“Yeah, but I might die because, as you have pointed out, I am an idiot,” Morgan replied. The moment Laura mentioned dinner her stomach growled. She took a moment to resettle her belt and pull her pants down.

“We might both die. Here, have some food before that thing hurts someone.” Laura smiled. She held out a meal bar as she watched Morgan pull down her pants to relieve the wedgy she’d gotten.

Morgan took the meal bar. “See that's my point. So we should kiss again. Just in case. No last regrets.”  She sniffed the meal bar before taking a bite. That was one thing she missed about home, the food. Food in space and in the military had sucked in comparison.

“No last regrets.” It was hard but Laura managed to keep from grinning at the expectantly hopeful look on Morgan’s face. “How about we get out of here before another hit team comes to wipe us out, and then we can see about another kiss.”

“Okay,” Morgan replied secure in the fact there would be more kissing. 

Morgan paused as Jessie spoke in her ear. “Everything is fine. We just found some of the bad guys. That's why my heart rate is elevated.” Morgan finished the meal bar and picked up the automatic rifle. She slung it over her shoulder and looked up and down the lift. ”No, I'm not icing Laura. I need her; I can't save the ship on my own. If she goes insane we'll deal with it then.”

“It’s cute how you have conversations with yourself, especially about icing me,” Laura said dryly, rising up as she finished half her own bar and eyed the lift uncertainly. “I suppose that’s our only way out?”

“Yes, ma'am this would be our only way down. You want me to tie you in?” Morgan asked, ignoring the other comment.

An eyebrow arched up. “As long as we’re clear about what the point of the tying is.”

Morgan looked at Laura, confused. ”Uh... Just like every other time we've climbed down the lift I've tied the line from my belt around your belt loops in case one of us slips. You want me to do that again?”

“Sure,” Laura said, eyes sparkling with repressed mirth. “That sounds like fun too,” she quipped.

“Uh, was there something else you wanted me to tie?” Morgan asked, wondering if she'd missed something as she stepped forward and threaded the line through a couple of Laura's belt loops.

“You have threatened to tie me down before.” Laura grinned.

“I did?” Morgan squeaked. Morgan cleared her throat. “Come on, we have a lot of levels to climb down.”

“Sure,” Laura licked her lips, climbing onto the emergency ladder. “Unless of course you prefer to be tied up?” she added, because she found Morgan’s reddening face adorable.

Morgan didn't reply. She felt her face flush and other parts of her anatomy as she started down the lift tube after Laura.


It was a long climb and before they were even halfway done Laura’s self-satisfied smile at having gotten the better of Morgan was long gone, replaced with the earnest desire to not miss her footing and fall. The emergency lighting in the lift tube was spaced so far apart it barely made any difference, and not for the first time that day, Laura cursed at whomever had designed such features. Every other goddamn part of the ship had been lit with yellow lighting, why not the lifts?

“How much farther?” Laura asked finally, arms starting to ache and her stomach reminding her again that half a protein bar hadn’t been enough.

Morgan looked down the lift tube which was weird through her night vision. “Should be the next set of doors. I think,” she replied. Morgan wanted to sleep, for a week. Somehow she kept moving, not sure what was motivating her but knowing she needed to keep going or poor folks like Andrea would die. Everyone would die and they would float around in space, a ghost ship.

“Great.” Laura even managed to not sound too sarcastic as she continued down the ladder beyond the set of doors so that Morgan could reach them and pry them open. “I wonder how many crazies we’re about to find?”

“Shouldn't be too many. Energy is a specialty field, not a lot of people smart enough to work it.”

“You do realize that neither of us knows how to fix it if there’s something really wrong with the power core?” Laura winced as the doors were forced open with a squeal of metal on metal and emergency lighting flooded the dark lift shaft.

Morgan winced as well and it took a second for her secondary eyelids to open. “We'll be fine.” She hoped.

“Never figured you for an optimist.” Laura grunted, hauling herself up onto the deck and laying there for a moment. It was nice to not be moving, or be shot at, or have grenades going off. “My ears are still ringing. I really don’t want to have another grenade attack, okay?”

Morgan smiled and leaned over her, hands going to Laura's pants and untied the line. “I will do my best.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” Laura said, lifting her head to watch Morgan’s fingers untie the line. “I wasn’t aware that untying required so much hand to hip touching.”

“Now you know.” Morgan flashed a cheeky grin. She finished untying and controlled the speed of the line as it retracted. “We should get you a belt, they're handy.” Morgan didn't move though.

Studying her through narrowed yes, Laura shook her head. “You’re going to be trouble aren’t you? I knew it the second I collided with you in the workout room. Trouble.”

“Nah, that's you, trouble with a capital T. You feeling okay, any urges to bash my head in?” Morgan asked. To her Laura looked the same, no crazy eyes.

Sighing, Laura pushed herself upright, using the occasion to help herself to another grip of Morgan’s strong arms and shoulders. “My head is really hurting,” she admitted quietly. “But that’s just because of the grenade.”

“I'm sure it didn't help,” Morgan agreed. “I need you. I can't do this on my own. So I've got your back.” When Laura sat up so they were face to face Morgan leaned forward kissing her again.

The kiss was very nice, nice enough for Laura to forget the throbbing in her skull for a few pleasant seconds. “We don’t really have time to do this properly.” Laura sighed in frustration as the kiss ended, her lips still tingling. No wonder Morgan was in demand if that was the effect she could have with a simple kiss.

“You're right we don't have time, but some things are worth making time for.” Morgan stood up and then helped Laura up. There was another an empty guard station up ahead, minus the blood.

The lack of blood was a good sign, although the yellow lights were really starting to hurt Laura’s head, more than she was willing to admit. The darkness of the lift tube suddenly seemed like a pleasant alternative to this. “I’ve never been to this deck.” She let out a slow breath, focusing on the immediate problem as they moved.

The power core was completely off limits to anyone other than senior officers and the power tech crew.

“Morgan?” Jessie’s voice spoke up in her ear. “Two more of the cryo tubes are registering no occupants now. Whatever you guys are going to do you better do it quickly. Also, I think I found something.”

“What did you find?” Morgan asked quietly. “We're in the power core. Hopefully we'll be up and running soon.”

“I’ve got a warning going off on a screen here showing a loss of pressure in the lowest deck on the ship. If I had my jack working I could tell you more,” she said, sounding frustrated. “But it’s not a big loss of pressure, the environmental systems are compensating for now. I think something punched a hole in the hull down there.”

Morgan wanted to scream, things just kept getting better and better. “Well at least I know where they are going. Thanks Jessie.” She rubbed her tired eyes and studied the doors. “Shall we go in?” she asked Laura.

“We at least know what?” Laura asked. “I kind of wish I had one of those, even if I was listening to Jessie's voice all the time.”

“What's your problem with Jessie?” Morgan asked. “Did you two know each other?” She headed to the door, hoping the security card from the cyro guard station would work here.

“Pah, of course not. I don't get down to medical very often. She just annoys me. I don't think we're ever going to be best friends.” Laura ducked around the station, eyeing the mostly dark controls. “Back up power's failing.”

“I'm no rocket scientist but I think life support is still going because it’s on back-up power.” Morgan ran the card over the scanner and with a sigh the doors unlocked.

“They'll be the last thing to fail.” Laura picked up the assault rifle, checking the magazine. “Besides she really wants to get in your pants,” Laura muttered darkly.

“She's been in my pants.” Morgan snorted. “Well, I've been in hers, it was quick and in the supply closet. It was one time and the only reason I think she did it was because I don't have a jack.”

“What? Why would that be the only reason she did it? She did it because you're you and she obviously has the hots for you,” Laura said, grumpily slamming the mag back into its chamber and loading the gun.

“Revisiting that whole insanity thing again,” Morgan replied. “Could you not be so angry with that gun?” The control room of the power core was empty and blood free as well. “Maybe they just locked them all up in a closet or something?”

“Stop telling me what to do!” Laura screamed and then grimaced, fingers tightening around the handle of the rifle until they were white. “Sorry. Just the headache.”

“Um, so you feeling any urge to disembowel me? Just asking.”

 “Maybe just hit you over the head a couple times, more if I get to Jessie.” Laura grinned as she said it, pausing to look around, confused. “Where did a couple hundred crew go to?”

“Well there are only really a handful down here at a time. When it works it works well, only time you need the whole crew is in an emergency.”

“The entire ship Morgan, we've only seen a couple other people. They didn't just disappear within an hour. I mean, did they just all toss themselves out an airlock?” Laura paused, considering the long low hall in front of her. Row after row of terminals lined it, with workstations. At the far end, dimly seen in the yellow light, was the power core.

