“So,” Steph began, “the way I heard it is our illustrious captain was billeted at Manticore Station and had just been promoted to first lieutenant—”
“I’ll tell it,” Flynn said, sitting down with his coffee. “I had just made first lieutenant, and we went out celebrating. . . .”
Lt. Flynn couldn’t help rubbing the planet and two moons on his collar surreptitiously every chance he got. His fellow junior officers pretended not to notice as they went into the Bottomless Nebula, their local hangout after liberty was called. They hadn’t been there more than an hour when Thana Bakshi clapped him on the shoulder. Unlike most other marines, Thana and her squad didn’t mind hanging out with sailors.
“Peter-flaring-Flynn, growing up so fast making full lieutenant.”
“Hey, Thana. Don’t even try and get me drunk, I’ve got duty, tomorrow.”
“Course you do, which is why you need a marine watching your back. See, there’s a special punch just for occasions like this. You need to celebrate but you’ve got duty. Try this.” She pushed a tall glass in front of him.
Flynn took a smell, he caught citrus and peaches. “This is a marine drink? Smells like something aerospace forces would drink. Surprised there isn’t an umbrella in it.”
A few of the other marines heard and glared at him, but Bakshi just smiled. “I’ll admit, it’s mild, but it’ll knock any flyboys on their asses in a hurry.”
Flynn took a swig, and was pleasantly surprised by the taste. It did have a very fruity, though rich, flavor, and warmed him quickly.
Flynn nodded a few times, smiling.
Some time later, Flynn was aware that his buddies had disappeared, and he was in a line of marines playing a drinking game.
“Drink!” someone said, so Flynn grabbed his punch and slugged it back.
The marines started singing the Marine Hymn, but a number of people were off-key. Flynn thought that was highly unprofessional, and was going to say something when he realized he was singing.
But I’m on-key. Someone else is off-key. Good thing the others left, already, they would hate me singing the Marine Hymn.
Sometime later, Thana was holding him by the shoulder, giving him a shake. Flynn’s vision wobbled, but the years of zero-gravity training kept any sense of vertigo away.
“Y’know, Pete, that’s damn good thinking, there. This should be an official battle stretcher. I’m serious. Survival cord, duct tape, and uniform blouses. So much easier to drag Yusef back to his bunk than carry him.”
“And that was it. I went to my room on the station and they went back to their bunks.”
“That was a boring-ass drinking story,” Ann said. “I hated it.”
“He left out the part about the strip club,” Steph said.
Oh. Yeah, the Bottomless Nebula had a firm no singing rule.
“Now we’re getting somewhere,” Ann rubbed her hands together.
“I don’t remember any of that,” Flynn lied. “I will just assume that you or Bakshi made it up. I’m going to go fly the ship, now.”
“Coward!” Ann accused as he left.