A More Than A Little Bit Unusual Captainís Story

© 2001, Derek R. Smith, all rights reserved. All wrongs disavowed.

Well, Iím finally going to get my ship, and the admiral and I were going to discuss it. It certainly didnít hurt that the admiral was within a century of my own age, blonde, curvaceous, and shockingly beautiful.

It also didnít hurt that weíd been married for over twenty thousand years, with no sense at all of the age of our union.

"Morgan I have something that will let us speak privately. But we cannot do so for too long before the spooks behind the listening devices become suspicious."

We moved toward my office.

"This need not be thought. But a few minutes to speak in real voices will be very welcome."


"Are we doing the right thing, Alene? We are interfering are we not?"

"No. We are being where we need to be. We are living the lives we would have led had we been born here. Or at least, the lives to which we would have aspired."

"And of that you are sure? I will believe what you think to me. You have a face people trust, and lust after, by the wayÖ donít think I havenít noticed. ::amusement::"

"::amusement:: My own Exec assures me that I have a face people fearÖ"

"Well that too I will continue if that is what is needed. But I fear that we may yet interfere, to the detriment of species."

"You must give yourself a break, Morgan. You taught a weak species that happened to have long arms to throw spears at game. That they would turn those spears on a strong species with short arms is not your fault."

"Yet the Neanderthal are extinct. I cannot forget, nor forgive myself."

"You must. The damned have taken Cro Magnon to many other worlds. The Neanderthal would not have survived them anyway, when they inevitably came here."

"You keep thinking that. I suppose you are right. ::sigh:: Let us think of something elseÖ have you been able to reach those at home? The general, the children?"

"Yes, finally. The best thing you ever taught me. I miss them terribly, but they understand."

During all of this, we had covered about three paces towards my office door. The speed of thought is what it is, after all.

We didnít think at each other again until we were seated in my office, and Alene had turned over my sealed orders from the Secretary General.

She produced a small object, which resembled a cross between a blob of grease and a blob of mercury in its color and consistency, but did not scatter itself all over my desk and floor. Passing her hand over it, she switched it on.

"That was very good. I did not see it before you placed it there."

"Iíve been practicing. I can make it disappear too."   She smiled at me, which is one of those things that one only forgets in the event of being shot through the head, with a mass-driver.

"I believe that between the two of us, we have all the aliens aboard our ships. There is no sign of them anywhere else in Earth-controlled territory."

"And the pirates?"

"As far as I can make out they would not ever have anything to do with the pirates. I still maintain that they are benign. But I have not yet divined their ultimate purpose. It may well be the same as ours. Regardless, we need to keep our sight on them."

"They have strong defenses, then?"

"Not compared to ours but the selectively submerged personalities make it difficult, even for me, to figure out just what the HEL theyíre up to. Yes, I know I just hung a preposition. Havenít you tested them yourself?"

"No. It seemed prudent to await your results. You are better at that sort of thing than I am."

I nodded, then indicated the scrambler. "Weíd better give them something to which to listen and watch Otherwise theyíll think odd things about us."

"Of course... But you make that sound like a bad thing."

She palmed the little ball of grease and it disappeared, with Alene smiling all the while.

"That really was very good. Better than I could do."

"Right. So I have the pilot I wanted. Getting him out of prison wasnít especially difficult. The Secretary General was easy to convince. Iíve got good people on the bridge and promising people in my Marine platoon. Iím also happy with my medical staff. Iím not so sure of my Mission Advisor, but his reputation is impeccable."

"Very good, Commodore. What about the other departments?"

"Well, thatís where it gets dicey. Iíve only got a skeleton crew in gunnery and engineeringÖ and that makes me nervous. I might need you to help me conjure up some people."

"Sloppy language, Commodore." She laughed.

"Thereís a certain amount of colloquialism figures of speech, Admiral, that are part and parcel of the English language. I figured that since itís my first language, I might as well speak into the listening of those who claim to understand that language."

"You are so full of shit your eyes are brown." She laughed again.

"My eyes are brown because of genetics, beloved Admiral and thatís the way you like them." Laughing also.

"All right then we need to fill out your engineering and gunnery crews. What about flight?"

"Better, but not filled out." She nodded.

"And you need Marines. It seems that you have your non-military crew filled out nicely. Admiral Ireland was a fine choice. How did you get him?"

"My inexhaustible charm, of course."

"Oh! Of course! How silly of me!" She laughed.

"I was hoping you could work your magic and help me cull the herd a bit more, to fill out all the billetsÖ I know you have your own ship to crew. But they want me to launch in just a few weeks."

"Of course. What about your UNSec spooks?"

"Iíve been having trouble there. You already know Iíve got a leader and one team member but filling out the team with people I can stand is an exercise in futility. UNSec doesnít give a rodentís hindquarters about my preferences in that particular matterÖ and they donít seem to be in the same sort of hurry as their own Secretary General."

"Hack a few to tiny, quivering strips that will get their attention."

I chuckled. "Wouldnít that infuriate them?"

She laughed. "Yeah, we probably donít want to do thatÖ But letís let them think that we CAN."

"Theyíre listening to this conversation, you know."

"Iíd be awfully disappointed in them if they werenít!"

We both laughed then and decided to finish our official meeting later. Neither of us got much down timeÖ And it was very easy to come to the inescapable conclusion that we had better things to do.

Space Vermin's Near Earth Traveller Campaign