Rendezvous with Calisto - Part Four
Everyone gathered in the dining area for a meeting called by Sela. Low murmurs of conversation filled the room as people talked amongst themselves while waiting for Sela to begin the meeting. Alex found himself sitting next to Bethany at the long benched table. More appropriately, he sat down and she sat next to him. Next to her was the monstrosity known as Franky. Across from them sat Katlyn, deep in conversation with the pilot of this garbage heap. The thickly-muscled black man named Horus stood at one end of the table, while Yerik stood at the other, between them they shared a silent stare filled with a hatred Alex rather wished he could escape. His noisy neighbors were practically making out at the next table. If this were a cheesy porno, well, this meeting would turn into an orgy. Given the love between Horus and Yerik, Alex didn't see that happening any time soon. Sela and Mama were deep in conversation in the kitchen alcove. Whatever they were talking about seemed to be the only thing holding up this meeting.
"How's your head?" Bethany asked. "Franky didn't mean to hurt you, you know?"
Hate to see what would happen if he did mean to hurt me, Alex though. Aloud he said, "I'll survive."
Sela nodded to Mama and stepped over to the table. "Okay people, we're just outside Calisto, hiding on the dark side of one of the smaller moons. Tomorrow the mission is a go."
Yerik gave Sela a frown, his eyes shifting not so subtly toward Alex and then Katlyn. Sela waved it off. "Everyone on this ship is part of the crew as of right now and therefore entitled to be here. As you all know, we're going to take down a secret base operated by Interpol. We still haven't been able to figure out what is inside that base, but that doesn't matter. Of all of Interpol's hidden assets, this one has been the most difficult to find and any information on it has been impossible to locate."
Five hundred years of growth and the people are still at odds with their government. Alex found nothing shocking about that. This was still the same people and the same world, just set on a universal table instead of a planetary one.
"The Elders' pollution must end," Sela continued. "Once we remove this viable threat, we're moving out to stop the election. If we are successful there, then for the first time the Pure League will have an upper hand on the situation. We already have operatives in most of the sectors, working up through the political system. It'll take several more decades until we have a hold on the council like the Elders are attempting to get, but we'll manage. Hopefully, if all goes right, we'll be free of them before that happens."
In the kitchen alcove, Mama listened as she prepared a feast before the coming battle. She made little noise, Alex noted, while hustling to finish quickly.
Sela asked, "Any questions?"
Franky raised his oak-tree-sized arm. "Franky hungry. What for dinner?"
The meal turned out to be halfway decent--none of that stale bread and peanut butter that Alex had so thoroughly not been enjoying. It was all canned, fresh not in these people's vocabulary, but still good. Carrots, potatoes, green beans, corn, an actual turkey and a chicken, Alex couldn't believe his eyes.
At one point in the meal, Alex asked Bethany, "What's Franky's deal?"
Bethany leaned toward him, speaking softly. "He took a good chunk of shrapnel in the head, if that's what you mean. Was a General, considered the best by all. Loved and respected, not a single soldier had a bad thing to say about him. That's not to say he was the kind of person everyone could love. He held his men to a strict discipline and readily handed out punishment if needed. Still, he was like a father to them all. They didn't always like the discipline he laid out, but they understood it and respected it. He was never the same after the war. Mama says the wound didn't damage his brain, though, that's the weird part. Most people are under the impression the wound did alter him, but Mama says it was really the stress. The war. The failure. According to her, the wound was a catalyst. The one last thing that pushed him over the edge. Physically he's fine... mentally, though."
Alex finished his meal in silence. He had suspected this ship was filled with loonies and what do you know? He was right. Bethany flat out said Franky was a freaking mental case. Alex doubted Franky was the only one and the longer he spent on this vessel, the greater the chance he'd become one of them.
As he cleared his dishes from the table and deposited them in the sink, Alex glanced out at Franky and smirked. The fallen general had his eyes locked on the two lovebirds making out. Nothing more disgusting then that level of affection displayed in public. Alex could practically see the spit swapping between them. Moreover, Franky, it appeared, enjoyed the show; he kept shifting the crotch of his pants without any inhibitions.
Suddenly, the beast stood and speed-walked to the refrigerator. He popped it open, grabbed the tub of peanut butter and left so fast the refrigerator door hadn't finished closing before he disappeared down the hall.
Sela and Yerik were the first to depart, well second if you count Franky--soon after Horus followed, and then his neighbors, Heather and Nicolas.
"How's the flying lessons?" Alex asked Katlyn.
She sipped at her water and shrugged. "Halted now that we're hiding. I like to think I figured out the basics."
Jared snorted. "I wouldn't get on a ship you were flying."
"You wouldn't get a ship anyone but you were flying."
"If I was in a coma and someone was going to take me on a ship you were going to fly, I'd surrender my hold on life to the fates just to keep away from your piloting skills."
Rolling her eyes, Katlyn turned back to Alex and asked, "How's the... uh, project?"
"Alex is picking up the tech quick," Bethany said before Alex could open his mouth. "Already he has the basic framework done. I'm predicting he'll have a test run ready before we're halfway to Janiko."
"Take your time."
Alex stared at Katlyn. Take your time? No chance in hell Alex was going to take his time. She may like it here, but he didn't and he held all the strings as far as going back.
As if she could read his mind, Katlyn added, "I don't want to end up even more off course, is all."
Right. Alex believed that about as far as he could throw Franky.
Excusing himself, Alex headed for the lab. The break was nice, the food was nicer, but he had a mission and nothing was going to slow him down.
Before he took two steps down the hall, Bethany popped up next to him and flashed a smile. "Good meal. Feeling all right?"
"Just peachy, thanks." His head throbbed whenever he was around any of the psycho ward inmates running this ship. Bethany was an all right girl, but lately she seemed a little... he didn't know, just different. Every time he turned around, there she was talking to him or staring at him. The staring he could handle; the talking, it got aggravating after a while.
"What is that noise?" Alex asked. As they approached the door to the lab, a distant rumbling grew in strength.
"Just Franky. Ignore it. He's in the quarters two doors down from the lab." Soon they were at the door and Bethany pointed toward it. "Here. He lives in there."
Alex stopped. Through the door, the most disturbing sounds Alex had ever heard echoed. It sounded like a bear humping a porcupine. Loud moans and groans sprinkled in between an array of phrases Alex tried to push out of his mind. The damage had already been done.
"Franky like peanut butter. Oh, yes, peanut butter likes Franky too."
Alex feared asking the question buried in his throat, more so for his own mental health issues than anything else.
"Ooh, ooh. Franky thinks peanut butter is so smooth. So gooey."
Alex's eyes widened in horror. "Please don't tell me he's... he's..."
"Hm? Oh, that? Yeah, you don't want to eat the peanut butter. That's Franky's personal tub that we keep in the refrigerator. He likes it cold and hard."
Alex was going to be sick. Dinner bubbled in his stomach, beginning a slow and agonizing journey in the wrong direction as it attempted to retreat the same way it came in.
"Alex?" Bethany said. "You don't look too well. Were the carrots bad? I didn't eat any, cause, well, I don't like carrots. You sure swallowed them, though."
"That's it! Franky likes it just like that!"
"Excuse me," Alex murmured. He bolted for lab and its bathroom.
"Aah, yes! Franky is satisfactionized once more. Mmm. Now Franky sleep."To be continued...
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