“I got a few guys on the radio, they had themselves locked into closets.” Morgan made her way to a rather important looking console. “You fly ships. You fly this ship, does this make any sense to you?” she asked looking at it.

“Not much.” One last look towards the core itself and Laura slid into the duty console. “Let me jack in and see what I can find out. Don't wander off ok?”

“How close do you want me to stick?” Morgan asked as she shifted into a relaxed stance, rifle ready.

“Just keep me from getting any nasty surprises.” Laura shot a grin over her shoulder and fished the lynk out of the console. Pulling the cable out of the console she jacked into the station. “Ugh.” She winced. “My security clearance isn't high enough to get full access.”

“Jessie, we're in the core. We don't have clearance; can you help us at all?”

Morgan looked around. “There has to be a manual over-ride, compliance with those of us without jacks,” she said, mostly to herself.

“Uh... Morgan.... I think I have company up here,” Jessie's voice said nervously. “Somebody just tried to open the door to the office.”

Laura settled deeper into the chair, ignoring the warning twinges of the computer as it gently tried to dissuade her from accessing the system. “I can do it Morgan I just need time - I think.” She grimaced as she forced her way through the first layer of security and the twinges got more painful as the computer got a little more strident about its warnings.

Morgan wanted to say 'I told you so' to Jessie, but held it in. “Just stay tight. They can't get in there and if they do you have a laser, which is better than what I have.”

“I have a laser scalpel!” Jessie hissed furniture moving around in the background as she shoved the desk up against the door. “That's not a lot like a laser pistol.”

“Tell her you told her so,” Laura muttered, wincing as the throbbing got worse in her forehead.

“You're going to be fine. We'll have the power back up in a few. Just hold tight.” Morgan reached out and ruffled Laura's hair. “Be nice,” she whispered.

We will?” Laura grunted, closing her eyes as she moved past the third level of security. “I'm not sure how this is both...” Her eyes snapped open as a sound echoed from deeper in the power core. “Uh, that was you right?” Laura asked, hopefully.

“Nope, but I'll go take care of it,” Morgan said, sliding back and shifting her grip on the rifle.

“What? Wait, don't leave me...” Laura sighed, watching Morgan move down the hall, rifle raised, “…alone here. Fuck!” She muttered, concentrating on the increasingly difficult security levels. “I swore I wouldn't do this anymore.”


Deeper in the engineering area something dragged against metal. Morgan thought it might be in the power room. “Hello? This is security Marshal Saunders, is anyone non-crazy down here?” Morgan asked rifle ready.

“You should go away, Marshal,” a voice said softly in the darkness. Metal once again dragged against metal once again. “Go hide away in a corner.”

When it was dark enough, Morgan's night vision kicked in. She raised her rifle as she watched a woman remove metal paneling next to a door labeled ‘danger’. “Ma'am I'm going to ask you to put your hands up and stop trying to get to the opening mechanisms that door. Fail to comply and I will shoot your crazy butt.”

The woman laughed, her white hair silvery in Morgan’s night vision. The woman bent down to examine the panel she’d just revealed. “Marshal, you are so far out of your realm that it’s pathetic. Be a good girl, turn around, and go find an escape pod, stuff yourself inside and at least save yourself. If not…” The woman trailed off, waving a hand behind her at an open passageway. Humanoid shapes moved inside it, milling about as if waiting for direction.

Morgan took that as failure to comply. Morgan was for the most part a good person, a person that took her duties seriously. “Ma'am, I might be willing to negotiate if you had a cure for whatever is making everyone crazier than a cat in a field of catnip.” In this case she figured the safety of the whole ship depended on everyone becoming sane again. She raised the rifle she was holding and fired.

The sound of the assault rifle was deafening in the engineering compartment, echoing off the reactor core. Morgan’s aim was perfect, the bullet slamming into the white haired woman’s leg in the outside of the thigh, not a life threatening shot but one designed to slow her down. Except it didn’t go through flesh like it should have, it bounced off, ricocheting like it had hit metal.

“Idiot,” the stranger snarled, rising to her feet. “Get her and kill her,” she yelled, pointing at Morgan.

The shapes behind the woman suddenly lurched into motion, and members of the crew sprinted out of the passageway they’d been milling about in, screaming their rage as they rushed for Morgan.

There was no point in arguing the impossible, because it had happened. Morgan saw it happen. She could have run away but it wouldn't have done any good she'd just be running and running and nothing would get done. She charged the odd bullet-proof woman. At the very least the woman seemed to have control of the crew, which was new information.

There was a flicker of what might have been surprise on the other woman’s face and she reached behind her back, flicking out a foot and a long blade. Her face an expressionless mask she lunged to meet Morgan, as the crew swarmed around them.

Morgan blocked the blade with her rifle and then used it as a club smashing the stock into the woman's gut.

The woman stumbled backwards, grunting at the hit. The rifle in Morgan’s hands vibrated as if she’d struck a metal post instead of someone’s gut, but by then the rest of the crew were lunging at her. Reaching to tear her apart with their bare hands.

Morgan just continued, mindlessly following after the mystery woman, diving into the crowd to catch her.

“Make them back off,” Morgan growled in warning as she brought the rifle up and then smashed the woman in the face. She lunged in low, sweeping the woman's legs out from under her. Then she reached for her neural disruptor.  Morgan wasn't modest about her abilities, she was respected by the other guards because in hand to hand combat she out preformed everyone else. And she would outperform this bitch, even if she had to space her.

“Fuck you!” the woman spat through the blood dripping from her nose. “They're going to rip you apart.”

Morgan grinned, and her grin wasn't all that sane. “They can try.” She elbowed a crewman that got too close and hit him with the disruptor. “I'll admit you're the best I've thrown down.” Morgan moved forward grappling with the woman.

With a grunt, the woman kicked her and it felt like a mule had kicked her. Morgan flew back slamming against the wall. She got up with a grin and waved before taking off, the insane crewmen chasing her.

The silvered haired woman stepped forward and was brought up short by the handcuffs on her right arm that were attached to the railing. “You bitch!” she screamed after Morgan, jerking her hand against the cuffs, snarling.

“Jessie, I need help. Do you have access to a map of the core?” Morgan needed to keep them away from Laura. “I need a room to lock about eleven people into.”

“Morgan? Sure I can find that. But I really think someone’s in the med lab with me.” Jessie’s voice was hushed as if she were whispering into the pickup. “Where are you exactly right now?”

Behind Morgan the crowd of crew members sprinted after her, screaming and yelling, some so far gone they sounded more animalistic than human now. “Running down a hallway, away from a door labeled – ‘Danger! Radiation’.” Morgan replied.

Jessie snorted. “Don’t go in there. That’s the used fuel storage, you’ll die of radiation poisoning within a minute. Keep going down the hall on your right, there’s a scrub room you could lock them in, but you’ll have to jam the entrance.”

“Got it, thanks.” Morgan put on a burst of speed and pulled her gun. She slammed through the door and fired taking out the lights and throwing the room into darkness. The crew weren't super-human they were still human, albeit insane humans.

Morgan's night vision activated and she silently stalked out of the room as the rest of the crew filed in looking for her. She slammed the door shut and retracted some line from her belt, tying it first around the door handle and then to the railing before cutting it with a small knife from her boot. She tightened it as much as she could and tied it off.

“Thanks Jessie,” Morgan huffed into the mic.

“Just get back up here soon,” Jessie hissed, voice very quiet.

By the time Morgan got back to the power core, the hand cuffs were dangling, empty against the railing where she’d cuffed the white haired woman. The covers were still off the core, but there wasn’t any sign of the woman otherwise.

“Shit.” Morgan took off running. “Laura!”

Laura was still seated where Morgan had left her, at the control panel, eyes firmly fixed on the displa in front of her. A gun was pressed firmly against the side of her temple and the woman was standing behind her, smiling ever so slightly.

“Hi Morgan. Thanks for watching my back.” Laura said through gritted teeth.

Morgan groaned. “Hey I took care of the eleven insane crew members. Cut me some slack.” She looked at the woman. “This is me, putting my gun down, will you please point that gun at me instead of my friend there.”

“I don’t think so.” The woman pushed against Laura’s temple, making her wince. “Do what I told you, delete the plasma regulation sub-routine.”

“Listen you bitch, I can’t. I don’t have...” Her words cut off as the white haired woman hit her with the butt of the pistol, and then pressed it harder against the bleeding wound.

“I’m not an idiot like your friend over there. I can see exactly how deep you’ve already hacked past the security protocols. Don’t give me shit about not having access. Do as I say or I’m going to blow a large hole through the side of your pretty little skull.”

Laura swallowed, glancing sideways at Morgan and then nodded. “Fine.”

