Inner Wolf, Kaleidoscope 2, and 1st half of ‘Live and Direct from Spock.’

So I thought I’d become a Triple Threat today, by posting in all my disciplines.

So here’s the music:

And here’s the art:

(c) Copyright 2010 Karin A. Robinson

And here’s the first half of a short story of mine, called

“Live and Direct from Spock.”

(c) Copyright 2010 Karin A. Robinson

Captain Wing Parkhurst frowns as he surveys the crowd. “I don’t like it, Perce,” he mutters. “We’re too close to Halta City.”

“So?” Percival laughs easily, not taking his eyes from the performers. Lady Carmen isn’t singing tonight, of course, but he always likes to check out a new venue by watching the previous night’s show from backstage. “Those NewWay tweakers want to shout slogans at me, they can buy tickets like everyone else. And you’re always saying ‘glutes on seats’ and ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity.’”

“While I’m sure that while your untimely death would boost your recording sales, your live performances would definitely suffer,” Wing replies evenly. “Of course, I’m sure it would make life considerably easier for me.”

Percival ignores the jibe. “I’m sure you’d find a way to make a few Orchids off it. Any case, you’ve got young Lieutenant Sandersen on duty,” he finishes, winking at his daughter Katherine, who stands beside him in her new black uniform with the gloss still on the buttons. “The uniform suits you,” he smiles.

Katherine rolls her eyes in a show of disdain, but she can’t hide the blush that burns her ears. On stage, the dancers whirl to a finish. The crowd erupts into applause, and Percival claps heartily as the performers file off stage.

“And there’s another thing that worries me,” Wing grumbles. “I don’t like taking raw recruits to high-risk missions.”

“Security detail to a drag concert is a high-risk mission in the Smugglers’ Guild?” Percival chuckles. “Things have sure gone to ghenna since I left.”

“You’re no ordinary drag queen, Perce,” the captain replies, scowling slightly. “You’re Lady Carmen, the prince who would be queen. They blast you in effigy not a thousand kilometers away.”

“Good advertising. We don’t even have to pay them.”

“Your daughter is less than a month out of the Academy.”

Percival’s sapphire-blue eyes gleam with sudden anger. “You saying my daughter can’t handle a few rough arnolds?”

“Your daughter,” Wing answers hotly, “can handle any amount of violent extremists. But it only takes one lucky blaster shot, and that’s where you need the kind of instinct that takes years –”

Percival Sandersen cuts his cousin off with an impatient wave. “Ease it, Wing. Kat’s been crewing my gigs since she was walking. She knows the whole operation. Sergeant Xian himself said –”

“Her training is not the question, Perce,” Wing growls. “Nor is her ability as a soldier. This is a new venue. We’re all working with an unknown quantity. Now, I’d like at least four squads –”

“Not by a crashed file, Wing,” a voice behind them says.

Wing’s face breaks into a wide grin. “Ambassador Lloyd!”

Susan Lloyd makes her way through the push of performers and technicians buzzing around backstage. “Oh, don’t ‘Ambassador’ me, Wilmington Parkhurst,” she chuckles. “You can have your own squad with you, and that’s it. You know these Martians. Spock might be just a small water-mining town, but they take their sovereignty pretty seriously.” She turns to Kat. “And is the lieutenant allowed to hug her mother?” she smiles, pulling Kat into a warm embrace. She steps back, looking at her daughter up and down, her glass-green eyes shining with pride. “You look terrific in that uniform, pup. So how’s the mission going so far?”

“Fairly well,” Kat admits. “They’ve been arguing about whether or not I’m going to get killed.”

“Lieutenant!” Wing snaps.

“Oh, ease on the pup, will you?” Percival laughs, kissing Susan on the cheek. “Suze, I didn’t think we’d see you tonight.”

“I couldn’t resist coming to see my favorite ex-husband perform,” Susan laughs, returning the kiss. “And my favorite lover,” she murmurs, turning to Wing and wrapping her arms around him.

“Not when I’m on duty, Suze,” Wing mutters, blushing, but he doesn’t pull away from her kiss, either.

And you weren’t on duty when you met her at Salvador Station last week? Kat thinks, smirking to herself.

“Galadriel Susan Lloyd!” a deep voice behind them bellows. The flow of people has trickled down to a few techs shutting down the theater, and a burly giant of a man with wavy black hair and big brown eyes lumbers towards them, beaming widely. He reaches Susan and picks her up, whirling her round in his arms before putting her back down.

“Carlos Ramirez!” she laughs. “I thought you were back on Io for the next month.”

“Well, the other drummer left after some ‘creative differences,’ apparently,” Carlos smiles, “so Perce begged me to fill in. How could I refuse the man?”

“You never could say no to me,” Percival grins.

“The Iotians threw you off the planet again, didn’t they?” Wing asks mildly.

“Your mother pulled a classic fission when I showed up at her doorstep under police guard,” Carlos chuckles, clapping Wing on the shoulder.

“You survived the wrath of Aunt Narcissa?” Percival asks, kissing his husband on the cheek.

“Barely,” Carlos answers with a rueful smile. “Still, she posted my bail and sent the Iotians off looking worried.”

