tagSci-Fi & FantasyThree Square Meals Ch. 040

Three Square Meals Ch. 040


The atmosphere was oddly conflicted as they packed up their holiday clothes to get ready to go home. There was happiness, at having had such a great time on Oceanus, and sadness, at finally having to leave. As was always the case for a vacation, they had brought far more clothes than they had actually ended up wearing, but considering that the girls were either in bikinis or nude for most of the two weeks, John certainly wasn't complaining. They piled up their suitcases in the lounge, before walking out onto the sun-terrace to enjoy one last breakfast at the wonderful resort world.

As quickly as the tempestuous storm had arrived last night, it had blown itself out just as rapidly, and the skies were clear and blue this morning with not a cloud in sight. Rupert and his robotic cohorts had prepared a banquet of delicious food, and the departing guests sat around in the bright morning sunshine, sipping chilled drinks and enjoying the selections of fruit on offer. With wistful sighs, they finished their breakfast, and then meandered back to the lounge so that they could return their belongings to the Invictus.

While the girls took the cases back to the ship, Dana helped John pack up the simulation equipment. She eagerly volunteered to set it up again for him, and they planned on putting one of the currently vacant rooms in the Invictus to good use, as his new training room. She also promised to help him configure the pulse generator, so that he could still maintain an instantaneous interface with Yamamoto's equipment, while they were out roaming the galaxy.

When they were fully packed away, John bid Rupert farewell, and strolled back along the rocky path around the cove, to reach the docking bay. The roof of the huge room was yawning open and the golden glow from the sun was bathing the Invictus in bright sunshine. The assault cruiser was awaiting him with its ostentatious new look, and it looked radiant as it reflected the sun's rays. He stopped for a moment to drink in its appearance, and he had to concede that Alyssa was right; it did look quite magnificent.

*I knew you'd love it,* she told him smugly, enjoying hearing his appreciation of her handiwork.

*Well the Lions of the Federation need a ship that looks the part,* he replied, as he walked up to the airlock and placed his hand on the DNA reader.

"Welcome home, John," a throaty, seductive voice purred to him, sounding positive delighted that he was coming aboard.

*I think Dana had a little too much free time on her hands,* John observed wryly to Alyssa, and he could feel her amusement on the other end of the link.

He stepped inside the airlock and closed it behind him, then strolled down the corridor to the grav-tube. Walking into the soft blue light, he rose smoothly until he reached Deck Two, and stepped out into the corridor where the officers' quarters were located. He greeted each of the girls in turn as he walked past their rooms, and they stopped putting away their clothes to smile back at him, or blow him a kiss as he walked by.

He made a guess on where his telepathic XO might be, and she beamed at him happily as he strolled into the walk-in wardrobe. He found her modelling the red bikini for him once again, and he admired her openly as she posed for him. He could see her enjoying the attention; an excited look in her eyes as she pirouetted, letting him admire her from all angles.

"I'm going to miss the bikinis," John said ruefully, as he walked over to her. His fingers brushed over the acres of flesh exposed by the revealing material, her skin feeling enticingly smooth and soft under his fingertips.

"You could always enforce a strict new dress code aboard the Invictus," she suggested mischievously.

He pretended to ponder the thought for a moment, before he declined, shaking his head sadly. "Let's save them for the next vacation, it will give me something special to look forward to."

"You're the boss, boss!" she said flirtatiously, and stripped off, standing before him spectacularly nude.

"I think I like that outfit even more," he complimented her with a smile, as he admired her athletic figure. "How are the cheeks this morning?" he added playfully.

"I had a lovely red handprint on my right one last night after the storm," she told him, her blue eyes sparkling brightly. "Your cum did its work though, and I'm shiny and new once again," she pouted, turning to show him her unmarked cheeks.

"It did?" he asked her, momentarily puzzled.

Alyssa nodded, and smiled at him. "Our lovely new doctor gave me a tasty mouthful right at the end. You can brand me again if you'd like, though..." she suggested saucily, as she bent at the waist to make her rounded ass more pronounced, looking at him coyly over her shoulder.

"That's an extremely tempting offer, but once we start, we'll be in bed for the rest of the morning, and I'm eager to get going. I'd like to be on our way to the Maliri Regency as soon as possible," he said apologetically.

