Okay, here we go. I'll just be posting little short stories and serials here as inspiration strikes, so I have something to do. Feel free to comment. Or heck, write something yourself. Ladies' Night "How do the yellow ones move again?" "The yellow ones are Bantas Roses. They can move two spaces in any direction, but they can only move diagonally if there's another piece in the way." "And the pink ones can jump over other pieces?" "Which pink ones?" "Those." "No, those are Phantom Lilies. They can move any number of spaces side to side, or one space up or down, but you can't move one if your opponent just moved one. The bright pink ones with lots of petals are the Silver Vex, they're the ones that can move any number of spaces horizontally or vertically and can jump over other pieces but can't move to the outermost spaces on the board." "Why are they called 'Silver Vex' if they're pink?" Tirra flounced back in her chair in irritation, long red ears quivering. "Ooh, it's like you don't even want to learn to play!" Before Lacey could assure her room/squad mate that she did indeed want to learn (and would the Aurin just be kind enough to repeat the last fifteen rules she'd blown through) the hatch creaked open, followed by the familiar sound of a Granok slamming her forehead against the frame and then cursing about it like it didn't happen every single time she came through the door. Lacey straightened in her seat, but knew better than to salute. Tirra stayed in her casual position and waved daintily. "Evening, Spur. I was just teaching our baby psychic to play Transcenda." The broad-shouldered Granok frowned, because that was the only facial expression she knew how to make. "What's Transcenda?" Lacey groaned, scrubbing her tattooed palms across her eyes. "It's like chess, only you have to share your pieces with your opponent and she gets to make up rules as she goes along." Tirra stuck out her tongue, and the slabs of rock Spur had where lesser species made do with eyebrows descended in confusion. "What's chess?" "It's like gamok, only you take turns and you use little pieces on a board instead of people." The looming Granok sniffed skeptically. "Then it's not like gamok." Lacey leaned back with a groan. "It's not like chess either." Tirra let out a wounded huff. "Here I am, trying to share my culture in the spirit of mutual cooperation, and what do I get? Abuse and unappreciation. How typical." "That's not a word." "Anyway," Spur ground out before Tirra could snap back, "I came to tell you to get some rest. We got an assignment tomorrow morning." That made both women lean forward. "What kind?" "Grocery shopping. Scanners picked up some little planet supposed to be covered in edible algae." Tirra's nose wrinkled. "When you say 'edible,' you mean..." "I mean if you can keep it down, it probably won't kill you." Lacey licked her lips. "And when you say 'covered'..." "I mean wear your thick boots." Tirra leaned back and shook her head, in the process sending waves of red hair whipping around her face. "Golly, Corporal, how do you always get us the best jobs?" "You'd rather everyone on the Fleet starve to death?" Spur snapped. Tirra immediately averted her eyes, tail curling around her knees dejectedly. Lacey sighed. "C'mon, Spur. You know she didn't..." "Yeah. Sorry kid. We just...we all need some sleep." Lacey just nodded wordlessly as Spur closed the hatch behind her. When it was closed, Tirra crossed her arms. "Must've had another fight with Daddy." "Hey. She's got a lot to worry about. C'mon, let's get some sleep. You can try to teach me again after we get back and my brain's had time to recover." The pale, dark-haired human gave Tirra's hand a reassuring pat before sliding into the narrow bunk hanging from one wall of the tiny compartment. She'd just closed her eyes when the bunk got a whole lot narrower. Lacey's eyes shot open to find Tirra lying next to her. She cleared her throat. "Is there, um...something wrong with your bunk?" Tirra shook her head even as she buried it in Lacey's shoulder. "No, why? Would you rather we sleep there?" "Is there a...particular reason you're not over there?" "It's too cold. You're warm," the Aurin muttered. Lacey blushed as Tirra's tail curled its way around her knees. Before she could say anything, the Aurin was asleep. The young Esper just leaned her head back against the threadbare pillow and sighed. Just another night on the Fleet.