac frowned and took another drink. Yellow Dog asked, “Smythe?”

Abdulla blinked. “You, YD? I thought you were interested in Tall Bear.”

“MacGregor will be disappointed,” Beth muttered.

“And Bugs,” Mac added.

The AmerInd shrugged. “Undecided.” She gave Abdulla a questioning look.

Abdulla found she had no answer. “Smythe has always been a gentleman, no hint of any sexual overtures that I’m aware of.”

“Smythe is a whole-package man,” the nurse stated.

“Whole package?” Mac repeated. “What's that mean?”

Abdulla asked, “Has he asked you out?”

Beth laughed. “If you watch Smythe with a pretty woman – and his mind isn’t busy with engineering, which is rare – his eyes start at her face, travel down and back up. So I figure he’s interested in the total package.”

“That makes sense,” Abdulla agreed. Now that I think about it, I’ve seen him glance at busts, derrieres, legs, any and every piece of a pretty woman. Never stares, only glances. Still, I won't mention that around Mac! “Anyway, we’re trying to find clothes for Mac.”

“Whatever will make them stop asking me out,” Mac stated.

Abdulla sighed in exasperation. “You can’t mean all of them!”

“Yes, I-“ Mac closed her mouth and colored.

Apparently not all of them. I wonder who-

“I can’t-! I just want them to stop asking me out!”

“Then tell them no.”

“I have! I do! Repeatedly! Emphatically! Even violently! They don’t pay any attention! And now I can’t hit them, so- what do I do?”

“First, don’t get upset,” Beth suggested. “Don’t hit. Don’t get angry. Just tell them no. And here’s the important part; act as if you expect them to accept your decision.”

“Right,” Abdulla agreed. “You’re an officer now, Mac. Time to develop dignity. No matter who they are, they can’t make you --” Woops, that’s too close to what she’s already experienced! “For instance, let’s look at your run-in with Jones the other day.”

“Oh. You heard about that.”

“The Fireball is a big ship, but its crew is human – mostly – and there’s still a grapevine,” Beth stated.

“Anyway, Jones made a suggestion, which you didn’t like. You got mad, shoved him, threw your drink at him, would have hit him.”

“Of course.”

“A simple no, with no embellishment, no feelings … how can they argue with that? But anger, violence … those are forms of passion. And a man will think that if you’re that passionate, then you’re just playing hard to get, and all they have to do is wear you down.”

“Smythe told you to calm down and report such transgressions,” Beth added. “He was saying that you don’t have to deal with these … problems alone.”

“But that’s how I was raised,” Mac protested.

“You’re not a little girl anymore,” Abdulla stated. “Time to become your own woman. Now, about this mystery man of yours-“

Startled, Mac finished her bottle. “I need a drink.” She looked around, like she needed rescued.

“Let her have her secret,” Beth admonished. “She’s not ready. Mac, when you’re alone, no one else is around, what kind of top do you like?”

“When I’m alone?” the redhead repeated. “Well, sometimes, I like loose tops, not confining. But other times, I like them tight. Like I want to feel that I’m decently covered.”

That’s no help. Abdulla asked, “What about night clothes? Do you wear pajamas or nightgown?”


“You sleep naked?” That’s got to mean something. I wish I knew enough psychology to know what.

“If I wear anything to bed, it gets all twisted up and uncomfortable.”

Beth resumed the search for clues. “What about underwear? Obviously, you aren’t wearing any under that top, but in your own clothes-“

“I only wear underwear in uniform. Because it’s required.”

Abdulla and Beth looked at each other, and then put back the clothes they had been considering. “We’ve started in the wrong department,” Beth stated calmly.

“Right,” Abdulla agreed. “When she said she needed a new wardrobe, I never thought to include lingerie!”

“I don't need that,” Mac protested. When YD took her elbow to urge her along, she sighed. “Can we detour through the liquor department? I need another bottle.”

“Mac, you’re drinking a lot,” Beth stated. “I’m surprised you’re still standing.”

“I’m Gaelund,” Mac returned. “I’m out of practice, but I’m just getting started.”

“Drake does not know what he’s got himself into,” Beth muttered.

