tagSci-Fi & FantasyStarlight Gleaming Ch. 10

Starlight Gleaming Ch. 10

byTJSkywind©

Thanks to my reader, gyfurune, who helps catch the errors. I have been remiss in giving him credit for his help. I freely admit that any mistakes that slip through are my fault.

=========================

I flipped on the power switch and the ChoCac hummed to life. I left the Naval hospital where my new Aide kept watch over his wife, and passed through the gate that lead back to the Ground and Air Service part of High Guard War base.

I had been driving to the hangar, but found myself in the parking lot of the Commissary.

Janetta was likely still in one of the many jets that circled and roared in the evening skies above us. Her crew were at the hangar, prepping for her return. We'd had dinner, but Cholan and Ixma had lost theirs after witnessing the horror at the Dispensary. Something light to supplement the crackers, I thought.

Fruit smoothies sounded perfect. Cold, sweet, and light. It was summer. The smoothies wouldn't keep very long in this heat. On a hunch, I called Zinja.

"Lieutenant?"

"Zinja, do you have a fridge there, for storing food and cold drinks?"

"Are you kidding, sir? We have the cold storage chest we brought from home with our food in it. When we got our hangar, the only thing the previous crew left behind was some battered office furniture, a full allotment of cobwebs, a dead mouse, and droppings from the hundred cousins that moved out at the last minute. And it's a battle to keep them and the snakes from coming back."

I chuckled. "Thank you. I'll be there soon."

Going inside the Commissary, I bought a full-sized fridge, a new office chair for Janetta, a dozen cases of bottled water, a half-dozen cases of beer, as well as several cases of mixed fruit drinks fortified with vitamins and electrolytes. Dropping down the back seats, the fridge fit nicely in the back. The extra liquid supplies packed in neatly alongside the new appliance. The new chair came apart and fit in the front passenger seat. Fortunately, I remembered my original quest. Five large fruit smoothie drinks sat beside me as I drove to the hangar.

Once there, I consulted with Zinja on the best place for the fridge to reside. Against the back wall of the hangar were three smaller bays. Janetta's enclosed office occupied one bay, the lockers and open shower were in the middle, and the tool bay was the third. There was a power socket and space right next to the lockers, and it would be hidden by the lockers when the main bay doors were open, so it was less likely to attract poachers.

Zinja put together the chair with a grin and rolled it into the office. I backed the car into the bay. Between the four of us, the fridge and supplies were stacked next to it. Cholan and Ixma quickly loaded the fridge while I parked my vehicle behind Janetta's HueCac beside the hangar.

Ixma had been tasked with scrubbing the bay floor with cleaners, and she returned to it after the fridge was loaded. But she kept pausing to look at me. Zinja was in the tool bay, listening to chatter from the control tower while she cleaned her tools. Finally, Zinja told her to take a break.

Down went the broom and Ixma was in my arms, burying her face into my chest. For several minutes, I just held her.

"You're okay," I said at last. "Had I known what was going to happen, I wouldn't have let you come. Not you, not Cholan, not even Zinja. As awful as it was, you were not injured, and the men who tried to hurt you and Cholan are dead. Your mother is beautiful, brave, wise, and strong, and you are your mother's daughter, are you not?"

Ixma looked up, her blue eyes wet. Then she smiled. "Yes, sir."

"Are you going to be all right?"

"All of you take good care of me. Having you for my man means everything, sir. I feel grown up and real, like I mean something. Being in your arms, knowing you care for me is the best feeling in all the world. Kiss me, please."

So I did. Twice, which made her sigh. Then she patted my chest. "I'm better now."

Pushing away, she wiped her eyes, collected her smoothie from the fridge, and took a long drink before resuming her work.

I caught Zinja watching me. She gave me an approving nod.

Cholan, for her part, dug into her shopping bags. Zinja warned her to pay attention to the time, as Janetta's Combat Air Patrol would last another hour, tops. Cholan needed to be on the tarmac when she landed, ready to hook up Janetta's aircraft and bring her back to the hangar. She quickly dispensed with the wrappings and put together her laptop accessories. She even finished installing one of her new programs before she put it away, her face full of geek joy.

It was bright with electric lights and full of mechanical things inside the hangar. Outside, it was fully nighttime. As Cholan climbed onto the tractor, I said, "Let me ride along with you. I want to watch her come in. I promise I won't get in the way."

