The facility had been built in the days when people transferred from spacecraft to the entrance in spacesuits. No internal hangar had ever been constructed, and the need for one disappeared with the advent of personnel transport. Post and Bush beamed over, setting the computer to retrieve them on cue, hopefully with extra passengers.
They arrived in the corridor of what looked like the barracks part of the facility. While Bush looked around at the half-lit, gray interior, Post tapped his commbadge. "Post to Doctor Rabb."
The response took a few seconds, then a charming female voice said, "Doctor Rabb here. Hey, Rod! You made it!"
"Yeah, we just beamed into the barracks. Should we come to the residence?"
"No! Come to the holodeck. B.C. felt like barbecuing today."
"Okay, we're on our way. Post out." With that done, he started down a side corridor.
Bush followed him. "Who's 'BeeCee'?"
"That's what Etta calls him. Everybody else calls him Bob or Rob."
"How long they been together?"
"Fifteen years and no kids?"
"Neither of them wants any. I gave up trying to change their minds ages ago. I can't imagine what I'd do without my three girls, but whenever I say that to Bob, he says 'No kids, no need to imagine, and I'm perfectly happy with the living arrangement.'"
Bush chuckled again. "I think I'm gonna like him."
They reached a squarish holodeck arch a moment later. Post tapped some controls and the doors opened to reveal a covered patio with wicker furniture. Beyond the patio was a large backyard. The grass was manicured and a lush green, and the yard itself was big enough for a gazebo, a wooden picnic table and a pit barbecue. Surrounding the yard was a white picket fence that was high enough to obscure the view from any of the neighbors, even though there didn't seem to be any other houses. Post guessed they hadn't bothered to program any in.
Someone had the pit barbecue going. Bush assumed it was the man they had come to see. He looked to be about as tall as her, with dark skin and a wiry build. As he cooked, a woman was setting up the picnic table. She was pretty and lithe with light coffee skin and dark brown hair done up in a ponytail. Both man and woman were dressed in civilian clothes. The woman's accentuated her pleasing shape.
She noticed them first. After she finished the last place setting she turned to the arch and smiled. "Rod! Come on in!" She met Post and Bush in the patio as the arch closed and disappeared, revealing the back of a modest but pretty house.
"Good to see you again, Etta," Post said as they hugged. Bush grinned when she saw the towering man had to bend over to do it properly.
"Oh, it's great
to see you!" Etta said, then suddenly she turned toward the man at the barbecue. "B.C.!" She called out.
"What?!" He called back.
"Your friend is here, and he's finally gonna take me away from you and all this squalor!"
The man addressed his response to Post. "You better have brought me something useful
in trade, Rod! I keep telling you she's not for free!"
"Got nothing today, Bob!" Rod called back.
"Then you're just stuck with me, babe!" The man called triumphantly.
Etta sighed as she released Post. "Threats just don't work on him." She turned to Bush and offered a hand. "How do you do? I'm Doctor Etta Rabb."
"Doctor Edwina Bush," Bush said. The women smiled as they shook hands.
"What do you think?" Post said to Etta quietly. "Will he...?"
Etta glanced at her husband, then turned back to Post. "He knows about everything, and we're barbecueing
. What do you