Iain followed Cygnus out onto the deck of the landing bay, still grumbling.

“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!” Cygnus cried out, raising her arms and waving. “I thought I might die out there in the blackness of space. You saved me!”

I was just doing as I was programmed, the skipper offered humbly. You are a valued passenger, after all.

“Then, can I ask for one small thing?” Cygnus held up her hand and gestured at Iain, who still felt like offering her some dirty looks back. He tried a couple. She didn’t respond.

Perhaps.

”Show mercy on my kidnapper,” Cygnus pleaded. “He’s confused, and so primitive. Really, really primitive. I mean, even getting off their planet was so traumatizing at the time you took him, they hardly ever did it.”

The Skipper sounded less than thrilled at her request.

Trauma is hardly a good excuse.

Cygnus turned back at Iain, gesturing for him to play along. He let out a breath.

“She’s right,” he said. “It was pretty dangerous for us too. One missing ceramic tile and poof, we were toast.”

Hmmm, came the voice of the Transient Void in response.

So,” Cygnus continued, inching away from him when he half-heartedly reached for her. “He’s like all primitive life forms, and wants to go home. He just doesn’t realize its not there any more; that he has to give up and understand you’ve done him an amazing favor by rescuing him too. Please don’t hurt him. I still like him, a little, anyways. He amuses me.”

I don’t know. He insulted my generosity.

“I’ll be extra grateful,” Cygnus offered, pouring it on. “And so will he, from now on.”

I suppose.

If a synthetic voice could sigh in resignation, that would have been the moment.

“Oh, you’re the best skipper a starship ever had,” Cygnus practically jumped up and down. “I’d hug you if I could.”

I could send a maintenance unit for you to hug.

“That would be awesome, “ she replied warmly.

Very well, the Skipper stated. Iain Compton, I will show you mercy. This time. I will not punish you for your unauthorized seizure of shuttle number two, nor for the kidnapping of a fellow passenger. But be warned. Do not fuck with me again. Or I will most definitely fuck with you.

What was he going to say?

“Fine I won’t fuck with you again,” Iain muttered, looking down at the deck.

I can’t hear you, the voice replied.

Cygnus gave him a punch to the shoulder, glaring at him and nodding.

“I won’t fuck with you again!” Iain repeated more loudly.

My audio receivers do not appear to be functioning well at the moment. Could you say that louder. Please.

“I won’t fuck with you again!!” Iain shouted. His voice echoed around the chamber.

Thank you, I will enter that statement into the archives, the Skipper stated. Dinner will be served shortly. Don’t be late.

Cygnus patted him on the back.

“See, not so bad,” she told him. “How hard was that, eh?”

He turned a baleful pair of eyes on her.

“Depends. Are you now planning on keeping to ship time for the rest of your life,” he told her.

She laughed at that. And then lifted her hand to her mouth to try and stop it.

“Sorry,” she said. “I guess that’s not funny for everyone.”

At his confused look she stepped over and gave him a tight hug, pressing her warm body against his. “Oh, come on,” she whispered into his ear. “I’m sure we’ll think of lots of things to do between now and when we get off this ship.”

When he didn’t immediately respond she lifted her right leg to rub her thigh over his suggestively. That finally got the reaction she was looking for.

Go to Chapter Thirty Two

Go to Chapter Thirty Four

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