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Double Orange Radiation 2

by Bryce Greene-Forgue about a month ago in Series · updated about a month ago
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A Skrilxya and Ben Story

Ben Rikaron (Left) and Skrilxya Yonamey (right) preparing to engage Ombroj raiders.

PART 2:

On the Gungnir, The Next Day:

Time is relative. This quirk of physics becomes especially apparent on long term space voyages. New travelers often get an advanced form of jet lag or worse when they cannot adjust to life without a consistent day and night cycle. A tried and true tip from old military doctrine helped alleviate some of the nasty effects of time disorientation for officers of the Armada: “sleep whenever possible.”

In the twenty-four hours between securing Captain Marc Tomadilla on the bridge with her, and the eventual arrival of Kirimella’s Hive Fleet within the range of potential engagement, Skrilxya Yonamey had taken two naps. Tomadilla had only taken one but it was significantly longer than hers, she was worried she would have to wake him to watch the fight but he roused himself just in time.

Skrilxya opened a comm channel on the arm of her Captain’s chair and requested Second Commissioner Rikaron’s presence on the bridge. She felt all was in place but wanted Ben’s eyes on the scene as well.

Within thirteen minutes of the call Ben was on the bridge, wearing his navy grays but a different suit. He showered and took a nap as well, that much she could smell from across the room and see from the steamed neatness of his hair. Skrilxya swiveled in her chair and asked him “Second Commissioner, I need your input on the defensive layout.”

Ben gave the array of turrets around the dwarf planet a glance. He nodded as he saw they were all at appropriate positions to create a protective grid. He also saw how the different ships were laid out to form three loose lines that stood apart from the turrets. Ben agreed with Skrilxya that this was a decent position given their present resources, and lamented that the ships of their own fleet would be the center of this formation, seeing as the ships of Tomadilla’s fleet were mostly civilian mods, and Tiluddu only had three Longships to his name.

As Ben and the other lieutenants on the bridge circled Skrilxya and discussed their general plan for the approach of the Hive fleet it was Siwakoro who remarked: “I only wish this didn’t have to be solved with bloodshed.”

“Maybe it doesn’t have to,” said Skrilxya. This gave her officers pause. Mallumans did not traditionally avoid direct combat. “Remember that our greater foe is the tribe of Huuk. Kirimella is still a rogue agent, but Nebulan Queens do not lightly cut off their ties to the Alliance. We may, within reason, gain her support.”

Tomadilla above all else was stunned. “She’s been nothing but irksome to me and Tiluddu for five months!”

“Respectfully Captain, was communication attempted?”

“Of course! Like you said you don’t see Nebulan Queens going against the Empire, they’re usually too loyal. Her Barons scoffed at us when we tried to make arrangements, and sent a wing of fighters to strafe our ships.”

Ben asked the next question: “were there any casualties from that strafing run?”

“Well no,” said Captain Tomadilla “one or two injuries from systems breaking but the shields took most of it. They only used light weapons before, the plasmoid refractive torpedoes I believe they were. We took it as a warning shot and left.”

Ben shot a knowing glance toward the other officers. Skrilxya remarked: “ah, Captain, I think our situation may be different now. Tiluddu told me that Kirimella’s mother got in trouble with the Alliance for heresy, but I have a hunch that the breach was only one generation deep. Otherwise wouldn’t we see Inquisitors or other Nebulans out here by now? Kirimella may be nothing more than an entrepreneur. And what, dear Tomadilla, do entrepreneurs crave?”

“Uhm, Money, aye?”

“Yes, and we have an offer that she can’t refuse. Her fleet might have overpowered yours, but with the aid of our battleships we have greater firepower than her. The warning shots you received were meant to be non-lethal, it is a territorial custom I heard about when I was researching for this mission. Nebulans do not like war. They try to avoid it by demonstrating the apparent strength of their arms. You fell for the bait. Now we have more firepower, and we have the thing she wants: a source of Crimson Matter ore. She also has something that we want, a rig to mine it.”

