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Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 9: Just a Quick Stop

Just a Quick Stop – 5

Port Royal, USS Atlantis
July 21, 2400
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“Okay, wait, what?” Mac asked, a beer held short of his mouth. “Three of them? No way.”

In a rather quiet and unpopulated Port Royal, a total of 6 people all sat around one of the larger tables, drinks in hand or before them, the table populated with snacks or light meals as individuals wanted.

Five of the people seated at the table all wore black turtle necks with vivid sleeveless jackets of different colours over the top. Mac in a light blue, Gérard in an ochre, Gabrielle sporting a brilliant magenta, Samantha in green and Gavin with a grey jacket he’d taken off and thrown over the back of his chair. The sixth, Blake Pisani, instead wore a white flight suit and was grinning as she answered Mac’s question with a waggle of her eyebrows and a sip of her glass of wine.

“It’s true,” Gavin Hu, ship’s counsellor and man busy demolishing a pizza, supplied as he nodded to Blake. “Saw it myself, she shot down three of them without any help.” He pulled the slice of pizza away from the plate, immediately coming to strife with the cheese before Gabrielle jumped in to help, then help herself to a slice.

“How though?” Mac continued, nudging Blake’s foot with his own under the table. “The story shouldn’t have let you until the rest of the fighters show up to help.”

“Well unlike you folks on the ground, I’m just that good,” Blake answered. “Best pilot on the ship!” she announced jokingly, though her entire audience was those at the table, a few patrons spread around the lounge, far more interested in their conversations and partners than a bunch of senior officers in funny costumes, and a few lounge staff who knew when to ignore their patrons. Especially those coming down off an adrenaline high from the holiday.

But not when they were making claims that shouldn’t be ignored.

By the time Mac had managed to slap his forehead, Gabrielle and Samantha both wincing in unison, a bell had started to be rung at the bar, its origins dating back to the previous ship to bear the name Atlantis. The one lounge staffer behind the bar rang the bell a handful of times, though not very loudly, gathering everyone’s attention.

“Oh crap,” Gavin squeaked out around his pizza.

The barkeep, obviously someone in the Operations division somewhere, grinned wickedly as he pulled out a bottle of a liqueur from under the counter, the substance inside seeming to glow green in a very unhealthy fashion. “Someone,” he said, setting a shot glass down next to the bottle, “just declared themselves the best pilot on the ship.” The man’s attention went straight to Blake. “Unless you are the top gun, you drink.”

And with that, he filled the glass with the glowing green substance and beckoned Blake over to accept her punishment for a rule she hadn’t been warned about and had been instituted more as a way of shutting cocky pilots up in the lounge.

“You’re dead when she gets back,” Gérard said to Mac, nudging his elbow with his own. “By the way, nice catch.”

“It’s a not-a-thing thing,” Mac answered as he watched Blake march over to the bar, stare the barkeep down and take her punishment without hesitation. She lasted a whole second before gagging at the vile drink, accepting a generous chaser set down to wash away the taste. “Seriously, why is there a bottle of malört aboard this ship?”

“It’s not just a bottle. There’s a whole crate of it in cargo bay three.” Samantha shuddered at her own words. “Luke over there insisted on bringing more along. Can’t have the bar running out of the real stuff and forcing shuttle jocks to drink replicated malört now can we?”

“Fair, fair,” Mac answered, attention turning to Blake as she returned, still trying to clear the taste from her mouth. “Sorry about that, I should have warned you about the lounge rules,” he said, accepting the glare of death from her, attempting to buy forgiveness with a proffered basket of fries from the table. “Turns out senior staff are subject to the drinking games and punishments as much as everyone else.”

“That stuff is a biohazard. I’ve never drunk something so vile and I’ve drunk Romulan hooch made using a repurposed life support system,” Blake spluttered. One final attempt at reducing Mac to ashes with her eyes and then she accepted the peace offering of fries before scooting in to sit next to him. “Seriously, why is that stuff on the ship?”

“Can’t punish folks with buying a round for the bar like in those turn of the millennium dramas,” Gabrielle said. “So instead, it’s horrific drinks and no service at the bar until you do. As for the whole best pilot rule, I think it was agreed upon rather loudly in the lounge on the old Atlantis just before the top gun competition.”

“It was one of the benefits of winning actually,” Gavin said. “Bragging rights and punishment for any who attempt to claim the title. It honestly cut back on most of the hotshots boasting about their skill. At least at flying.” He collected his glass and held it up in a toast. “To no more cocky bragging!”

“To the best pilot on the ship,” came an answer from the starboard door to Port Royal. All eyes in the lounge turned on the person who spoke, Luke’s hand even reaching for the bell cord before he recognised the captain, though not as most would have been expecting.

While those at the table were in parodies of uniforms with their bright colours and retro-futuristic designs, Tivka was standing there in a short chiton, sandals that wrapped up her legs somewhat and looking like she’d been in a fight. A split lip, some light bruising, and a few scraps and abrasions on her arms and legs were evidence of that and supported by similar on the larger woman standing beside her in similar apparel.

“Okay, that’s hot,” Blake whispered as she watched Tikva and Adelinde enter and make their way to the bar like two victorious Greek heroes fresh from the fight.

“As someone who’s comfortably straight, I’ll agree to that,” Samantha said. “Just look at Gantzmann. That muscle tone is magnificent.”

