Chapter 2

Twelve hours later, Calvin stood over the Coldsleep capsule of The Granny, a.k.a., Patricia Holladay, Executive Officer, Doctor to the crew and Botanist to the ships garden. There was no real reason for him to be there as SAL oversaw all Coldsleep operations flawlessly, but he felt he had to explain to Patricia what he knew about the exotic particles and why it was important to know. He really didn’t know why he was pushing himself. He didn’t have too much confidence in her solving the problem but as the only crew member aboard that had anything near the qualifications, he couldn’t be picky. There had been further collections of exotic matter in the funnel as they travelled and the slash became thinner but more concentrated with heavier particles suggesting they were heading into something.

Key indicator lights turned from cold blue to green as the mirror effect of the Tau field scattered revealing Patricia and a slight smell of ozone permeated the air. Patricia’s eyelids flickered and she blinked a few times. She stared at Calvin for a few seconds before recognition came back and stretched her arms.

Amid some groaning and the popping of joints she said, “Hi! I’m guessing from the look on your face that something’s up! What have you done this time?”

“Patricia, you angel of the abyss”, smiled Calvin.

“Don’t give me your guff Gav, what is it?”

“Exotic Matter!” he gushed, “knew you would want to have a look before it all evaporates away.”

“You know perfectly well nothing evaporates in the Deep Dark.”

Lifting her legs over the edge she hopped out of the Coldsleep capsule and scratched her bum. Standing just over six feet tall her lean muscular frame hid the years of her age well enough for Calvin to enjoy a second appraising look. Turning around, she saw the other Coldsleep capsules arranged in a horseshoe shape around the chamber. Her eyes stopped at the Coldsleep capsule of Traci and lingered there.

“You still playing with that tramp ship trash Traci?” she said, arching her eyebrow.

He grinned at her and replied.

“A freighter scab she may be, but she can clean out pipes like I have never seen”.

“Don’t be crass Calvin.” She smiled. “I know you’re not simply talking about the cooling network and the display does say she had only just got back in”

“Exotic Matter”, he said with a shrug. “Lotsa interest there by more than a few people”

Still naked from the Coldsleep capsule, she saddled over to him and laid a hand on his.

“I can keep a secret Calvin, and I’m famished from the diet of men on this ship”.

“Let’s eat then”, said Calvin, “I’m kinda peckish after my snack, and I could do with a real meal”

Her hands began to fumble at the clasps and Velcro tabs holding his ship suit together though her eyes never left his. He endured it with a knowing grin and slipped a hand down to her crutch, feeling her heat there. She groaned and felt her knees grow weak, reaching into his ship suit and found a memory not soon forgotten as they fell to the floor and had a feast.

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