Saturday, January 14, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats .020.3

“Captain?” Ma-rye-a softly announced herself, as she brought up my cabin room lights. “We have a problem.”

I am a light sleeper, so I was wide awake by the time she finished her sentence. I tossed back the covers and was slipping on my boots. “What?”

“Drake was violating Callen’s personal space,” Sam piped up. “I had to trank him.”

Oh boy, this was a great way to start the voyage – my security AI tranquilizing one of the passenger.

“Is Callen injured?” I asked, as I headed out the door to their cabin.

“I don’t think so, just shook up,” Sam reported.

“It escalated quickly, or we would have contacted you before we proceeded,” Horus added. “Callen was just not able to defuse the situation. When I intervened audibly Drake told me to mind my own business.”

“He broke the first rule you laid down for them,” Sam said.

“I trust your judgement,” I told my AIs. I pushed the button to announce myself before entering the boys room. “Callen, I’m here and I am coming in.” The door slid open.

Callen was on his bed backed up against the bulkhead with his legs pulled up, knees tucked under his chin. Drake was peacefully sleeping on the floor by the bed. I rolled him over to make sure he was still breathing and not injured from the fall. Then I grabbed him by the feet and dragged him over to beside his bed. When I had the new beds installed with retractable lifts and sliding cover panels, my idea was they could be stowed away below deck, and the room could be used for exercising. I had no idea I would be thankful they moved for other reasons.

“Ma-rye-a would you lower the bed?” The bed retracted down level with the floor. “That’s good.” I rolled Drake onto it. “Raise it again please.” The bed moved up to normal height.

I went over to Callen’s bed and slowly sat on the far end. “Are you alright?” He didn’t look as shook up as I expected. Maybe he was used to this sort of treatment.

He didn’t answer me. Instead he said, “Thanks, Horus.”

“Wasn’t me,” Horus answered in his soothing British accent. “Sam’s head of security.”

“Thanks, Sam.” Callen brushed his hair out of his face. “Appreciate the intervention.”

“Anytime,” Sam responded cordially. “He’ll be out for about six hours. Plenty of time for you to get some shut eye.”

“I don’t think I could sleep.”

I didn’t really know what happened. I would get the details later from the crew, but if Sam and Horus felt the need to trank Drake, it must not have been pretty. I didn’t think I would have been able to sleep in the same room with Drake either, if I was Callen.

“Come on,” I offered as I stood. “Grab your suit.”

Callen didn’t question me. He was happy to be leaving. He sprang up, grabbed his suit and boots, and beat me to the door.

We walked down the hall in silence to the vid room. Ma-rye-a opened the door and brought the lights up half way.

“Ma-rye-a, please give Callen permission to secure the door of the vid room.” I walked to the comfort chair he had taken earlier in the day. “Personally, I have slept in a C-chair more times than I can count.” I pushed the buttons on the arm which reclined the chair. “Have a seat.”

When Callen climbed in I hit another button for the heat and massage. He smiled up at me.

“I like this feature,” I said, as I hit the rocker switch. For gaming purposes the chairs were equipped with motion features. It began to rock gently. “Tomorrow I will have Sam move your trunk in here. You won’t have as much room, but I’ll set a curfew so it will be yours for the evening and morning hours. You can use the head in here as yours and I’ll see that the rest of the passengers use the facilities attached to their rooms.” I pulled a throw from the cabinet under the chair and tossed it out over him.

“I’m sorry to be such a bother,” he apologized.

“It’s no bother,” Horus spoke up.

“3su sleeps in here all the time,” Ma-Rye-a added in an encouraging tone.

My crew was being very solicitous. Whatever happened had booted them into what I always thought of as their ‘mothering’ program. I experienced it each time I got hurt or upset. I was surprised Moby had not popped in with an offer of hot chocolate.

“We’ll leave you to it,” I said. “Call out if you need anything. One of us will hear.”

“Thank you, Captain.”


