I don’t know what I expected to see when I opened my eyes but it wasn’t Chumley picking away at pieces of food lodged between the crevices of his
great green stalactite like teeth with his ‘sticker’.
‘Chumley, do you have to do that!?’ I sighed, more than nauseated by the sight of him.
‘Whu du ya wanme to toobs?’ Half of Chumley’s words were cut off by the 12 inch blade he as using as a tooth pick.
‘Stop that!’ Barking out the order I turned away and rolled my eyes at CindyMars.
‘Boys will be boys.’ She smiled back careful to keep her eyes trained away from Chumley while monitoring information flowing to and from the
‘Cim, have we heard anything yet from the U-Man Studious?’
Hoping to discourage Chumley from continuing his digging I gave him a swift clip from my elbow before I flopped down in the seat in front of him where
I let my legs swing absentmindedly as I stared off into space.
‘Nothing here on screen Silo.’ CindyMars responded checking the communications panel at her fingertips. I heard her mumble something about not
being a ‘damn communication officer’ but I let it pass without comment. We all were doing double duties aboard Ship at the moment, that none of
us liked it didn’t change a thing.
‘Ship?’ I yelled. Not expecting and answer I popped a pretzel in my mouth from the hoard I had stored in my pocket, let my head flop backwards
over my neck rest to gaze at Chumley, who now appeared upside-down and if anything uglier than right side up.
‘Yes Silo?’ Ship responded.
Jumping to attention I sketched a salute and brushed my hands madly at the front of my uniform horrified at being caught so off guard.
Chumley dropped his knife where it clattered on the floor reminding me to check why the carpet had not been laid fully onto the bridge - yet.
CindyMars sat up straighter, looked at me, raised her eyebrows and shoulders and shook her head a bit.
We were all surprised at Ships response, her interaction with us had been so sporadic over the last few days, but even in our discomposure it was hard
not to cheer her return.
‘Hello Ship, we’ve missed you.’ I fell into my familiar role of speaking to Ship as the friend and mentor She was.
‘I’ve been busy Silo, and regret my absence, though you can be assured I’ve been around.’ The gentle mirth in her voice made a smile verbally
apparent, though unseen.
‘Ship, do you have any information on the U-Man Studious?’ I asked, my hands clenching and unclenching nervously.
But Ship continued as if I hadn't spoken.
‘For your information, all of you, I’m in contact with the Captain of the Penelope who I address as Asher. I believe you recall meeting him,
though your introductions were not, let’s say, what they should have been.‘
Four pairs of questioning eyes met on the bridge and blinked as she continued.
‘I place no blame on any of you, but know, Captain Asher is welcome here for as long as I allow it. And for the moment that means the immediate
Spinning around in astonishment I opened my mouth to question Ship’s reasoning, but stopped when I saw the warning glare in CindyMars eyes.
And her glare spoke volumes.
Speaking with Ship as a friend was one thing, questioning her as Captain, was another.
‘As for the U-man Studious, you will be receiving a transmission from the Penelope directly. Captain Asher will offer his assistance in the form of
a team from the Penelope to capture the U-Man. Accept his offer and allow the team to come aboard.‘
Hearing me sputter in indignation over her open door policy with the Penelope Ship sent a warning to my pendant, the necklace at my throat warming and
vibrating softly causing me to take a long breath to try and calm my rolling emotions.
‘Rest assured I will be monitoring the actions of the Penelope crew quite closely this time.‘ Ships voice took on a bitter edge that did much to
‘I know. We have no reason to believe they will not do us harm, as you were about to point out ATS Silo. Yet, neither do we have any reason to
believe they are here to abuse us, reaping the folly of their past.’
An incoming transmission signal sounded through the bridge, interrupting Ships discourse.
CindyMars ran her hand across the keyboard at her fingertips allowing the message from the Penelope to play out across the bridge.
"Yydryl crew, this is Captain Asher reporting once more. I have a small six man team that is volunteering to travel over to Yydryl and work to
apprehend one 'Mr. Studious'. This team is diplomatic and skilled, and I vouch for them personally. If anyone can put Studious in wrist-binders, it
will be them.
CindyMars looked at me quizzically, I shrugged in kind and motioned for her to open transmission and key up the microphone for Ships response.
