Friday, December 17, 2010

Game Plan

“It’s not that big a deal.” Alex braced himself between the wall and the toilet, talking at the door of the shower while Carbon vacuumed herself dry inside. He had followed her into the head just after she’d left her cabin and the conversation so far had been taxing. Getting her to talk was like pulling teeth.

“It is.” Very emphatic, he could hear her gesturing with the vacuum nozzle.

“It was a simple misunderstanding. Nothing to be embarrassed about.”

“I should have known better.”

Alex wasn’t sure why the mix up about humans and the minimum number of partners they required to have sex bothered her so much. He hadn’t laughed at her, so at least that was out. “How could you have known better?”

She was quiet for a heartbeat, the mildly obscene sucking noise of the vacuum filling the head. “I should have.”

Alex huffed, exasperated. “Sure. You thought you had solid information, so logically you would ask around about how humans prefer to bang each other just to be on the safe side. Right?”

A long silence this time. “No, that would have been absurd.”

“So is the assertion that you just should have known better.”

She sighed, resigned. “I should have known better because I had seen humans interacting in a manner I perceived as romantic while the Kshalvo was being built and none of them had third partners. I had assumed that she would just be acquired from a pool of them at a temple or something similar.”

“That’s, uh... I can see-” He really couldn’t see where she’d gotten that idea from, but maybe that was just some Tslao thing he didn’t get yet. “Well, you know what they say about assuming.”

“I do not.”

“Never assume because it makes an ass out of you and me.”

The longest bout of silence yet. At least he could hear her vacuuming the walls dry now. The soft whir of the vacuum’s pump shut off, “that is a terrible saying. Some assumptions are perfectly safe.”

“That is true, but it’s the premise of the thing.”

Carbon finally came out of the shower, an oversized towel long enough to be a dress wrapped around her torso. She hung there in space, eye to eye with him and a little bit peeved. “It may be, but it is a terrible saying. Inaccurate.”

“Fine, it’s bad. That doesn’t change the fact that you just made a small mistake.”

“It is not that I made a mistake.” She hissed, poking a finger into his still bare chest. “It is that I made a fool of myself in front of you.”

“There, now we’re getting somewhere.”

“Delightful.” She sneered the word as she turned and pulled a cabinet open, rifling through the contents for a dental spray.

“In a way, yes. At least I know why you’re upset now.”

She glared at him in the mirror as she jammed the bite plate into her mouth and depressed the trigger, cheeks puffing up momentarily. Carbon closed her eyes and her shoulders slumped. “Yes, you do. I was foolish for thinking that pornography was a reasonable window into your culture. Ours is very... pragmatic and I allowed myself to believe yours would be as well.”

“Ah, no. Ours isn’t pragmatic at all.”

“I see that now.” She turned, a wry smile on her lips. “I am actually quite relieved.”

Alex was relieved as well, laughing as her mood turned around. “Good. Come on, there’s ship business to attend to.”

“In a moment.” Carbon wrapped her warm, damp arms around his neck, eyes closed as she pressed her mouth to his, lips parting tentatively as she explored their boundaries. It caught Alex off guard but he didn't mind her taking a more active role. Her tongue was warm and silky, but much more minty during this brief kiss. Her eyes fluttered open with a twinkle and she looked very pleased with herself. “I will clothe myself, then we can get to ships business.”

“Was that my dental spray?”

She nodded, the smile back. “It was the first one I saw.”

“Thought it tasted familiar. I’ll meet you in the mess.”

She departed with a wave and Alex went back to his cabin. His clothing was getting picked over, just a handful of t-shirts and jumpsuits left clean, making for an easy choice. He was jumpsuited and back in the mess waiting for his oatmeal to compile before Carbon arrived, also freshly jumpsuited.

Alex picked the tablet off the table before she sat down, picking through the menus for the information from the sensors from the previous night. “So, we have a little problem.”

Carbon’s eyes had widened a little as she slipped into her usual seat. “You mean with ship business. Yes?” She emphasized the last word heavily.

“Yes. Sensors picked this up last night. It’s still like four hundred and sixty million kilometers away and headed in our direction. Not a collision course, but it’ll come within half a million klicks of us.” He handed Carbon the tablet and picked his oatmeal out of the dispenser, settling down across from her.

She squinted at the display, “it is very pixelated.”

“Yeah, resolution is bad without the active sensors.” They both knew turning the actives on would tip the Ehom off to them still being alive, which would assure their death without the FTL drive operational.

Carbon grimaced and nodded her head. “Why did you not tell me about this last night?”

“You were pretty drunk and you looked so damn miserable. If it was a fast mover or closer, I’d have told you. The sensors would have triggered the ship alarm if it was a more present danger... and then we’d either be fine or dead anyway.”

She looked over the tablet again, pursed her lips and handed it back to him. “I did feel quite miserable and that is a reasonable assessment. We should be able to have the drive ready and tested well before it comes within weapons range.”

“That’s what I was thinking.”

Carbon smiled sadly and shook her head, slipping out of her seat and turning her dispenser on. “Bring up the schematics for the ventral plasma fracture array. It appears we will be very busy for the next few days, it would be best if we plan ahead.”


  1. Couple small things:

    Alex laughed, “good. Come on, there’s ships business to attend to.”

    Grammar's way off and makes me worry monkeys kidnapped and replaced you for this once sentence.

    “In a moment.” She wrapped her arms around his neck, eyes closed as she pressed her lips to his and slipped him some tongue. Her lips were just a hot as he remembered, but she was much more minty this time. “I will clothe myself, then we can get to ships business.”

    This...bugged me.... Part of it might be my fried memory because there's so much space between chapters and I'm kinda flaky to start with, but it seems like them sharing what's in effect (I believe, anyway) one of their first few passionate kisses would be more...moresy. lol Everyone is different, of course, but it's been my experience that when things are fresh and new, the first few times your mouths connect in such an intimate way, it's a whole lot of novel and titillating. And the "she slipped him some tongue" part seems almost crude. Granted, that could also just be me. I'm just not entirely sure that quite fits with Alex's personality. From what I can remember, he's been relatively eloquent about things up until now. That phrase made me imagine him as a popped collared jackass with a bottle of Smirnoff in hand. "Bro, she slipped me some tongue. She totally wants me."

    Anyway, that's my two cents, for what they're worth. ;o) Otherwise, can't wait to find out what the bogey is.

  2. Updated... I blame TV for my grammar fails, tried something a little more detailed out in the kiss scene, as well.