*****


I sat cross legged on my bed watching the recording Ma-rye-a set to playback on the monitor, of the incident in the boy’s room. It was a case of bullying brought on by the earlier challenge in the vid room to Drake’s fear of the jump. He didn’t like that Callen brought it up in front of Mims and took a stab at Drake’s masculinity. It didn’t appear to have anything to do with Callen’s sexual preference. It didn’t seem to be something based on Drake’s jock-dom verses Callen’s intellect. It was about Mims. When Drake slugged Callen in the stomach Sam tranked him.

“Horus? Have you run a check on Callen? Was he injured by that punch?”

“He will be a bit bruised, but not otherwise. I ran the diagnostic while we were waking you. Callen is very fit for his age.” Horus was a great multi-tasker.

“Okay, I’m going to see if I can get some more sleep. Sam, please continue to monitor Drake and let me know when he comes around. I will have a little chat with him before he rejoins the others.” I crawled under the covers. “Horus, will you keep an eye on Callen? If he wakes early have him remain in the vid room, and get Moby to serve him breakfast there. I want to speak to both of them before they join up with the girls. I don’t want this escalating.”


*****


I eased down into my pilot’s chair on the bridge the next morning. “How are our passengers doing?”

“Drake seems to have taken your words of warning to heart. He is in the pod bay with Sam. They are having a lengthy debate about the virtues of the new proto type Pyro-Blaster over a Phase II Blaster.” Ma-rye-a’s terminal continued to display our progress and critical ship’s data as she brought me up to speed on the kids. “Mims is in the galley. Moby has introduced her to your favorite chocolate cupcakes and she is now getting a lesson on how to prepare the mole sauce he served last night at dinner. It was a wise move to have Daniel program us with all their pertinent interests. Moby has been chatting the whole time about the latest dig in the asteroid belt of Novus 3’s moon. Mims is very knowledgeable about it. It seems she spent some time between dark cycles interning there.”

I took a sip of my tea. “I imagine Tiff is with Cassie.”

“Indeed. None of us have heard Cassie giggle so much in her entire program history. She found out it tickles Tiff and she throws it in every chance she gets. We have all muted her, although I am peeking in regularly,” Ma-rye-a assured me.

“And Callen?”

“In the vid room.”

I took a deep breath and leaned back in my chair. “What is he doing?”

“Writing a letter to Antons. Do you wish to hear the content?” Ma-rye-a asked.

“No. It would not be very nice to pry.” I sipped at my tea and tried to think of a way I might help Callen handle the separation anxiety he was experiencing. I felt confident that the incident from last night was defused by my talks with the boys this morning.

It seemed Drake was jealous of Callen. Mims and Callen were interested in each other’s minds, though Drake didn’t see it as such. When it was announced that they were all going to the Academy together I imagine she reached out to what looked to her like a lost little kid and offered friendship. She might even know about Antons or suspect. However, Drake took it as a guy moving in on his woman. He was all burly and going space-cowboy on us. I had no right to reveal Callen’s sexual preference to put a quick end to this, but I did point out to Drake the age difference and stroked his ego a bit by suggesting that Mims falling for such a young boy would be ridiculous, from a woman’s point of view. That a more mature man was always a woman’s choice. It was hard in this instance not to throw fuel on his fire for Mims, but I needed to have him understand Callen was not a threat. I wasn’t going to be breaking up fights for the rest of the trip.

“How did Horus and Callen get along this morning after I left them?” I asked.

“Not as well as you hoped for. Even though Horus is an AI, I believe Callen sees him as a father figure which might not be in our favor.”

I sipped at my tea. “Perhaps he doesn’t need a father figure as much as a warm feminine presence.” I smiled at Ma-rye-a’s main monitor. “I think it is time you stepped in.”

“Me?” Ma-rye-a seemed genuinely surprised. “Why not you?”

“I don’t want to look as though I am showing favoritism. I need to remain the ‘Captain’ in their eyes. I can’t be their buddy.”

“You want be to be his, buddy?” I could easily imagine Ma-rye-a’s eye-roll at the thought.

“Yes, I do.”

Art by Sherry D. Ramsey

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