Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Fugitive Pair - Chapter 11

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Matt and Michelle escape the Wolf system just ahead of another trio of missiles.

Our trip through the wormhole was going to take four hours. I had all sorts of ideas for how to pass the time. Michelle had other ideas, insisting on hooking me up to the full-sized med unit in the ship’s tiny sickbay for a full checkup. My protests that the portable med unit fixed me up just fine fell on deaf ears.

“God above, Matt, what is it with men and medicine?” Michelle demanded as she connected me to the unit. “Women take their health seriously and, fortunately for the entire medical profession’s bottom line, take the health of their men seriously, too.”

“Sorry, hon,” I muttered, “I guess it’s just the way we men are built.”

“Then it’s really lucky for you men that we women love you,” she replied as she connected the last lead and sat back to wait for the exam results.

“While the unit runs its checks, why don’t you find out as much about the star system we’re heading for as possible?” I asked, changing the subject as far from sex-based medical attitudes as possible.

Michelle nodded, pulled her data pad out, and tapped on the screen for a few seconds. She read the information on the screen, frowning as she did so. Finally, Michelle said, “It’s called the Pride system. Someone with a sense of humor probably named it to contrast with Wolf. But there’s nothing in the system worth feeling pride over. It’s a weak red star with a couple of planets much too far from the star to support life.”

“What about an asteroid belt?”

“Yeah, there’s a small one,” Michelle replied. “I wouldn’t call it a great place to hide, but if that Wolf patrol ship follows us through, it’ll be better than nothing.”

“What about the wormhole out of the system?”

“There are actually two, but one looks pretty useless. It goes to a star system so popular no one even named it. It’s only got a numeric designation.” Michelle tapped some keys on her controls. “The information we’ve got on it makes Pride look downright homey in comparison. The system is about as close as you can get to the ass-end of the universe. It’s so useless that no one has bothered charting it for wormholes.”

“Let’s hope we don’t have to run that way.” I craned my neck trying to get a look at her screen. Michelle glared at me until I sat back. “What about the other wormhole?”

“Give me a sec…” Michelle punched a few keys, then she sighed. “It takes us back into Federation space—the Piscain Hub.”

“Hm… As long as no one’s looking for us, Piscain is a pretty good spot for us.” The med unit beeped. Michelle handed her pad to me while she checked the medical report. I knew Piscain pretty well but skimmed the information just to be sure. “Piscain rivals Pegasus as a tourist destination, but it’s got even more wormholes connecting to it—thirteen, overall.”

“Do any of them head out of Federation space?” Michelle asked, most of her attention on the medical readout.

“No, but we’ll only be a jump or two from the border,” I responded. “Another bonus is the heavy traffic the hub gets. It actually makes Pegasus look like a little backwater way station. And the space station in the system is gigantic—something like eighty or ninety kilometers in diameter.”

“All right, babe, the med report says you’re fine. It still recommends some rest, but that’s about it.” She held out her hand for the data pad. She scanned the report herself as I finished removing medical leads. “You didn’t mention the naval base in the system, Matt.”

“Because you took the pad from me before I could. Since I know you can read as well as I can, it was kind of a moot point,” I said.

“As long as it wasn’t some misguided attempt to keep me from worrying my pretty little head over something we can’t control.”

In my most serious tone of voice, I said, “Do I look like a man who never wants to have sex again?”

Michelle burst out laughing. “I’m glad you understand how important it is for us to share everything—good and bad.”

“You made that abundantly clear before we even got married.” I grinned, “But mentioning sex…”

“Uh uh, Matt. You aren’t getting into my pants until you’ve at least changed the ship’s transponder to one of our other registration names. After that, we’ve got to figure out which wormhole to take away from Piscain.”

“I’ll have the transponder switched in no time. As for the Piscain decision, we’re going to spend at least six hours in normal space traveling to the wormhole from Pride to Piscain. Then there’s the three and a half hour wormhole transit time. That gives us nearly half a day to do research and make decisions—and that’s after we exit this wormhole. We’ve still got nearly four hours left before that. I’m sure we can afford a few minutes for a little fun.”

