“Remember, proper call escalation involves at least doubling one of the
following: 1) caliber, 2) mass, 3) velocity, 4) weapon yield” -- Joe Thompson
“Some more coffee?”
“Sure!”, I replied promptly, holding out my mug. As the Civire poured the black nectar out of the self-heating carafe, I let my eyes wander over his naked upper body. Buzz-cut black hair, a subtle facial tattoo, and a muscular build. But not bulky - he had the wiry build of an endurance athlete. I liked that in a man, and if the light fell on it just right, it was also a feast for my eyes.
I was pulled out of my reverie when his fingers touched my hand holding my mug, gently pushing it towards me.
“While I appreciate the admiration, the coffee won’t drink itself.”, he said with a glint in his eyes.
I laughed softly and took a sip, savoring the flavor of the coffee as much as the tingling feeling his touch had left in me. He was good with those hands, as last night and that morning had shown. Seeing my expression, he blew me an air-kiss and went to refill his own mug.
Of course all of this was pretend - once I walked out of his quarters, our paths would never cross again, and we both knew it. But we had gotten along quite well last night, and it felt nice to have a cosy start into the new day.
I should take vacation more often.
With a discreet buzz, my comm pad demanded attention. I sighed and took another drink of the coffee before reaching for the pad. Only one person would have reason to contact me, which meant that I should take the call.
“Good morning, Eta!” I greeted my sister as the miniature holographic display formed.
[ Good morning? It’s almost noon! ]
Across from me, the guy was mouthing the question whether he should leave, but I shook my head.
“You’re just jealous that I have a few days off, and you don’t!” I smiled at her. “But I have a feeling that my time off is about to end.”
[ Your feeling is correct. ] She sighed. [ Boss caught an interloper in Reyi setting up an unauthorized POS. He destroyed the hauler, but the tower is anchored and online. No defenses - yet. ]
POSes. Why did it always have to be POSes! But my sister made her living in that constellation, so I helped her whenever necessary.
[ Boss tried to negotiate with him, to either pay the rent, or take down the tower right away, with guarantee of safe passage, ] continued Eta, [ but to no avail. So we’re now going to attack the POS before he can bring in reinforcements. And if I remember correctly, your Talos is quite effective at this kind of thing. ]
“That it is.” I confirmed. “How many people do you have, and will we have Dreads?”
[ Seven so far - luckily it’s just a small POS. And we will have two Dreads - Lord Grim’s, and I took the liberty of reaching out to your friend as well. If that’s ok with you. ]
“No worries on my behalf. This is your op, your system, you hire whichever gun you can reach!” My eyes narrowed when her full sentence registered. “Wait - did you say ‘Lord Grim’? He is back? Since when?”
[ Yup, he is back! For about a week now - at least I think it is him. ] A frown crossed her face. [ He looks like him, he remembers the things which are his - but his pattern of speech is different. And I can’t quite decide if I just misremember how he used to talk, or if he had a cloning accident, or something else. ]
I nodded thoughtfully. Lord Grim had been the leader of the Frequent Flyers when I was just a rookie, until one day he had simply vanished without a trace. Having him showing up out of the blue was bound to raise some concerns.
[ Anyway, that’s a question for another time. ] Eta straightened. [ How soon can you be here? ]
“Well, I need to get to medical and jump clone over, but then I have a ship already fitted and ready for launch. So about ten minutes.”
[ Sounds good. Do you need me to move the ship for you? The navy doesn’t like you very much here. ]
Rriiight! I had completely forgotten about that! But I shook my head: “Thanks, but not necessary - I have good undock bookmarks.”
[ If you say so… ] she clearly wasn’t fully convinced, but let it go. [ I see you in ten then. Eta out. ]
The connection broke, the holographic Eta dissolved, and I looked up at the guy. “Sorry, I would have loved to stay a bit longer, but … you heard.”
“No problem,” he replied, “you do what you need to do.” He didn’t offer to come along to help, knowing that it wasn’t his op, just watched me gather my belongings. It didn’t take long - I travelled light. Finally I walked over to him, and, holding the back of his head in one hand, gave him long, lingering kiss, enjoying the warm feeling spreading in my midst.
“I had fun last night,” I said quietly when our lips parted. “Thank you.”
He reached up to lightly stroke my cheek. “My pleasure.” He smiled. “Good luck out there!”
I straightened up and made my way to the exit, leaving vacation, coffee and cosyness behind.