Thursday, January 28, 2016
August 24 (part 1)
We had another evacuation alarm go off today. Once again, an Earther battlecruiser, Bi’isil hunter/killers, and Tragoom ships were detected. Once again, they flew out of sensor range as soon as the ships went on alert.
There was no way to positively identify them as the same ships that had interrupted our dance club opening, but it seems plenty clear to us all that we are being tracked. Regular ship evacuation drills have been increased. Oses told me that the Empire is sending more destroyers to meet up with us. Our slowpoke transport is about two weeks away from the border of Kalquorian space. The additional destroyers should reach us in five days.
Wow, I just realized how close we are to Kalquor. From the border, it is a two-week trip to the home planet itself, give or take a day or two. I’ll be there in an Earth month.
That’s not all the news. Katrina changed her mind about joining Wotref’s clan in two years. She went ahead and did it.
“I said, fuck it,” she told me and Candy when we came to her quarters, answering her invitation. She poured us all drinks to celebrate. “I was going to do it anyway. I love the big lugs. We’re running out of time before we get to Kalquor, and word is this ship is heading right back to Earth after a two-week layover. I’m going to spend all the time I can as the Matara of Clan Wotref.”
“And your son?” Candy asked, her tone hesitant.
“Matthew can think what he will. If he thinks I’m doing it just to irritate him, then he doesn’t know his mom at all.” Katrina looked at her glass of bohut for a moment, her eyes getting misty. “As for the grandchildren ... well, I thought they had to be dead at one time. Now I know they’re not. That can keep me sane for a little while. Maybe someday if Matthew doesn’t pull his head out of his ass before they’re grown, they’ll come to see me on their own.”
“You can send them messages through your daughter,” I suggested.
She nodded. “I’ve thought of that too. Life is now, my dearest friends. We can’t postpone it in the hopes of what tomorrow might or might not bring us. So toast me, Matara Katrina of Clan Wotref. May God have mercy on my men.”
We laughed and raised our glasses to her. Anrel sat on my lap and I helped her raise her bottle to her Grammy’s good fortune and joy.
After our first sip, Katrina asked, “So who’s going to help me pack all my crap?”
That brought on little cries of anguish from me and Candy. But of course Katrina would be moving in with her mates. Duh. We hadn’t thought of that in the excitement of the moment.
“Why aren’t the guys helping you?” Candy asked when the first rush of dismay ebbed.
“Ret will when his schedule allows. He’ll probably do most of the moving itself. Wotref is busy with those enemy ships following us around. Siko has his hands full for the same reason since all of Security is on alert. Besides, as good as he is with a blaster he’s hopelessly clumsy when it comes to pretty decorations.” Katrina narrowed her eyes at the vases, statuettes, and other mementos she’d brought from home and collected during our voyage. “Sometimes I think that Nobek drops stuff on purpose. If it doesn’t have a practical use, he doesn’t want it ‘junking up’ his space. The man likes to pretend he doesn’t have a sentimental bone in his body.”
I thought of how the battered warrior treated Anrel, hugging and kissing and calling her his little ‘becu’. “We know better.”
Katrina grinned at me. “Yes we do. I told him for every one of my tchotchkes that hits the floor, he’ll have to see me cry for an hour. What I can’t win through violence, I’ll take through manipulation.”
We burst into laughter at her means of controlling the ferocious Nobek. Katrina is wonderfully devious. I should take lessons from her. I can never get one over on Oses or Betra.
“Are you going to have a ceremony of some sort?” Candy wanted to know. “Anrel could be the flower girl! She’d be so cute. Shalia could carry her down the aisle. And you could do it up and knock your men’s socks off. I saw the most delicious wedding gown in Acquisitions. No one has claimed it yet.”
“Because it’s a frothy horror of bows and lace,” Katrina said, wrinkling her nose. “Prophets save us, Candy, I’ve already been married three times. And fucked a platoon of Kalquorians! If I put on a white dress, the universe will turn itself inside out.”
We laughed again. Anrel crowed with us. Katrina gasped in horror and slapped a hand over her mouth as she realized what she’d said in front of the baby.
“Shalia, I’m so sorry! Anrel, don’t listen to Grammy’s nasty mouth. Come here and sit with me so I don’t forget myself again. I swear worse than Siko sometimes.”
I let Katrina hold Anrel. There is nothing like a having a baby around to remind someone just how bad a potty mouth they have. I speak from experience. I shudder to think what my daughter’s first word might be.
“I’m always forgetting to watch my language,” I said, excusing Katrina for the lapse. “So, is there going to be a ceremony?”
Katrina nodded. “Right here on the ship. The guys have spent most of their adult lives with this crew and their immediate families are deceased. Matthew wouldn’t come anywhere near such a thing. Hope, as understanding as she is, wouldn’t be comfortable. You girls are my family, so I want you there along with the friends I’ve made on board the Pussy ‘Porter.”
I had my own romantic thought. “It’s perfect, Katrina. Committing publicly to the men right here where you met and fell in love.”
It sounded sappy, but Katrina got a little watery-eyed again. She took a big swallow of bohut to cover it up before continuing. “The guys are leaving most of the details to me as far as the ceremony is concerned. Wotref and Siko aren’t spiritual, but Ret did say he’d like the Temple of Life priest who’s on board to oversee the spoken commitments. I’m thinking a quick, painless exchange of vows and then a big party in the club.”
“Make yourself and your clan happy,” I encouraged. “It’s your day after all.” I finished my drink and refused a refill. I almost never drink when Anrel is awake. But this was a special occasion. One glass wasn’t going to make me an incompetent mother. “Are you still going to work at the Matara Complex?”
She nodded. “I’ve got to keep busy while my guys are out here saving the universe, don’t I? Besides, I like the thought of making my own money and contributing to our future. Until they retire, the plan stays the same.”
We chattered on, discussing options for the ceremony and reception. We decided we would pack Katrina’s belongings over the next couple of days. “Except for necessities, I may not unpack any of it,” she said. “Is it just me, or does it seem like we just left Earth yesterday? Where did the last eight months go?”
Some of it does seem like a blur. I can’t believe we’re nearing the end.