MacGregor? Abdulla wondered. Is he Mac’s mystery man?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tardy for Shore Leave

Tardy for Shore Leave
Day 5 (Shore Leave, Day 1)
0840 Hrs


Smitty eyed Bugalu, who leaning against the transport room bulkhead. No, he couldn't have come to my room in the middle of the night looking for … her. “You ready?”

Bugalu checked the time. “It can’t be much longer.”

The door opened, and Bugalu looked up quickly. Strange. He’s disappointed that it’s Wilson. I thought they were an item. “Well?” Smitty asked Wilson.

“It’s a ‘to do’ list,” Wilson stated. “Whoever put it there started with a diagram of specific areas of the bridge, apparently what you didn’t get done. As he got a section done, he turned that piece gray, and move on to the next. Give him a visual reference of what he had left to do. I'll have to remember that trick.”


“You didn’t tell me who did it. Considering the crew configuration, the odds are 3 to 1 it was male.”

Smitty nodded noncommittally. Odds are wrong, though.

“I ran diagnostics, and everything looks fine. So, what did you have planned for me to do today?”

The emergency bridge. “Ah, I'll finish transporting; you oversee Kagan in running diagnostics.”

“How many do you have left to transport?”

“Mac and me,” Bugalu said, then frowned. “I don’t think she left, yet.”

“Not yet,” Kagan stated.

“That few. Well, come on, Kagan,” Wilson instructed. “Let’s start with the shuttles.” They left.

Smitty resisted the urge to drum his fingers on the console. She’ll be here any minute. I should have left Wilson here and made my escape.

The door opened again, and Colleen entered. The coffee-soaked shirt had been replaced by a leather vest that laced up the front, but was too small to adequately confine her breasts. Her hair was in two braids. She had an electronic clipboard under her arm, and was busy studying 3 or 4 cards she held, probably her ID, bank card, and possibly a credit card or two.

“Mac!” Bugalu exclaimed. Everything went flying as she whirled to face him. “You’ve never made me wait this long before,” he chided, and held his arms out. “I’m sorry. It was completely my fault. Can you-“ She threw herself into his arms.

Smitty stared blindly at the console. MacGreg’s right; she can’t refuse him anything. Just one word, and the argument is forgotten.

“Wow!” Bugalu breathed.

“I borrowed it from YD.” Smitty looked up, saw the blushing woman try to adjust the vest to better cover her. “The other shirt fit better, but, uh, I got coffee all over it.”

I got coffee all over it. The front of her shirt was plastered to her, revealing every curve.

Bugalu swallowed and pulled his eyes away from the vest. “The men will all be clamoring for your attention. I’ll have to beat them off with a stick. Just like old times.”

“No doubt.” She adjusted the shirt once again. “I wanted to raid your closet, especially after I saw what YD had in hers.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“Figured you weren’t alone,” she answered.

The negro frowned. “Actually, I blew last night’s date, too.”

“Sorry,” she said softly. “I never m-“ She cocked her head thoughtfully. “Too?”

He grimaced. “That’s why I was … irritable yesterday.” The redhead blanched. “Forget it,” he told her. “Let’s go have fun and let things sort themselves out.”

She agreed, and they both bent to retrieve her items, dropped so long ago.

“I’ve got 2 pods waiting,” Smitty stated.

The redhead stiffened, turned slowly to face him, her eyes huge. “Mr Smythe! What are you doing here?”

What does she think I’m going here? “Waiting to send you to the station.”

She walked apprehensively to the console and leaned across it toward him. “You promised I could go! I finished the assignment! Please don’t cancel my leave! I don’t need all 3 days! I don’t even need 2 days! But let me have 1 day at least! Please, I’ll do anything-“

“He authorized 3 days.” Bugalu placed the clipboard next to her elbow on the console.

“I did,” Smitty agreed, picking up the clipboard. A glance showed that it was, indeed, her shore leave authorization. Why she still carried it, he didn’t know, but he handed it back to her. “Enjoy yourself.”

For a second, she seemed stunned, then grabbed the clipboard and clutched it to her chest. “You aren’t … changing your mind?”

After the tongue-lashing Jane gave me for taking so long to authorize it? I wouldn’t dare! “No,” he told her.

“—change your mind, Takor?” the captain asked as she and the Scissan entered. Burke hesitated upon seeing them. “I thought I’d be last. I thought you’d be on the auxiliary bridge, Smitty, or I wouldn’t have asked Takor to work the transport controls.” She glanced at the girl, pulled her eyes away.

