POP, crunch, crunch.

POP, crunch crunch.

The sound of loud chewing broke Michael out of his thoughts. A little while ago he had made his way to the Icarus’ crew lounge to find it nearly empty. The on board ship time was 21:30 hours so most were either at their shift or in bed.

Not him. A recent burst transmission from Alliance Command had reached them, and it contained more than software updates. The Center of Data Control took their extended mission into consideration and sent along a few Zettabytes of new literature and manuals. Michael was happily reading a treatise by Lucretius Mesk on the vulnerabilities of Star Traveler Network reliance. That was until the chewing broke him out of his reverie.

Looking up, he saw across from him near the small viewport, a shapely young woman with dark hair who was deeply engrossed in a compu-pad in front of her. There was an open bag of carrot sticks beside her; she twirled one of them between her fingers. Bridgette Bailey stuck it into her mouth and broke off a piece with a loud pop. In the silence of the room where only the random shifting of the Alcubierre warp field made it sound like a shotgun report.

“Dear goddess, what are you eating?” demanded a voice from his right. It had a sultry sound to it though the anger buried most of it. “You sound like some Bashrok gnawing on a few bones, Bailey.”

Phasia Eshevet was not someone that most people missed. She was a Nihisian woman with dark black hair and skin almost as white as an albino. She wore her gray-white jumpsuit the way she always did, with the front zipper pulled to her waist.

Bridgette Bailey’s full saucer-like eyes were on the verge of panicking, but as soon as she saw who was speaking, they narrowed. Bridgette took another carrot out and bit into it.

“Goddess! You’re are so annoying,” Phasia snarled slamming her compu-pad down on the table.

“At least I’m not a slut.”

Bridgette must have meant to mutter the words under her breath, but the room had gotten inconvenient quiet as the star drive shifted the field again. The words reverberated through the lounge.

Phasia’s eyes narrowed; She stood from her seat slowly. “What did you call me?”

Michael instinctively wanted to intervene, but he resisted. Captain Sinclair Barrett had made it clear to him in one of their meetings that confrontations were going to happen to the crew and to allow them. Being stuck on a ship, there were going to be antagonism, and the theory was that if they expressed it, that’s the less chance they’ll bottle up. The key was making sure that they did not become violent.

Bridgette looked as if she was going to back away but her blue eyes changed to one of resolving. She stood also.

“I said at least I’m not a slut.”

Phasia’s mouth dropped open. She closed it and folded her arms across her chest.

“How…how dare you.”

“How dare you!” Bridgette snarled back with a ferocity that Michael had never seen before. “You have belittled me and hounded me ever since we wound up on this ship together and I’m sick of it. I’m not going to let myself be pushed around by some alien skank who can’t keep her clothes on for a few minutes a day.”

What color Phasia had in her face drained away, and her shoulders slumped ever so slightly. A slight gleam came to her eyes. Bridgette  opened her mouth to speak but closed it silently.

“I’d rather be a slut than some naive virgin who’s so scared of different opinions that she has to cling to some religious cult just to make herself feel important,” Phasia said.

Bridgette’s face colored but before she could say anything more, Michael decided it was time to stand.

“Save it,” Phasia told him as she scooped up her pad. “I was done here anyway.”

With that, the woman left the room, and Michael sat back down. Bridgette also did but could not get comfortable. After a few minutes, she made a half-hearted excuse mumbled under her breath before leaving the room.

‘Well, you waited too long, Michael. Captain’s going to have your ass for this one.’

The treatise did not feel so important anymore.

This is a short story based in the Star Traveler Universe. If you’re interested in hanging out with them more you can check them out here!

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