She glanced at Zinja who waved us off, then grinned in delight. "You'll have to stand behind me. There's no handholds, but you can put your hands on my shoulders. Climb aboard, Lieutenant."

We joined a small convoy of tractors, all heading out to the runway, headlights adding to the bright lights of the airfield. The last of the night patrol was finally airborne and streaking away, their afterburners kicking in as the Lightning interceptors zoomed away into the night. Then the overflight watch began to land. We passed the row of hangars in front of us and suddenly we were on the airfield, skirting the edge and making for the end of the runway.

As we reached the waiting area, Janetta's AT-7 touched down, braked, and rolled slowly over to us. Then the engines of the Lightning cut out.

Janetta rolled back the cockpit hatch, lifted her visor, and exclaimed, "What are you doing out here, Ranji?"

I hopped off the tractor, bowed, and said, "Cholan's Towing Service, Lieutenant! Check your tires? Clean your windshield?"

Janetta laughed, dropping her helmet onto the floor of her cockpit. "What a loon! All right, hook me up, Cholan. Try not to run over my boy toy, will you?" Then she turned on her dome light, propped her flight logbook onto her knees, and began to write.

Cholan saluted as she snickered. "Don't run over Boy Toy. Yes, sir."

The Tow Tractor isn't fast, but it is strong enough to haul thirty-five tons of aircraft. Around the tractor is a circular frame that serves as a track for the hook used to haul the aircraft. Using a control switch, Cholan rotated the hook around to the front of the tractor, then edged the tractor forward to the landing gear strut and cleanly locked it into place. Then she got off and secured the connection with an S-pin with a safety latch. Back in her seat, she locked the frame and clamps dropped into place. Then she rotated the tractor one-hundred-eighty degrees in position.

"Best get on, Lieutenant. See those three tanker trucks down the field? We're going to top off the fuel tanks and the water reservoir before we head back to the hangar. That way, we're prepped for the next flight in five hours."

I clambered back on, hands on her shoulders to steady myself while she drove. "Water reservoir?"

Cholan nodded. "When the Lieutenant hits the afterburner, water is injected into the air stream, faking the fuel sensor so it believes the air is denser than it is. More fuel is added to the mix to maintain airspeed. It also adds to the fuel mass, and both combine to give it more thrust for the amount of fuel expended. Zinja knows how it all works a lot better than me, though. If you want the details, she can give you good, solid instruction."

I patted her shoulders. "You did just fine."

When the refueling was done, a corporal pulled up some stairs, climbed up to the cockpit where Janetta signed off on the fuel record, and he signed on her logbook, noting the number of the fuel slip. Then we headed back to the hangar.

I got off while Cholan parked the jet. Zinja directed it from the back. Once the jet was inside the hangar, Ixma brought up the step ladder and secured it for Janetta to climb down. Since Janetta was going back out in four hours, they left the Lightning hooked up to the tractor.

Ixma placed the chocks around the tires. Janetta gave the logbook to Cholan, who scanned it for any notes on servicing needed. Removing the ladder, Zinja replaced it with the portable work platform, lining it up beside the front fuselage. Once it was in place, Cholan hauled the data cable from the diagnostic computer to the data port behind a panel. Zinja did a safety check of the landing gear, followed by a visual on the fuselage. Cholan opened the avionics and control panels, hooking up sensors to the large diagnostic computer on wheels. A well practiced team, they operated smoothly and efficiently, each moving to the next task in concert with the other two.

Janetta contented herself with giving me a long hug, smiling as she buried her face in my chest. After several minutes of indulging, she pushed away. "I've got work to do."

Ixma brought Janetta the smoothie from the fridge, then moved to help Cholan, giving a readout of the initial findings.

Surprised by the cold drink, Janetta asked how it was still cold. Zinja told her about the new fridge.

Pointing at me, Janetta said, "You, with me. Now." Turning around, she ducked under the wing and strode to her office.

I closed the door. She saw the new chair and stopped in her tracks. She sat down slowly. Sighed as her weight sank down.

"My ass thanks you, Ranji. I'm afraid you are stuck with that sorry excuse to sit on. The fridge is also quite welcome. I see how things are going to go. I'm the mean officer and you are the nice one. I can do Queen Bitch. At least between us, we'll get their minds off tonight."

"You don't fool them, you know. Even when you yell at them, they know you will do everything you can to protect them, and they love you for it."