"Go on up to the bridge. I'll get dressed and join you in a moment," she said understandingly, and then wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him soundly.

When she finally broke away from the kiss, she gazed into his eyes. "Thanks for an amazing holiday. It was wonderful being able to relax with you and the girls, and they all loved it too," she told him gratefully.

He smiled at her, and then replied, "Good, I really wanted you all to relax and just enjoy yourselves for a while without any worries. I had a great time as well, so thanks for making it such a fun vacation for me too."

She grinned at him and then winked. "You're easy to please. Just bury you in nubile young flesh and you walk around afterwards with a spring in your step," she said teasingly with a giggle.

John laughed at her good-natured joke, hugged her tightly to him once again, and then released her from his arms so that she could get dressed. She waved him goodbye, and then he walked back through his quarters, before heading back down the corridor to the grav-tube. After travelling up to the Command Deck in the soothing blue glow of the anti-gravity field, he stepped out onto the bridge, and darted eagerly up the illuminated steps of the Command Podium, taking them two at a time.

As much as he'd had a great time on Oceanus, thoroughly enjoying the girls' company, as well as the intensive training he'd undergone, he was eager to get moving once again. As he sat down in the Commander's chair, he realised that their two week vacation here was the longest he'd stayed in one spot for over eleven years, and he felt that wanderlust tugging at him once again.

He leaned over to hit a button on his console, and the comm interface sprang up, the names floating before him in clear green text. He looked through the list of incoming calls, just to make sure he hadn't missed any from the people that were allowed through the communication blackout field that shrouded Oceanus. He had received one from Charles earlier that morning, so he clicked on the man's name on the interface, and then waited for the call to go through.

The older man's face eventually appeared on the viewscreen, and he nodded to John when he saw his friend.

"Hey, Charles," John greeted him with a friendly smile.

"Nice tan, John," Charles said with a dry chuckle.

John's smile turned into a broad grin. "Thanks! Oceanus was incredible, we had a great time. Sorry I missed your call earlier, everything alright?"

"It's nothing urgent, I just wanted to let you know that I've done some digging on Vice Admiral Von Brandt, and it appears he's currently in command of an R&D research facility in the Beta-Persei system. I tried to find out more, but all other information is beyond my clearance level," Charles replied, clenching his jaw with irritation.

"Alright, well let me know if you find out anything more," John said, looking concerned.

"Will do. Have fun with the Maliri, but I don't think you're going to have much luck..." Charles advised his old comrade, giving him a strained smile before ending the call.

The girls arrived up on the bridge with Alyssa leading the way, and she glided up the steps to join him on the Command Podium, then sat in her Executive Officer's chair to his right. Dana strolled down the ramp and across the bridge to the Engineering Station, positioned down and to his left, while Calara sat at her Tactical Station located down and to the right of the bridge.

Rachel and Jade hovered by the bottom of the steps to the Command Podium, and John spun his chair to face them, beckoning them up to join him. The girls smiled at him curiously, wondering what he was up to, as they walked gracefully up the steps to stand in front of him.

"I've been thinking about reorganising some of the roles and responsibilities for everyone up here on the bridge. Would you two girls like to be part of the bridge crew?" he asked them with an encouraging smile.

"That would be amazing!" Jade gasped, and she beamed a sparkling smile at him.

"I'd love to be able to help you out up here," Rachel said with a grin. "What have you got in mind for us?"

"I was thinking that Jade could act as our pilot, once Alyssa's trained her on the slight differences between flying a gunship and an assault cruiser," he replied, smiling indulgently at the Nymph.

"You'd trust me with piloting the Invictus?" Jade gasped, her eyes wide with wonder.

Alyssa grinned at the green-skinned girl, and nodded encouragingly. "You're a natural. You've already surpassed my ability to fly the Raptor, and I'm sure you'll be just as incredible with the Invictus."

Jade leaned over to give John a big kiss, before darting over to Alyssa to give her a hug. "I won't let you down!" she promised them fiercely.

"And as for you," John said, turning his attention back to the tawny haired girl who was waiting patiently before him. "I was thinking Comms Officer? If I put you in charge of all our communications, it will free up the other girls to concentrate on their main roles, especially in combat situations."

