Chapter 7 By Kari and Khadaj
At 0600 the comm dinged, and Zlanta's voice came out.
"Sive, time fer breakfast an' tha tour of tha ship. Capt'n's already in the cahmon room. You awake, chile?" At Sive's answer the comm clicked off.
When Sive heard the comm ding, she jumped up. Pressing the comm button she replied.
“I'll be right there Zlanta.”
Having one last look in the tiny mirror, she saw something she hadn't seen in months, a sparkle in her eye and enthusiasm for what lay ahead. With a smile she headed out of her quarters. Walking into the common room, Sive was surprised that only Jason was there for breakfast.
“Am I late or it's just eat and run?”
Sitting down, Sive lifted her eyebrow in surprise as Jason served her breakfast. Reconstituted eggs, soya-toast, and something that might have been paste made from something that might have looked like an orange once. Watching the silent Jason between bites she pointed out, “You're not much for small talk are you?”
Since he didn't comment she continued with her breakfast thinking, the silent type. After taking the last bite, she wiped her mouth with a tissue, pushed her chair back and grinned at Jason.
“OK, Captain, lead the way.”
After breakfast he took her around and introduced her to the 'Tainted Angel'. Donny was in Engineering working on something under a hood and just waved a hand as they came through. Zlanta was on the bridge watching the scanners and tending comm. The other crew were heading for bed as they were getting off duty.
"We run two 12-hour shifts, split into three watches each. You'll wind up on the rotation for bridge watch, but for now I'll show you what we've got for medical supplies."
He took her to a small closet that had a medical cabinet, a small chair, and a really old diagnostic scanner that had stopped being serviced 20 years ago.
"Not much, I know, but hopefully more in your hands than in mine."
He leaned against the wall across the corridor, watching her. Not just her reaction to the little they had aboard, but watching her hair play across her forehead. Watching the way that black outfit slid and moved across her back. Her hips. Her thighs.
He shook his head and thought about their next move. Donny had said he thought there was something in the pendant but was worried about anti-tampering devices. Lacuna was pretty close to money, which meant easier reach of heavy-hitters. If he didn't have cargo... Well, he did have cargo, he had contracts to fulfill, and tomorrow would take care of itself soon enough. Now was time to get Sive able to fill crew duties that wouldn't call attention to the fact that Angel now had a doctor.
Smiling at the crew as they walked by, Sive listened as Jason explained the various shifts and duties. She wasn't familiar with the kind of routine he was going over, but if nothing else she was adaptable. When they arrived at the medical cabinet, she felt more comfortable, being as it was her area of expertise. Pushing a strand of hair off her forehead, she commented, “If you don't mind, I would like to go over all the supplies, and make a list of items we may need to pick up on the next stop we make.”
Looking over her shoulder, as she said this, Sive caught the way Jason was looking her over. She quickly turned back towards the cabinet blushing. Frowning to herself — come on, quit acting like a silly school girl — and smoothing her vest, she turned around.
“Well Captain, where to next? I'm ready and able for my first shift, actually more than ready!”
“Your first duty is to put that list together. Put critical items first, and work your way down to, 'This would be really nice to have'. Expendables should be on the critical list. Assume you're going to have to deal with bullet or knife trauma at least once in the next three stops. Once you've got that together come talk to me. We'll figure out what we can afford on Lacuna and what will have to wait."
His eyes twinkled a bit.
"Nice to know I can still make a young lady blush."
With that he headed back toward the bridge area, whistling. He checked on her progress twice over the next three hours, once just to see if she needed anything, once in response to her asking if an item was available on the outer worlds. He made sure to check her out each time, politely. Just enough looking at her curves for her to notice, then he'd be propriety itself and looking only at her face. Looking into her eyes. Listening to her. Not just to her voice, but hearing what she suggested and offering counter-ideas if something was likely to be too expensive.
As the fourth hour of the watch approached he came to her again.
"Zlanta's going to teach you the basics of bridge watch. Pretty easy if you've been manning a one-person craft. I'm going to be with Donny in Engineering."
She nodded her head.
"Right Captain, I'll be ready when she is, I just have a few more items I wanted to add to my list.”
Seeing her tablet on the shelf, Sive reached for it and started tapping away at it. As Jason headed back to the bridge, she turned and watched him leave. Wondering briefly what his lips would taste like, she mentally slapped herself on the side of her head.
Stop that! You know you're on the run and don't need anyone to risk their life for you, so keep your distance. It has to be this way.
Looking down at the tablet again, her thoughts continued in the same pattern.
But if I can find out how I am being tracked, and neutralize it, then I could stop running, oh my god maybe even live like a normal person for a change. I better not get ahead of myself.
Sighing, she got back to her list: pain blockers, a hand held Bio-function monitor, Hypo-spray, Micro-suture, and a general Med kit. There were a few more larger items that she would have loved to have, but that could probably wait. When Jason popped on by to see how she was managing, she showed him her list, hoping he wouldn't veto too many of the items. She got him to agree to the basics the second time he came around.
Sive tried not to become fidgety when she felt his eyes on her. It wasn't easy, as he had her feeling things she had not felt in who knows how long? She tried to keep herself cool and calm as they went over the items she needed. When he nodded and started to walk away the second time, she called out.
“Don't forget I have some pretty expensive needs! We'll have to talk about them later on.”
Realizing that could be taken a number of ways, she ducked back into the medical closet, blushing profusely.
Just as Sive was finishing up, the Captain dropped by to let her know that Zlanta was waiting for her on the bridge. Knowing she had to stop being so silly, Sive looked Jason in the eye, putting her best smile forward before replying.
“I'll go there now. It shouldn't be any problem to get the basics down.”
Smiling again, she turned and headed towards the bridge.
Jason had Donny run a feed of all the bridge computers down to Engineering. One, he wanted to see for himself how fast Sive picked this up. Two....well, no need to take unnecessary chances with someone this new, was there? Better to see what she did when she thought no one was watching. He told Zlanta to go ahead and show Sive all the stations. If she'd truly been flying that scout she'd know how to pilot the Angel already.
In the meantime, Donny was showing him something very disturbing. The pendant Sive had brought with her had a very sophisticated tracker inside it. It wouldn't make any noise at all away from a planetary comm net, but once it found such a net it would dump all info collected and start actively pinging its location. Donny had found one of the antenna by accident and then had gotten most of the rest of it out in functioning shape.
"I think we need to find somewhere mobile to ditch this, Donny. Just breaking it will let the other side know we're onto them that much sooner. Ditch it somewhere and we'll have a day or two extra to make a clean break. Lacuna's busy enough we should be able to get it into someone else's ship..."
Jason broke off. Dumping that into another free-trader wasn't going to work. There was too small a community of them left, and whoever had planted this in the first place would likely hit hard. On Lacuna, though...they might be able to ditch this onto a cargo pallet bound Inward. That would lend a nice poetic note....
He and Donny worked on what to do and how to do it. Jason kept sneaking glances at the info from the bridge. Looked like the young girl really did know her stuff. And that outfit left little to the over-active imagination: I wonder what her skin tastes like?