If I had time to do everything, I’d take art lessons, just so I could draw these for you. I hope Chris does not mind getting shipped.

Ellie looks so happy.

Today’s blog opens with Ellie and Raoul walking arm in arm toward the shuttle bay. They are the only two in the hall. The music had receded to the background. They no longer needed song or words. Strolling arm-in-arm was enough.

Then there was a shimmer, and the music changed to a dirge as Chief Dour materialized before them.

“All is loss,” he chanted before he again disappeared into a teleporter beam.

“What the…?” Raoul started.

Ellie fought the urge to smack her forehead. She’d probably start some kind of percussion interlude if she did, anyway. Instead, she skipped ahead and held out her hands. He took them.

ELLIE (To the tune of Aladdin’s “I Can Show You the World”)
Help me please save the ship
The valiant HuFleet Impulsive
Tell me, Raoul, what program can make it right again?
We’re the best in the fleet.
If only we could stop singing!
It’s annoying, morale is slipping.
And I’m at my wit’s end.
A whole new code!
Kuricrearrogance is the key.
It’s a brainwave thing
That makes you sing
We’ve got to find the origin.
A whole new code!
Reprogram our neurology.
Before our brains explode
We must recode
This virus that compels us all to sing.

At that moment, they cross the barrier to the shuttle.

Raoul laughed. “That was amazing!”

Ellie shrugged. “The last line didn’t rhyme.”

He sighed and shook his head, but there was warmth and familiarity in the gesture. “Same old Ellie. Always critical when she isn’t absolutely perfect. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen very often.”

She felt herself blush. He still had her hand. “I’m glad you’re here.”

“I’ve missed you,” he said. He leaned toward her.

She closed her eyes.

She heard Perez say, “Oi! Save that for after we fix this ship, would ya? That is not the kind of liaising we need right now.”

The two jumped apart.

Perez rolled her eyes. “It’s just like on the Mary Sue! Will you two ever grow up? Raoul, you got that data?”

He held up his pad. “Yes, ma’am. And I’ve come up with a few ideas besides.”

He started up the ramp. Ellie followed, but Perez held up her hand. “Doall, go do whatever it is you normally do. It’s time for the real programmers to get to work.”

“I can program!”

Perez’s voice gentled. Ellie hated it when she did that. “Look, Ensign, I appreciate your position, and I know you’re good in emergencies. But this is deep, intense, AI-level stuff. It takes a helluva lot more knowledge and skill than you possess. If we need anything, I’ll call.”

“Will you?” Ellie surprised herself by how strong and terse her voice sounded. “Or will you call your cousin instead?”

“I’ll call whichever of you I need at the time. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I have cleared that with the Captain.”

Behind Perez’s sneering face, Raul stood at the entry to the shuttle. He gave her a reassuring smile, but also jerked his chin in a “go on “motion that told her that, despite his assurances, he felt the same way Lieutenant Perez did.

“Keep me informed,” Ellie said in as authoritative voice as she could, then with measured steps left the shuttle bay. She bit her lip to keep from expressing her heartbreak in song.