“Her hive ship you mean?”

“That’s right, with the combined technical prowess of your engineers and hers, you can set up a remote rig and mine with the Gabriel Cielos and her hive ship efficiently and quickly.”

“My my, that’s brilliant!” Tomadilla said. “If you don’t mind me asking Captain, could we patch through to my first mate and my partner to tell them this?”

“Certainly” said Skrilxya with a satisfied hiss. The lieutenants stood aside as the screen opened on Val Rayden and Tiluddu. Skrilxya also patched in her team of Captains so they could hear the plan too. They discussed the plan and how they would proceed. Rayden was on board completely, and somewhat elated to find Tomadilla unharmed. Tiluddu had a counterpoint to offer: “Suppose the Huuks have already made Kirimella and offer like yours, what then Commissioner?”

“I don’t have anything to support or refute that claim, Tiluddu. We will have to loop that gravity well when we get to it.” She had a plan in mind for that eventuality, but it, like this, was one option of many.

It was not long before Ensign Palmiron gave the warning signal that the Hive fleet was in range. Kirimella’s forces included four N-2 carriers, four N-1 Comet class frigates, two N-1 Claw class frigates, and the N-3 Hive carrier that was bulbous like a sack of potatoes. It just barely dwarfed the Gungnir in size, and was about five hundred meters shy of the Gabriel Cielos in length, but it was round and wide, giving it a greater footprint and mass than the L-1 and making the ARE seem anemic by comparison. The ruddy-brown and gold ships of Hive Kirmyl floated in space nearly 1000 miles from the defensive lines.

“It’s a smaller fleet” said Ben in a confident stride across the Gungnir’s bridge. “We have them outgunned for sure.”

“But they have a larger fighter complement than us, and never forget that Nebulan starfighters are more skilled than our drones.” Skrilxya said with a calm sort of caution. Tomadilla sat next to her wracked with nerves and just barely hiding it.

Simon G. patched into the speakers on the bridge. “Captain, we are being hailed by Kirmylolm.”

“An elder Baron,” remarked Skrilxya, “on-screen please!”

On the wall of the Gungnir’s bridge appeared a face like a Mantis or a Wasp. Large compound eyes of glassy black with reflections of brown, shiny red chitin with flecks of yellow and black, antennae like a long mustache above a set of sharp black mandibles. A tuft of wispy yellow-gold hair sat on top of his head between the eyes. This was one of the Barons of the queen who called themselves Kirmylolm, a name which signified their superior status in the hive. They were the senior mates and sometimes uncle and brother eunuchs who remained in the hive.

Kirmylolm spoke to them in clicks and chirps, and the ship translated into a masculine voice: “Captain Tomadilla, you appear to have back up. To whom do I have the pleasure of addressing this message?”

“First Commissioner Skrilxya Yonamey, we have the greater strength here Kirmylolm, I would advise we make a deal to benefit us all.”

“I will alert the Queen,” said Kirmylolm. Soon Kirimella herself appeared on the screen. Her head differed from her mates because her eyes were smaller and lower set and the top of her head was adorned with chitinous antlers which she styled to resemble a pair of miniature trees. A feminine voice translated for her: “Greetings Commissioner, my mate tells me you have a proposal?”

“Here it is,” said Skrilxya “you and your hive will be repatriated into the Imperial Alliance, and you will end your attempted claim on this dwarf planet. Instead, you will cooperate with Mon Tomadilla and Tiluddu, using your Hive Carrier and his ARE to construct a Rig to mine the Crimson Matter faster, and combining your forces you will all be safer from hostile factions. Tomadilla and Tiluddu have agreed to offer you discounted access to the Crimson Matter and a cut of the profits from the mine. I will also offer you a sum of 20,000 Gold Credits as a token of the Navy’s trust.”

“All true” Tomadilla interjected “I’m here to make money not risk my life fighting to even enter the system, surely you want the same.”

All Kirimella said at first was “I do want the same” but there was a clear and intentional pause. “However I have received a counter offer from Captain Iwgmur of the Huuk. To settle who will take my offer, you will fight. The winner will have my support and friendship.”

