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Last Day Aboard Ship - chapter 2
By
rolandlytle

Last Day Aboard Ship - chapter 2

It has gone from bad, to worse, to just plain sucks and he still hasn't finish a cup of phachie.

I said, “It appears to be a tadar transmission, but it can’t be.” Pointing at the contradictory information I continued, “See here, the tachyon wave pattern is way off norm. This pattern is completely inefficient. The prototype tadars installed almost eighty years ago operated better than this. The power readings are crinkled too.”

As Denton evaluated my findings, my concentration wandered to Carmen. She was attractive, but her physical appearance paled to the beauty of her mind and spirit. I couldn’t allow my thoughtlessness towards Carmen to affect my performance. I must put those considerations behind me until this evening, if I could.

There was a knock at the doorway. ABS (able-bodied spacehand) Yosami Akihito, a veritable mountain of a man, escorted Specialist Stevens into the room and positioned himself about two paces behind the frowning cuffed man.

I moved up to Stevens, held up the key of his cuffs and asked, “Rolo are you going to behave?”

Despite his hostile bearing, he nodded and I noticed some of the tautness leaving his uneasy stance. The cuffs released Rolando Stevens when I passed the key over the strong, yet lightweight, duralloy restraints.

Denton activated the recording programs and the started out on the wrong foot, officiously stating, “I am the XO of the EAF (Earth Alliance freighter) MSCS (Military Space Command Ship) BharatBenz, Lieutenant Denton Harvey and will be presiding over this hearing.” Looking down at Stevens, he continued, “Specialist Rolando L. Stevens, the investigation into your murderous actions four days ago have been reviewed. The findings of the investigation have been found to be creditable and you will be held in custody until such time as you can be turned over to the authorities for trial by peers. Would you like to make a statement for the ship’s log?”

Before Rolo said a word, I held up my hand to him and turned to the XO, reciting the required reply, word-for-word, “Lieutenant Harvey, I am Ship’s Ensign Sean Patrick Thornton assigned steward aboard the MSCS BharatBenz representing Specialist Stevens and the SIU (Spacefarers Interstellar Union). The accused respectfully requests to make a written statement at a later time.”

Denton’s reply, as expected, before deactivating the recording was, “Request granted. This hearing is closed.”

I asked Denton, “May we use this office for a while? I’d like to talk to Specialist Stevens about his situation.”

“You can have it for a couple of hours,” Denton curtly replied.

After the XO departed, I spoke to Akihito. “Sam, could you go to the galley and rustle up some grub for Rolo?”

“You know I can’t do that, sir. He’s still assigned short rations for ten more days.”

“Sorry Sam. You’re right. Well could you get some for me? I’m hungry,” I said as I patted my belly, licked my lips, and gave him a wily wink.

A conspiratorial smile grew on Sam’s face and he said, “Sure thing Ricky, I’ll just take my fat sumo ass up to the mess and get you some chow. I wouldn’t want you to starve. I should be back in half an hour, if that is long enough for you?”

Signaling Sam OK, I gave him the universal signal of zipping my lips and he left me with my big problem, Rolando. I had to lay it on the line for him. He deserved to know what his situation truly was and I had delayed this discussion far too long.

“Have a seat Rolo,” I said.

He appeared to loosen up almost immediately as he swiveled the seat towards me and squatted his moronic ass down. He just didn’t recognize how deep into the turd he had crawled. He’s really smart, but lacks education and refinement. Despite his innate intelligence, he is quite inarticulate. Rolo operates and maintains equipment that requires a deep working knowledge and understanding of physics. He just has a tendency to forget to check with his brain before taking actions.

As Rolo relaxed, he looked up at me and said, “Thanks for stepping in and keepin’ me straight with the XO. He never liked me much ya know.”

I screwed my face up to express anger and began, “You stupid bloody frakup! The XO is the least of your worries. You are deep in the turd my friend and the world is about to pour a whole ten-liter jug of hurt on your sorry ass.”

He stiffened and sat erect, responding loudly, “Ya ain’t got no call to talk at me that way Ricky. I thoughts ya was my friend! This ain’t my fault. I didn’t crinkle this up. He started it! All I done was defend myself! Done nothing wrong Ricky. That turd hit me first. It was a frakin’ cheap shot while I’s a sittin’ down. That bastard was askin’ for it.”

Faster than he could think, I threw my arm across and backhanded Rolo as hard as possible. He almost fell from the seat unsettled. He shook his head slightly and began to rise. I shoved him back into his seat and whipped out my shocker. Holding the sixty centimeter (two feet) duralloy baton at my side, I quickly moved a step back.

He hesitated and I growled out at him in a half shout, “Stop right the frak there! Listen and get your mind shiny, stonehead. It doesn’t matter if he started it! It doesn’t matter that it was unintentional! It doesn’t matter how fraking stupid you are either. You killed Tyler!

“Your big bunghole of a mouth got him pissed to the heavens. He hit you and then you hit him back, then again, and then a kick to his knee. You broke his fraking knee because he openhanded you on the back of the head. Your shipmate, a man you’ve lived with for almost six years, fell to the floor. So, what do you do then, you ingrate? You pull the dazed man with a broken knee up and hit him again, driving his nasal cartilage up into his brain. You killed him!”