"Maybe so, but it works for us. Now spill it, Kandikan. You fucked that cold bitch, didn't you. Tell me, and I want to hear it all." She didn't look angry, just focused.

She slowly drank while I told her about my meeting with the commander in the general's office. When I was done, she leaned back in her chair, her hands steepled in front.

"Ranji, I want to make sure I understand. Your contact, that you went to meet yesterday, is also the infamous Commander Orchid? And you had to fuck her because you messed up being a secret agent somehow, and then she spends hours helping you shop for naughty clothing for us? And today, she sends for you, and asks you to do her again? On the general's desk?"

Janetta rubbed her temple for several moments before speaking again. "I get that if she says fuck, you need ask what hole and how long. But I don't like it. Not one bit. I'm already crazy dealing with this love thing. I mean, you are sitting there, not doing anything, and the hint that you might just touch me is getting my pussy in a bind. On top of that, soon you're going to be away from me for several weeks. That's like a dull knife getting closer and closer to my heart, the notion hurts so much. Gods of North and South, Ranji, how am I supposed to deal with all this?"

"I love you, Janetta. You love me. We'll find a way."

She took a long breath. "I suppose we will. I like knowing that after we make love, my pussy juice is on your cock. And I don't care if you come to me after fucking one of my team. I know them, I like them, and I trust them. But Orchid is one sick monster. They filmed us. That captain told us they plan to put our faces in some drama vid -- for entertainment! I thought those stupid vids were made up! The whole concept is an obscenity, Ranji. The bastards got caught, and that's good, but we were used, and I feel dirty."

Janetta leaned back in her chair. "When people smell me on you, it's kind of cool, like when you fill my pussy with your seed. Your scent on me, my scent on you. Marking each other. Like it should be. And smelling Zinja, Ixma, or Cholan on you is okay because they belong to me."

"Face it, Janetta, you love them, too. They're your family."

She blinked, then nodded. "I do. And they are. Funny how easy it is to admit that now. But I wasn't finished with my point, Ranji. If you have to be with that cold, sick bitch -- and this is a big one -- I want you to do a full body wash before you touch any of us. I do not want any of her leavings to touch me or my crew. The thought of that bitch's dried pussy slime on you makes my skin crawl, and the notion of that slime getting inside me? No. Not happening. Lavender is now officially on my 'Hate That Stink' list. Do I make myself clear, Ranji?"

I took a breath. "You do. Janetta, I don't know all the particulars of her situation, and I think you are selling her short. It comes across to me as something she has to do, not something she herself enjoys. But I will do as you ask. That sergeant in Tikun values her, and he spared our lives. If it gets out that both identities are the same person, it could be fatal for her, and fatal for those who spilled that information."

"I'm not stupid," she replied. "I don't intend to talk any further about the matter, and certainly not to anyone else. Commander Orchid is a scorpion, and scorpions don't have friends, Ranji. They have prey. Smart people give scorpions a wide berth. She took care of the problem with the finesse of a fragmentation bomb. I admit, you getting an Aide surprised me. Is it on the up and up?"

"Sowitwee's wife was there in the hospital like we were told, and hurt bad. Nu-skin patches over half her body and plaster casts. He really loves her, that much is obvious. I believe both are real."

"Shit. Ranji, the more I learn about what you're getting into, the more scared I am. Spies lie for a living, and I'm afraid it will twist you. And it's dangerous, too. One mistake and it'll be over. I wouldn't have a clue about why or how, I'd just be there waiting, and waiting, and you never coming back to me."

She picked up her drink and downed the rest of it. "I want something with kick to it, but I don't dare until I'm off duty. Ranji, I want to talk more with you, but things have changed since you dropped me off this evening." Janetta gestured to a large pile of papers on her desk, about six inches high. "Captain Angawa, the Second in Command, dropped this bombshell on me just after you left. He'll pick the reports up in two days, so all my down time is pretty much gone. But if you can, I'd like you to come and spend some time here at the hangar. With our schedules right now, I'm not going to see you very much otherwise, and that just makes me want to .. I don't know. I'm torn between crying like a little girl, and wanting to get my gun and shoot someone."

I stood up and pulled her to me. Janetta readily buried her face into my chest. She seemed to have no problems holding me in her arms, and I certainly enjoyed holding her right back.