Skrilxya bowed her head silently before reeling back up with fury. “Then the blade has been drawn, and must taste blood before it is sheathed.”

Ensign Darugon spoke next: “Captain! We have Ombroj radio signals from +66-175-234 degrees!”

When Skrilxya turned the ship's camera to view it on the main screen, sure enough six longships appeared out from a broken asteroid some 15300 miles away. They engaged their ion boosters and were on a fast approach.

Skrilxya ordered a quick maneuver to turn the ships’ battle line toward the approaching enemy. It was imperfect but would have to work. Once the turn was complete they fired Solarances at each other to scorch the Ombroj ships and block some of the incoming missiles. Clouds of haze and particulates began to scatter over the Dwarf Planet. No ships were critically hit yet but many were grazed and scorched on the outside. Flotsam and spare parts turned into micrometeorites between the kilometer sized craft as fighter drones from both sides flew to meet each other in swarm combat.

From the bridge of the Gungnir, Skrilxya, Ben, and the other officers noted that Tiluddu was moving his three Longships to the front of the line, attempting to block both the Navy and Merchant ships with the length of their hulls. Skrilxya hailed Tiluddu to request an explanation.

She spoke to him once the screen connected “you needn’t sacrifice yourself here Mon Tiluddu.”

“The Huuks have ionized harpoons, if they fire on your vessels they’ll break through your defenses and leave them compromised.”

“We have implemented a solution for that” Skrilxya said “our ships should be able to manage.”

Tiluddu said nothing, but grunted with a nod and closed the comms channel. His ships maintained their formation. Skrilxya ordered the Gungnir move a quarter of a mile to the left of the Urchadki so that she could fire the forward Solarances toward the incoming Huuk Longships.

The rocket missiles and mass-driver bolts from the Urchadki and the two other Longships under Tiluddu’s command shot out alongside beams of radiant light toward the Huuk Forces. The swarms of spheroid drones constructed by Hamans and cuboid drones constructed by Ombroj did battle between and around the projectiles which dwarfed them by several meters.

Even after taking more fire the enemy Longships pushed forward, closing the distance between them and their prey. Through fire and dust they flew, covering dozens of miles of distance in seconds, pulsing their forward thrusters to slow for a broadside pass. Skrilxya could indeed see the harpoons being charged and aimed. She turned to Lieutenant Oryon who looked at her with nervous anticipation. Skrilxya was thankful that she trusted the Lieutenant’s skill as an engineer.

The harpoons from the nearest enemy Longship fell upon the port side of the Urchadki and the starboard side of the Gungnir. The harpoons attempted to ionize the nanite shields of the Gungnir but after a short period of uncertainty, the nanite shield held true. Extra electrons were being flooded from the fusion core of the ship up to the surface. It destabilized the harpoon to such a degree that it uncoupled from the Gungnir.

Skrilxya shouted with joy as Lieutenant Oryon released a shaking sigh of relief and the other Lieutenants and bridge crew applauded. The moment savored, they returned to attention quickly to assess what was happening. The Urchadki was still latched and it appeared that boarding craft were being shuttled over across the cable of the harpoon, but the Gungnir now had an advantage.

“Simon G., please utilize tractor beams on the enemy vessel. And patch me through to Tiluddu.”

“Aye aye Captain” the ship's speakers replied. Tractor beams, a field of nanites generating a small magnetic effect, kept the Ombroj vessel locked in its current position. The Gungnir would begin firing close range turrets at the key support modules of the vessel as Tiluddu’s face appeared on screen.

Tiluddu was out of his Captain’s chair and preparing himself for combat. “I have boarders.” He said in a matter of fact way.

“Would you care for some more company?” Skrilxya said with a smirk.

“The more the merrier” Tiluddu said with a curled trunk. “Shuttle or teleport?”

“Time is of the essence,” Skrilxya said.

