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Night On The Nautilus

"All right, c'mon guys, lets get the leftovers and such back aboard." Bez said.

They all gathered up the leftover food, put the games back into crates, and brought them into the cargo bay.

"Hey, anyone up for some movies?" Bez asked, once everything was back in order. "Then we can head to bed."

Various comments in the affirmative were made. The movies were selected from Matrix's database, and projected in beautiful detail in the cargo bay. Before they new it, it was well and truly night.

Bez stretched and turned to Gretel. "So, now, that leaves us the dilemma of finding out where you bunk tonight."

"Oh, I could always - " but then Gretel paused and shook her head. "Crap, that might not work either. I was going to say I could just ring back home and come back tomorrow, but with the time thing being different in different places, would I get back tomorrow your time, or a hundred years from now? heh," she laughed at herself, "Talk about not being prepared."

"I suppose you could share the Med Center with Sigma, or we could convert the port nacelle into a temporary guest room."

"Whichever's the least trouble," said Gretel."

"In the port nacelle, you'd have to share with an engine...but ask Criter, they're so quiet you wouldn't even notice."

Gretel nodded, and was about to go for that option.

Criter smiled. "Indeed. Unless we are attacked at night, in which case the engines put up a terrible fuss."

Bez frowned. "That happened once, and I fixed 'em up right and proper."

"True, if by 'right and proper' you mean beating them repeatedly with a wrench."

Gretel smirked. "Sounds like something I'd do."

Bez shrugged. "Hey, it worked. At any rate, it's up to you."

Gretel pondered this for a moment. "I think I'd rather not bunk in there," she replied. "just in case it scares me awake at 4 A.M. Wouldn't wanna panic in a half-awake state and disappear. Not with the space/time thing being different from place to place. I might not make it back here then."

Bez chuckled. "Eh, I thought as much, but you can't blame a captain for trying."

Gretel grinned.

"All right, Sigma can show you to your temporary room. Plenty of space, you can pick whatever open bed you please, and there's a bathroom so you can brush your teeth, change into pajamas-oh, wait now, you didn't bring any overnight stuff, did you?"

Gretel shook her head. "Like I said, totally unprepared. Next time I'll know better and pack a suitcase."

"No worries...think we have some extra stuff." Bez looked about the cargo bay, selected a crate, and rifled through its contents. "And Matrix, be a good bot and shut the on-ramp, will you?"

Matrix did so just as Bez triumphantly lifted a set of pajamas still in its packaging.

"Here we are! 100% Roxius Snaggleblossom. It's, ehm...like cotton, but about a million times softer. And, it has pockets, so you can stash your rings. Would hardly be nice of you to disapear on us."

"Cool!" Gretel smiled broadly, now realizing that maybe there was an upside to not having brought a suitcase after all.

Bez tossed the set of pajamas to her.

"And, let's see...toothbrush..." She removed a small rod with a strange looking tip.

Gretel looked quizzically at it.

"Here you go. I imagine you're used to the bristley kind of toothbrush, so a laser brush might seem wierd at first."

"Oh! That's why it looks so different!" Gretel smiled.

"Don't worry, it won't burn you. Just brush how you normally would."

"Sure thing, wow!"

Bez smiled. "And if you want that just-brushed taste, there's Targassian mouthwash by the sink. I warn you, though," She added with a mischevious glint in her eyes. "It has a kick."

Gretel chuckled. "Thanks for the warning. I might or might not try it out."

Bez tossed the toothbrush to Gretel. "Well, g'night!"

"G'night, and thanks." Gretel responded with a pleased grin.

Bez headed to the elevator panels, and out of sight.

Criter crossed the room and entered the starbord nacelle, but not before smiling and adding his own "Good night!"

"Good night!" Bez shouted from the hall.

"Night, Criter." Sigma said pleasantly.

"Don't let the engine bite." Matrix added playfully.

Thande nodded.

"G'night John Boy," Gretel murmured with a bemused grin. This was just too exciting, it was all really happening, it was just unbelievable!

"Come on." Sigma said. "The Med Center is quite comfortable." She, Matrix, and Gretel walked to the elevator panels and up to the hall.

"Is Thande crashing in the cargo bay, then?" Gretel asked, noting that he hadn't followed them.

Yes," said Sigma. But then she looked at Gretel, "How did you guess?"

"I remember reading something about that on the net when you guys took down that creepy Cherie."

"It's the biggest room we have," Matrix added. "And I think he likes having the space. Besides, we all know how protective he is...I doubt he gets much sleep. Probably only dozes, when he isn't on the alert for intruders." He chuckled. "I tell him I've got security covered, but he's always been a 'better safe than sorry' type."

Sigma opened the door to the Med Center.

Matrix continued into the Control Room. "Night, you two." He said, before sitting in his co-captain's chair and powering down for the night.

"Good night." Gretel replied.

"All right," Sigma said, as she and Gretel entered the Med Center. "The beds on this side of the room aren't currently programmed for medical use, but...well, don't be surprised if the computer gives you a nano-quick check-up scan when you settle down."

"Thanks for the warning," Gretel said.

"All right, lights out in ten minutes!" Bez shouted from her qaurter's across the hall. "Everyone get in your pajamas, brush your teeth, and read your bedtimes stories!"

Gretel could not get the grin off her face. She felt like her facial muscles had been put permanently into that position.

The pajamas were the softest, most comfortable things she had ever worn. Like nothing she had ever felt in her life. She wondered inwardly how she was going to make herself take them off again and get dressed the next morning.

She decided to leave her rings in the pockets of her regular clothes, there wasn't likely going to be any need of them during the night.

The tooth-brushing was also the most pleasant experience too, better than getting a tooth-polishing at the dentist. It somehow went much smoother and made her mouth feel fresher and cleaner than anything else ever had. And, while the pajamas could be washed and used for another guest or one of the crew in the future, Gretel speculated inwardly that she might even get to keep this toothbrush, it wasn't likely anyone would want to use it.

She lay awake for some time, just taking it all in with quiet disbelief and ecstacy. Here she was, in a space ship, with characters she had secretly longed to meet, and now she was even enjoying some of their basic amenities. Things that surely were mundane to them, but not to her.

Gretel eventually drifted off happily. She couldn't imagine life getting any better than this.


The Rings

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