“Good girl.” The woman smiled, running the fingers of her free hand through Laura’s hair, petting her like she was a puppy. “See how easy it is if you just do what I want?” she asked Morgan.

“But then I wouldn't have had the opportunity to handcuff you and that was a whole lot of fun. Come on, I dare you to deny it?” Morgan thought her brain might start smoking as she tried to analyze the problem at hand and come up with a solution. 

“I’m not really partial to girls, but yes, that was fun.” The woman smiled again, and Laura shivered as she saw it reflected in the display. While the woman with the gun to her head was distracted, Laura glanced towards Morgan and winked, pointing ever so slightly with her right hand at the display panel above her.

Morgan looked up wondering why something was counting down.

“Yeah, lots of fun,” Morgan said to keep the woman's focus off of whatever Laura was doing. “So are you someone famous? Like that Phoenix guy down in cryo-sleep?”

“Oh love, Phoenix isn’t in cryo-sleep.” The woman smile widened. “And I’m surprised you don’t know your own prisoners.”

“Her name’s Christina McGerry.” Laura said, glancing again over at Morgan and then swallowing as the countdown reached thirty seconds. She really would like to brace herself for what was about to happen, but any warning would ruin the purpose.

This was really going to fucking hurt.

“The ice maiden. Remember? I told you about her in the cafeteria?”

Morgan shrugged. “The prisoners all think they're important bad asses if you listen to them talk. In the end it’s just talk. They're all just two-bit thugs who think their right to existence out-weighs everybody else’s. Stories have power. I mean some crazy guy named Durraunt got a whole shit load of people to give up technology and live on some mud bowl planet because he believed his own hype. Guards shouldn't listen to stories, because then they can get swayed by stories until they become a part of it. I suppose if I had listened to stories I would have just run away from the powerful Ice Maiden. Which if you think about it is an unfortunate name. Maiden refers to someone who is pure, untouched, even virginal. I'm not going to assume anything but you don't look like some fresh faced farmers daughter, right off the farm. Anyways because I didn't listen to those stories I took you down and handcuffed you to the railing, a touching moment, and really that must have been a unique experience for you. How many guards have actually taken you out in an one on one fight?” Morgan's dialog cut off as she ran out of things to say.

“Why you little…”

Laura cut off Christina’s words before she shot Morgan. “There’s something you should know.”

Christina glared down at her, hand clutching Laura’s hair, her face an angry mask. “What?”

“You’re out of time.” Laura pointed up at the display, as it finished its count down and the number zero flashed red.

“Out of…”

The feedback loop that Laura had set up, one that disabled all alarms specifically designed to stop that sort of thing from happening, reached its limit. The display exploded outwards in a ball of plasma and incinerated plastics. Both women screamed, Laura curling downwards, trying to shield her head from the rain of fire. Christina was a little less lucky, the fireball catching her full against the left side of her face, flinging her down and across the room.

Morgan crawled forward along the floor and grabbed Laura and pulled away from the plasma fire. She pulled her across the floor and then carefully stood and grabbed the foam sprayer that was for plasma fires. She stood and slowly started putting the fire out finally she sprayed the escaped prisoner. She set to work to restraining Christina. Her face didn't look good, nor did her upper chest, but she had a pulse. “You're tricky like a fox in a hen house,” Morgan muttered.

“Me or her?” Laura groaned, touching a bald spot on the top of her head. “Fuck. I lost eyebrows and hair didn’t I?”

“Well I was talking about her, but it could apply to both of you now that I think about it.” Morgan looked over at Laura. “Your top’s a little singed, but your eyebrows are fine.” She finished with the Ice Maiden and went back to Laura checking her over. “We need to get you back up to Jessie. Plasma burns are nothing to mess with.” She blinked as the power came back on. She smiled and then leaned over kissing Laura's cheek. “You did it. Now if we can get everyone to stop taking a trip to crazyville…”

“Yeah well, we have a small problem with that. I’m not quite as clever as I should have been.” Laura winced, standing and touching the left side of her head where the bald patch now was. “And I don’t need Jessie’s tender loving touch. I’m fine.”

Morgan picked Laura up. “One, she's the only sane doctor we have. Two plasma burns aren't something to ignore. Three there's a face control station up there and four someone’s up there is trying to get in.” She went over and hit the button for the lift happy to hear it humming up the shaft.

Rolling her eyes at once again being picked up, Laura shook her head. “No, you don’t understand. The power back on isn’t really a good thing. She was trying to get the power rebooted.”

“Hmmm.” Morgan said that didn't sound like a good thing. “Why would they want the power back on? Security protocol would lock down the cryo-tubes again and start sealing the hole in the bulkhead where they got through.” It really didn't make any sense.

“She had me remove the plasma regulation sub-routine, after she’d already messed around with the core.” The side of Laura’s scalp was still bleeding from the persuasion the ice maiden had used and she was getting blood on Morgan’s uniform. “Fuck my head hurts,” she muttered. Maybe Jessie could give her something more powerful this time. “Without that routine, the core is going to become unstable and, umm, probably explode.”

“Shit. There's no way we can save everybody. We need a cure and fucking smarter people.” Every time she thought things were going their way, they really weren't.

The lift doors slid open and the light made Laura wince, burying her head against Morgan’s arm. “My head’s really hurting.” She moaned. “Maybe we should see Jessie.” She laughed suddenly though, a little hysterically, looking up through slit eyes at Morgan. “I fucked them over though.”

Morgan was startled a little as she stepped on to the lift. “What did you do?” she asked, wondering if this was it, Laura had finally lost it. She selected a floor and braced herself for movement.

“Depressurized the lowest level. Unless they have suites they aren’t getting to their ship.” The laughing cut off in a groan and Laura winced, closing her eyes and concentrating on not vomiting all over Morgan as the lift started to move.

“Good job,” Morgan praised. “Take some deep breaths. Just focus on the inside of your eyelids so nothing spins.” Morgan recognized that look.

The lift stopped and the doors opened. Morgan looked around and then quietly exited the lift. She remembered Jessie saying she thought someone was up here with her. “I need to set you down can you walk?” she whispered.

Laura giggled. “No, but I can dance.” She swallowed and nodded, opening her eyes slowly. “Sorry, I’ll walk, you can put me down.”

Morgan set her down. “Hang in there Hot-Shot.” She pulled her gun and started moving slowly through the chaos to where they had left Jessie. She almost wished the lights were still off. Across the med bay she could see that Gustav and the other guy were still restrained. That was good. She moved down the hallway where the private offices were and to the room where they had left Jessie.

The door was still shut. Morgan tapped on the glass. “Jessie, it’s us.”

“Come in Ms. Saunders,” a voice said, a voice that was definitely not Jessie’s, unless she’d had a gender reassignment very recently.

Morgan sighed, handed Laura her gun and then opened the door, walking in keeping with her hands high. “Who are you and is Jessie alright?”

The stranger sitting behind the CMO’s desk smiled at her, looking quite grandfatherly as he did. “Nurse Marino is quite fine.” He nodded to where Jessie was stretched out on the floor next to the desk, a blanket folded up under her head as a pillow. “I regret having to anesthetize her to gain access to this room, but there simply was no other way.”

Behind her, Laura whimpered and leaned her head against the door frame, her fingers curling tight around the handle of the gun.

Morgan looked at Jessie and then turned looking at Laura. “Shit.” She ignored the man and went to Laura's side. “Okay, no gun for you. How about you give that to me and I help you lie down.” She shot a look to The Old Man but he didn't seem to care.  

“Who are you? And what do you want?”

“You should sedate her immediately,” The old man said calmly, nodding to Laura, who moved back out of Morgan’s reach, eyes wide.

“No!” Laura shouted, raising the gun and aiming at Morgan. “NO sedating!”

Morgan turned giving Laura her full attention. “Laura. I couldn't put you in a cyro-tube, you really think I'm going to sedate you?” She reached out her hand for the gun. “We need to look at your wounds or they're going to get infected. Plasma fire is no joke, neither is the crazy lady that hit you in the head. Laura, this is me, Morgan. I've been with you through this whole mess, saved you from the Captain when he went nuts, and everyone else. Now give me the gun, cause I really don't want to be shot again.”

“You’re just like them. You’ll take everything away from me.” Laura whimpered, bringing her left hand up to clutch the side of her head. “It really hurts,” she moaned and then snarled as Morgan moved, lifting the gun straighter. “Don’t!”

“I fear your friend is infected,” the old man said. “Unfortunate.”

“Please Laura,” Morgan begged. “I can't do this by myself. Please, you can't be infected. I need you.” She moved forward until the gun was pressed against her own chest. It was her own brand of insanity, she was tired and hungry, and at this point she was finding it hard to see the merits of living through the impossible. “Give me the gun, Laura. You can fight this. You've been doing it all day.”