The sound of my accusation echoed throughout the compartment. Rolo looked stunned. I’m positive he didn’t mean for this to happen, but he lost control and killed a shipmate. Thirty years ago, we would have been his judge, jury and executioner, spacing him within twelve hours. Thank heavens those times are history.

I heard movement behind me and turned to see the Captain standing in the doorway.

“Morning sir, I’m speaking to a member as the steward. You can’t be present Captain. I’ll take him back to his billet.”

Captain Beverly Leopard said, “Don’t bother. I was just concerned about the decibel level Mister Thornton. Do keep it down in the future ensign. Are we shiny?”

“Yes sir, like stainless steel,” I replied just the way she likes it.

She left and I pivoted back to my problem. I like Rolando, but Rolo is a major ass. We have served together for five years and when you spend that much time with someone on a deep space freighter, they become family.

We had been barhopping more than once when we were planetside. Some stooge would cause us problems and the next thing you know there were several of his friends all around. When there are only two or three of you and the odds are two-to-one or even four-to-one, you know you’re going to take an ass kicking, but you don’t desert your shipmate. Whether it was over a woman, a bet, or because you were just too drunk, it didn’t matter, you covered their ass. Rolo and I had been though that together more times than I care to admit. He was always there for me.

“Now listen Rolo, you are going to be sentenced to at least twenty years in a rehab facility. With hard work and a little luck, you can be out in five, but you will be paroled. Meetings and appointments every week and you with have to toe the line. You will never be allowed to work the spacelanes again, but with your experience, you should be able to work on a station or port facility. Your life, as you knew it, is over!”

I believe Rolo finally comprehended what lay ahead. He slumped in his seat and laid his head upon the conference table. I heard him give a sob and then he silently wept.

Occasionally I could make out his words, “I’m sorry Tyler, I didn’t mean it.”

We sat quietly until Sam returned. I went to the doorway to get the food and had Sam wait outside while I supposedly continued our talk. Rolo helped me out so that the food wouldn’t be wasted.

Before Sam led Rolo back to his billet, I told him, “Rolo we have been friends for a while. Remember, Tyler was my friend too. I feel as if I should kill you myself and dump the body out the airlock, but I can’t and I wouldn’t. Think about that. I’m going to do some research and I’ll get with you in a couple of days to help write up your statement for the log.”

An hour later, I was sitting in the mess drinking a steaming cup of phachie. (pronounced fa-‘she) I had to reflect upon my contradictory emotions from my meeting with Rolo Stevens. He was a member of the BharatBenz family, but I have to come to grips with the truth, I hate him for what he did. Tyler was a part of our family too. I was going to miss him.

Tyler was a hell of a backgammon player. Maybe not that good of a player, but he habitually rolled the numbers when he needed them. He made delicious pizza too. A couple of days every month we’d have an all-night poker game and Tyler would prepare midnight pizza. All day he would be brewing up the finest pestei sauce you ever tasted. He had a secret ingredient. I saw him puree tomatoes one time while cooking his sauce, but who would use tomatoes on pizza? Tyler always made enough to offer some to the people on midwatch.

I wasn’t paying attention, when someone shoved me off my seat. Sprawled on the deck, I focused my attention on the MAA (Master-at-arms), Corporal Denise Ibanez.

Frak! Just what I need, another woman giving me the turd.

I picked myself up and she got in my grill, saying, “You are one sorry fraker Ricky. Do you have any clue what the bloody hell you have done?”

She seemed upset, so I tried to assuage her, speaking in a calm tone. “Denise, what is your problem?”

“I saw Carmen earlier, you thoughtless prick. What have you done this time to frakup the best thing you’ll ever have?”

Oh shit, I had forgotten all about that crinkle. I shouldn’t be sitting hear drinking hot phachie. I should be in engineering endeavoring to convince Carmen how much I loved her. Hell, she would just shout at me for interrupting her at work.

“I’m sorry Denise. I know Carmen is your best friend. I didn’t mean to have brain-freeze this morning.” I muttered.

“Remember wanker, she was sharing my bunk before yours. I was happy for you both when it clicked for you two, but I’ll be glad to take her back if you frak this up. I’d make sure to give you a big kiss each morning before washing her taste and smell off me to remind you how crinkled and droopy you really are.” Then she pushed me and yelled, “Do you understand, placenta?”

I know when to keep my mouth shut. I just nodded and left. All the way down the passageway, I heard the laughter and comments yelled after me. Today is just getting better and better. It would kill me now to smell Carmen’s soft vanilla scent on someone else.

As I walked down the passageway towards the tadar equipment compartment, I heard an announcement on the ship’s intercom for me to contact the CO. I quickly changed direction and hustled forward to the old man’s stateroom. She doesn’t like to be kept waiting.

What does the Captain want? That and Ricky is chewed on by not one but two women (his boss and his girlfriend, if she still is) and our sorry-assed ensign figures out what caused the tadar ghost. It should be interesting so read the next installment of our tale right here, same space-time, same space-channel.

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