“I can only safely teleport you to the cargo hold. The coordinates are on your computer now. The Huuks have many soldiers, so as many as you can spare is appreciated.”

Sure enough Skrilxya found the information on her computer and was ready to send it to the teleportation chamber. “Understood, I’ll see you on the Urchadki” Skrilxya cut off the comms there. “Ben, you have…”

“You don't think I’d miss this one do you?” Ben said already prepping his uniform to change into his battle-suit.

With a heavy sigh Skrilxya said “Fine, Lieutenant Oryon, you and Simon G. will command the Gungnir in our absence.” Rogers from both followed. Skrilxya then patched in to Sergeant Bolamey and ordered her whole squadron to assemble.

The Urchadki, several moments later:

The teleporter technology they used was more reliable than the experimental nanites they had used to breach the Gabriel Cielos earlier. A localized crimson matter rift could send people between ships at specialized transporter rooms. The tracking Nanites that Jungabney refitted earlier were meant to substitute a friendly receiver, and that technology was still in progress.

Thankfully for Skrilxya, who didn’t like teleporting to begin with, the Urchadki had a reliable receiver, and she found herself re-materializing alongside Ben, Bolamey and her entire squad, including the three clanless attachees Evri, Tesya, and Wera,and three Haman specialist fighters. Ensign Emily Dreyfos was a combat specialist in her own right, Ensign Donatello Gansmel was the Weaponsmith of the crew, and Lieutenant Dagonet Ralquon was a Sevashi mercenary from the Knights of Eternal Piety.

Eighteen beings in total had come to reinforce the Urchadki’s defense. Sergeant Bolamey grunted and said to Ben “you must really dislike the Ombroj to join us for this mission.”

“I was getting an itch to fight,” said Ben. He unholstered his phase-nozzle from its pack and checked its settings. “My distaste for them is only one motivator.”

Lieutenant Ralquon spoke as well, after drawing and arming his plasma pistol. “I have been feeling the same way since yesterday.”

Bolamey laughed “then let’s go see what we find. Squad, at attention. Do you have orders, Commissioner?”

Skrilxya looked around the teleporter zone and saw that they were in the interior cargo hold, just like Tiluddu said. There were crates and barrels scattered through the cavernous room. She could see two main doors, one on the bow side and one on the stern side.

She replied to Bolamey “all soldiers will lens the room. Keep eyes open and keep an ear on the two doors. If I recall correctly the boarders were loading on the bow-side. The Huuks will be trying to cut off the bridge from the rest of the ship. Keep guns drawn. Ensign Gansmel, keep an atmo-scanner handy to check for scattershade. Move out.”

The eighteen began to fan throughout the cargo hold. The lights were low and they had thermal scanners on. For now it seemed they were alone. Gansmel reported back to Skrilxya: “no scattershade present, Ma’am.”

“Thank you Ensign,” Skrilxya acknowledged. The substance they referred to was an airborne particle that made plasma and laser rounds react poorly. For Ombroj who used primarily slug throwers this was no problem, except for the fact that slug throwers threatened the integrity of the ships they rode on. Melee combat would ensue if scattershade was deployed, for the sake of saving the Urchadki and themselves from the vacuum’s stifling embrace.

Rethga chimed the squad to attention reporting that at least twenty-eight contacts had entered the cargo bay. “Keep yourselves low” Skrilxya whispered over comms. After about half a minute of silence as they heard the clipping and scrapping of Ombroj toe-claws on the plated floor of the cargo bay, Ensign Gansmel replied back: “still no trace of scattershade, permission to use energy weapons?”

“Granted,” Skrilxya said and added: “Silencers on, do not reveal our strength just yet.”

Within moments Skrilxya and Ben who walked together could see on their individual heads up displays that the enemy contacts were dropping off one at a time or in pairs. The pairs dropping off together were probably the handiwork of Bolamey or Ralquon. It was about two minutes before the Ombroj who remained regrouped. Their heat signatures began to concentrate near the bow door. Skrilxya radioed her squadron, “circle them, Ben and I will make our first appearance, stage center.”

