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Honeymoon's Over

Posted on Sun Jul 31st, 2016 @ 1:39am by Captain Echo Solaris
Edited on on Tue Sep 27th, 2016 @ 11:18pm

Mission: No Quarter
Location: Marine Country, Deck 21
Timeline: Before Launch

Echo was still shivering minutes after leaving the ship’s gymnasium. As pleased as she was to see that the gym was one of the few parts of the ship still serving its intended function, she was not so pleased to find that the rumors about the place were indeed true: with power siphoned to other parts of the ship, the environment in the gymnasium was barely habitable. Lighting was poor, the thin air tasted stale, and the temperature was only a few degrees Celsius, barely above freezing. Still, none of that was enough to deter a marine officer from her need to maintain a superior state of physical fitness.

Though she’d gone in forewarned about the temperature, Echo had not been prepared for a grueling morning run in low oxygen conditions. She’d bundled up in ankle-length black leggings and a matching snug baselayer top, with a green SFMC tee worn over it, but they’d proved insufficient in keeping the chill at bay, even with her running a treadmill at full clip. The thin air had made the run much more challenging, causing her to sweat more, and the temperature made her clothes feel cold and clammy against her skin. All she could think about during the run was a sauna… that, or a nice tropical beach, neither of which she would be visiting anytime soon.

Heading back to her quarters to get ready for the day, Echo told herself that a sonic shower would have to do. That, and a change of clothes. As she neared the marine barracks-turned-luxury hotel she was intercepted by her platoon clerk, and all such thoughts instantly went out of mind.

“Captain Solaris, I’ve been trying to contact you, but there must be problems with comms.” The young woman frowned, she was not adjusting well to the sorry state of the ship. Private First Class Haeda Katashi was Human, of mixed-Asian descent. Indian and Japanese, if Echo remembered her service record correctly. Haeda despised desk work and was not especially good at it, but she’d been recommended for the job because her record was spotless. “There is a marine officer here to see you… another captain. She’s waiting in your quarters.” Haeda’s mouth twisted in distaste at that. Against her protests Echo had been put up in Chez Mallard’s presidential suite… until it was dismantled, anyway. It was such a waste of space that the suite could also serve as her office, with room to spare.

“Another captain, huh?” Echo said, wondering what another officer would want with her. She didn’t have many friends in the officer corps, and those few that she knew from training were still second or first lieutenants. “She give a name? Or a reason why she’s here?” Echo knew that she would mostly likely receive a ‘negative’ to both. Haeda would have given that information at the outset.

“Negative, ma’am.” Haeda said on cue. She looked upset about something, something more than simply not having all the answers Echo wanted.

“What is it, Kitashi? Speak freely.” Echo said, hoping to get an inkling of what was bothering the PFC. She didn’t have a very solid rapport with any of the marines in her unit yet, but Haeda seemed the most comfortable around her so far.

“I… don’t know, ma’am. I don’t have a good feeling about her.” There was some hesitation, as if she was loathe to speak ill about an officer, especially to another officer. That hesitation was usually warranted. “She was sitting in your chair when I came in to deliver the reports you requested yesterday. She seemed… quite willing to make herself at home.”

Echo frowned at that. Was someone being sent to replace her? Already? She didn’t think so. Echo hadn’t even had the chance to screw up again. “I wouldn’t read into it too much. We’ll find out soon enough.” She said, in an effort to placate her own nerves as well as Kitashi’s. The words didn’t help much. A few moments later they arrived at her quarters.

There was another woman in the room alright, seated at her office desk, but she wasn’t a marine officer come to take over. She was Echo’s wife.

“I’m taking over.” ‘Captain’ Mika Valle said, seated at Echo’s desk as if she owned it. Twinkie, Echo’s orange tabby, was cradled against her chest like an evil cat minion. He cast a smug glare at the newcomers and voiced his approval of the change in leadership with a loud meow.

“I can see that.” Echo said, half in disbelief that Mika was aboard the ship, and half stunned by Twinkie’s betrayal. Her tone carried only a hint of amusement that most people wouldn’t detect.

PFC Kitashi fixed the ‘Captain’ with a dubious glance. She then turned to look at Echo, clearly awaiting orders.

“Oh it’s legit.” Mika continued. “It’s all here on… well, one of these padds.” She picked one up from random from the pile on Echo’s desk and then casually dropped it back onto the pile.

“That will be all, Kitashi.” Echo said distantly, waving a placating hand. “If you’ll excuse us, please.” Kitashi slowly backed out the room, clearly expecting some kind of altercation and not wanting to be caught unawares. The doors closed after her departure.

“Impersonating a marine officer is a serious offense, Private, but you already knew that.” Echo said, slowly approaching the desk. Her cat, also sensing something afoot, escaped Mika’s arms and scurried away to find somewhere else to be.

“Yeah, well… add it to a long list.” Mika said, unperturbed. Echo’s wife was a much younger woman by the better part of a decade, and at age nineteen was just barely considered an adult. She’d joined the marine corps straight out of high school and was currently a private, the lowest entry rank for enlisted personnel. They’d gone to basic training together as equals, but a wide gulf separated them now, in terms of rank.

Coincidentally, the two women looked somewhat alike. They shared a very similar size, shape and skin tone, and their hair was not far off either; Mika’s reddish-brown hair was also cut short, though not quite so short and orderly. Her asymmetrical pixie swept down to her ear on one side, and was much shorter on the other. Mika had had a very impish look about her before and during basic training. But the subsequent months had done much to quash the mischievous smirk that had usually plastered her face. She still had the eyes of a used shuttle salesman though.

“Oh dear g—“ Echo began with a groan as she imagined what other shenanigans Mika had gotten into since coming aboard. Then she noticed something as she approached the desk and got a closer look at her wife. “Wait? Is that my uniform?” She asked, noticing the particulars of her hand-tailored jumpsuit. A glance behind her toward where the garment should’ve have been hanging in her bedroom confirmed the suspicion. Echo saw only a blur of motion after she turned her head.

“There can be only one!” Mika cried out in dramatic fashion as she leaped from the chair, hurdled the desk and collided with Echo in a flying tackle-hug that sent them both crashing to the deck in a heap that gave tangible meaning to the phrase ‘love hurts.’

“Owwww….” Echo said with a soft whining sigh, not pleased that she’d hit her head yet again. She didn’t fight the woman pinning her though, as she knew what would come next. A flurry of sweet kisses flushed most thoughts right out of her head.

Moments passed. Hours… minutes… seconds? Echo couldn’t have said. She heard a soft meow from nearby. Twinkie was back, and had come with a gift.

“What the fu—“ Mika said, cutting off with a strangled sound as she straightened up, still straddling Echo on the deck.

Echo watched with horror as Twinkie approached with something in his mouth and dropped it right next to them. It took her a moment to realize that it was an enormous space cockroach, nearly the size of her hand, half-dead with legs twitching. The cat playfully swatted it toward them.

“That’s it, honeymoon’s over!” Echo said as she pushed Mika off of her and got to her feet. If there were space cockroaches in the presidential suite, it was time to declare war.

 

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