Teal did as the computer requested and pressed the red button marked `LAUNCH'. The pod was ejected gently from the station. She, Grasf, and the other five were leaving. It was three hours after the confrontation with Heathers, and they had immediately packed their things. They told Freed good-bye and Teal went and said good-bye to Todd. He promised to write, and she too, when she got a chance.
Although they were being discharged from the station and Alpha Petra, they were still in the Force. So they were being restaitioned. And Freed had made sure that they'd be on the same station.
But until the need came for seven soldiers at one time, they were on a paid leave on the planet Telhew. Teal set the coordinates and let the ship do the driving.
The ride was uneventful and they arrived on time. There they were greeted by a small crowd, those people who weren't working, and they waved and smiled and signed little children's autograph books and shook hands with the grown men and hugged the women. This was the planet that they had saved by destroying the base on the planet with the shield.
They went to their quarters. These weren't the service quarters they had on the station. These were personal. And there were many, many differences. Like the fact that the five soldiers had their own quarters, all seven of them were in the same hall instead of being separated by rank, and they weren't so conservative in their decor. They were decorated for their arrival by the people, and they had comfortable beds that the seven wouldn't have to make. Teal laughed as the five soldiers kept buzzing her on the message board on all the things that were there. Fluffy towels as big as they were, dressers, real clothes in the dressers, fuzzy rugs, windows to let in light, books, sofas, a kitchen... They went on and on and on until there was no more to find.
Grasf buzzed her door. "Enter," she said. The doors swung inward on hydraulic hinges.
"Like it here yet?," he asked. He had changed into jeans and a white t-shirt and a black vest.
"Yeah, it's ok," she said, shrugging. "It's not like the station."
"Are you going to continue in the service?," he asked, lounging on her sofa and picking up an apple from the fruit basket on the coffee table.
"I don't know," Teal said, walking to the window and opening the shades to let the sunshine in. "If they need me, out there, on a station, I'll go. But here on the planet.... No."
She shrugged. "I'm less likely to be called out there, on a station, then I would here on the planet. When we landed and I saw all the people, real people, not soldiers, and the trees and everything... I saw how much I had missed. I wouldn't be able to do service out here unless it was absolutely necessary. I don't know why."
"So you do like it here," he said, not really a question. She looked at him silently. He removed his legs from the sofa and patted the seat next to him. She went over and sat, and he put his arm around her shoulders and she leaned on him, arms still crossed.
They sat in silence when she said, "Think there's a tv here?"
"Don't see why there shouldn't be."
The door buzzed. Teal got up and went to the door. She opened it and there stood a man she had never seen before. He bowed and then addressed her. "Miz Teal?"
"My name is Sgt. Millhaem. I run the defense sector. I just wanted to be the first to personally welcome you to your new homes and just make sure that you and your friends are comfortable."
Grasf came over. "Yes, we are, thank you," she said, nodding. She found it interesting that he apparently didn't care there was a male in the room. They'd get in trouble in service quarters.
"There is a special formal dinner for the Govnernor of Telhew's son. It's his eighteenth birthday today. He has cordially invited you and your six friends to come. The dinner will be held in the Wolf Tavern Hall. If you need help, ask the computers along the walls and they will guide you. I hope you can make it."
"We'll be there," Teal said, nodding.
"Very good, very good," Millhaem said, nodding and smiling. Teal smiled back, and he left after she assured him that she would tell the other five.
"Why are we going?," Grasf asked.
Teal shrugged. "Good publicity. We'll also be on the son's good side. We want to make friends in high places, Jo."
She sent a message to the others, requesting their attendance, stressing that it wasn't an order and to reply when they got the message. The message beeped five minutes later, then again, and again. It beeped, in all, four times. Teal smiled as she read the messages. "Seems that Peters and Shelby are getting off to a good start. He's over there."
"I think we're getting off to a good start, too," Grasf said, putting his arms around her waist.
"What?," she asked, going over to here. Indeed it did.
Jessica Flynn Shelby, Soldier-Private
"Before I was only a soldier," she said.
All the others were the same way. Teal looked at hers. Her jaw dropped. Teal Amanda Watkins, Second-in-Command
"I'm not a leader anymore," she said, turning to Grasf. "I'm a second-in-command! How?"
Grasf was a second-in-command also. What that meant was that they had moved up from platoon leaders two whole ranks. Usually they went from leaders to first leaders, which commanded the leaders, to leader-private and then to second in command. But they had skipped.
The ranks were: soldier, soldier private, soldier-in-command, platoon leader, first leader, leader-private, second-in-command, first-in-command, commander, sergeant, captain.
"I bet Heathers didn't bet on this."