“Copy” replied the rest of the squad in staggered fashion. The signatures of Ombroj continued to drop off until only fifteen remained. Skrilxya and Ben appeared before a clearing to the bow-side door. They saw three Ombroj raiders before them, wearing bandoliers around their shoulders and waists and light metal guards on their knees, elbows, and waists as well. The obvious leader of the three was an Ombroj with peach skin, caramel colored fur, and short cropped black hair upon his head who stood five feet seven inches tall and was about three feet wide at the stomach. He handed an energized warhammer to his shaggier, calico-patterned, aide. The third Ombroj had dark brown skin and yellow, black, and white striped fur, and held a double-barreled slug thrower pistol of Zaarnish make.

The three saw Skrilxya and Ben approach with their plasma pistols drawn at their sides. The striped Ombroj aimed the slug thrower in their direction at which point they stood and stopped. The rotund leader grunted words of dire welcome: “Happy Rotations! I was not expecting to see the worms of the navy on this boat… You were to be the quarry of my brother’s landing team had you not pulled that little trick… Still, it shall be an honor to kill you here.” Skrilxya was about to speak but Ben said quietly “let me handle this Captain.”

Skrilxya, bemused by Ben’s bravado, silently allowed him.

“The Huuk Tribe is making jests that they can’t back up. If this is the best you have to offer then I feel sorry for your Captains.”

The fat Ombroj laughed “bold words from a dead man. I like the look of your blasters, I think we’ll be taking them.”

The Calico Ombroj began to rush the two with the warhammer primed for a strike. Before the striped Ombroj could shoot slugs a plasma blast cut through their hand. Ensign Dreyfos shot another round through that Ombroj’s skull as Skrilxya ran forward with her shortsword drawn to meet the Calico. She parried the warhammer by catching the holt with her left arm and plunged the short sword through the Calico’s gut. As the Ombroj went limp the rotund one drew his gun again at which point Ben shot him clean through the skull. The plasma bolt caused hot slime to splatter the bowside door as the Ombroj commander fell flat on his back. Skrilxya picked up the warhammer after cleaning her blade on her sleeve and looked to Ben. “You want this?”

“By the ghost, you’re serious?”

“I have my blade, you need a melee weapon.”

“You keep what you kill,” Ben shrugged.

“And I can give it to whoever I want, I’m not good with hammers.” Skrilxya tossed it across the room and Ben caught it with a minor struggle. Ensign Dreyfos smiled at him through her messy curls. “Sir if you don’t want it, I’ll be happy to take it.”

Ben laughed “You brought melee weapons Ensign! Actually, I’ll trade you for a short-sword, I’m also not good with warhammers.”

She sighed and said “You got it Sir.” They swapped weapons quickly and moved on through the Bow doors behind Skrilxya. Ensign Gansmel approached behind the rest of the squad and said “I’ve been able to patch through to the bridge, Captain Tiluddu has sent the hallway map to us. Also there are reports of scattershade released in the halls.”

“Thank you Ensign, squad, draw blades! We’re going in like the ancients.”

Sergeant Bolamey and Lieutenant Ralquon gave each other grinning nods, and about half of the Malluman squad members growled with approval.

The next thirty minutes after the doors opened to the corridors became a mile of gore behind the squadron. No casualties on their own side, but one hundred and seven boarding raiders were left for dead in the hallways before the squad even came upon the friendly support of the Othask tribes folk. Skrilxya herself dispatched eleven with her blades and talons, one being decapitated and the head being caught by her cousin Rethga who kept it for her. Rethga took out seven herself, marking a new record in one combat. Bolamey and Ralquon were almost the leaders as far as kills went, tieing with nineteen kills each, but Dreyfos with her new warhammer had them beat with twenty kills. She had earned a reputation for herself as the “Banshee of New Bosnywash” but Skrilxya was always happy to have her on away missions for just that reason.

