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Strategos (A Great Captain Roberts Tale!!)

Chapter 5 - First stop-off: Northsun Base
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"Heya…


....spacer, you got scratch to buy a gal a drink?" The first stop-off after Alpheratz was at Northsun Base, mostly because the rest of the cruise wouldn't hit a port with a civilian presence for the next eighteen months.

Amanda leaned on the bar, smirking, and enjoying Johnny's jump.

"Uhm…ranks?"

"No ranks in the Tavern." She reminded him, "It's a rule in a Privateer port. Tavern's a no-ranks environment because we have to have them everywhere else…so you gonna buy me one or what?"

"What do you want?"

"Let's try something mild, local wine." she said, "in a proper glass, mind you, the red, not the white, I want to have fun, not be carried puking back to the ship…how're you doing?"

"It's demanding." he said, "Foster's tougher than my dad, but he hasn't put me ashore and he keeps adding to my work-load."

"Good, it means he likes you, or thinks you have potential." she approved, "WHich I could've said since you're rocking some rank."

"A bit." he confessed, "I've had to learn every system in the CIC, including how to assemble them and why they work, tonight he cut me loose for the first time since we got here. You had something to do with that?"

"I might." she said, "any girls?"

"As IF I'd have time?" he scoffed, "I almost slept in today instead of coming out!"

"Too tired to dance with me then?"

"NO!"

"Good answer, let's dance then. I put a C-bill in the juke box, and this might as well be our song."


"So, did you…

…know?" Johnny wanted to ask her, but he couldn't find the words to screw this up that badly. She was sleeping against his side as the chronometer counted off the time.

The question was right up there with the other list of things his father told him never to say to a woman.

"Warm." she said it out loud.

"Hey…you're awake." he said.

"Been that way. It's not what I thought it would be."

"Disappointed?"

"No, just…not what it sounds like in the stories or the holovids." she looked up at him, "I liked it." she said, "it's going to be a long nine months."

"Yeah." he said, "it will be. Does this mean-"

"It was fun, and I enjoyed it, Johnny, and I'd like to do it again…but no betrothals, okay?"

"So, not that much fun." he said.

"Too much fun." she said, "I just wish I wasn't…that…" she sighed, "Let's just enjoy this for a while more."

"What's wrong?"

"The surgeries they did to me, John." she said, "there are…side effects. Things I ain't gonna have, it includes kids."

"Oh."

"Yeah. You deserve more than a spayed-"

He leaned down and kissed her. "I don't care."

It was the right thing to say.


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