There’s trouble on the Impulsive! The prince put the moves on Loreli and has been painfully rebuffed. Just what were in those needles that came from her head?
Capt Tiberius and Chief of Security LaFuentes arrived in sickbay at the same time, a good thing, because Commander Smythe and Minion O’Tin were having a hard time containing the irate Clichan councilman. Or rather, Smythe was having a hard time. O’Tin had offered to contain Edor quite literally by enveloping him in his gelatinous body, and Smythe had sent him to where Loreli was sitting with her hands clasped to get her statement. Meanwhile Smythe stood between them and Edor, speaking with stoic calm while the councilman yelled and gesticulated behind him to the bed where the doctor worked on the injured prince. At the moment, that mostly consisted of passing a tricorder over the prince’s moaning form and reassuring him and his guardian that he was not in any danger.
LaFuentes broke off to talk to Loreli while the Captain approached his first officer, arms spread, voice loud. “Well, now, what’s all this ruckus?”
“What kind of circus are you running here, Captain?” Edor demanded. “First, I’m sent away from the planning, then your, your, plant person attacks the crown prince of Clicha! Is this a Union conspiracy to keep our worlds divided and weak?”
“That’s a load of crap, Captain!” Gel hollered from where he stood beside the xenologist. “Their rockheaded prince ordered him out of the room so he could put the moves on our ship’s sexy!”
“Language, Mr. O’Tin,” Smythe scolded.
“All right,” the Captain said. “How about we start with the important things? Doctor? The prince all right?”
“He will be,” Doctor Guy Pasteur said. “He took 13 of Loreli’s defensive needles to the face. They’re naturally tipped with capsaicin. Highly irritating under normal circumstances, but so many to the face… Let’s just say he’s learned a painful lesson about sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong. He’ll be all right. I’ve given him .2 cc’s of imposazine and a pituitary suppressor. Bonus: It’ll take care of his acne. He’ll be clear-faced for his fiancé-to-be.”
With that, Pasteur turned back to his patient, waving a penlike instrument over his face, occasionally touching it to a particularly nasty pimple. Pasteur was average in height, with blond hair and brown eyes, good at his job but lacking the flamboyant personality of the rest of the crew. You know – the type that gets added because they think he’ll be a stabilizing influence on the crew, but just gets killed off later because his character’s too dull to compete?
(Foreshadowing? No, no foreshadowing here. Why would you ask that? Moving on….)
Having received the doctor’s diagnosis without anything interesting to play off of, Jeb turned to Loreli. “So. How did he get a face full of prickles?”
“I’m sorry, Captain. It’s an autonomic response. He was trying to bury his face in my fronds.”
“Eyes up, Captain.”
“Oh! Your fronds! Uh… Why?”
“He had indeed ordered the Councilman out, but I don’t believe he had any hostile intent. The prince was merely frustrated and feeling pressured by his impending courtship. He began to vent this frustration, and as I searched for a more unique setting for him and the princess, I asked questions. I merely intended it for research, but he seemed to think I was expressing some romantic interest. I tried to brush him off gently, but he got aggressive surprisingly fast.”
“What surprise?” LaFuentes said. He jerked his head at the prince. “He’s royalty, but he ain’t in charge yet. That means he’s young and entitled. I knew plenty like that on the Hood.”
“Can you blame him?” the councilman countered. “Look at her. He’s young, inexperienced and nervous. What is it you call her? Ship’s sexy? How is any man supposed to resist her?”
Loreli glared at him with narrowed eyes, her fronds stiffening in anger. Gel and Enigo took steps back.
“Councilman, in the five years I have served aboard HuFleet ships, I have been around thousands of people who were attracted to me – people of multiple genders.”
“Whoa? Really?” Gel asked asked. LaFuentes elbowed him, which made him jiggle like a hospital dessert.
Loreli continued. “As ship’s sexy, it is my role to be desired, and I have been trained in how to handle it. I have been propositioned 792 times, and each one of them took ‘No’ for an answer. Until now. I did call security when things began to escalate, and I did warn him. As the doctor has said, he’s learned a painful lesson.”
“Well,” the Captain said. “Sounds like self-defense to me. The doctor will have him cleaned up by the time we get to Kandor, so I think we should just forget this happened.”
“Councilman,” Commander Smythe said, “perhaps you have not had time to learn all the Union rules, but there are dire consequences for making unwanted physical contact with a ship’s sexy. They are, as the tradition states, ‘eye candy to keep up morale and ratings while serving as an invaluable member of the crew.’”
“It’s true,” Tiberius agreed. “You don’t mess with a ship’s sexy.”
“Especially ours,” LaFuentes added.
Edor sighed and raised his hands in the universal sign of surrender.
“There is still the problem of the ceremony. We never did come up with a scenario,” Loreli said.
LaFuentes curled his lip. “How about we throw him in the brig and let his fiancé-to-be break him out?”
Loreli said, “Actually, Captain, it would make for a unique first meeting. It’s worth mentioning to the prince.”
All heads turned to where the prince sat up in bed, hair dishevelded, eyes wild, skin perfect.
“No! I will not have it! I have decided. I know exactly what I want.”
“Praise the gods!” Edor said.
The prince pushed the doctor aside, who went mildly enough because, hey, not his problem. Prince Petru patted his hair into place, stood, threw back his shoulders and strode to Loreli. Two manly steps later, he ran and fell kneeling before her. Before Enigo or Gel could react, he grabbed Loreli’s hand and looked up into her eyes.
“Loreli! Oh, beautiful, beautiful Loreli. We’ve known each other for so little time, yet you’ve taught me so much about humanity. About being a man. I understand now! It’s as if…as if my life was enshrouded in clouds and you, shining beacon, have burned away the fog. Oh, sweet Loreli, I cannot be without you.”
“Loreli of the Impulsive, child of the Botanicals. I want you to be my wife!”
Surprising turn of events? Or every eye-rolling cliché you’ve ever seen? Either way, I hope you’re enjoying the adventure. Stay tuned when we come back next week for the next installment. Worried you’ll forget? Sign up for notifications. While you’re at it, sign up for my monthly newsletter to get the scoop on all my writing news.