“Maybe less gawking at a fellow officer and the captain’s girlfriend?” Gavin suggested quickly as the subjects of discussion approached. “Captain, Commander, care to join us?” he asked Tikva, who was carrying two drinks, Lin behind her with a couple of bowls of salad.

Unspoken agreements caused everyone to move around the table, making room for drinks and food to be set down and two chairs dragged over to join the group. “You all look like you’ve been on the holodeck too,” Tikva said as Lin set a salad in front of her and she slid one of the beers over, earning her a brief kiss on the cheek. “So, who claimed to be the best pilot?” she asked.

“Blake did,” Gavin answered. “How’d you know?”

“Set up an alarm with the computer. That bell rings,” she indicated over her shoulder with her thumb, “I get notified. Don’t tell anyone though, but it adds to my mystique after all. So, what were you all up to with those technicolour uniforms?”

“Spectrum, defenders of Earth from the Martian menace,” Gérard answered. “Retro-futurism at its…most colourful?” He plucked at the ochre jacket over his otherwise black clothing. “Corny dialogue, contrived sequences, heroes being big damn heroes.”

“Threw myself off of a flying aircraft carrier at thirty thousand feet without a parachute,” Mac said, stating a true act of heroism deserving of a medal if it had been real and not pure fiction. “Never let a Martian get away I say.”

“You’d have gone splat if I hadn’t rescued you,” Blake challenged with an elbow into Mac’s side. “Maybe we could get you and the Commander in one day?” she asked of Tikva, and with that all attention went to the two warriors retired from the field.

“Only if I get to be Scarlett,” Adelinde answered without missing a beat, spearing a piece of grilled chicken in her salad, examining it briefly and then popping it into her mouth.

Tikva on the other hand went from looking at her meal to her crew, then her partner and back to the others, settling on Mac. “What are you all talking about? Am I missing something? I’m missing something. I don’t think this.” Then she turned back on Lin. “Seriously, how do you know about what madness they’re talking about?”

“Because I know almost everything on this ship,” Lin answered. “Someone keeps putting me on the same shift as Rrr and they are a prolific gossip who somehow knows everything.” Then she looked straight at Mac. “Who’s Black based on?”

“Marsh Chapman, an actor on Earth who leant his likeness and voice to the program developers. Gives a decently hammy villain vibe.”

Lin nodded, not speaking with the next mouthful of food she’d put away.

“Wait, if we’re all here and I know I left Lieutenant Manfred on bridge duty, where’s Rrr?” Tikva asked.

“We asked them if they wanted to join us,” Blake answered, “but said something about a group problem solving and conflict resolution workshop with some of the lower deckers.” She shrugged the quizzical looks off, not having anything further to add.

“They’re spending shoreleave doing course work? With lower deckers? I hadn’t seen any disciplinary notices that would warrant cancelling shoreleave and forcing folks to do workshops,” Mac said. “Anyone else?” The chorus of ‘no’ around the table had everyone looking at each other in a conspiratorial manner. “What is our Operations chief up to?”

“We’re fucked,” Wy’run said, looking down at the map on the table, to his character sheet, back to the map.

“I’ve got two flares, two shells left and a knife,” Matt said, looking at his own sheet with a large number of crosses through bits of information on the paper.

“Well I’m deader than dead,” Nerys said, pushing her character sheet away from her and grabbing at her glass. “Prophets be with you suckers.”

“How far away are we?” Jessica asked, looking to Kelly who was seated in Matt’s normal spot at the head of the table. The only difference was it wasn’t their normal table in Port Royal.

“Call it,” she rolled a dice behind the screen, “five minutes for you and Chuck and get there. Ten for Hito and Solan since you two were on the other side of the village harassing the gas station attendant.”

“Hey, he was suspicious!” Hito snapped in his defence.

“No he wasn’t!” Jessica snapped. “Geez, this thing is going to kill us all because you had a stupid vendetta with a fuel tech.”

Kelly cleared her throat to steal attention back and stop the intra-party bickering before it spiralled out of control. “So, there you are, a mile out of town, it’s bitch black save for the moonlight filtering through the clouds and the hulking, towering form of the furry monster stalks out of the woods at you.” She leaned forward, looking down the table, locking eyes with everyone whose character was present in the current circumstance. “It rears up, standing on its hind limbs, its forelimbs you realise are heavily muscled arms. Its mouth, dripping in blood, teeth glinting in the light of the moon and your red road flare. What do you do?”

At the far end of the table, a much more realistic towering and hulking mass leaned forward, a smile on its rocky face. “I step forward,” Rrr rumbled confidently, “smiling at the werewolf and raise my own shotgun at it, then ask ‘What do ghosts and werewolves have in common?’ in as loud a voice as I can.”

Everyone went silent at this, including Kelly from behind her screen. She looked down at her notes for a moment, then back up at Rrr. “The werewolf cocks its head to the side, clearly confused at your lack of fear, and through a mouth clearly not intended for speech somehow manages to ask ‘What would I have in common with the dead?’”

“This better be good,” Matt said from beside Rrr.

Rrr turned to Matt, winked at him, and then turned back to Kelly. “’Silver nitrate,’ I say, then pull the trigger.”

“Yes!” Kelly exclaimed from behind her screen. “Thank you so much for picking up on that! I had hoped that clue hadn’t been too obscure. Roll to hit!” she ordered down the table, the sound of dice soon preceding a joyous uproar that could be heard on the opposite side of the reasonably well-soundproofed walls of a senior officer’s quarters serving as host for a very, very long gaming session.