Need to catch up? Read part 9 here. Gets links to all the stories here.

HMB Impulsive in space

Captain’s Personal Log, Intergalactic Date 67678.02

…and as soon as we were aboard, Smythe ordered our hasty exit. We got out of the system before any weapons could mobilize and have so far no Keepout forces have pursued. So, not the easy solution we’d hoped for but didn’t expect, but the successful one we wanted.

Loreli is in a special alcove in Sickbay, still in the vat of nutrients and being misted ‘round the clock. She’s already looking better. Her trunk is again splitting to legs, and the doctor said she should be ambulatory in a few weeks. Engineering set her up with a humidity-resistant console, and she’s already hard at deskwork. Which is good. I think she needs the distraction considering the mission, in her opinion, was such a dismal failure.

I disagree, of course; after all, except for Loreli, who was the victim of a terrorist attack, no member of the Impulsive placed any contamination whatsoever on Keepout. In this whole Human-GON encounter we took the high ground and held it.

I’m going to go talk to her, as soon as I get the debrief from Wylson.

As Jeb looked at the split screen showing all three of Wylson’s heads, he marveled that a creature with one brain could hold so many opinions.

Wylson 1 had a call from Keepout and excused himself to take it. The privacy shield was on, but Jeb could see he was agitated. He’d taken control of an extra tentacle just to fling it about in frustration. Meanwhile, the others kept talking with Jeb.

“Are you kidding?” Wylson 2 said to his own other face. “I saw that throw! The Captain just grabbed a piece of, of debris and whirled it at his security officer. It was, as the humans say, Herculean.”

“Thank you. And all this time, I’d thought three years of disc golf in high school was only good for getting my sports letter so I could make it to the Academy.”

Wylson 3 cut in. “You fired on civilians!”

“We shot at terrorists. They were killing all the dignitaries and scientists, too, you know. Did anyone die, by the way?”

“Apparently, an underling. They didn’t mention his name, only that he had a red thorax. But you also destroyed the shield generator.”

“Which was the only way we could save our crewman and protect their planet’s soil sanctity. We did an analysis and found despite everything, Loreli and Gel combined retained only .0034 grams per cubic meter. That’s better than the Logics did at their last visit in ‘776.8. We even ran Gel through the transporter, removed the rest of the foreign elements and sent them back.”

That had been Dour’s idea. The security chief was always up for a challenge. A detailed transport at sublight-away through the shields had made his day. Jeb had even allowed him to wear his black robes for a shift to celebrate.

“Didn’t they shoot at you?”

Jeb shrugged. “We were too fast for them.”

“You went down there armed for a fight.”

“We went down there ready to defend ourselves.”

“Come on, Wy,” Wylson 2 said. “You were facing the other way. The Impulsive officers were amazing – the epitome of everything good about their species.”

“Shucks, thank you, Wylson.”

“I don’t agree!” Wylson 3 said.

“Then, up your third, sir.”

The privacy shield around Wylson 1 snapped shut and the head spun around, with protests from the other two. Wylson faced the captain. “This is all a moot point now. The GONs have broken off relations, armed their buoys and recalled all their people.”

Jeb raised a brow. He’d expected the reaction from the GONs, but not that Wylson would call them by the human slang. Looked like another head had had their fill of the species.

“Good riddance!” Wylson 2 said.

“Let me talk to them,” Wylson 3 argued.

“No. It’s done. They need to get themselves in order. The Union has enough drama dealing with humans – no offense.”

“None taken. We excel at drama.”

“I have let them know that we are willing to reopen channels as soon as they are willing to accept a diplomat of our choice. I think we’ll send a Huagg.” All the Wylsons smiled a tight, determined smile.

* * *

Despite the shield that was supposed to hold in moisture, Sickbay felt more humid than usual to Jeb. The Doctor was in his office, working on…something. Jeb felt certain he always had a few vials of something colorful handy to stick in a scanner when he wasn’t interested in talking to people. He waved for him to continue his research – real or pretend – and wandered to Loreli’s alcove.

She was working on a portable console, her back to the room and earbuds in. Probably Mozart; even among alien plants, human classical music seemed to stimulate growth. Her color was back to its original green, and a seat had been put into her vat. This was a good sign; she had legs rather than a trunk to sustain her.

Jeb rapped on the side of the alcove.

“Captain!” Loreli rose and swished to face him. She was thinner, he saw, her chest not as buxom, but still in a classic athletic form many found appealing. Her uniform was smoother and tighter to match. She was such a professional.

He glanced at her hands. “Lin did a fine job.”

She smiled, “And I’m caught up on ship’s gossip. Did you really goose Commander Deary?”

“That was on the Graptarian ship. I was newly converted and a little enthusiastic.” (For those who don’t remember or – shame on you! – didn’t read Polarity Panic, Capt. Tiberius converted to Keptarism, and they bless each other by grabbing their butt.)

“Enough about me,” he said. “How are you?”

She knew he meant emotionally rather than physically. “Lin also told me about Keepout. Of all the missions to go FUBAR, I did not expect it to be by me.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong, Lieutenant. That was the terrorists. The GONs have some growing up to do before they’re ready for the Union.”

“I suppose.”

“Hey, did I ever tell you about my family?”

“You’re ranchers?”

“That was just my direct line. I’ve got this one umpteenth-great uncle, Grant. He’s family legend. Mom said I must have some Uncle Grant in me.”

“Oh?” She pulled her chair around. Everyone knew when a senior officer started sharing personal or family stories, there was a moral attached. It paid to listen.

“’It’s the wanderlust,’ she said. He had it, too, but this was in the time of fossil fuel transportation. He became what they called a door-to-door salesman, traveling around, visiting people and trying to get them to buy his stuff.”

“Like I was trying to ‘sell’ membership to the Union?” Loreli asked.

Jeb nodded. Normally, he’d playfully chide a crewman who interrupted his story to get to the point, but for Loreli, he’d make an exception. “He had a motto that traveled throughout the generations of Tiberiuses: Sometimes, when you stick your foot in the door, someone’ll slam the door on it.”

He smacked the side of the alcove, mainly so the author had a definitive transition for him, and pointed at her console. “Don’t work too hard. Once you’ve nursed that sore foot back to health, I expect you back on the road.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, Jebediah.”

“Anytime, Sprout.”

The end! Thanks for joining in on yet another exciting episode of Space Traipse: Hold My Beer. I hope you’re enjoying reading it as much as I have been writing it. There will be more episodes. In the meantime, check out the Facebook page for more fun.