Warning: Mild sexual situations.
Recap: Pegram Kimble attempts to acclimate himself to temporary life aboard the Federation dreadnought Medford as it speeds towards his new assignment, a backwater world in a distant star system plagued by piracy.
Slow Boat to China
By Gregory Marshall Smith
Chapter 1: Voyager (Part II)
“Nice lounge you have here,” Kimble noted. “Too bad you get the soft stuff.”
“Hey, hey, don’t knock it, newbie,” Farrier remarked. “This is like heaven compared to Tedesco. I’ve been there twice on transit and supply runs. Oh, you’ll get to look at the stars, if they don’t work you to death. You just won’t have anything close to a virgin martini to relax with. Then again, you won’t have any virgins to relax with period.”
Kimble raised an eyebrow. That was the one area he knew little about concerning his new assignment. He couldn’t imagine the sailors on Tedesco being that much different from those on the dreadnoughts, even the bad eggs as every command had them. The civilians were a different lot, though. He had no way to gauge them, not even among the transiters aboard, all of whom were just as apprehensive as he was about their new home.
“I’ve been meaning to ask you, Farrier,” Kimble said. “What are the people like down there? You said something about no virgins. I thought there were a lot of terra farmers.”
“Legal age of consent down there is sixteen,” Farrier answered, after squelching a belch. “May work for the escort patrol sailors, but it seems creepy to me. Anyway, life can be tough in Vasco de Gama. Women tend to cling to anyone who shows them the slightest bit of attention and they’ll drop their pants or skirts in a heartbeat if they think it’ll keep their men with them. Make sure you have your shots when you get there. Makes your seed infertile. Otherwise, they might be docking your pay if the girl gets pregnant.”
“Oh, I don’t think I’ll have too many problems,” Kimble retorted. “I try to stay levelheaded.”
“Level doesn’t have anything to do with it,” Farrier answered, with a snort. “Them young girls can make a man consider murder. It’s one thing for a guy like me who will be off the planet in a day or two. But, you’ll be there for the next three years. You being a nice guy, with some looks, and a sensible head, they’ll be trying to do you on the spot.”
“Oh, it can’t be that bad,” Kimble protested, with a laugh. “I’m not anything to look at.”
Farrier put his drink down suddenly and then looked around, suspiciously. Kimble eyed him coolly, suddenly feeling uncomfortable. Farrier leaned in close.
“Don’t tell anyone I said this, but even the master chief’s been eyeing you,” the storekeeper said. “Aw, don’t give me that look. If you’d have been in a different division, I guarantee you that Branaugh would have been banging your brains out every free moment.”
Kimble’s eyes went wide in shock. He’d thought Branaugh looked okay, but he’d never imagined her in any way other than the senior enlisted person in the department. He couldn’t imagine a master chief breaking protocol like that.
“Look, I have to go,” Farrier said, taking one big swig of his martini. “I’ve got the midwatch tonight. You’re off tomorrow, so enjoy it wisely and remember what I said. You’re a good guy, Pegram. You’ve got a chance to be one of the few who make it out of Tedesco intact. Don’t blow it.”
Kimble nursed his drink as he watched Farrier walk out of the lounge. He asked for another cola and drank it quickly. Farrier had been his escort so he had to leave within a half-hour by lounge rules.
He left the lounge and headed back towards his quarters. Because he was in transit, he couldn't bunk with the other storekeepers. His berth was just a corridor away from the transit spaces. The space between was dark and he was always on edge here, not knowing who or what to expect, considering what Farrier had told him of some of his fellow transiters.
This night, he entered the dark but stopped immediately, moving into a small area ill lit by a small overhead light. He brought his hands up, ready to use one of the defensive martial arts techniques he’d been taught in basic training. Just as quickly, he dropped them when a rather comely blonde stepped into another small patch of light.
He recognized her as Elizabeth Waters, one of the transiters. She had made some small talk with him while they waited to board. She appeared extremely nervous and he began looking around. Fortunately, the passageway was empty, save for them.
“Oh, hello, Ms. Waters,” he greeted.
“Please, I said you can call me Elizabeth,” she replied. “We’re friends, remember?”
Kimble took a deep breath and then quietly exhaled. He couldn’t help now but think of Farrier’s words of warning back in the lounge.
“You shouldn’t be out here by yourself, Elizabeth,” Kimble warned. “It’s not really that safe to wander around.”
“Oh, I can take care of myself,” Elizabeth countered, in a shaky voice that did nothing to convince Kimble. “Truth is, I wanted to see you.”
“Oh, okay,” Kimble said, apprehensively. “What’s going on?”