"I love you so much, Ranji. You make my pussy wet, and pretty much all the time, I'm ready for you to take me. But that's not all of it. I miss you when I don't see you. Dinner tonight was the best time ever. I want years of memories like that with you. Gods above, how do you do that?"

I kissed her long and slow. She sighed while our mouths hungrily explored each other. When we finally broke apart, I looked into her big, black eyes. "Do what, my love?"

"When I'm in your arms, nothing else matters, but the nearness of you. I feel loved and safe. How do you do that?"

Caressing her cheek, I grinned. "Must be love, beautiful woman. When I see you, my heart fills with joy. Rest assured, I love you, right back."

"I want you to take me right now, but I can't. I need to focus. Besides," she sniffed dramatically, "you need to go take a shower and wash off that stink. Use the one here."

I chuckled. "You know I am going to distract your crew."

"They will appreciate the show." Janetta opened the door. "Zinja! Close the hangar doors!"

"Lieutenant! It's still in the nineties! We will cook inside here!"

"Turn on the big fans then. Ranji's going to take a shower!"

A half-second pause, then, "Closing the doors, sir!"

Janetta laughed, turning back to me. "It's a good thing you are young, Ranji. Keeping four women properly stoked and poked is not for the weak."

I started laughing with her, and she swatted my butt. "Move your ass, Kandikan. Hit the rain locker!"

My hands on her waist, I walked her back until she was trapped against her desk. "After I get cleaned up, are you sure you don't have time for me to make love to you?"

Her big, black eyes looked at me wistfully. "As much as I'd love it, our gentler charges need attention, and you are really good about making a woman forget everything but what you are doing to her. I didn't see you do Cholan in Tikun, but I know the effect you had on her." She caressed my cheek. "You took away all her pain and doubt with your kindness and attention. I saw you do Zinja and Ixma, and there is no doubt they liked what you did to them. You seduce them with kindness and attention. I'll watch, but I want you to do Ixma. She needs to feel you thundering into her so she forgets today's obscenity. Then, I'm sending you home with Cholan. Love them, Ranji. Whenever I'm there, I want whatever happens to be in my bed.

"Tonight, though, we won't be home until after you have to leave for work, so go ahead and sleep with Cholan in her bed. Tomorrow night, I will be more than ready to make love with you."

Leaning in, I brushed my lips over her cheek and chin. "Most women would not be so willing to share."

"As you pointed out, I love them. A good officer takes care of her people. What you do for them makes them happy, and they are working harder, too. When we fought and I thought you were gone, I lost myself in misery and self-pity. When you are gone for your training, I will need their help to get me through it. They will miss you, too. Together, we will cope until you return."

I kissed her and she sighed as she responded. Then she pushed on my chest, wrinkling her nose. "Damn it, I've smelt that lavender stink long enough, Kandikan! Move your ass and get out of my office!"

At the shower, I began to undress. "Lieutenant, what am I supposed to wear when I'm done? I don't have any spare clothing here."

"We did laundry this afternoon. It's still in the back of my vehicle. Zinja? Get Lieutenant Boy Toy some fresh duds. Trousers, shirt. Underwear optional."

Zinja grinned and left by the rear hangar door.

My clothes in a heap, I turned on the shower and stepped into it. The water pressure was considerably stronger than the feeble dribble at home.

"Don't get attached to that nickname, Janetta," I warned her as I began to wash. "I'm not very fond of being called Boy Toy."

Ixma and Cholan parked themselves close by and watched me intently. Janetta, her arms folded, stood beside them and watched me, too.

I was pretty much done when Zinja returned. She set my clothes down on a bench and sat next to Cholan, eager to take in the view.

Janetta shook her head. "He's not doing it right. Corporal Ixma!"

The young woman jumped. "Sir?"

"Strip. Get in there and help him clean up right." All three woman looked at Janetta. "You heard me, Ixma. Get your clothes off and make sure he washes everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Understood?"

"Yes, sir." Puzzled, Ixma stood up and removed her work shoes, then her short sleeved shirt and trousers, setting them neatly on her chair. Underneath, she wore the green and gold trimmed bra and panties I'd given her. She removed those and set them down carefully, too. Lastly, she removed the neckerchief she wore as a bandana. She kept her hair braided with the ribbons.

As Zinja warned, the temperature inside the hangar grew warmer. It was probably edging over a hundred degrees. The big fans, almost as tall as a person, helped by moving air around. Still, the concrete floor was cool.

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