Laura’s hand shook violently as her knuckles whitened against the handle of the pistol. “Take it,” she whispered. “Take the fucking gun!” she hissed, clutching the side of her head with her left hand.

Morgan took the gun and holstered it before gathering Laura up in a hug. She turned, looking at the man, and in an angry voice asked, “You have fun getting off on her pain?”

“No, no, I’m not a sadist.” He raised both hands above the desk, holding them up for Morgan to see they were empty. “I am curious as to how she avoided shooting you though.” He frowned, eyes going unfocused. “Odd, her fight instincts should have taken over…” He mumbled, stroking the short graying beard on his face.

Laura hung onto Morgan desperately. “Don’t let me hurt someone,” she pleaded, gasping as the pain spiked in her head and her legs folded.

“I got you,” Morgan murmured, catching her. “You and me against a ship full of crazies.” She carried Laura over to an exam table. Looking at the old man she asked, “can you help her?”

“To help her I would need to examine her.” He watched the two of them with bright brown eyes.

“Do it!” Morgan nearly shouted as she got Laura to lie down on the table. She turned her focus to Laura. “I'm right here; we're going to fix you. I promise.” She held her hand tightly.

Tears leaked from the corners of Laura’s eyes and she gripped Morgan’s hand desperately, her legs twisting and kicking as she tried to keep herself under control. “It hurts Morgan,” she whimpered, banging her head against the exam table below her.

“Hold her still,” the old man ordered, rising up from behind the desk and picking up a medical kit as he stepped over Jessie’s unconscious form and headed to their side.

Laura saw him coming and let out a sound that could only be described as a growl, trying to lung at him only to be brought up short by Morgan.

“Hold her still,” he murmured, drawing out an injector and pushing it up against her neck as she snapped at him. Almost instantly her body relaxed as her eyes rolled up and she collapsed back against the exam table. “Much better.”

“You are aware your bedside manner sucks,” Morgan said dryly.

He laughed. “I’m not known for my patient skills, Ms. Saunders.”

“Who are you?” Morgan asked. “You're a prisoner aren't you?”

“I’m a doctor.” He gave her a sharp look and started to run scans on the patient in front of him. “Dr. Ivan Tochinsky.” He sighed, bending to look closer at Laura’s jack. “I was once one of the most famous researchers in the Alliance. I had an institution in my name.” He picked up a set of surgical tools and carefully started to remove the smooth metal outer casing that covered Laura’s jack.

“Do you know what's wrong with her, with everyone on the ship?” Morgan asked with a yawn. She shouldn't have sat down and stopped moving.

“I have an idea, yes.” He glanced at her through bushy eyebrows and then back down at his patient. The procedure was a delicate one and he very gently removed the jack’s casing, setting it aside to expose the millions of tiny circuits inside. “It is similar to work I once did,” he said, inserting a probe into the exposed jack and making a connection with one of those circuits. “You should rest.”

“It’s not safe. I've got crazy crew members, free psychotic prisoners, and outlaws all running rampant on this ship. I've got the people in this room that need me to keep them safe,” she replied.

“I see. Hand me the scanner?” He pointed to the drawer next to her. As she handed it over he stabbed her hand with an injector, smiling apologetically. “It will be best if you’re asleep.”

Morgan was asleep before she could even curse the man out. She slumped over and started snoring on to Laura's stomach.

“You’ll thank me later, Marshal,” he said, moving around to ease her down off the table.


A bright light was shining in Morgan’s face when she started to wake up and people were moving around her. “Wake up,” someone was saying to her, loudly. “I said, wake the fuck up Saunders,” the voice said, louder this time, almost yelling and something hit the side of her cheek, hard, as the man slapped her.

“What?” Morgan scrambled standing at attention, her body moving automatically before her mind had woken up. “Sorry I over slept for my shift, sir. It will never happen again.”

“Who the hell you calling Sir, puke? You aren’t in the marines anymore, remember?” the man growled. He looked like a stereotypical marine; massive chest and shoulders, slim waist and a crew cut haircut. All that was missing was a cigar for him to be chomping down on. All around them marines swarmed through the med bay, busily checking for any hostiles.

“The crew is infected with something, almost everyone has gone insane. Hostiles have cut their way into the ship and are freeing prisoners in cyro-sleep. The Ice Maiden tried to break into the core before we were able to stop her and get power back on the ship,” Morgan reported. She looked around the room. “Where are Jessie, Laura and the old man?”

“We’ve already transferred the nurse and pilot. Not sure who the old man is. Doesn’t matter. We’re here to take everyone into custody and we’ll let central command sort it out. On your feet Saunders.” He produced a set of restraints.

Morgan sighed and held out her hands. Wasn't that always the way? You bust your ass doing the right thing and you still get the shit end of the stick.

The restraints tightened around her wrists and he gave her a shove towards a waiting marine. “Get her packed away with the others in cold sleep. See you later, Saunders,” he growled, turning to deal with other priorities.

“What the hell? I can't go into cold sleep, I don't have a jack.” Morgan struggled starting to freak out at the thought of being forced to sleep. 

“Then put her in detention!” the man yelled over his shoulder. “Just get her the fuck out of here.”

“Come on, you heard him,” the other marine said as he grabbed her arm.

Morgan gave up struggling and was hauled out.

Everything became a blur from there on in. People were always coming and talking to her about what happened. Asking her why she had done what she had done. It made her head hurt and she felt like vomiting, part of her wondering if she was going to be railroaded like last time.

“For the last time. I secured the Ice Maiden woman to the railing. Half of her face was melted away by the plasma fire. I really didn't think she was going anywhere. Ms Vasquez was my priority as she was the only person still sane who could have any sort of control over the ship.” Morgan sighed and sat on her bunk in her tiny cell as the two people in front of her barked out questions. The same questions she had answered yesterday.

“And whose decision was it to depressurize the lower level? Did you ask the pilot to do that, or did Ms. Vasquez do it herself?” the man asked. He was asking most of the questions leaving the woman to stare at Morgan as if trying to bore the answers out of her by sheer will power.

“I- I- uh, don't know how that happened. I remember Jessie telling me that we were losing atmosphere from the lower level she thought we had been boarded by them cutting a hole there,” Morgan replied.

He glared at her, obviously dissatisfied with her answer. “How did Ms. Vasquez get access to the power core? She didn’t have the security clearance to access that system.”

Morgan looked at him. “I don't know. I didn't bother asking. We just needed the power on and I asked if she could do it. It wasn't like I had a lot of people who were sane that I could ask. Or did you skip over the part where I was bit and shot.”

“No, but it’s an excellent way to try to cast suspicion away from yourself.” He studied her, frowning. “You and Ms. Vasquez had entirely too much good luck. This entire fuckup has inside job written all over it. Someone must have been aiding Phoenix in gaining access to the ship. I think that’s you, Morgan.”

“Right, the retard who has a fourth grade education outsmarted the whole ship,” Morgan grumbled. “How about the doctor that hooked up the fake Phoenix to the ship and conveniently missed all the signs that it was a body double and not the really Phoenix? I don't know, someone with security clearance makes more sense, but because I'm a nobody from some crazy religious planet it’s easier to make me the scapegoat.” It was what had happened in the Marines and Morgan could see that it was going to happen again. “Why don't you get the fuck out of here before I break your nose for being an asshat!” Morgan shouted at them.

“Your continued refusal to cooperate with this investigation isn’t going to look good when we get back to base, Morgan,” he said, stiffly rising out of his seat and gesturing for the other woman to go as well. “Think on that while you’re stuck in here.” He sniffed. “Not even capable of cold sleep. It’s going to be a long trip back for you.”

The man was a moron, Morgan could have killed him the moment he entered, and the guards would never have made it in time. He must think she wasn't guilty or a threat or he would have come in armed. 

It was a long trip and Morgan could already feel the weight of isolation. She got down on the floor and started doing sit-ups. There was no reason not to stay in shape, because she'd need to be once she was thrown into jail. An ex-guard would be everyone's number one target.


Morgan was pacing. She'd just caught herself talking to herself. If her thinking was still correct she'd been left alone for five days with only meal bars and water slid through the food slot.  Five days, there was no way she was going to make the trip.

“Okay. More sit-ups and push-ups and then we'll nap or something.”

Above her the lone lighting strip that they kept on for eighteen hours a day, flickered and went dark in the middle of the duty shift.

“Great.” Morgan slammed herself back into her bunk annoyed. “Nap first until they feel like fixing that. And I'm still talking to myself.”

Something heavy banged against the sealed door to her holding cell. After a short pause it banged twice more. Confused, Morgan got up and slowly approached the door. “Hello?” she said cautiously before putting her ear to the door.