“Can we talk in your berth?” she asked, nervously. “I…I don’t feel comfortable out here.”
“That probably wouldn’t be a good idea,” Kimble replied.
“Please?” she practically begged.
Again, Farrier’s words echoed in his head. But, he saw her face and it looked so innocent. He gave in. We’ll keep our clothes on, he promised himself.
It took less than a minute to get to his berth. Since he was the only military person heading to Tedesco, he had it all to himself. Once inside, he shut the hatch and then offered Elizabeth a seat. He stood by the hatch.
“Look, Elizabeth, I know you may have heard some things about life on Tedesco, but I have to warn you,” he said, firmly. “I’m not looking for a wife or anything. I’ll be real busy. I don’t mean to disappoint you or anything.”
“Oh, no, no, I wasn’t looking for marriage, nothing like that,” she answered, vehemently. “Anyway, I’m on a contract. We can’t get married for at least three years. We’ve been hypoed so we can’t even get pregnant for at least three years.”
Kimble eyed Elizabeth. She was young, only 22 but had developed nicely. Her physical assets were magnificent, which only increased his curiosity as to why she was making a potentially perilous contract to work on a backwater planetary system. By rights, she should have been in the probationary phase of her first career back in the Milky Way, not making her way to a place like Tedesco.
“The real reason I’m here, Pegram, is that I need a big favor,” Elizabeth explained.
“What kind of favor?” Kimble inquired. “Is someone bothering you? I suppose I could mention something to the master-at-arms.”
She shook her head, vigorously.
“Look, Pegram,” she said, slowly. “I-I have to be honest with you. I’m not the innocent girl you think I am. I was spoiled as a child and I thought it gave me license to do whatever I wanted. I stole. I smoked. I drank. And now, because of me being such an embarrassment to my parents, I’m out here. Despite all that, there is one thing I’ve never done.”
Kimble cocked a curious eyebrow at her. She looked about nervously and Kimble could see that she was blushing. She took a deep breath and then, finally, looked him in the eye.
“I’m a virgin.”
Kimble was left speechless. That was certainly not what he expected to hear. In fact, that shattered his entire concept of her. He couldn’t imagine any woman being a virgin after spending almost seventh months in transit aboard various ships from Earth. The fact that she’d been injected against pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted diseases had only cemented that notion in his head. He didn’t know what to say.
“I can’t get pregnant or married, even if I wanted to,” she added. “Okay, fine. But, I cannot, repeat, I cannot show up unmarked. I’ve heard that men on Tedesco can tell immediately. I’ve heard that they’ve raped virgins. It’s like throwing raw meat into a lion’s den. So, I need your help. I’m not asking for a marriage license just a little…help. Okay?”
Kimble said nothing. He was too embarrassed. Instead, Elizabeth stood up and walked over to him. She got close enough for him to smell a faint hint of perfume. She reached a hand up and hit the light switch, dimming the overhead bulb. He could still make out her shape.
Her hands slid over his shoulders and around his neck. She pulled him to her and pressed her lips against his so expertly he thought she’d been lying about being a virgin. Her tongue forced his lips apart and fenced with his tongue as he felt his defenses slip away. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her tighter to him as he felt himself respond.
“Don’t get me wrong, Pegram,” she said, breathlessly after breaking the kiss. “I’ve done men, well, with my hands and mouth. I just haven’t gone all the way.”
With that, she broke the embrace and slid to her knees. Then, her hands unzipped his pants. She showed him that, indeed, she was not an oral virgin.
After a few moments, she pulled away and got to her feet. In the dim light, Kimble saw her shed her clothes. She then rested her hands on the room’s metal table, leaned forward and placed one leg upon the top. The allure was much too strong and he moved in behind her.
Well, he thought, I kept my clothes on.
“Enemy ships inbound! All hands man your battle stations!”
Alarm klaxons blasted Kimble’s ears and he jumped back. The ship was under attack! Thank God for big favors, he told himself, when he realized just how close he’d been to taking Elizabeth’s virginity and probably getting tied down with her.
He flipped the lights on, picked up her clothes and tossed them to her.
“Get dressed,” he ordered as he fixed his uniform. “I’ve got to get you to the safety shelters.”
After she hastily dressed, he hustled her toward the designated transiter safety areas. She was none too pleased at the turn of events, but Kimble could have cared less. What mattered was that the ship was about to be assaulted. He could only wonder if it was but a foretaste of what life would be like on Tedesco.
Copyright © 2011 Gregory Marshall Smith
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.
To be continued August 13, 2011.
Gregory Marshall Smith