Monday, April 18, 2016

September 4, part 1

Whew. I just had my first run since the Tragoom attack. I pushed myself to do a mile, and I feel like shit right now. But I didn’t have to listen to Resan while I did it, and I really needed it after this morning. At least I’m not feeling all angsty like I was.

The Pussy ‘Porter is such a mess, but at least I had some clear corridors to run around in today. Wow, this place is trashed. So much for poor Katrina’s plans for a clanning ceremony on board.

Candy and I went with her to our dance club after breakfast to see if it could be put back together in time. The promenade area where all the shops and clubs took a pounding from the fight. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the training and rehab section, but it wasn’t pretty. It was only yesterday that anyone besides the clean-up crew was allowed in there because of safety concerns.

The gorgeous holograph that depicted Kalquor space in the middle of the promenade was missing. A lot of the ceiling panels were gone, leaving the area with half its usual illumination. But the floors were cleared and only slightly buckled in a few places. We headed into the club with high hopes.

It was a sad sight but not as bad as it could have been. Three-quarters of the mirrors that lined the walls were shattered or cracked. All the alcohol dispensers and most the booze had crashed and broken on the floor. But only a couple of tables had broken. The flooring, walls, and ceiling were intact. Our sound system cranked up without a problem. Structurally, the room was still sound.

Yet we didn’t have the mirrors to replace our broken ones. Candy clucked over the loss.

“We could hang up fabrics to hide the bare walls where they show,” she suggested. “Cleaning up will probably take, what, a couple of days? Decorating two or three days. Hmm, make it four. But no booze. The dispensary says they lost almost everything in their stock.”

Katrina said nothing. Her face was despondent. It was no surprise; the club had been her project and she’d spearheaded it from start to finish. It was also what had brought her together with Clan Wotref. Seeing it even just cosmetically in ruins broke her heart. I knew before she spoke that she couldn’t face having her clanning ceremony in there.

“It won’t be right,” she sighed. “No matter how we sweep and clean and decorate, it won’t be right.”

It wasn’t just that the club was damaged. Katrina is mourning the soon-to-come separation from her new clan. I know because I’m starting to mourn too.

It doesn’t help that every window-vid that still works on the ship is powered up and showing Kalquor as we approach it. The distant greenish-blue marble gets bigger all the time, signaling the end of our journey. It’s a constant reminder that I’ll soon say goodbye to Betra and Oses and the other friends I’ve made on this ship. I must have passed twenty of those vids on my run this morning.

I’ve done this heartbreak before. I dread doing it again.

The run did help though. I had a shower afterward and then went to fetch Anrel from Betra.

As usual, there were a few women hanging about his office. Betra always has company when he’s keeping Anrel. Even with excitement rising over our impending arrival at Kalquor, time is always taken out to coo over the baby and ogle the hot man playing with her.

My arrival, on the other hand, is usually greeted by groans. I never feel more unpopular than when I show up to claim my kid. Let’s face it; I’m not as precious as my daughter or as smoking manly as Betra. Plus I take the smaller of the two away and herald the larger one’s getting back to his duties. I’m a killjoy.

I got the typical catcalls of ‘spoilsport’ and ‘party pooper’ as I squeezed through the throng at Betra’s office door. I blew the whole batch a good-natured raspberry. They in turn laughed at me and dispersed to do more organizing and packing and comming their assorted beaus on Kalquor.

Betra lay on the floor next to Anrel, holding a tiny stuffed bunny in front of her avid eyes. Raising it up and down, he enticed her to push up on her arms as she followed the toy’s progress. She squealed with delight, her purple eyes riveted on the favored plushy. That bunny is permanently drenched with her drool, except when I steal it from her to give it a good wash.

“Look at my sweet girl doing her pushups,” I cheered. “Just like Mommy does them.”

Betra grinned at me from the floor. “She’ll be crawling before you know it.”

“And then walking and getting into everything. Yippee,” I said with pretended angst.

I sat down next to them. My arrival diverted Anrel’s attention from her bunny, and she babbled at me. My heart expanded to know she welcomed my arrival. I picked her up and smooched her sweet round cheeks. She grabbed my hair and tugged until my eyes watered. Strong girl.

“How was the club?” Betra asked as I put Anrel back on the floor. I laid her on her back and she immediately flipped over on her stomach.

“Beyond help before we can get to Kalquor,” I sighed.  “Katrina is heartsick.”

“That’s too bad,” Betra said with a sympathetic frown. “She should have the ceremony on Haven.”

“Haven?” The place sounded familiar, but it was an Earther word.

“The farming colony the Empire is setting up for Earthers who want to be a part of Kalquor without being Mataras joining the lottery,” he reminded me.

“Oh yeah. Katrina’s son Matthew mentioned going there before she horrified him by joining a clan.”

Betra snorted, but he made no comment on the matter. We all think Matthew is a self-righteous putz.

I seized on the idea of another venue for Katrina’s clanning since the transport was such a wreck. “Is Haven nice? Worth having a ceremony on rather than Kalquor itself?”

Betra shrugged, smiling at Anrel who managed her get her fist around the bunny’s leg and tugged. He let her win the toy from him. It immediately went in her mouth to be slobbered on.

“I don’t know anything about it except we’re making an unscheduled stop there. I think someone mentioned it was to be developed for off-planet farming before the war. Strictly alien crops that we’d never plant on Kalquor itself, but are popular with our people.”

I nodded, having heard a snippet or two myself. “The Empire decided it would make a good place to settle Earther evacuees. It’s probably also a play to get more of our women closer to your planet.”

Betra grinned. “I wouldn’t be surprised. With them in the early stages of construction and terraforming, they might have some equipment we can use to keep this poor ship going.”

“I suppose with transports to-ing and fro-ing between Haven and Kalquor, someone’s got to have parts.”

“We may get lucky and not need too much from them. Before we get to Haven, we’re docking for a couple of days at a military space station. They have a repair facility, but this close to the home world it’s only small-scale.”

I gave him a suspicious gaze. “Why do I feel like we’re running on a wing and a prayer?”

“Because we are.” He grinned. “The space station will give you a chance to see how Nobeks really train. You’ll see how easy Resan was on you all along.”

I stood and picked up Anrel. “You spoke the name I will not hear. On that note, I’ll be leaving.”

Betra stretched before getting to his feet. “I need to get to work anyway. See you tonight.”

I gave him a kiss, reflecting yet again how short our time together was becoming. My mood plummeted as I carried Anrel to the dining room for our lunch.

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