Freya's Tears

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Crew Meeting

Mission: Book Two - Ginnungagap
Location: New Pacifica - Freya's Tears

“How are you holding up?”

Els turned to see a sleep-worn Kasli. Several hours had passed since Els had taken the bridge, and her shift was almost finished. She smiled. “Still kicking, you?”

Kasli grinned and approached. “Had a nice nap.” She waggled a thermos in one hand. “Brought you a little something to wipe out the cobwebs.”

“Ah, you’re a dísir. Danke.” Els accepted the thermos. She opened it and drew in the rich smell of coffee. “Pull up a chair. So you got some sleep?” She poured a cup of the elixir.

“I did.” Kasli lowered herself into Austin’s low-slung seat, turning it to face Els. “I just saw Naya in the kitchen. No need to wake her.” She glanced at Austin’s stagnant controls. “When will they be back?”

Els set her cup down and rubbed a hand across her mouth as she studied her station. “The shuttle’s almost here. Give it another fifteen or twenty minutes.”

Kasli nodded, studying her. “Are you sure you want to go out so soon?”

Shrugging, Els considered the dryness in her eyes and her fuzzing thought processes. “Ja. Until we find fuel, we need to keep up the search. It’s only another eight hours. Then I can get some sleep.” She made a minuscule change in their route with a chuckle. “At least I’m not in Tobias’s shoes.”

“Yeah, he’s probably reeling by now.” Kasli’s smile became wry and a slight blush darkened her already brown skin. “I didn’t expect him to cook dinner during his break. I don’t think he’s slept since yesterday.”

“He’s a trooper.” The conversation dissipated as they both stared out at the thickening cloud of debris. Though still skirting the edges of the field, the ship had begun cutting through its outer edges. Els had silenced the proximity sensors, having set their strength as high as possible but not wanting to hear their inevitable raucous din. The visual notifications were enough to give her plenty of warning and lead time as potential danger was identified, allowing her time to evade what the ship couldn’t push through without damage.

“Who could do this?” Kasli’s voice was quiet, barely audible over the internal rumble of the engines.

Els examined the horizon, shaking her head. “I don’t know. Whoever it was is evil.”

Kasli’s glance was sharp. “I thought your people didn’t believe in evil. Just good and bad, right? No moral absolutism.”

“Maybe not.” Els stared out into space. “It’s true that universal ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ aren’t constructs on my world.” She gazed at Kasli. “Good and bad, ja. Everyone has the ability to make choices for good or bad, but that doesn’t mean theoretical evil exists.” Sighing, she attended her controls, carefully keeping the remains of a largely intact underwater transport out of reach, its sharklike form tumbling helplessly in space. “But this?” She shook her head. “I’ve seen a lot of things since leaving home that can’t be explained by any other means.”

“I hear you.” Kasli crossed her hands over her abdomen, threading her fingers together. “We have similar beliefs where I come from—good and bad choices can be made or actions taken, but that doesn’t mean some deity is intent on destroying all mankind.”

Els gazed sidelong at Kasli, both pleased and hesitant with the personal disclosure. From the little she’d gleaned over the years, she knew that Kasli’s spiritual background was similar to her own, but the topic was something they’d never discussed. Els liked that Kasli was beginning to open up about things that mattered to them both.

Kasli caught her staring and smiled.

The resultant heat in her face caused Els to look away, back at her controls where she fiddled with switches that didn’t need attention. Kasli’s throaty laughter tickled her ears, and she glanced back with a small smile.

Standing, Kasli closed the distance between them. She leaned over and gave Els a thorough kiss.

For an instant Els forgot where she was, fully concentrated on the warm lips and tongue plying her mouth.

“Mm mm mm,” someone said behind her.

Returning to the present, Els hastily looked over her shoulder. Naya lounged in the doorway with a wide grin on her elven face. Before Els had time to react to Naya’s interruption, a beep from her console dominated her attention. The ship had deviated from the projected flight path, and she guided it back into place.

“I wish I could get that kind of action on the bridge,” Naya continued as she sauntered forward.

Kasli hadn’t done more than straighten, her hand warm at the base of Els’s neck. Els didn’t know which was hotter, Kasli’s touch or her flush of embarrassment. It was one thing to be busted sneaking kisses by her crew and quite another when she was on official bridge duty.

Naya strolled to Nathan’s vacated chair. “If you two would like to continue…this elsewhere, I can take over a few minutes early.”

Els frowned, preparing to decline. She’d never let her personal life get in the way of her duties even when her ex, Bennie, wheedled and argued for such action.

“That would be great, Naya. Thanks.” Kasli grinned at Els and winked. “Shall we?”

Befuddled, Els came close to saying no. She didn’t need Naya using this situation as future ammunition. Peering past Kasli, she saw Naya gaping at the back of Kasli’s head. Her confusion cleared. Naya had been teasing; she hadn’t expected agreement with her offer. Paybacks.Ja.” Els accessed her console. “You ready to play?”

Naya hesitated, not quite pouting as she did the same. Her voice when she spoke held no mocking lilt. “I’m ready.”

Els nodded, her spirits improving. She transferred ship control to the pilot’s station. “You have the ball.” Els waited until she was certain Naya had full control of the ship and proceeded to shut down her station. Moments later, she stood and stretched. “Danke, Naya. I really appreciate this. The shuttle should be back in about ten minutes.” It was difficult not to laugh at Naya’s disgruntled wave of dismissal.

Kasli took Els’s hand and led her off the bridge. A trip to the head, a snack and some serious snogging was in Els’s immediate future, not necessarily in that order.

 

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