Carl Bussjaeger

Aboard the Ugly Duckling, the boredom of yet another uneventful shift was beginning to show its effects.

"So, Mandy... We've got a whole five days off," Donnie Calliste murmured. He smiled lazily and reached over to the pilot and began toying with the zipper seal on her pressure suit. "So howdaya think we should spend it?"

Amanda Beason giggled, and gently slapped his hand away. "Down, boy," she directed. "We're still on the clock for another fifteen minutes."

"Aw... Come on," he replied. "What's a few..." Suddenly a piercing tone sounded, cutting him off. Donnie began settling his helmet into place as Mandy tapped at her keyboard. As data scrolled across her display, she tugged her own helmet into its seals.

"Jeez! I don't believe it," she muttered. "Four weeks of patrol with nothing; and an alert in the last fifteen minutes. It's a plot." She mumbled more under her breath. "Don, it's those miners we checked in with about seven hours ago." She waved in the general direction of more console controls. "See if you can raise them, and get an update. I'm running the course plot." She returned to tapping at the keyboard and wiggling her fingers across the touchscreen. Donnie dialed up the miners' call code.

"Hello, Steamshovel," he spoke. "This is Ahacic Security craft Ugly Duckling answering your alarm." He paused and waited for a reply, which was immediately forthcoming.

"Hello, Duckling," a man's strained voice responded. "We got a jumper! SOB bombed us with something... two rockets, I think. He's got to be incoming any time now! Can you help?"

[ ... ]

"Unless there's any more of an emergency..." She checked nav data. "Call it half an hour. I don't feel like pushing more'n one gee now.

"Cool," Donnie said agreeably. He raised Steamshovel and passed the good word. Once the task was completed, and Mandy had begun deceleration, he spoke. "Nice bit of work, really. I'll bet Mr. Ahacic builds a few more of these babies." He patted his console. "And looky at the clock." He pointed to the time. "We're on overtime, now." He grinned.

Mandy returned his grin. "Oh?" she questioned. "Now you want to work? You can't think of anything else to do for the next few days?" She reached over and toyed with his suit zipper.

"Well, maybe..."

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