“The auxiliary bridge is done,” Smitty reported. “I’ll work the controls, but if Takor isn’t taking leave, perhaps it would agree to keep this clipboard safe until Lt MacDowell’s return.” He pointed to the clipboard the redhead clutched. “If that meets with Colleen’s approval?”

“I am taking leave,” Takor said. “However, the possibilities for Scissan recreation are limited at this port, so I will be in my quarters, with the heat turned up.”

“Sounds lovely,” Smitty said. “Now, about this clipboard—“

“What is its importance?” it asked. “The contents are in the computer, correct?”

“Yes.” Colleen had finally found her voice. “But I … fear the contents will … disappear, and then I would be AWOL.”

“Not on my ship,” the captain muttered, and Smitty saw a flash in her eyes that would have made him forget the very notion, if he’d been entertaining it in the first place.

Bugalu took the clipboard and handed it to the alien. Colleen's anguished gaze followed it.

“Is this not an irrational fear?” Takor asked.

Colleen swallowed. “I suppose. But I am a female human.”

Captain Burke told the Scissan, “Add that to our list of ‘things to discuss’. Right under ‘Scissal genders’. We never seem to get to the end of this list, do we?”

“To arrive at the end would imply that we understand each other completely,” it stated. “Or that we had no more curiosity about each other.”

“I can’t imagine that happening,” Colleen muttered, then turned red as all eyes turned to her. With a scared look at Smitty, she turned to Bugalu. “We should go.” He handed her the forgotten cards, and she stuffed them into a pocket.

“Pods One and Two,” Smitty told them. “I’ll have your pod in a moment, Captain.”

“She doesn’t need to wait,” Colleen offered. “We can go together.”

For a second, Jane’s eyes held haunted anticipation. “Thank you, Lt, but I don’t think it … appropriate for you and I to share a pod.”

Colleen’s face reddened, although the glance she gave the captain was glacial. “I meant Bugsy and me. We’re more the same … rank.”

“There’s no room in a pod for 2 people!” Smitty protested.

“Yes, there is,” Jane stated softly, her gaze far away in time and space. “But it hardly leaves room to breathe, and certainly no room to … move.” She looked at the helmsman and quietly added, “It tends to get very hot, very quickly.”

Bugalu took a deep breath. “It always is, when Mac’s involved.”

“I imagine so,” Jane agreed.

Colleen had stepped into the first pod. “Come on, Bugs! Leave is slipping away!”

He started for the pod. “What do you want to do first?”

“You know what I want! Lots and lots of it!”

“Naturally.” He squeezed into the pod with her. She slid her arms around his torso, and his went around her as well.

Firm breasts pressed against his chest, the flat abdomen against his stirring penis. Sweat began to roll down Smitty’s forehead and back as the pod door closed.

“Are you alright, Smitty?” Jane took her hand from the pod controls. “You look … stressed. Again.”

“I’m, uh, ready for my own shore leave.” He started the double-loaded pod on its way to the station, opened the door of the 2nd pod.

“Perhaps you’d like to take all 3 days? Or as much as we have left.”

“I can wait until tomorrow.” Now that she’s gone. No, that won't satisfy Burke. “I’m not used to a woman being so … blatant about wanting sex!”

“I missed that meaning in anything Mr MacDowell said,” Takor complained.

“Add it to our list,” Jane told it. “Anyway, that’s only Mr Symthe’s interpretation.

“What else could she mean?” Smitty asked. “She wants lots and lots of it.”

“Bananas? Ice Cream?” Burke smiled. “I’m certain she didn’t mean no-G. However, you’ve spent 4 days with the young lady, so perhaps you have a better understanding of her … desires.” She straightened her civilian tunic and headed for the open pod. “Takor, see you in 2 days. And you, Smitty, in 3. Have fun.”

Tuesday, September 3, 2013



Day 5


0706 Hours


Stifling a yawn, Smitty stumbled as he left the lift. I can't believe how often I woke up last night. Blasted dreams! Surely Lt Bugalu did not really wake me up to pull her out of my bed! At this rate, I'll soon hallucinate that every woman aboard has red hair!

He yawned again, looked around the secondary bridge, turning his thoughts to the remaining work. A display was on in the science section. I didn't leave anything on. We never got to the science console.