“My mother is very good at making the authorities worried,” Wing chuckles. “Ghenna, she worries me.”

“She worries all of us, Wing,” Susan smirks.

“So,” Carlos laughs, “I’ll be welcome back as soon as the Guild clears up the misunderstanding.” He turns to Katherine. “Kitkat, you look top-clip in that uniform,” he continues, hugging Kat tightly.

“That’s Lieutenant Sandersen to you, Ramirez,” Percival puts in jovially. “You finished unloading everything?”

“Not yet,” Carlos replies. “And whose idea was it we use analog instruments instead of the holo-midis, I’d like to know?”

“I thought playing actual musical instruments rather than their holographic counterparts would lend the show some historical ambiance,” Wing answers pedantically. “After all, we’re playing only twentieth-century music –”

Carlos cuts him off with a dismissive gesture. “Ambiance, yeah, check. But this dump doesn’t have any adjustable gravity control, that’s all I’m saying.”

“What, is an analog drumkit too heavy for you, sweet?” Susan chides him.

“Heavy I can handle,” Carlos says, pulling a face. “But they’re clonky as the limit. Nearly crashed my skull getting them into the liftshaft.”

“Could you use some help?” Percival asks.

“If you’re not too busy clicking with the ambassador here,” Carlos says with an impish grin.

The captain checks his handcomp. “The house manager said he wanted to shut down by twenty hundred, and it’s already nineteen thirty,” he tells them gruffly. “So be quick about it. That means no twizzing around.”

“Yes, Papa Wing,” Percival laughs, clapping his cousin on the back. “Don’t forget to introduce your lieutenant to the newest member of the tour crew. Come on, Ramirez, let’s go move some heavy equipment.”

Wing Parkhurst frowns as he watches Carlos and Percival walk away together arm in arm.

“So what are you cooking us for supper tonight?” Susan asks conversationally.

Wing does not answer, but keeps scowling into the distance.

Susan lays a hand on her lover’s shoulder. “Wilmington?”

Wing shakes himself out of it. “I’m sorry, Ambassador. You were saying?”

Susan raises an eyebrow. “All right, Wing. Now I’m worried. What’s running you?”

I’d love to know myself, Kat thinks. Something’s been tweaked with the captain all day. Usually the captain supervises any landing himself, but this morning he turned the bridge over to Kat and locked himself in his office, leaving her to the wonderful task of dealing with the Martian Customs Office.

Wing opens his mouth to answer Susan’s question, then stops and shakes his head. He turns to Kat, scowling severely. “Lieutenant, report to Doctor Patel and have him introduce you to the new medtech.”

“Captain,” Kat begins, “I thought I was supposed to –”

“That was an order, Lieutenant,” Wing snaps. “Do not make me repeat it.”

Kat rips off a sharp salute and, spinning on her heel, strides off, gritting her teeth.

Lady Carmen’s tour plane, a four-berth surface-hopper painted a garish pink with chrome detailing, sits in the hangar like a giant wad of bubble gum with teal green fins. The name on the side reads ‘Marilyn II, Freedom, Luna,’ but everyone calls it the Pumpkin, after the magical hopper in an old Earther folktale.

No pumpkin was ever this color, Kat thinks with a smirk, as the hatch slides open. The interior of the Pumpkin is everything the hull has promised, and more. Lady Carmen, Queen of the Moonborn Café, entertains all her close personal friends of the press corps here, and so the main cabin has been furnished in all of the Lady’s flamboyant, extravagant glory, with pink and purple leopard-print hempvelt covers on all the furniture, burgundy-violet Luna Orchids hanging in gold-plated hydropods (each blossom worth more than ten times its water-weight), undulating prismatic fiber-op tassels hanging from the scarlet curtains, and even a small crystal chandelier hanging in the center of the room (“to pull together all the bad taste into one focal point,” as Captain Parkhurst puts it). In a small alcove by the entryway, a ruby-encrusted statue of Cupid and Psyche Getting Naughty challenges all the boundaries of sheer kitsch.

Once one pushes through the beaded curtain into the private quarters of the Pumpkin, however, the Lady’s boudoir ends and the family ship begins. Here the plain, wall-mounted hydropods hold mint and fennel plants, and holos of family and friends hang interwoven among the twining green. The plush carpet is a warm brown and the furniture is more for comfort than show, the torches set to softly diffused, full-spectrum light. A tall redheaded woman lounging on one of the sofas smiles up at Kat as she enters.

“Hey, there, tweeg,” Rebecca Sandersen grins. “You don’t look so bad in a uniform. Do they have anything they can do for that face?”

“See me not laughing, pilk.” Kat grins at her sister, leaning over and kissing her cheek. “I thought you were back on Phobos for the next term already.”

“Not ‘til next week, little one,” Rebecca replies. “Anyway, Hiroshi’s directing Macbeth at the Tetrahedron, so Dad’s short a lighting tech. He asked me to track along until classes start. So you’re the new member of the security squad?”

“Yeah, old Wingo the Dingo doesn’t think I’m up to it, though,” Kat mutters. “I was supposed to guard Dad at Bodine’s tonight, and instead he sent me here.”