A metallic tapping resumed where the heavy banging had stopped. A sequence of taps and pauses played on the heavy metal door, some longer than others, and it seemed to be repeating.

Morgan frowned. It seemed familiar, like she should know it. Realization dawned and her eyes widened as she turned and dove for her bunk. Twisting she pulled the mattress over her.

Behind her the tapping stopped and for a long moment there was silence. Then the door blew in off its hinges, rebounding loudly off the opposite wall and slamming to the ground next to Morgan’s face.

“Morgan!” a familiar voice yelled. A figure ducked in past the still smoking edges of the door into the holding cell. “Morgan? Where are you?”

Morgan coughed and lifted the mattress up. “Um, here.” Her eyes started watering from the smoke.

Laura slid to her side, smiling brightly. “Hi. Are you hurt? Did the door hit you?” she asked, urgently, even as she was trying to urge Morgan to her feet.

“No, I'm fine. Missed me completely.” Morgan got up looking at Laura hard. “You're real, right? This isn't me losing it?”

“You’re losing something.” Laura hugged her hard. “God, I’m glad to see you. Listen.” She pulled away, her smile fading as she looked at Morgan seriously. “I’m getting you the fuck out of here. That means a real live jail-break. You okay with that?”

“Yes, Ma'am, I am. The way one of those investigators was talking I'm pretty certain I was going to take the fall for the whole thing. Don't get me wrong I believe in the law and right and wrong, I just won't survive prison for very long being a former guard,” Morgan replied, before leaning forward and kissing Laura. “I was really worried when I woke up and you were gone.”

It wasn’t the time or place for it, but Laura kissed Morgan back. “Sorry about pulling a gun on you. I woke up when the Marines were boarding the ship. The good doctor woke me up.” She licked her lips and took Morgan’s hand, tugging her for the open door. “Come on, the false alarm I triggered won’t keep them fooled for long.”

“It’s okay, you weren't in your right mind,” Morgan said, following her. “Wait, how are we getting off a Marine vessel?”

“Steal a shuttle,” was the immediate and bright reply as Laura checked both ways down the hallway to make sure the coast was clear.

“You are taking this villain thing seriously. And I find that incredibly hot,” Morgan said seriously. She pulled Laura back, quickly signaling her to stay before creeping forward. There was the sound of a scuffle and then Morgan returned with a small bleeding cut on her cheek. “It’s clear,” she announced.

“New rule, you get to do all the physical fighting stuff,” Laura said, taking her hand again as they started down the now empty hallway. Two decks to go and they’d be at the hanger bay and she could steal one of the larger shuttles. “We’ll have to get one of the big shuttles to have any hope of getting to an outpost or colony world.”

“Whatever you say.” It was space, and space flight was like speaking in a foreign language to Morgan. “I have your back, and I'll do my best to protect it.” 

“I hope so, we’re about to be real fugitives from the law.” Laura couldn’t quite keep the happy sound from her voice when she said it. She led them up two decks, crawling through the access ladders instead of using the lift.

Laura was smiling widely by the time they crawled out onto the hanger deck, already anticipating the feel of a shuttle under her control. “There aren’t that many to choose from that will have the fuel range to get us to somewhere habitable.” Laura chose the closest one. “Perfect,” she whispered to Morgan. “A class three shuttle. It’s worth a small fortune, but they use them for long range scouting.” She pulled Morgan toward the silent shuttle.

“Not to sound alarmist, but doesn't this seem too easy?” Morgan asked. Only two guards the whole way seemed a little weird for a marine ship.

“What? No, I’m just that good…” Laura’s voice trailed off as the back ramp of the shuttle lowered and the same marine officer who had woken Morgan up on the prison ship smiled at them from the pilot’s seat. “Fuck.”

“Come in ladies.” He waved them in. Next to him was the woman who had been silently observing Morgan’s interrogation.

“Uh.” Morgan looked at Laura waiting for her to decide what they would do.

Laura gave her a bleak look, shoulders sagging. “Fine.” She looked at Morgan one last time and then started up the ramp into the shuttle.

Morgan followed behind, one hand pressed to the small of Laura's back.

“Are we kind of under arrest?” Laura asked, wincing at the prospect.

“We were already under arrest.” Morgan pointed out.

“True, are we under worse arrest?” Laura asked, taking a seat without being asked to.

He snorted and leaned in. “Do either of you know who I am?”

“Not really, Sir. I think you called me a puke and slapped me when I woke up on the ship,” Morgan answered.

“Had to wake you up somehow.” The man fidgeted like he wanted to chomp down on a cigar. “My name is Commander Terrence Vance. I run specialized projects for the marines.”

“Uh huh?” Laura shrugged, looking over at Morgan to see if she had heard of him. “This some sort of Marine thing?”

“I don't know, wasn't in the Marines long enough to learn all the secret handshakes,” Morgan replied.

Vance gave a barking laugh. “At least you have a sense of humor; I'll give you that, Saunders. Do you know that the two of you are the only ones on that entire prison ship who either didn't go insane or hide in a broom closet? I'd like to offer you a job.”

“Does the job involve not going to jail?” Laura asked, hopefully.

“I was just doing my best to prevent the clean slate protocol, Sir.” Morgan shrugged.

“Which we were very close to,” Vance agreed, glancing at Laura. “If you take the positions, you won't be going to jail.”

“Seeing that I am currently unemployed and have no desire to go back home or to jail, I except.” Morgan replied.

“What? Wait, you just accepted without finding out what the job is?” Laura hissed.

Vance leaned back, smiling as he watched.

Morgan looked at Laura. “Sure I could take them and we could get the shuttle started but I bet he's got a sniper boat out there waiting for us on the off chance we do something like that. You have options, not me. I have a fourth grade education... well maybe fifth by now, I do study when I can, but my skills are not in high demand.”

“Stop saying that.” Laura grumbled and kicked Morgan’s foot. “You’re smarter than every dead person on that was on our ship.”

“You would be surprised how valuable your skills are suddenly,” Vance cut in. “It's suddenly become quite important that we have members of our special teams that don't have a jack.” He nodded at Laura. “The skills that got you into juvenile detention will be useful.”

“What? Wait, those records were sealed!” Laura glared at him but Vance smiled back, serenely.

“Sealed doesn't mean much to us,” He got up, nodding to Morgan.

Laura frowned. “What about that man, the one in the sick bay that helped Morgan?”

Vance paused, eyeing them both. “Dr. Ivan Tochinsky has made special arrangements with us, he’s going to be joining your team.”

“Uh…” Laura blinked. “He’s one of the ten most wanted criminals and he’s part of our team? That doesn’t sound like a good idea.”

“I think it’s obvious he has some knowledge that will be useful for your assignments. His sentence has been commuted as long as he aids us, there’s always Cryo prison waiting if he doesn’t.” Vance nodded to the woman who’d accompanied him and the two started for the door. “You’re friend Paul made a complete recovery by the way,” Vance called over his shoulder.

Laura relaxed a little, distracted from thoughts of dealing with Dr. Tochinsky by mention of Paul. “Good. I hoped, I mean, I was scared to ask, but I hoped he’d survived,” Laura called after him.

Vance nodded, stepping out of the shuttle. “Have a good vacation; we'll be in touch soon with your first assignment.” The woman followed after him, giving the two a short nod as she went.

“I think that woman would kick my ass.” Morgan said softly. “Wait. Vacation? How do we... it’s not like we have credits or anything?” She looked at Laura confused.

“And I didn't agree!” Laura yelled after him, getting a wave of his hand as he kept walking. “But... dammit…” she muttered, looking over at Morgan. “We could sell the shuttle?”

“We could,” Morgan agreed. “Um, he left some packets on the seat.”

“I didn't say yes,” Laura muttered again, reaching over and picking up the nearest packet. Her eyes widened as she flipped through the contents. “Wow. Okay, I say yes if we get paid this well every time we go on vacation.”

Morgan opened the other. “It’s some sort of comm and ID badges.” She hit the button to close the shuttle door and watched it close before asking, “Why did you save me? Out of everyone why me? Why not Andrea?”

“You mean here or on the ship? Because she doesn't need saving here, she's already asked for a transfer from the prison ship to be a pilot here. And I think she's already slept with two officers.” Laura watched Morgan with a small smile. “Or did you mean something else?”

“Well... Yeah, we were a good team trying to save the ship. But to risk everything to save me, that I don't get,” Morgan admitted.

“You’re serious.” Laura pushed up out of the seat, amazed. “I mean, I thought we had the potential to be a bit more than just a good team?”

“Well, yeah. You're smart, attractive, an amazing pilot and you took a huge risk to save me. Which I am grateful for.”