‘Penelope, this is the Yydryl. Your crew is welcome to board to seek out and apprehend the U-Man Studious. We ask you to avoid doing him any harm
while aboard the Yydryl. The tapes he’s left in our care have proven beyond a doubt he was not all together responsible for what transpired in his
past dealings with the Penelope, the N1, or the Yydryl.’ A pause, and Ship continued.
‘To the Penelope crew, I offer some advice. You would do good to head my words.‘ Though her voice remained diplomatically neutral, the air
thickened with warning and not a little malice. That the underlying message carried over in transmission to the Penelope there was no doubt.
‘Bear in mind our systems have change radically since your first visit
to the Yydryl. I feel it’s only fare to warn you any force used
against me or my crew will result in immediate expulsion from Ship and death to the offending member of your team. There will be no, as you humans
say ‘second chances’ this time. You’ve used them quite up, have you not? ’
Again Ship paused to allow the full force of her words to register with all listening.
‘Penelope, Captain Asher, you may be assured your reception aboard Ship will be a warm one, and remain so as long as the actions of your crew merit
At the last, be forewarned and be forearmed there is an entity, a Shapeshifter aboard us, a malicious one, and this entity is interacting with your
Studious quite intimately. Regretfully we have no further information to give you at this time concerning either your U-Man or the Shapeshifter.
Penelope, Captain Asher, we look forward to the arrival of your crew and President Bransom at your earliest convenience. Yydryl out.’
CindyMars closed the communications and stood at her seat as Ship addressed her directly, leaving no room for us to question her decisions, or who
this President Bransom was.
‘Leisure Officer Mars, prepare a reception dinner for the incoming crew. That is, if you’re still of a mind to do so.
If not, they’ll be bringing their own supplies and we can leave them to their own devices. ‘ Ship sighed then spoke her thoughts.
‘Whatever your choice, provide appropriate lodging for the crew of the Penelope, this encounter may be a lengthily one.’
The neutrality in Ships voice left CindyMars with questions, as it did myself but it seemed we were not to be afforded the luxury of questions at the
‘ATS Silo, please report to Ships Center at your earliest convenient.’ Ship commanded, but not unkindly.
‘Chumley, hurry it along with that information, it shouldn’t be taking you so long to finish up the process you’re engaged in. That is unless
you’re enjoying yourself?’ Ship chuckled whereas Chumley responded by turning a nauseating shade of puce. ‘And Chumley, don't forget to
report to Recovery Bay immediately after you’re disconnected. You know the routine.’ Ship added in a warning tone.
‘Oh, and CindyMars, I suggest you prepare to engage emergency air filters on the bridge, as soon as possible.’
Though she didn’t tell us ‘goodbye’ we felt her absence when Ship’s direct presence exited the bridge.
Trotting to Chumley side I reached up to lay a hand on his shoulder, all concern. Loathsome as he was I still loved him, he was still my friend and I
didn't want him harmed.
‘What is Ship talking about Chumley? Why will you have to go to the recovery bay?’
‘The farts.’ Chumley’s mouth split open in a huge grin, his eyes bobbing happily on their stems.
‘The WHAT?’ Jumping back I shuddered when Chumley's stomach produced a great rumbling that echoed over the bridge.
‘The farts Silo! I gets ‘em from interfacing with other Ships!’ Chumley chortled in his Chumley way making my stomach roll.
‘Is that why you’re so pleased with yourself?’ I couldn't’ believe my ears, here I was concerned for his life and while Chumley was joyously
anticipating a bout of gas.
‘Yes Silo! I gets the farts and I gets ‘em good!’ Chumley grinned like a proud mother about to give birth.
Appalled I screamed at him and backed even farther away.
‘Get to the recovery bay, and NOW!’ I couldn't help but raise my voice as the sound of his rumbling grew louder and more menacing.
Loping for the door Chumley stopped, raised his right leg, and let out with a tremendous trumpet of wind.
“Oops!’ The Regellian burst out giggling, stopped, lifted his other leg to cut loose another thundering fart before taking off down corridor at a
run, grunting and sounding off in every other step.
‘Oh sweet Creator!’ The stench wafting out over the bridge was thick and nauseating.
One hand over her mouth, the other working furiously to engage emergency filtration of the air system on the bridge, CindyMars eyes watered and smiled
at me over her hand.
‘Boys will be boys...’ She said in a muffle before we both burst into laughter.
[edit on 7-10-2009 by silo13]