"I'd be delighted to!" Rachel nodded eagerly, happy to be able to help out.

"How about us?" Calara asked him curiously. "You said you wanted to change our roles too?"

"I want you focusing on tactical awareness, target prioritisation, and of course, gunnery. If we get in a fight, I'll need you to let me know of any big threats, and take them apart accordingly," he told her firmly.

"No problem at all, Commodore," she replied, and saluted him respectfully.

"I didn't think for one moment it would be, Lieutenant," he replied as he smiled at her fondly.

"What about me?" Dana asked him impatiently.

John turned to his left so that he was facing the energetic redhead. "I'll want you to basically keep doing what you've been doing so far. Your main responsibilities will be: Energy distribution, damage control, and maintaining our shields. Whenever we get in a fight, get in an active scan as soon as you're able to, and get that intel to Calara immediately so she can put her skills to lethal effect," he told her encouragingly.

"You got it!" the redhead said, grinning up at him eagerly, but then looked puzzled. "If Jade's going to be flying the ship in combat, what's Alyssa going to be doing?"

"I'll still be our Navigator, and plot our course as we explore the galaxy. If we get in trouble, I'll be helping John with relaying his commands to you telepathically. As communication via thought is almost instantaneous, we should be able to respond to threats and coordinate with each other much more efficiently," Alyssa explained, detailing the plan that she and John had been musing over for the last few days.

"Any questions?" John asked with a raised eyebrow, then smiled when the girls shook their heads and grinned at him excitedly.

Alyssa pressed a couple of buttons on her console, and directly in front of them, between Dana's and Calara's positions on the bridge, the consoles lit up at the Pilot's station. Jade bounded down the ramp and over to the ergonomically designed Pilot's chair, as Alyssa brought the station to life, with each panel on the console illuminating one after the other. The Nymph sat down tentatively, and then began to carefully study the panels in front of her, examining the flight controls of the Invictus for the first time.

To their left, the Communication Officer's station lit up as well, each panel surging with power and casting a warm glow over that corner of the bridge. Rachel nodded at John, before darting down the steps of the Command Podium, and hurrying over to take her seat.

"Comms Officer reporting for duty, Commodore!" she said to him sternly with a respectful salute, before breaking into a grin.

Jade spun her chair and grinned up at John too. "Sorry, I got a bit distracted, this is all so exciting! Ship's Pilot reporting for duty!" she told him exuberantly.

"Very good, ladies," John said playfully. "We'll get you trained up for your new bridge roles in no time," he added reassuringly, before turning to Alyssa.

The engines powered up with a throaty rumble, and the Invictus rose steadily off the ground with the aid of the retro-thrusters, as Alyssa read his thoughts before he had spoken them. She grinned at him impishly, and the assault cruiser cleared the entrance to the Docking Bay, before climbing steadily into orbit.

"Course plotted and laid in; destination, the Maliri Regency," she announced to everyone, and pressed a button that displayed the sector map for them.

The glowing map cast a blue haze over the bridge, and Alyssa's course suddenly appeared as a glowing green line, showing the route they would be taking through the Terran Federation to get there. Maliri space was directly above the hundreds of star systems that made up Terran space, and the information displayed next to their route indicated that it would take them two days to reach it. The trading station that was their final destination was located on the border between the two galactic empires, a short distance inside Maliri Space.

Once she had brought them away from Oceanus' gravity well, Alyssa powered up the Tachyon drive, and the Invictus leapt into hyper-warp. After the ship had been enveloped in the blue field of the Tachyon drive and surged away from the planet, the Comms interface lit up, and showed a dozen missed calls from a Peter Koeman.

"Oops," John winced. "I probably should have called him back before we went into comms blackout," he said, darting a guilty look at Alyssa.

She nodded and then shrugged. "He seemed like a nice guy, I'm sure he won't be offended."

"Want me to put you through, John?" Rachel asked him, with her finger hovering over the name on the comm interface, as she eagerly embraced her new role.

He smiled at her enthusiasm as he nodded, and she initiated the connection. They didn't have to wait long, and the image of the middle-aged man filled the view-screen. He didn't look very happy though, and instead looked rather worried, but his face lit up with relief when he saw John had returned his call.