“Apparently not as huge a risk as I thought I was taking.” Laura moved closer, slowly. “We saved each other’s lives, right?”

“Yes, Ma'am we did. That explosion thing was insanity, but I had your back and I have it now.”

“And I've got yours.” Laura stopped, just a few inches short of touching Morgan. “That all we are?”

“I don't know. Seems like we're unfinished, like there should be more, but I wasn't sure how much of that was you and what was going on with that virus thing. Plus, neither you nor myself have a track record of monogamy,” Morgan said seriously looking down at Laura.

“True, monogamy is going to be a test. But...” Laura offered her hand, eyes bright as she looked up at Morgan. “We could test it out. It might be fun trying it out?”

Morgan took the offered hand. “It might be. I'm always willing to try new things.”

“We should make sure that we're compatible though.” Laura couldn't help but smile. “Just in case.” She licked her lips, wondering if they had to leave the ship before doing that.

“Now? Here?” Morgan asked and then shrugged. “Okay.” She hadn't had sex on a shuttle before and it wasn't like they'd be in flight, which would probably make her too scared to perform.

Reaching over Laura flipped a switch, locking down the shuttle access. “To be sure we'd be a good team. You know. For the sake of the team.” Laura tried not to laugh as she leaned up against Morgan, sighing in pleasure at the touch. “Those seats recline,” Laura said, reaching up, sliding her hands through reddish hair and pulling Morgan down.

“Good,” Morgan said before letting Laura devour her mouth. “Been thinking about that for a while?”

“Seems like forever.” Laura pulled Morgan toward the chairs. “And the floor, and the bulkheads and the sleeping bunks, and the head in the back. We better try them all out.” She tugged on the prisoner’s uniform they'd given Morgan to wear.

“Good thing you weren't put in cyro-sleep.” Morgan helped Laura pull off her shirt and then went to the ties of the thin pants.

“Which is strange, now that I think of it,” Laura said as she licked her lips. “They should have tossed me into a cryo-tube. Can we stop talking now? I have better uses for your tongue.” She smiled all teeth as she wondered how much fun she was going to have trying to figure out who was more dominant.

“Yes, Ma'am,” Morgan said picking Laura up and tossing her down in a seat. She bent over her, undoing Laura's pants. “You're a mystery to me. Most women they have tells, their body language tells me what they want and how they want it. I have a hard time reading you. I think most people get caught up in the easy connection. You just jack in and... I don't know. Project you're wants and desires. Which is great, no guessing. Me, I don't get that - no jack. But there's no surprise with a jack and surprises aren't all bad, they can be sexy.” She pulled Laura's shoes off and then in a sudden move took off her pants.

Morgan knelt down and inhaled. “Now that, you can't fake, no second guessing you want me. I'm going to put my mouth on you. I'm going to lick you and suck you until you come in my mouth. See that's me communicating with words. Problem is you don't know when I'm going to do what or how. Think you can handle that?” she asked with a grin as she leaned forward hovering over Laura's need. Just to tease her she blew out a breath.

Laura gasped, writhing a little in the chair even as she tried to maintain her composure. It was too early in the game to completely give up the initiative after all. “What if I want you to do something else? What if I want to fuck you?” she challenged, hands gripping Morgan’s shoulders, not pushing her away but resisting the urge to pull her in.

Morgan looked up at her, wondering if she was nuts, the woman wanted her to stop. She thought about it and pressed her body against Laura’s hands enjoying the tease of being denied. ”Well... Laura, we can do this however you want.” It might be freeing to let someone else take control. She sat back, looking up at Laura hungrily. “Tell me what you want.”

Laura laughed, slipping out of her shirt and tossing it aside so she was as naked as Morgan. “I want you to stop calling my bluffs. Come here.”

“Sorry. Didn't know that I was,” Morgan said sitting up on her knees and then scooting forward. She put her hands on Laura's thighs and rubbed them up and down. “I'm serious though, I can't read you. You have to be one of the only people I've met since getting off my home planet that I can’t read. I'm going to guess some sort of authority figure growing up was jackless.” Morgan prized Laura’s thighs open and moved her own body between them. Leaning forward she kissed Laura's belly right above her sex and then kissed her way up, angling towards the right breast.

“You’re very good at teasing,” Laura growled, her hands stroking through Morgan’s hair. She liked the feel of running her fingers through Morgan’s reddish strands. “I had an uncle who didn’t have a jack, a brain injury from when he was young.” Laura’s voice hitched as Morgan moved and she sighed in pleasure, trying to urge Morgan to where she wanted her talented lips. “I spent a lot of time living with him and my aunt.”

“You get better at hiding body language so you don't get into trouble. With jacks, I think people try to reign in their thoughts.” Morgan shrugged and slowly took the nipple into her mouth, teasing it with her teeth and tongue. She enjoyed the way Laura's muscles flexed and shuddered under the palms of her hands, it meant she liked it.

“I don’t mean to,” Laura said hoarsely, biting her lip as she struggled not to moan in pleasure. “Damn you’re good at that.” She growled as Morgan switched breasts. “Normally I’m the one doing the seducing.” But Laura didn’t make any move at all to get up or change positions.

“It’s different. I like it.” Morgan liked mysteries. “Is this okay? I don't have to take control, it’s just... well...” She flushed not sure how to phrase it, but that was how most of the other woman she had been with liked it. She let her hands slide off Laura's thighs and onto the seat, she pressed down and raised up so she could kiss Laura's mouth.

“Just what?” Laura asked, hungrily meeting her lips and deepening the kiss. Morgan might say she didn’t have to take control, but they both battled for dominance in that kiss. Teeth nipped and tongues dueled. Laura only lost because she gasped again as Morgan pressed closer, bare flesh touching. She rubbed herself against Morgan’s muscled form. “God you feel good.” She drew her short cut nails down Morgan’s back.

Morgan shivered. “I... uh… I forget,” she said completely losing her train of thought. “No, you feel good,” she said huskily, arching her back slightly into Laura’s nails. 

“You like that?” Laura twisted, taking the opportunity presented as she ran her hands lower, cupping Morgan’s ass and then drawing her nails from there up to Morgan’s shoulder blades. Morgan’s taller height worked to her advantage in this situation, putting Morgan’s breasts in easy range as Laura immediately latched onto one with her lips, nipping and sucking.

Morgan's arms and legs started to shake. “Yeah,” Morgan uttered. She liked that a lot. Her eyes closed and she let her head fall forward with a moan.

“What else do you like?” Laura glanced up with an evil grin, her hands moving down the outside of Morgan’s legs, feeling the heat of them and then running her nails up the front of her thighs teasingly.

“Lots of things. No one’s ever asked.” Morgan moaned and her hips bucked. “I'm... I can't... I'm going to lose my balance.”

“No one?” Laura blurted, surprised. “No one’s ever asked you what feels good?”

“I don't think so... Maybe...” Morgan shrugged. Laura twisted and pulled her the same time and with a surprised grunt Morgan found herself in the chair being straddled by Laura. “You're stronger than you look.”

Laura smiled, sweeping dark hair from her forehead and sliding her hands up along Morgan’s stomach to cup both her breasts. “You were off balance.” She brushed her palms across stiffened nipples and her smile turned hungry at the way Morgan responded. “I can’t believe no one’s ever asked you before.”

Morgan's eyes closed in pleasure and she let her head lean back, enjoying the touch. “Maybe there is something to this monogamy thing. More communication, a sexual encounter that's not a quickie, and someone actually interested in what I want.” Morgan’s babbling cut off with a moan.

“What we both want,” Laura pointed out, pushing open Morgan’s legs to settle between them. Since she’d liked it so much before, Laura tried running her nails up the inside of her thighs, a little gentler than she had on her back though.

Morgan shivered and became even wetter much to her surprise. “Careful, I might come just from you teasing me,” Morgan said, panting, her eyes opening slightly to watch Laura.

“That wouldn’t be a bad thing.” Smiling still, Laura switched to the other breast, her hands busy between Morgan’s legs, fondling and teasing along the insides of her thighs and just barely brushing against her. “Teasing’s a good thing,” she murmured, loving the heat she could feel and the scent of their mingled desires.

“I'm enjoying it.” Morgan arched slightly and moaned, just barely keeping herself from coming. “Not yet, though. I'm liking the sensations.” She licked her lips and her stomach muscles contracted. “Oh, I liked that,” she muttered having a hard time keeping her eyes open.

“Sensations are even better,” Laura agreed, brushing her own breasts across Morgan’s chest, shivering in pleasure as she did. God the woman felt good! It was taking a lot of self-control to just avoid going at her, but they’d have time for that later she hoped. And if they didn’t, she was determined to draw this out. “What else do you like?” Laura whispered, moving up to nibble on an ear, her lips wet and hot against Morgan. “Do you like fingers touching you or lips, or maybe both?” To demonstrate she drew her fingers upwards, sliding them across the wetness she found waiting for her.

