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ST: HMB, Episode 6: The No-Brainer, Part 1

Welcome back after the long break.

HMB Impulsive in dry dock

Captain’s Personal Log, Intergalactic Date 67916.56

After three months, it’s nice to be back on the Impulsive and in my office.  I enjoyed my time on Earth seeing family and helping my kin on the Lone Star get acclimated to their new world. The Lone Star underwent retrofitting, bringing some of their systems up to Union standards, while Union engineers learned about some advances the crew of the Lone Star had discovered. After all, they spent 200 years in a different galaxy finding their way home. The crew will remain on Earth for a few more months, exchanging information with HuFleet before each crewman decides what they’d like to do in this brave new world they’ve returned to. I did have the honor of bringing my kin home to Texas. We had one heckuva family reunion, let me tell you.

The Impulsive was due for a tune-up herself, so it’s been in dry dock getting upgrades on the drive systems and the replicators. Amazon apparently upgraded its software while we were dealing with the Paleos, and both the Union on HuFleet were given a great deal on the upgrades if they went in together, so we’ll be cutting edge. Of course, “cutting edge,” meant delays in installs as they worked out unexpected issues in compatibility. I think Deary reversed the polarity three times before it took, but he loves that stuff.

The crew, of course, took advantage of the time off. Most scattered to the ends of the galaxy, visiting friends and family as I did, but others stayed closer to home. I was surprised to find Enigo volunteering to handle security during the upgrades. He usually trusted that to his second, but instead, he recommended Minion Gel for Officer Training. Well deserved, too, but Enigo could have passed the security detail to his third and gone home to The Hood like he normally does. I’d have thought the experience with the Lone Star would have made him a little homesick. After all, they were the same model generation ship. Loreli also chose to remain and take an adjunct course at LunaTech on comparative reproductive biology.

Of course, it didn’t take long to find out why.

 Loreli and LaFuentes? Well, she could do worse.

Captain Jebediah Tiberius paused his log to process his feelings. Yes, she could do worse, indeed. Enigo was a good man. He’d been surprised but amused to approve their request for a three-month secret romance waiver with option to escalate. Now, he was looking at their HuFleet Form 214-heart-exclamation-winky face: Request for three-month secret romance followed by big reveal. Things were going well for them, then.

Happy as he was for their budding romance, he couldn’t help feeling a little bit of sadness. He’d taken Loreli under his wing since he’d rescued her from that mad botanist’s lab. Was it 10 years already? He’d seen her bloom into a responsible and exceptional member of his crew, and it gave him a real sense of paternal pride. Now, it felt like he was giving her away.

Which was theatrical, he knew. He wouldn’t be walking her down the aisle yet. Or was it transplanting pots? What kind of wedding would they want?

As he was chuckling at his folly, his door chimed.

Chief Lawrence “Loggy” Loggins, quartermaster for the Impulsive, poked his head in. “Welcome back, Captain. How’s the new chair?”

“It’s great. The cup holder’s a nice touch. What can I do for you?”

“Well…” He hedged as he took a seat on the opposite side of the desk. “I hate to bring this up, but… How’s your toilet paper, sir?”

“Pardon?”

“It’s just that some of the crew have been saying theirs is licking them.”

Jeb snickered, but then he realized his quartermaster was serious. “Oooo-kay…”

Loggy grimaced. “At first, I thought the company was taking their revised ‘Enjoy the Go’ slogan too far, but I contacted the manufacturer, and they insist it’s not their doing.”

“Practical joker?”

“Maybe, but I’ve reloaded the replicator file twice, and each time, the resulting TP has been more…tactile…than meets most people’s comfort levels. I talked to Lieutenant LaFuentes and he’s going to get his CompuSec people on it. In the meantime, I’d like your permission to take a shuttle to the supply warehouse and fill it up with as much TP as it can carry, just in case our joker is wily.”

“You can put out an All-Hands notice, too. I don’t mind a good joke – and it is kind of funny – but you gotta know when to let it go. Taking anyone with you?”

“Nah, the warehouse crew will help me load, and that way, I can pack it in the copilot section, too. We’ve got 285 people on this ship. We go through a lot of TP fast. I’ll be back and have it stowed before we leave.”

“Carry on, then.”

The quartermaster nodded and made to leave. At the door, he turned back. “Sir? Have you noticed how happy and – I don’t know – relaxed Lieutenant LaFuentes is? It’s kind of eerie.”

“Maybe he had a chance to unwind on the long leave.”

“Maybe, but he spent it on the ship instead of going home.”

“’Home’ is the UES Hood.”

A light went on behind Loggy’s eyes. “Yeah, that probably explains it.”

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