“Well, he probably wanted some time alone with Mom and Dad and Carlos,” Rebecca says matter-of-factly. “The four of them don’t get to click around together as much as they used to.”

“How did you know Mom was here?” Kat asks.

“She linked me, just after you left them,” Rebecca replies. “I’m supposed to meet them at Bodine’s myself,” she admits with a cough.

“Oh, brill,” Kat sighs, flopping herself down beside her sister. “You get to click with our folks, and I have to report to Doctor Patel and meet the new medtech. Probably some total fleb, too.”

“Oh, yeah,” Rebecca chuckles, “he’s a total domer. He can’t fly a hopper and doesn’t know a jaunt pole from a Kleng tube. His father’s some big thruster in the Assassins’ Guild. He’s an absolute pilk.”

“Terrific. Sounds like a charmer,” Kat mumbles. “Well, I’d better go meet him. Where’s the doctor?”

“Down in the cargo hold. He and Wing have been restoring some old engine they salvaged. The new medtech’s helping them.”

“Great,” Kat growls. “A new clicker for the Dingo.”

Rebecca raises an eyebrow. “You know, Kat, you really should give Wing a chance,” she says slowly.

Kat narrows her eyes. “You know that rumor about him being raised by droids? I’m beginning to believe it’s a gross insult to droids everywhere.”

“Such a python, Kat,” Rebecca smiles, rolling her eyes. “Go on, get down to the cargo hold. I’ve got to get to Bodine’s.”

“It’s been a pleasure chatting with you, too,” Kat smirks. “Give my love to the captain.”

Rebecca reaches over and tousles her sister’s hair. “Just get,” she laughs.

“Try it again,” Adar Patel’s voice comes from beneath a twisted pile of gears, camshafts and rust. The assemblage of parts whirrs for a moment, then coughs into silence once more. A set of wires snakes away to the internal combustion engine that they’d built from scraps last year, and the smell of ozone hangs heavily in the air.

A small brass-plated droid hovers over the antique wreck like a sparrow inspecting a pterodactyl, and Kat waves tentatively to him as his lights wink a lemon yellow in recognition.

“Doctor,” Rochester beeps, “Lieutenant Sandersen is here. Shall I alert the new medtech?”

“The who – oh, yes, Rochester. That’d be great, thanks.” Doctor Patel slides out from underneath the engine, standing up with some difficulty. He is half again as tall as his Lunar companions, his gangly form seeming to consist of only arms and legs; rumor has it he was born out-Belt, on one of the stations where gravity is considered a luxury, but he refuses to discuss his past before he came to live in the Lunar city-state of Freedom. “Kitkat! You look like a real soldier in that uniform,” he says, wiping his hands upon a greasy cloth.

“I am a real soldier,” Kat protests.

“I’m sorry, Kat, you’re right, of course,” Adar chuckles, hugging her. “But you could be Admiral of the whole spamming fleet and you’d still be the little pup with the blonde pigtails to me.”

Kat rolls her eyes, but otherwise chooses to ignore this. “So you’ve got a new medtech,” she says. “I hear he’s a real fleb.”

To Kat’s surprise, Adar throws his head back and laughs. “Let me guess,” he smiles, shaking his head. “Your sister told you that. She is a fission –”

Kat lifts an eyebrow. “All right, you’ve all had your fun. So who’s this new medtech?”

“You did know I was due to start my internship this term,” a familiar voice murmurs in her ear, “or were you too wrapped up in your brilliant military career to notice?”

“Chaz!” Kat grins, whirling around and kissing her fiancé. “But I thought you’d gotten assigned to Mom in Martiopolis.”

“Suze and Perce had a talk,” Charles Parkhurst answers. “She doesn’t really need a medtech, not when the Embassy is next door to the hospital. So she got another legal secretary, and Perce got me.”

“Lucky you,” Kat smiles, watching Charles’ ears turn a bright violet.

“So how’s Pop treating you?” Charles says quickly, looking down at his feet.

“Oh, he’s his usual charming self. He sent me here to introduce myself to you.”

“So I heard,” Charles smirks. “I’m supposed to escort you to Bodine’s, actually.”

“And your father was in on the joke? Since when does he have a sense of humor? So, Adar, are you and Rochester tracking along with us –” she stops, flushing with embarrassment. “I’m sorry,” she stammers.

Doctor Patel smiles kindly. “It’s not your fault that the Martians don’t think clones and droids are people.”

“The Martian concept of morality makes up for in severity what it lacks in compassion,” Rochester buzzes irritably, floating into the room. “Even here in Spock, the most liberal of the city-states of Mars, we’re not allowed to socialize with the ‘real’ people. Be that as it may, Lieutenant, the captain just linked. He says to stop twizzing around and report to duty at Bodine’s immediately.”

Kat turns to her fiancé. “You’re right, Charles. Your father does have a sense of humor,” she snips. “It’s just totally tweaked.”

“Of course it is; where do you think I got my sense of humor from?”

“Let’s just go, Parkhurst.”


That’s all for now; part 2 tomorrow.


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