Morgan’s hips bucked at the touch. “I like both,” she admitted quickly. “I like your teasing touches, I like how you rake your nails on my skin, I like the way you kiss, I like your bitchy attitude, I like your goofy moods, and I really like your take-charge approach,” Morgan babbled. “I like your ass. I know watching you wiggle under that cryo-table was inappropriate but it’s a nice ass.”

Laughing, Laura moved lower, sinking to her knees at the edge of the chair. “One of my better attributes.” She kissed an inviting thigh, moving higher. “My oral skills are good too though.” She grinned at Morgan impishly. “Can I show you?”

In response Morgan's legs spread open and her hands gripped the fabric of the seat. 

Humming in approval, Laura dipped her head lower, using her fingers to spread Morgan wider and delving in. Usually with new lovers there was a period of awkward adjustment as they got used to each other needs. Maybe it was the fact that they’d kept each other alive on the prison ship, but Laura didn’t feel much of that here.

It helped that Morgan was responsive to every touch and swipe of her tongue. She seemed to really like it when she circled her clit with her tongue while her fingers slid into her, so Laura did that again.

Morgan tried to hold on, stave off the pleasure that rose, threatening to overwhelm her. It took an embarrassingly short amount of time before Morgan came. She cried out, one hand gripping Laura's hair painfully. On top of that she was also embarrassing loud.

Gently, Laura withdrew her finger, licking it clean as she watched Morgan watch her. “Thank you for that,” she purred, aware that her lips and cheeks were wet with proof of Morgan’s excitement.

Morgan chuckled. Her muscles felt limp like her spine had liquefied. “The pleasure was all mine.” She fumbled but then reached down and pulled Laura up onto her lap. She felt sated and sleepy, not quiet ready to return the favor. She wanted to bask for a moment. She lazily kissed Laura's neck. “I knew you liked me,” she murmured.

“Not at all.” Laura snuggled in closer, happily. “Not even a little bit. That’s why I risked blowing myself up to get into your cell.”

“How did you do that? That was impressive. It’s also sexy how you broke into the containment level and snuck all the way down to my cell to free me. It goes a long way towards winning a girl's heart.”  Morgan fumbled with the seat and got it to lean almost flat. She then resumed nibbling on Laura's neck up to her earlobe.

Chuckling, Laura arched her neck to expose more skin for that pleasant sensation. “I hacked their security system, gave them a false alarm to go chase after and then got into the weapons locker that was down the corridor. They had a shaped charge that I thought would do the trick, I hoped, without blowing you up too. I didn’t have much time to play around with it.” Laura sighed as the kisses reached her ears. “And Jessie let me out of sick bay, where I’d been under observation.”

“You still unreasonably upset with her?” Morgan asked trying to keep the amusement out of her voice.

“I’m reasonably upset with the way she wanted to come with me and get in the way of my rescue, yes.” One eye cracked open to stare at Morgan. “She’s annoying.”

“I slept with her twice,” Morgan admitted wanting to get it over with right now before it festered and became a thing. “Both times were in a supply closet. A quickie between shifts. They meant very little other than immediate relief. I am not going to sneak behind your back and sleep with her or anyone else.”

“Good, because I just learned how to use explosives and, as you mentioned, I can be bitchy.” Both eyes closed and Laura almost purred in encouragement as strong hands moved along her back. “You didn’t sleep with Andrea, right?”

“Um, kind of, not really. We got to the fooling around stage and then we were interrupted with the first crazy guy bashing that girl into Andrea's door. Is that a problem? I'm young, fit, and was surrounded by women who had no problem having sex with another woman, so I was a bit of a... slut, I think the term is.”

“As long as you aren’t going to be sleeping around anymore. Remember, big boom if you do,” Laura said, only half-joking. “It’s fine, Morgan.” She smiled lifting her head as the hands paused. “I used to keep up with Andrea, my first two tours. We dated briefly, but pilots should never get involved with pilots, we’re waayyyy too competitive.”

“How come you're upset with the idea Andrea and I might have slept together, but it’s fine you two slept together in the past?”

“I’m just showing my possessive side.” Laura lifted her head, studying Morgan’s face. “That’s not freaking you out is it? I mean I know we haven’t really… been together for long.”

“It’s nice to be wanted. To have someone want to be possessive of me. Although the bomb thing was creepy, might want to tone that down a bit,” Morgan replied. She grinned at Laura. “I think I’m feeling my energy come back.” Her fingers moved to Laura's hips, grabbing them and pulling Laura more firmly into her. “So Ms. Hot Shot pilot. What do you want?”

“I keep hearing how good a lover you are.” Laura licked her lips before kissing Morgan, moaning as the kiss deepened and her toes curled in pleasure. “I think you should show me your talents,” she murmured against Laura’s lips.

“Who told you I was a good lover? Boy are you in for a surprise,” Morgan joked. She scooted down the seat until her legs were planted firmly on the floor and then pushed Laura up until her sex was within reach of her mouth. She raised her head up, lightly biting the inside of Laura's thigh before soothing it with her tongue. Then she reached up and spread Laura’s sex open, almost panting in anticipation.

Laura’s answering laugh was cut off in a moan. “You’re right, you’re a horrible lover. Oh god, more…” she begged, trying to push herself up against Morgan’s teasing touch.

Morgan would have uttered a snappy comeback but she was too busy tasting Laura to think of one. She used her hands to hold Laura steady and support her.

If there was one thing that Laura was sure of, it was that she was never going to be called timid sexually. She knew what she liked and she wasn’t above being demanding to get it, or in this case begging a little even as she threaded her fingers through Morgan’s hair and held on.

Morgan kept Laura on the precipice, never giving her a firm touch to send her over the edge, instead content to work her up and lead her to the brink. Finally she pulled away as Laura tugged sharply on her hair. She grinned up at the woman. “Too slow?”

 “You're killing me.” Laura gasped, wanting so badly to come.

The muscles in Morgan's thighs flexed and she pushed herself up the seat, leaving a trail of wet kisses until she reach Laura's mouth. She kissed her fiercely the same time she thrust two fingers into her.

Which was all it took to send Laura finally over the edge she had been teased along for what felt like ages. The kiss muffled some of Laura’s scream as she surged up against Morgan, arms and legs locking around her as she rode the waves of pleasure. Eventually she slumped backwards in the chair, gasping. “Yeah, you’re an awful lover.” She panted, feeling boneless.

“I warned you,” Morgan said wondering if she should cuddle or say something endearing. This was normally the point she got dressed and left.

“What are you doing? Come down here.” Laura reached for Morgan before the moment could become awkward. Laura wasn't sure what to do and before she said something idiotic she decided cuddling was in order.

“I.. I don't know.” Morgan slid, twisting and turning before shifting them both around so she didn't feel like her larger frame was going to squish Laura.

“You’re locked in the shuttle with me so unless this is where you tell me you'd like to run off, we're not going anywhere.”

Morgan kissed all the parts of Laura's body that she could reach with slow, lazy kisses. “I've never done much cuddling or after sex stuff other than getting gone. I'm trying.”

“Good trying.” Laura smiled, her entire body feeling pleasantly lethargic. She was silent for a while, stroking her fingers through Morgan's hair. “I've never seen this color before.” She kissed Morgan's cheek, trying to draw out the moment before reality kicked back in.

“Another gift from a dad I never knew but heard all sorts of horrible things about. Although he couldn't be any worse than my step-dad,” Morgan grumbled.

“It's not fake?” That caused Laura to look at it with a bit more interest.

“No Ma'am,” Morgan said, tucking her chin down so Laura could get a better look at her hair.

“It's pretty.” Laura laid her head back down on Morgan's chest and sighed. “I don't suppose we can just stay here like this?”

“Sure, well, I'd like someplace with more leg space,” Morgan replied. “So what was that about Juvi?”


Laura tensed and Morgan felt it; it was kind of hard not to with the skin-on-skin contact. She let her hands run over Laura's back soothingly. “Yeah, come on you know a lot about me. I know a lot less about you.”

“I did stupid things when I was younger.” Laura bit her lip, considering what to say as she traced patterns on Morgan's chest. “I got an illegal jack mod so I could hack things, completely, utterly illegal, and I of course got caught.” She snorted at the memory. “Hacking a bank kiosk.”

“What's a bank kiosk?” Morgan asked.

“A place you can jack in and get money transfers,” Laura answered, not sure if she was being joked with or not. “I tried to get money from an account I knew had a lot of money in it.”