He moved forward to investigate, saw a tray of dirty dishes on a chair. A tryst, here? I'll have their heads! He continued forward, his gaze on the screen display.

This is a wiring diagram. Unusual on this console, but not difficult, I suppose. Just need to go outside the usual parameters for this terminal. But why are most of the components gray, instead of their usual color? Makes it difficult to recognize things. If this box is the--

He leaned forward, put a hand down to steady himself. That hand found a smooth, soft surface earlier than expected. Looking down in surprise, he saw red curls spread over the console, while his hand rubbed a shoulder clad in bright orange. Hallucination! I've heard and seen her all night, now I feel her, smell her perfume. Lilacs.

"I'm awake," the vision groaned.

He snatched his hand away. She can’t be here! Both MacGreg and Bugalu have private bedrooms. There wouldn’t be any need-- She was with MacGreg last night!

“You weren’t supposed to let me fall asleep,” the redhead complained.

She stretched, and he was transfixed by the view down her plunging neckline. Her shoulder touched his abdomen; his penis twitched in response. No life left in it this morning, thank space. But if I don’t put some distance between us, it’ll find some life. “MacDowell,” he choked out.

Her head fell back and round green eyes looked up at him. “Smit!”

“Why are you here?” His voice was hoarse.

She scrambled to her feet, whirled to face him. He got a dizzying view of white breasts pressed against him. Before his body could react, he stepped away. “What?” Whatever she said, I didn’t hear it.

Her face was pink. “I said, I tried to finish the job, Mr Smythe.”

I can’t believe MacGreg let her out of his bed during the night. I wouldn’t have. Blast, Smitty, stop thinking that! “What job?”

Her arm wave encompassed the entire bridge. “What you’ve had me working on. I clean up my own mess.”

“Mess?” he repeated. “It’s not a mess. It’s an assignment. Your part was done.”

“The assignment wasn't done," she protested. "I do my own work, Mr Smythe, not leave it for someone else. You gave me the assignment; I came to finish it.” She glanced at the screen behind her. “It shouldn’t take much longer.” Turning, her eyes focused on something behind him. “There you are! I told you not to let me fall asleep until I got done!”

Smitty turned to see a woman approaching with two cups. The AmerInd rolled her eyes and handed the cups to Smitty. Taking Colleen’s hand, she smashed the redhead’s finger onto the console's ‘execute’ button. The remaining colored items on the screen turned gray.

“I’m done? All right! I got done!” She actually gave a jump of joy.

Smitty tore his eyes away, gulped the contents of a mug. Coffee! Could have hoped for something stronger.

She gave him a brilliant grin. “Mission accomplished, Mr Smythe! Now you and Wilson don’t have to do it!”

“That’s my decision!” he barked. He shoved the cups toward her, but she wasn’t far enough away, and the beverage spilled down the front of her shirt. Large breasts rose and fell, her ribs narrowed to a tiny waist, and the abdomen was completely flat. His body definitely began to respond. “Leave,” he growled.

“I could have used that,” she lamented, looking down. “YD, aren’t there still some napkins from our midnight snack? Toss them here so I can wipe the floor.”

“Don’t!” he said sharply. Got to get her out of here, before I do something foolish! “It’s my mess. I’ll clean it up!” He tried to calm down. “Just go, start your shore leave.”

She looked again at her wet shirt, her face red. “I’ll need something to wear. Um, YD--?”

“Yes,” the other woman agreed. She exchanged napkins for the cups he still held, and pulled the redhead away. They took the dirty dishes with them.

He stood where they’d left him for several moments, trying to make sense of the display on the screen, but thoughts of the redhead kept interrupting. Oh, blast, it’s hopeless. He dropped the napkins onto the small puddle of coffee and reached for the nearest intercom connection. “Lt Wilson.”

It took her a moment to answer. “Yes, sir?”

“As soon as you can, report to the emergency bridge. There’s a … puzzle … on the science console display screen. See if you can figure out what it is. I’ll be in the transport room when you get done. Or else I’ll meet you here.”

“Understood,” she answered.

I doubt it. I hardly understood it myself. Probably thinks I’ve flipped. Space, I think I’ve flipped. He mopped up the coffee, then headed for the mess hall for breakfast.