Loggy approached the captain. “This is a grand day, Captain. The grapevine’s already spreading the word. The Rec Officer put in a request for 300 confetti bombs to celebrate.”

Jeb snickered but replied seriously. “Let’s hold off the parades for a bit. I’m going to want their technician to work with Lieutenant Sisco’s CompuSec team to clear the bots and double-check their security features before we implement them.”

Loggy nodded. They’d lost their janbots when a Cyber virus caused one unfortunate janbot not only to spy on the crew but also to fall in love with Ellie. It was a very bizarre turn of events that left people on the ship hesitant to even whistle a tune. (If you don’t know about this story, check out “Phantom of the Cybersphere” in Space Traipse: Hold My Beer 3.)

Despite being depressurized and the hull doors open to the vacuum of space, the shuttle bay bustled with activity as pilots used thrusters to park the Impulsive shuttles closer to one wall to make room for the larger incoming transport. A moment later, the shuttle bay chief announced the incoming shuttle.

Ellie vibrated with excitement. If she couldn’t see her True Love, this was the next best thing. At least it was a step in the right direction. Maybe if she told her parents she’d met his, they’d agree to a video call. Her mother did so hate to be behind a trend.

The Chotskey’s shuttle, Knick, backed smoothly into the dock. Jeb grinned at the name emblazoned on the tailgate. He wondered if they had a second shuttle dubbed, “Knack.” Once the bay doors closed and the chief declared the bay pressurized, Loggy nodded for his team to precede him. Two went to get the forklift and equipment for unloading the crates while the other three set up a force field that would keep the boxes isolated from the ship until Security cleared them. Meanwhile, Loggy joined the captain and Ellie to greet their arrivals.

The tailgate of the shuttle split, the lower end dropping like a ramp. Captain Ahndmor stepped out, two tall, burly men in tow. They looked like twins, and Ellie felt her heart swell with happiness. They had to be Todd’s older brothers. It was all she could do to keep the proper half step behind and to the right of her captain and not go dashing ahead.

Jeb lengthened his stride and met Capt. Ahndmor with his hand extended. “Welcome to the Impulsive, Caroline, and I mean that in every sense of the word. You’ve no idea how eagerly we’ve anticipated this particular delivery.”

She laughed as she took his hand. “Oh, I may have a small idea. One reason I’m a captain is so I don’t have to clean house! Jeb, these are my sons: Darmond, who is also First Officer, and Andrew, our Chief Engineer. Darmond will handle the details of the delivery.”

Jeb gestured to his left. “Chief Loggins, our logistics officer. And I think you know our Operations Officer?”

“Ellie!” Caroline clasped Ellie’s hands. “I’m so glad to finally meet the woman who can make my boy’s eyes sparkle with so much love.”

Behind her, her sons exchanged comically disgusted looks.

As if sensing their reaction—or maybe just because she knew her sons well, she flicked her gaze at them in a dark look, then turned back to Ellie. “We brought you something as well.”

As if on cue, Todd stepped onto the ramp, and dang, if his eyes didn’t sparkle as he looked at Ellie.

“Todd!” she whispered, her own eyes alight, but she didn’t move.

Jeb tried to look stern. “Well, don’t just stand there, Lieutenant. Go give him the hero’s welcome he deserves.”

“Yes, sir!”

Moments later, she’d run into his arms and was kissing him deeply. Around them, the crew cheered and whistled. Todd took her hand and led her into the shuttle.

Darmond sighed theatrically. “I’ll go chaperone.”

“I’m sure he just wants to show off his robots,” his mother chided.

“You make him sound ten,” her son retorted, then moved to shake Loggy’s hand and invite him to check the inventory.

Andrew, meanwhile, stepped up beside his mom and addressed Jeb. “Sir, is there a chance I could get a tour of your engines? iGotThis-class ships are famous for their durability and adaptability. The Chotskey was designed by the same engineering team. It’d be great to compare the two.”

“I think that can be arranged.” Jeb tapped his communicator. “Tiberius to Doall. Lieutenant, work with Commander Loggins and First Officer Ahndmor to oversee the exchange of cargo while I take our friends on a tour of the ship.”

Once he received her acknowledgment, he indicated with a wave of his hand for them to follow him.