After the excitement of the promotions died down, they sat and chatted about the planet.
"You look really good tonight, Teal," Shelby told her shyly.
"Thank you," she replied, smiling. She was wearing a black, off-the-shoulder dress that had a fitted waist and a flaring, knee length skirt. She flashed a dazzling smile to Sgt. Millhaem. Seemingly out of nowhere, and usher came to their table. "Miz Teal Watkins?," he asked. She raised her hand briefly. He bowed slightly, holding out a small silver tray. It had a card on it. "Mr. Ciaran requests your presence at his dinner table." He pronouced it Ky-Ran.
The card simply had Ciaran's name on it. Teal shrugged. "Why not?"
She kept the card and the usher led them to Ciaran's table. It, unlike the ones placed on the main floor, was up on a platform that came up to Teal's knee, and was also a straight table, not round like the others.
Teal was seated next to Ciaran, then Grasf, then the five soldiers. The son didn't even look at them. He just sipped his dark red drink and watched the people coming in and milling around the floor with cold blue eyes. So Teal turned to Grasf. They started talking about what they were going to do.
"I heard they have stables here," Shelby told them. "Tomorrow Peters and I are going riding."
"I know they have a good computer lab so I'll probably be there all day," Aaron said, and August agreed. He would be there. Webster smiled.
"I'll be at the pool," he said. "I haven't been swiming for a long time."
"What about you?," Teal asked Grasf. He shrugged. She laughed. "I'm going shopping."
"When?," Shelby asked.
"Probably after lunch."
And so their conversation continued until the servers came with the entree. The seven enjoyed an almost oriental dinner of rice, orange chicken and other things.
Halfway through the meal Ciaran's father stood up. The room fell silent at once. "I would like to propse a toast to my son. Being that today is his birthday, I just wanted to make it official that I was wishing him a happy birthday."
The people in the room laughed fondly and raised their glasses. The seven did too, all looking at each other and wondering why that was so funny. The toast was made, drank, and forgotten. Ciaran's father placed his glass on the table but didn't sit down. Conversation resumed as he watched over the room.
"He thinks that this is a way to say `I'm sorry'," Ciaran suddenly said to her.
"What do you mean?," she asked, as the other six tuned in.
"I used to complain he never cared about my birthday and all the important things in my life and after my mother died he made sure he went the extra mile to show the world he loved his son."
He said nothing more but stared out at the people. Teal looked at the others and gave a miniscule shrug. Ciaran's father came over and introduced himself as Feol. "Are you all enjoying Telhew?," he asked, pointedly addressing Teal.
"I am, sir, and I guess Grasf is, but maybe you could ask the others for their opinion, since we're not all one person."
They stared at each other for a moment, he with the strangest look on his face. "Maybe another time," he said, hands clasped behind his back. He went over to another table and talked to them.
The others had watched him leave and then looked back at Teal and saw the familiar way she was holding her head. Chin up, eyes bright, face proud. "She just totally brushed you guys off like you were so beneath him," she said, her voice slightly quivering with anger. "Great way to make a first impression."
She stood up and the other six did the same. They followed her to the door. She smiled at the usher sweetly when he said, "But MizWatkins, you just got here. Dinner isn't over yet and you haven't had dessert."
"We've had enough excitement for our firsrt night," she said, the smile still on her face. "We'll be going now."
They left, single file. "Miss Teal! Miss Teal!," a voice called them. She stopped to see Ciaran coming after them.
"I want to be the first to apologize for my father's rude behavior. He naturally assumed you were the leader of the group and expected you to speak for the rest."
"He assumed wrong," she said. "Ignorance is no excuse."
"Miss Watkins-," he began, his hand held out in earnest.
She held her hand up as she cut him off. "No, no, please. I was wrong that was a custom he was following there. But when I said to ask them he brushed them off as if he didn't care. I don't care how nice he is to me, if he sees me as the leader, and assumes I can answer for how the others feel, I would expect him to treat them as people. Do you see what I mean?"
"Yes, ma'am I do. Please, as an apology, come to our chamber tonight, in two hours. You can talk with him and get it settled. A casual meeting."
Teal nodded. "I'll be there. Until then, good night."
"Good night. And to you all, too," he said, bowing slightly as he backed up. Then he went and ran up the hall.
"His chambers?," Grasf asked, a slight teasing smile on his face.
"The governor basically has a house as his chamber. His quarters are his room. So if he said quarters I probably would've smacked him."
They laughed and continued to their quarters.
"Teal. Come in."
He shut the door behind her. "Nice place," she said. It was elegantly decorated with large poufy couches and chairs you sort of sunk into, and thick, soft rugs that made you feel like you were walking on layers and layers of velvet.
