Tamara Mayne looked up as the visitor to the surgery stopped at her bed. And she smiled. “Hello, Hamish,” she said.
“Leftenant Mayne,” he replied as he clicked his heels together and gave a slight bow. And then he looked over his shoulder and leaned close to the bed. “Doctor Bako wouldn’t approve—medical diet and all that nonsense—but since your wounds are on your legs, here,” he whispered and held out a box.
Tamara cocked an eyebrow and she cracked it open—and she grinned. Virgon confectioneries! “How?”
“I had a couple of boxes stashed away, Leftenant. Speaking of those legs of yours, how are they?”
Her grin vanished, but then she nodded. “With all the morpha as they have pumped into me, I can’t feel a thing. But Jester got the acid neutralizer on me quick enough that I still have legs,” she whispered. “Burns will heal, but at least I still have flesh and skin to
heal,” and a look of sadness passed over her face. “They won’t be pretty to look at anymore, but I’ll have them. And that’s something.”
Hamish nodded and he sat down on the edge of her bed. “That it is, Leftenant. So, you will remain able to stay in the Corps?”
!,” she corrected with a grin, “Aisne has already told me that he wants me in command of a platoon on Pegasus
The Prince smiled. “Pegasus
, eh? That means we are no longer officers aboard the same ship, Leftenant Mayne.”
She leaned back and smiled. “No, I reckon we’re not.”
“Good. I was willing to go to the brig for your affection, but now I do not have to,” and he leaned down and kissed her—a kiss that she returned.
Carter J. Burke opened the hatch and stepped into the berth on Galactica that had been cleared to make space for Terrans.
“Man o man, this stuff is great!” said Hudson as he held a steaming cup in his hands, lowering it from his lips. “What do they call it?”
“Damn if I know,” Hicks said after he took a sip of his own and made a sigh of pleasure. “Damn, that is good.”
“What’s that?” asked Burke as he caught the strong scent that was faintly reminiscent of a sweetened coffee—with caramel?
“Just one of their native drinks,” said Gorman. “That pilot was telling me they have the seeds to these trees in storage—this will be a major sensation,” and he took a long pull from his cup.
“Want to try one, Burke?” asked Ripley, holding her own mug.
“Sure,” the exec said. Ripley unscrewed a thermos and steam rose and she poured a dark and milky liquid into a cup.
Burke took it and he inhaled and it was heaven
—sweet, hot, and with just the right amount of bitters. And a sizeable caffeine load, that immediately satisfied his need for coffee. He took an exploratory sip and he sighed. “This is . . . they have the seeds to grow what goes in this?”
Vasquez snorted. “Just like Gorman said, man; the Corps is going to ape over this if we can get a contract.”
“The Corps might not be able to afford this—this is the type of product that becomes a luxury good real fast. You know,” he said as he took another sip, “I think this whole expedition is going to be extremely profitable.”
“You would think about that, Burke. And not about the lives of these people fleeing before rampaging monsters that are about to overrun your colonies,” said Ripley.
“We took insurance on them,” Burke answered with a laugh and then he staggered. “Whoa, this packs a punch too,” he swayed and dropped the mug and then smashed face-first to the deck.
“How long will he be out, Hicks?” Ripley asked.
“With that dose? Burke-the-Jerk will be sleeping for the next seventy-two hours,” Hicks answered as he poured the doped liquid down the drain—and brought out the clean thermos. “Refill?”
“Sure,” said Vasquez.
“Right on,” answered Hudson.
“I think I will,” laughed Gorman.
“Aren’t we going to get him in his bunk?” asked Ripley. “I mean, I don’t mind leaving him passed out on the floor—but he is a trip hazard.”
“Give me a hand, Hudson,” Hicks ordered and the two of them picked up Burke and threw him into his bunk.
“Seventy-two long enough, Ripley?”
“I hope so,” she said. “At least it will slow things down. And can I get another cup?”