Farah held her new kitten.
“Be sure to have the Doctor give him his vaccinations when we get back,” Kat said.
“Oh, I will, definitely,” Farah said.
“What is your feline called?” Yuri asked.
“Hmmm, let me think,” Farah mused, holding the kitten in front of her. “Hyper. I’m going to call him Hyper.”
“I wonder if he’ll get along with the Baron,” Allison wondered. “You might have some trouble with Grace over this.”
“They’ll get along,” Farah said. “Hyper and Wolfie are both very sweet.” They rode in silence for a few minutes.
“Hey, Allison, I’ve been wondering,” Farah said. “How did you lose your peace-keeper job?”
“Curious about me?” Allison asked. “I don’t blame you, but be careful that you don’t make your girlfriend jealous.”
“Grace isn’t even here,” Farah said. “And if she was I don’t think she’d mind my asking.”
“Wasn’t talking about Grace,” Allison said, gesturing towards Kat. “You naughty girl, you.” She shrugged. “My story isn’t as interesting as some of the others. Basically, I pulled a prank on my boss that made him look like a jackass in front of the superintendent.”
“What kind of prank was it?” Farah asked.
Allison giggled. “All right, get this. I rigged the executive bidet to spray chocolate syrup instead of water. So, he goes to use it and comes out with his trousers around his ankles and his junk coated with the stuff.” Allison burst out laughing, regaining her ability to speak after a few moments. “Right when the superintendent came in for a surprise inspection.” She burst out laughing, tapping her chair with her hand. Yuri and Farah both laughed as well.
After the trio calmed down, Farah spoke again. “Your file said you caused a bunch of damage with your pranks.”
“The file is a damned liar,” Allison snorted. “Leave it to the Alliance to start mislabelling quirky and delightful as ‘immature and reckless’ just because you embarrass one bigwig.”
“I do not believe that was appropriate workplace behaviour,” Yuri stated. “Regardless of how humorous it was.”
“Maybe not,” Allison conceded. “But still totally not even close to what they said I did.”
“We’re docking,” Kat called back.
Allison and Yuri said goodbye to the other two and headed towards the crew quarters.
“You want to have a little nightcap in my quarters?” Allison asked, winking.
“That is not the proper protocol,” Yuri stated. “I am sorry.”
“Protocol?” Allison asked. “What protocol?”
“Courtship protocol,” Yuri stated. “Grace informed me. A lady must attend at least ten dates with her partner before engaging in private meetings with them in one of their quarters.”
“T… ten dates?” Allison asked. She thought for a moment. “Then how about we go to your quarters? You’re sharing with Grace, right? So, the Baron can watch us.”
“I was explicitly told that canines are not proper chaperones,” Yuri said. She bowed. “Thank you for a pleasant time.” She moved over to Allison and gently kissed her lips before going into her quarters, alone.
Farah waited in the medical bay for Paul to return. She’d called for him and he’d promised to be there shortly. He was true to his word. She waited less than five minutes.
He glanced at Hyper. “Shots, correct?”
“That’s right,” Farah said.
“Just be careful about picking up strays,” Paul chided. He checked Hyper with his instrument. “It looks like he’s just fine, but strays can be considerably more dangerous than they look. Keep that in mind, young lady.”
“I will,” Farah said. She held Hyper while Paul gave him his shots.
“You need something further?” Paul asked.
“Well, it’s just that I still don’t know the truth about how you lost your license,” Farah said. “I was really curious about it but I was afraid to ask you for a while. Sorry.”
“There’s no need to apologise,” Paul said. “It’s really my fault. I was short with you and Kat when we first met.” He sighed. “You’re curious because I was sent to Ca’urrg to help with the outbreak and the Alliance stripped me of my license in spite of them getting their cure, correct?”
Farah nodded. “It just seemed like a total success. So it’s weird that they’d do that.”
“The truth is that I’m a traitor to the Alliance,” Paul said. “My public objective was to help cure the outbreak. However, I also had a confidential mission. I was to find the cure and use it as leverage to secure mining rights for the Alliance. You can imagine their bewilderment when the Ca’urrs were cured and they didn’t have those rights.”
“Oh, so that was it,” Farah said. “How come you didn’t get the rights?”
“Because I’m a doctor,” Paul said. “The Ca’urrs guard their rights very strongly. They would have resisted the deal and a lot of them would have died. I couldn’t let my patients die, not when I had the cure for their ailment.”
“Of course not,” Farah said. “But I don’t get why they didn’t arrest you.”
“Because it would have revealed their true motives,” Paul said. “Which would have made them look really bad. To avoid that, they offered me a deal. They’d drop the treason charge if I accepted the revocation and didn’t say anything about my true mission.”
“I see!” Farah declared. She rose from her seat, still carrying Hyper. “Thanks for telling me, Doctor.”
“You’re very welcome,” Paul said. “Take good care of your new friend.”
“I will!” Farah nodded. “Thanks.”
She headed out of the medical bay and towards her quarters. Grace was in the hall when she arrived. Grace looked up at her and then down to the floor.
“Farah,” she muttered.
“Is something wrong?” Farah asked. “You sound upset.”
“Is it true that Kat… nibbled your ear?” Grace asked.
“It was just to throw some guys off of our trail!” Farah protested. “I’m sorry. Please don’t be mad.”
“I’m not mad,” Grace said. “I’m just jealous. Don’t mind it.”
“You shouldn’t be jealous over me,” Farah said. She gently put Hyper down. “You’re so pretty and, well, graceful. I’m not even sure what you see in a plain girl like me.”
“Plain?” Grace asked. She moved over to Farah. “Those sparkling eyes that are so full of energy.” She gently stroked Farah’s cheek. “This soft skin.” She moved her hand under Farah’s chin. “These full lips.” She stared directly into Farah’s eyes. “You, my dear, are a real beauty.” She looked down at Farah’s lips. “May I?”
“I… If it’ll make you happy. I… I think I’d like it,” Farah said. Grace knelt down and kissed her.