"Yeah, I guess," he replied, shrugging. "You should see my room, though. It's a mess and looks nothing like this. I got posters everywhere and everything. I don't clean it often and won't let anybody else. Wanna drink?," he asked, motioning her to have a seat. She sat in the middle of the nearest couch.
"Are you allowed to have that?," she asked, casting a doubtful look at the scotch in his hand.
"Yeah. It's my birthday, first off, second I'm the governor's son, and third, the legal drinking age is almost no existant here. It's eighteen, I think, anyway. How old are you?"
"No thanks," she said, shaking her head. "Just a soda, ok?"
"Whatever," he replied. He walked to the bar, broke out the ice, put it in the glass, and poured a clear soda over it. "Flave?," he asked, placing his hand on an ornately carved wooden box that held the flavor caplets in it. "We've got cherry, root beer, cream soda-"
"I'll take it straight,"she replied. He removed his hand from the box after a moment and looked at her carefully.
"That's almost just as bad as a drink. You know that it has-"
"I know," she said. He laughed. He brought her the drink. The liquid they used for the sodas was alcoholic-like until you put the flavor caplet in. It gave the same feeling as alcohol except your reactions weren't slowed any, like with regular drinks. Odd, but true.
He sat in an easy chair after giving her her drink and studied her as he took another drink. "You are one strange lady," he finally said.
"I know," she replied. "Where's Feol?"
"I'm not sure," he said, getting up and leaving his drink behind. He went over to the computer by the bar. She pulled a small bottle out of her pocket and quickly put in two drops. The clear liquid from the bottle turned blue when it hit the soda. It faded and she nodded. The drink was safe.
"He's at a colleague's quarters," Ciaran said distasefully as he came back and sat down.
Teal nodded. She understood. A FEMALE's quarters was the word that Ciaran left out.
They sat in reflective silence for a moment. Actually, it was an studious silence. She stuided the room while she pretended that Ciaran wasn't studying her.
"Are you and Grasf seeing each other?," he asked.
"Yes, we are," she replied, although she really wasn't entirely sure.
They had idle conversation for about fifteen more minutes and then she stood. "I have to go now. I have another place to be."
He thanked her for coming and invited her to come again. She said she would, knowing perfectly well she would not, unless she had Grasf or somebody with her.
She went right to Grasf's quarters. "Oh I can't stand that boy," she said as her greeting when he opened the door, waslking past her. "We just spent the last twenty minues sitting and talking."
"And that's bad?," Grasf asked.
"Yes, it is when all he's looking at is your chest when he thinks you're not looking at him," she said, criss-crossing her arms across her chest, right hand on left shoulder and vice versa. She realted the conversation to him, including the question he had asked her about her and Grasf and the answer.
They had a real conversation for about twenty minutes and then he walked her to her quarters. "Don't want any strange birthday boys to get you," he said, and she laughed. He kissed her good night and left. Teal stretched out on her bed, planning to get up in a few minutes and get into some pajamas but ended up falling asleep. She awoke to a frantic knocking on her buzzer.
"Come in," she said groggily. Grasf burst in, frantic rage in his green eyes. He held a letter in his hand. "What's wrong?," she asked.
"They're moving me. By myself. To another station," he said, handing her the letter. And signed at the bottom was Ciaran's signature.
Mr. Jo Grasf- It is my duty to inform you that due to conditions of need, you will be transporting as a single soldier, second in command, to station 10. Your shuttle leaves at 1300 hours. Please have all your things ready to go by 1230 hours. Formally, Ciaran Feol Mey Ciaran Feol MeyTeal shook her head. "Does he think he can have me if you leave? What time is it?"
"Do you have your stuff ready?"
"I think you ought to start packing," she said, handing him his letter and walking out. When he got out to the hall she was gone. Sadly he shut her door and went to his quarters.
In Shelby's quarters, Teal was telling her the plan to keep Grasf in thier midst. She told her to do her part and deliver the message to their four friends.
At 1230 hours, Grasf was standing in the shuttle ready room. By himself. At 1245 hours, a messanger knocked on the door. "Mr. Grasf? I have a letter for you."
Grasf took and opened it.
Grasf: We- Shelby, Peters, Webster, August, Lee and I- will always miss you. And we hope to see you again sometime soon. Have a safe trip. Love always, Teal
"Up yours, Ciaran," Grasf said angrily. "If you think this little trick will let you have Teal, you're out of your mind."
He turned with his things and placed them on the shuttle. Not much, just two bags. he strapped himself in, the only passenger behind the pilot and his co-pilot, and waited for the shuttle to take off.