Ben himself even killed five Ombroj by his own hand, using the shortsword Dreyfos gave him. Skrilxya knew he had been practicing his martial arts more, and was pleased that he was making such good improvements especially in his defensive stances. Then again, Ombroj were much shorter than Mallumans, and sparing with her verses running them through were two very different demands on a fighter. Ben was certainly pleased with himself, he almost struck at the Othask Tribesfolk before they identified themselves. He was embarrassed, but Skrilxya and the Othask Sergeant Grukk had brushed it off as battle heat. They also knew well that the noses of Humans were less advanced than those of the apex hunter Mallumans and the burrowing scavenger Ombroj.

When they finally made it to the bridge the whole squadron was covered in the red-black blood of Ombroj slain. Captain Tiluddu himself was tearing apart an enemy with his bare talons and shouting in squeals and grunts to his crew to continue firing turrets at the attached longship. After slaying the invader on the bridge Tiluddu turned and curled his trunk as he wiped sweat from his cone-shaped head. “Happy rotations!” he said.

Skrilxya grinned with a reptilian hiss and said “Happy rotations Captain, your vessel is secure.”

The Hive Ship, One Day Later:

The battle was concluded shortly after the Urchadki was secured. Only two of the Huuk longships escaped and they were badly damaged when they left. The Huuk warlord Iwgmur was slain, and Tiluddu was dressing his skull as a bridge ornament. Skrilxya also had the skull of the Ombroj she decapitated dressed for an ornament as well, though took it to her quarters rather than displaying it on the bridge as Tiluddu admitted he would have done.

Kirimella let the winning party know that she would consider them allies now. They even transmitted code to Abbott, the waystation A.I. controller to let him know that Kirimella was applying to re-enter the Empire and the Queen’s alliance. Abbott accepted her terms and printed the legal minutiae for her to sign. Now all the Captains were gathered on the Nebulan Hive Ship in the Queen’s chambers to discuss their general plan for the future.

Nebulans often took on the burden of traveling to the atmospheres of Hamans and Mallumans to do business. Unlike the two species who due to panspermia and similar planetary conditions could share their atmospheres without extra aid. Nebulans on the other hand came from a different evolutionary background, atmospheres with slightly higher nitrogen content, slightly higher sulfur content, and the presence of airborne fungus that help regulate their lungs. It was Commissioner Yonamey who recommended they take the meeting to Kirimella, to show her that they were serious about forming a new bond. Tomadilla and Tiluddu both grumbled but when Rayden agreed that it was a sound idea the other two went along with it.

Now they stood before the Queen and surrounded by her Barons and her Familiars, the workers of the Hive. Skrilxya, Ben, and Rayden wore the nose tubes that regulated their oxygen and nitrogen intake to appropriate levels. Tomadilla wore a clear bubble-helmet because in his own words “I don’t like those things poking my brain through my nose.” Tiluddu wore an Ombroj gas mask made of black leather and a jumpsuit to accompany it, making him look more bulky than furry.

The Queen’s seat was a round set of cushions and she sat bathed in warmth and light. She had a few gelatinous eggs between her four spindly legs, these were unhatched queens, her daughters. She herself sat tall and proud, sitting straight up over the cushions and her large abdomen. The Barons with their wiry frame and bulging compound eyes stalked around the Captains as they monitored ship systems in the room. The Familiars in the room were short in stature, all about three feet tall, with small beady eyes and hard brown-red shells, they were standing guard and doing menial tasks, such as bringing the Queen’s guests their drinks.

Tomadilla unfolded his helmet, plugged his nose for a swig, then pulled the helmet back on and took a breath as he swallowed. “Quite good stuff my dear!”

Kirimella nodded in what appeared to be happiness, since her antennae were wiggling. Skrilxya agreed and remarked “so have we all come to appropriate terms?”

With clicks and chirps Kirimella projected her message into their heads. “I think we have if the original contract holders agree. We will work together to mine the crimson matter, and a portion of the profits and a considerable discount on our product will be available to my hive.”

“Yes Ma’am” Tomadilla said. “And… we will have a defensive agreement! My merchant fleet, your Hive fleet, and Tiluddu’s sept of the Tribe of Othask. All for one and one for all aye?”

