HMB Impulsive docks at a starbase

Captain’s Log, Intergalactic Date 676952.89

After a couple of very difficult missions, we’re finally getting a break – literally and figuratively. The Impulsive will dock at Organa Station, Europa, for a week of R&R while the ship is thoroughly scoured to remove any sign of the cybervirus. We’re also hosting the team that created the janbots as they install   better security features. Even so, I think we’re all ready for some time off and some good news.

In other good news, Ensign Ellie Doall received her promotion to Lieutenant. ‘Bout time, the paperwork got processed. Sometimes, I think HuFleet just delays promotions so we have at least one super-competent ensign on the bridge. Now, with Ensign Gel showing his awesomeness, we can let her get the recognition she so richly deserves. We held the ceremony just before docking. That way, Doall can celebrate with her friends on the station. No one is interested in singing and dancing on this ship until it’s been scoured.

Because of the potential for infecting the station with the cybervirus, the Impulsive was connected to the starbase only by a simple mechanical docking tube. The first rotation of shore leave crewmen queued patiently in the corridor, while Ensign Gel O’Tin oozed along the line, reciting the same litany:

“Leave all computers and computerized equipment on the Impulsive. That includes communicators and credit chips. You’ll use fingerprints to accrue tabs on Organa. If you are carrying any liquids, drink them now.

“When you get to the airlock, place your feet on the yellow footprints, put your arms up, and wait until told to step forward. Do not shake your hips. Do not shimmy. Anyone looking like they are dancing, even in sarcasm, will be stunned for the good of the station. Headaches save lives!”

“Headaches save lives!” responded some of the crew. After being forced to live in a musical for the past few days, anyone making a joke about dancing deserved to be shot. Most, however, ignored Gel, talking excitedly about plans.

Lieutenant Ellie Doall, Ensign Leslie Strauss, Lieutenant Misha Rosien, and several of their female friends stood in a tight knot, giggling over their plans. They were taking Ellie out to celebrate her promotion.

“And we are going to dance,” Leslie said, “actual real dancing. Unscripted, with real men who are not interested in taking our minds.”

“Agreed!” Ellie said. She’d had enough of suitors – biological or cybernetic – wanting her mind.

The girls high-fived, an ancient human ritual that managed to survive even into this century, because if handshakes can survive that long (even COVID-19), why not the joyful hand-slap? Efforts to introduce the gesture to other species have mostly failed, however. The fragile mandibles of the Snoephlak species snapped on impact (#32 of Loreli’s First Contacts Gone FUBAR lecture). Alternately, high-fiving a member of the paranoid species Hoodat usually resulted in a palmful of needles, the Hoodat’s natural defense. The Logics, of course, found the physical display of emotion as embarrassing as public snogging. If they would ever admit embarrassment, that is.

Most species just found it weird.

Gel, having been among humans most of his adult life, was used to the gesture and appreciated its meaning. He paused in his “pacing” the line to address the group. “Just do me a favor and don’t get into too much trouble? The LT put me in charge tonight, and I don’t want to have to bail anyone out.”

Leslie laughed. “No promises. Right, Misha?”

Her friend shrugged. She looked at Gel only long enough to give him a quick, awkward smile.

Gel ignored her discomfort. He congratulated Ellie once more before starting further down the line, reciting his speech.

“Headaches save lives!” Leslie shouted, then turned to Misha. “Meesh, he’s really sorry. How long are you going to be mad?”

“So where’s Lieutenant LaFuentes going tonight?” Misha asked.  She stepped forward as the line moved, and the knot of friends moved with her.

Leslie sighed, accepting the change in subject. “He got a comms from one of his babymamas. She and their daughter, Marisol, are on the station. I guess there’s some kind of beauty pageant going on, and she’s in it. He’s already on the station. He seemed pretty confused by it all.”

There were nods all around. How anyone born and bred on the Genship The Hood could aspire to, much less compete in, a pageant was difficult to take in.

“And no jokes about her ‘killing the competition,’” Leslie warned as they made it to the airlock. “Tank made one and he’s in his quarters, sleeping off a stun.”

At the virus detector, Minion LeRoy Jenkins smiled at the ladies. “I’m just glad he said it first,” he told them. “One at the time, please. Feet on the footprints, hands up, don’t move…”

As they headed down the docking tube, they passed a young woman going the other way. Dressed in what they assumed were the latest fashions, she combined grace with delight, as if traversing the docking tube were a great honor. She beamed and waved at the knot of ladies as they passed by. In fact, she beamed and waved at everyone.

“Who’s that?” Ellie asked.