“It had better be a lot more than a few minutes, babe!” Michelle said, looking up at me through lidded eyes. “Now get busy switching the transponder. I’ve got to prepare some messages for Daddy while you’re doing that. We can send them as we pass through Piscain.”

Michelle finished her work a lot sooner than I did and stopped by to check on my progress. “How much longer until you’re finished with the transponder?”

“Maybe fifteen minutes?”

Smiling seductively, Michelle slowly unbuttoned her shirt and shrugged out of it. “Why don’t you aim for ten?”

Spinning around, she walked away from me with an exaggerated swing to her hips. I finished with the transponder in eight minutes.

Considerably more than a few minutes later, Michelle propped herself on one elbow and absently brushed hair away from her face. Her eyes turned serious as she said, “Are you ready to talk about what happened in that bar back on Wolf?”

“Not really, but I know I’ve got to,” I answered. “I don’t really know how to describe what I did—it just came on me suddenly when that idiot and his girlfriend tried pushing us around. I was already upset about our trip out to the Psy Corps office—I never expected we’d find some kind of paramilitary facility!”

“Me neither, Matt,” Michelle said, laying her head on my chest. “On Draconis, Psy Corps just has a normal office downtown. Maybe it’s different on the inside or maybe there’s a maximum security Psy Corps facility hidden away somewhere on the planet…” Michelle absently stroked my cheek. “You know I’d never have suggested we go out there if—”

“Yes, Michelle, I know. That place surprised me as much as it did you.” I kissed her lightly. “Did I ever compliment you on how well you handled those guards?”

“Don’t change the subject, Matt,” Michelle said. “You were describing what happened in the bar?”

I sighed theatrically. “That’s the problem with smart women—you can’t distract them with compliments… So, I wasn’t in the best of moods when the moron couple decided to pick on us.”

Haltingly, I described how the odd feeling grew, how I just sucked all the anger out of the room, and how it overwhelmed me. Describing how the anger made me do those terrible things to Michelle, I wrapped my arms tightly around her. “Ever since we ran from that bar, I might have sounded like I was okay but I wasn’t. I’ve been terrified that you wouldn’t think of me the same way, any more.”

“You’re an empath, Matt! Why didn’t you just read me?”

“I tried, but my emotions were roiling too much. And then I got the concussion and then we were busy getting away from the patrol ship…” I ground to a halt, blinking away tears.

“And I was too busy concentrating on our getaway to realize what you were going through.” A warm tear splashed on my chest. “I’m so sorry, babe. Is that why you were so desperate to get laid?”

“Not entirely, Michelle,” I replied. “I mean, I’m always up for a roll in the hay with you.”

Keeping her eyes on mine, Michelle’s hand wandered down between my legs. Giggling, she said, “That much is obvious.”

“All of my emotional knots just fell away when I felt the full force of your love flood into me,” I said. “It was like I could breathe again.”

Michelle straddled me and gently raked her fingernails down my chest. “There’s only one way to make sure all of those emotional knots are gone—and I already know you’re up for it!”

Much later, Michelle asked, “How are you feeling now, babe?”

“Absolutely amazed that I’m married to a woman like you. And I’m a lot better.”

“That’s good, because we’ve got to prep for running dark after we exit the wormhole.” Michelle rolled off of me and gathered her scattered clothes. “Just do me a favor and never, ever doubt my love again.”

Pulling on my own clothes, I said, “I won’t.”

Half an hour later, we exited the wormhole and went dark. Two minutes after that, our passive sensors picked up the three missiles coming through. We kept an eye on the sensors, hoping they’d take off after some other target. We were still waiting when something else popped out of the wormhole and zipped past us on its way toward the wormhole to Piscain.

“What was that?” Michelle asked.

“A message drone,” I replied, my tone flat. “It’s a safe bet Piscain will know about us before we get there.”


How can Matt and Michelle hope to escape when both routes out of the Pride system are watching for them? Find out in Chapter 12, coming Friday!