Just as the shuttle was lifting from the launch pad on silent wings, the same messanger was giving Ciaran a folded message.
Ciaran- Don't miss me too much, you little pervert. TealHis jaw dropped as he realized what was happening. "Stop!! Stop the shuttle!," he yelled, but it was too late. He ran from the room, shouting commands. The shuttle was gliding out of the bay. Five minutes later, five fighters were taking off to go after them.
Grasf glanced out the window as the nose was gliding out of the bay. Teal and the rest of them were standing in an observation booth, watching the small shuttle leave. They were waving solemly. He waved back although he knew they couldn't see him.
He settled back in his seat, folding his hands and leaning his head back, staring at the ceiling. "Captain, how long until we reach the station?"
"Not for a long, long time," the familiar voice said. Grasf sat up and looked at the pilot. He took off his hood.
"The one and only," she said.
"But how did you..."
"Don't worry about it. We've got to get ready to transport," she said, getting up and going to the storage bay. Webster got up from the co-pilot's seat and smiled at him. Teal threw his two bags to him.
"Transport? To where? The planet?"
"Absolutely not," Teal said. "Lee, Shelbly, Peters and August are on the shuttle I had Todd get ready for us."
"Todd from the station?"
"Yup. He was only to happy to help us out."
"Teal, we got company," Webster said. He pointed to the monitor. Five slowly flashing green lights were in a cirlce around the red light that represented their ship.
"We'll be gone," she said. She pulled a mike from her pocket. "Take it away, Peters."
They were transported to the ship. It was a bigger one, a regular cruiser. Teal ran down the corridor to the cockpit. They entered through the side door. "Grasf, what's up?"
Grasf acknowledged their greetings. Peters was towards the back of the cockpit at the weapons panels, a headset on. Lee and Shelby were sitting in the co-pilot seats, which were towards the front of the cockpit, near the screen, both wearing headsets. August was in the main pilot seat, with the semi-circular panel around him. He got up and moved for Teal and went to the ship monitor panel. Teal sat and Grasf stood behind her, watching the main screen. They put headsets on. Webster went to Peters to help him. "We'll wait until they get the ship and then go," Teal said.
"Shields up," Grasf said. He watched Teal man the board. "You're pretty good at this."
"Are you kidding? My dad had one of these and he used to sit me on his lap and let me help."
They all sat back then, and waited for the five ships to tractor beam the now-empty shuttle.
"Sir, the ship appears to be empty," one of the co-pilots told Ciaran.
"It's probably just a shield or something," he replied, hands behind back.
"No, sir, the ship isn't even running."
"What?," Ciaran said coldly.
"The ship is unoccupied and not running. Engines idling. Life support idling. The ship is sleeping."
When the ship was `sleeping', all of the main facilities, like the life support system, the engine, and the electric power, went down to the miminal size it needed to run. But that was only of no one was on the ship. Oxygen went from 100% to 5%, the lights went dim, and the engines went from 100% power to 10%.
"There's another ship off a bit," the other co-pilot said.
"That's them. Go get them."
"But sir they're no longer under your-"
"Do as I tell you!," Ciaran yelled, and the co-pilot turned immediately and they began moving.
"They've figured us out," Shelby said.
"Get us out of here, Teal," Grasf said.
"No problem," she said. They shot forward and past the fighters, who were advancing. They burst into hyperspace and left the fighters behind. "They can't follow us," Teal said, pushing buttons on the panel. "We're off the planet and Feol's property. I'd like to see them come after us."
But they were alone when they slowed down. "So I guess that's it, huh?," Grasf said.
"Yeah," Teal replied. "I checked with the station you were supposed to be sent to. They didn't need you and it was no problem when I told them you wouldn't be coming."
"What about my seeing you at the bay, when I was leaving?"
"Thank Shelby for that. She set up holograms of us while I contacted the station and then Todd. August and Peters transported our stuff for us. Webster hid the ship in an abandoned docking bay on the west side of the planet when it got here and flew it out while Lee did whatever we forgot to do."
"Now that's what I call team work," Grasf said. Teal nodded. "So where to now?," he asked, sitting on the counter.
"We're going to go from planet to planet, I guess," Teal replied, shrugging. "Wherever we land or are needed."
And so their old adventure ended as their new one began....
"I'm a 17 year old senior, and I've been writting stories ever since I was in the fifth grade. I live with my mom, dad, and two sisters (there's a third in college) and next year I'll be in college. I've written over 72, and my friends and sister love them and ask for more all the time. But I know my stories aren't all that great and I would love e mails telling me what you thought of my story, whether good or bad."
Krazy Kat can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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