“As you say, Aye” Tiluddu grunted with a nod. He turned to Skrilxya and Ben and added “and does the Empire fully recognize our rights here?”

Ben replied this time: “We were given orders to protect the interests of the Empire. And the interests of the Mind Empire are always hand in hand with the interests of its magnanimous merchants, its eternal allies the Nebulan Queens, and its contractually obligated partners among the Ombroj Tribes.”

“Beautifully spoken,” Skrilxya said, smiling with her fangs. “All that to say that the Armada, and specifically our fleet, will be patrolling this space more frequently, and make sure your mining operations remain safe.”

“Then I think our business will conclude happily,” Kirimella thought to the group. “Is there anything we can do in return for your protection Commissioner Yonamey?”

Skrilxya thought for a moment and said “If you keep an eye out for any suspicious activity for us I will consider our help sufficiently repaid.”

The Gungnir, After Action Report:

Once they were back in easy communication range of I’yrcon’s fleet base, Skrilxya, alongside Commissioner Rikaron and her subordinate Captains, sent their after action reports back to the Polemarch for assessment. It was only a few hours before he requested a virtual audience with Yonamey and Rikaron to discuss the events of their mission. The two officers met in the ready room of the Gungnir and opened a channel to the Fleet Headquarters.

After they explained what had happened he was laughing. “You mutineed him on his own ship and then got him to side with you! That is rich,” the Grand Admiral Thor II Vulcon laughed. “I am pleased that your mission was such a resounding success. I always trust Admiral Jotaro’s assessment of his officers. You have not disappointed Madame, and Sir.”

“You honor us” Skirlxya said, almost completing a full reverence to the Grand Admiral. Ben saluted silently.

“You will be back out to the frontier shortly, Aveñon and I are going to be granting you a few more support vessels for your missions. More systems, more Ombroj raiders to defeat. And other pirates and rebels might be out there. For now though, you and your crew are being granted shore leave for ten days. We will complete fleet repairs at Neolune and give you a chance to resupply. Keep up the good work, and I’ll have you moved to more prestigious assignments.”

“Understood Grand-Admiral” both Skrilxya and Ben said.

“Sailors, dismissed.” Thor II said and turned off his feed. Skrilxya and Ben both breathed a sigh of relief. Ben stretched his arms and said “ten days of shore leave! I like the sound of that.”

“We’ll need to work on your fighting form some more, you’ve improved but you’ve got a ways to go.”

“You need to work on your moves too” Ben said, “You’re getting stiff.”

“Stiff?! You’re joking” Skrilxya said with almost a growl.

“Not at all, and I know how to get you to loosen up. We need to hit up the clubs.”

“Seriously?” Skrilxya said, leaning back in her chair and chucking a bit. “You just want a chance to chase some tail.”

“So do you” said Ben with a wink, Skrilxya was confused. “I’m thinking about that Ar you’ve been seeing on Neolune. How’s he doing?”

“Oh he’s just a friend,” Skrilxya said with a groan. “You’ll probably see him while we are there, he works in the science department.”

“So he’s your ‘friend’ AND he’s an egg head, too?! Sounds like he’s a real stiff, he’s going to the club too! You’ll both love Disco Higgs.”

Skrilxya rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. After a moment of silent reflection she finally conceded. “I guess it isn’t a bad idea. But we also need to interview our new Psychic Adept. The Admiralty will be assigning us one finally.”

“I think the club would be perfect for that. Seeing how they are on down time will tell us whether they’re a good fit for the crew. We’ll make it a proper outing!”

“You better be right about this place being a good Disco joint. Last time I got recommended to a place to dance, the playlist was garbage.”

Ben “Disco Higgs never fails, and when have I been wrong?”

Skrilxya looked at her First Officer coyly.

Ben only remarked: “Don’t answer that.”

To be continued….

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About the author

Bryce Greene-Forgue

Teacher, Historian, Aspiring Sci Fi Author

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