“I'm glad you got that illegal mod, or you would have been dead or worse and I would have been alone on that ship.” Morgan couldn't help herself, adding, “Well, Jessie would have been there for me.” Laura punched her shoulder. Morgan snorted in laughter. “All joking aside, that mod saved us I think.”

“You saved us.” Laura yawned, wishing they were already somewhere they could sleep. And because she deserved it, she punched Morgan's shoulder again. “Jerk.” But she couldn't help but smile as she said it.

Morgan got up, taking Laura with her. “You want to nap? Or you want to get dressed and fly us out of here.”

“I want to get the hell out of here before they decide it was a bad idea to let us go.” Laura shook her head, leaning her head against Morgan's shoulder. “Are you going to be just randomly picking me up and carrying me around all the time?”

“Well, I was enjoying the feel of your breasts pressed up against mine, in a pervy way.”

“Well as long as we're being pervy I guess that's fine.”

Morgan grinned. “I can put you down if you want. I can also take you to the back with the sleeping room thing is and fuck you. Or I can pin you to this wall and fuck you again. Your choice.”

Laura hummed as she considered her options, hands wandering across Morgan's chest. “The wall's right here,” She pointed out, reasonably.

“True. It might be cold though,” Morgan said.

“We could heat it up. But yes, I guess you’re right. You should just put me down and we should leave. I suppose I wore you out.”

Morgan took a step forward and then another one, until she slammed Laura's back against the wall. She attacked Laura's lips and neck with her mouth.

“Round two, oh goodie.” Laura gasped, dragging her hands down Morgan's back as she twined a leg around Morgan's.


A nondescript marine came up to a woman sitting on some crates. “Ma'am? I'm sorry this is a restricted zone.” The marine was forgettable; brown eyes, light brown hair, average height and build. She fixed a friendly look on her face. “Are you lost?”

Jessie sighed. She had a duffel bag with her things in it propped up at her feet. She looked up at the marine. “No. I’m not lost. I’m waiting for them to get done fucking like bunnies so I can get on board and get on with my new assignment.”

“Of course. If you could just show me your ID so I can verify?” Lt Neumier knew better than anyone that things weren't always as they appeared.

“My ID?” Jessie blinked, looking up at the fairly non-descript looking marine. “Who are you?”

“The one asking for your ID. You're the one in a restricted area.” She gave an easy, charming smile. “Lieutenant Neumier, I know it’s an unfortunate last name.”

“Neumier? That’s a mouthful all right.” Jessie cast one more glance at the still closed shuttle. Was it her imagination or was it rocking ever so slightly? She pulled out her ID chip. “Here. Newly assigned and promoted Nurse Tech class two, Jessie Ayers.”

Neumier glanced at the ID. “Ms. Ayers welcome to Ghost Ops. If you want to come with me I can take you somewhere more comfortable. Ms. Saunders, and Ms. Vasquez have been given two weeks of leave to work through... things. I can introduce you to the rest of the team you'll be patching up.”

“Ghost ops?” Jessie scrambled to her feet, snatching up her bag. “I don’t understand. I was told to report to Morgan to help with some field training simulation or something like that.” It had been very vaguely worded but Jessie had just assumed that it was typical Navy BS. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy I’m not in the brig right now for letting Laura out of isolation.”

“Mmm. The old man likes to keep people on his toes. Ms. Ayers you do not have a working jack. That allowed you to survive what happened on your last ship. Because of that and the fact you were willing to do what was needed to help free the ship and free your friends, you have been chosen to serve with a special ops team. I'd like to say you can refuse but you can't,” Lt. Neumeier said, trying to sound sympathetic and official all at the same time.

“So you’re telling me that I’ve been, what, conscripted?” Jessie’s asked, a little angrily. “You can’t just draft people out of the blue like that. And I’ll have a working jack as soon as I get somewhere that they can fix the one I have.”

“No Mrs. Ayers, you won't. We need people who can't be hacked and turned into zombies. That's where you and Morgan come in, and why you’re very valuable. You also happen to be extremely good at what you do. You kept Ms Saunders and Ms Vasquez going, you provided support and medical expertise in an incredibly tense situation. Your talents are needed. If you refuse I suppose accommodations can be made.” A small injector fell out of Neumier’s sleeve into the palm of her hand ready to administer if needed.

“I can’t have a working jack?!” Jessie threw up her hands. “Fine. But I better be getting some sort of raise out of this because I have to tell you, Lieutenant, you aren’t really selling the position to me very well.” She glanced over her shoulder at the shuttle and sighed. “They better be out of the honeymoon phase in two weeks.”

Neumier pocketed the injector. “Excellent. Ms. Ayers welcome to Ghost Ops.” She reached down and picked up Jessie's duffel, and then offered her arm. “May I have the honor of treating you to an excellent cup of tea or coffee? Your choice.”

“Tea.” Jessie hesitated only a moment before taking the offered arm. “And what was in the injector you just put away?”

“Impressive, no one ever notices. It would have knocked you out, then we would have erased your memory of meeting me and the conversation we just had. That's all. My first name is Corky.”

“Corky Neumier.” It was a strange name, but the woman was strange so it kind of fit. She was very non-descript, as if you’d just glance past her in a crowd, which Jessie supposed would be a benefit to someone in her line of work. “Are you on the same team? What do you do? I mean, I can figure out what Laura is there for, and Morgan is really good at beating people up I think. I’ll be medical, although I think you guys should really have a doctor also, but what about you?”

“I'm an analyst. I sift through data and form reports. It’s a rather boring job, nothing exciting.” It was partially true. The other part of her job was deeply classified. “I think we have a doctor, he's rather a pain in the ass, pretty full of his own self-importance.”

“An analyst.” Jessie didn’t believe that at all. “Right. I can’t wait to work with the self-important doctor.”

Jessie waited for Corky to get a cup of tea before settling into the chair in the small lounge they’d gone to. It was quite a bit nicer than the lounge she was used to on the prison ship. “So are you going to tell me what my new job is now?”

“You're a nurse; you patch up the other people in your unit,” Corky replied. “We do dangerous missions, our people are frequently hurt. We're not asking you to go on these missions, although sometimes you might be asked to ride along on a hot pick-up if someone is injured.” 

Picking up the steaming hot tea Jessie blew on its surface to cool it. “Right. So no getting shot at?” she asked, just to be certain.

“Unless everything goes sideways. You should be safe. You will need to be trained in self-defense and firearms, just in case. Things can sometimes get dicey,” Corky said sipping her tea.

Light brown eyes studied Jessie over the rim of her tea cup. She noted that they appeared flecked with gold sometimes if the light was right or Neumier was smiling.  “And you? Do you get shot at?”

“Nope, as an analyst I have a rather boring job, but I am trained in self-defense and guns,” Corky said with a grin.

“I don’t think I believe you.” But Jessie was smiling as she said it. “So what do I do for two weeks? I don't want to go back to the prison ship.”

Corky pulled out a packet and slid across the table. “You're on vacation for a week then you need to comeback early for firearms training since you don't have any.”

Jessie nearly spit her tea across the table in surprise as she flipped open the packet and saw the contents. “Wow. You guys definitely have nicer benefits than my old job. Holy crap. Okay, vacation it is. Any suggestions about where to go? I don’t even know what’s in this system.”

“What we do is very dangerous; we get compensated well for that danger,” Corky replied finishing her tea. “Are there any other questions?” Neumier would have loved to spend more time with Jessie, she was easy on the eyes, but she had found the thing that made her good at her job made her overlooked in the romance department. She was forgettable.

“You didn’t answer my question.” Jessie pointed at her with her teacup, an eyebrow arched. “Or is it that you don’t take vacations?”

“I don't really take vacations. I have on occasion picked some planets with good hiking and camping. Unlike many people in the Alliance system I like to go away and get jacked-out, be away from people.” Neumier reached over and pressed a button and a small projector started to display the current system they were in.

“That planet is mostly water,” Neumier said, pointing out one. “Great beach resorts. That planet is full of sin, anything can be purchased. This one is overrun with great poisons lizards that projectile poop to keep people away. This one has a lot of meditation temples.” She looked at Jessie. “Want me to keep going?”

Raising her hand, Jessie set aside her empty teacup and rose. “You had me at beaches. No big poisonous lizards throwing poop at me. Any chance I can catch a lift with someone?” Jessie smiled at Neumier with her best, most hopeful smile.

“I think something can be arranged,” Neumier hit a button and the projection disappeared. “Glad to have you on the team.”

Jessie reached over, offering her hand as if she truly were jackless. “Glad to meet you.”


The End.

I hope you enjoyed our Halloween offering. Please email feedback to adarkbow@yahoo.com or zeeamy@gmail.com


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