"Mr Blake! Thank you so much for calling me back," Peter said with a happy grin.

"You're welcome, Mr Koeman. My apologies for not speaking to you sooner, we were... unreachable for a couple of weeks, and I only just saw your attempts to contact me," John replied apologetically.

"Oh, no need to apologise, it's not a problem!" Peter said affably. "It's an honour to speak to the man who saved my sister from such a horrible fate," he added with heartfelt gratitude.

"We're just glad we were in the right place at the right time, and able to mount a rescue," John said magnanimously.

Peter looked eager, as he then asked, "Did your lovely companion tell you that I want to give you a gift?"

"She did, and that's very generous of you," John replied, gratefully. "She mentioned that it was something valuable?"

"I'm a gem trader, Mr Blake, and fortune has smiled on me and my enterprise," Peter said proudly, before he turned to his side and produced a sturdy looking box which he brought it into view. He flipped open the lid, revealing the black velvet lined interior, and the valuable gems inside sparkled brightly, reflecting the light. "I'd like to share some of my good fortune with the man who saved my sister. If you would care to come and meet me at the trade hub in Theta-Serpentis, I'd be delighted to give you this small token of my gratitude, for the debt my family owes you," he added, his face showing his sincere appreciation for their efforts.

John smiled at him, acknowledging the man's kind gesture. "I really appreciate the thought, truly, and we're delighted that we were able to save your sister. I don't want to sound like I'm boasting, but fortune has smiled on me too, and it would mean a lot if you were to make a charitable donation instead. A couple of orphans have made a huge impact on my life, so if you could find a deserving organisation that runs orphanages and donate the gems to them, you can consider any debt you think you owe, paid in full."

Peter looked stunned, and struggled to speak. "But... but..." he stammered for a few seconds before managing to pull himself together. Oddly enough, for a moment he had almost looked worried and afraid, but his face soon lit up again with a jovial smile. "You really are quite unpredictable Mr Blake, but I'll do as you request. My thanks again," he said with a bow of his head.

"Best of luck to you and your family, Mr Koeman," John said graciously, and with a glance at Rachel, signalled her to close the comm channel.

Alyssa and Dana rushed over to him, and John stood so that he could hold them in his arms.

"That was such a wonderful thought, John! I love you," Alyssa said earnestly, her eyes welling up as she looked up at him proudly.

Dana squeezed him tightly from the other side, and he looked down at her, brushing an auburn lock away from her face as she gazed up at him. He could see the tears in her eyes as well, the girls quite moved by his gesture on their behalf.

"It's stuff like this that reminds me just how much I love you," she gulped, swallowing the lump in her throat.

"It'll be nice making a difference without having to kill a bunch of bad guys to do it," he said gently, looking down at them both affectionately.

"Strictly speaking, this came about as a consequence of us wiping out the Pirates and the Kirrix," Calara mused, thinking through the chain of events.

John looked over at her and laughed. "Well, we can chalk this up as another win for death and destruction then," he said, acknowledging her reasoning with a grin.

"I'm so sorry John! It was a really sweet gesture, I didn't intend to sound like I was demeaning it," Calara gasped, sounding mortified, as she flushed with embarrassment.

"Don't worry, gorgeous, I know how you meant it," he told her reassuringly, and she smiled back at him with relief.

"Let's go to bed," Alyssa told him in a throaty purr. "Dana and I want to reward you for your philanthropy."

Rachel coughed politely, and Alyssa immediately looked apologetic. "I'm so sorry! I got a bit caught up in the moment. I forgot you have plans for him," she said graciously.

The tawny haired brunette smiled back at the blonde warmly, and shook her head. "It's not that, honestly. I know you two won't be satisfied until he's worn out, which will take most of the rest of the morning," she giggled.

Alyssa and Dana glanced at each other, and smirked as they nodded.

"I was hoping we could go through my research findings first? Trust me, you'll want to know what I've discovered," she said emphatically.

Everyone on the bridge now stared at her, looking intrigued by her mysterious tone.

"You can show us your presentation in the briefing room, if that works for you?" John asked her considerately.

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