"Good stuff," Mack MacKenzie praised her Bridge crew. "We did well on Tellar – I've got the bucks to get ahead a bit."
"Can I ask you something?" asked Daniya as she piloted.
"Don't stand on ceremony."
"Could it be in private?" the green-skinned woman asked. "Uh, no offense, Crita." It was only the three of them on the Bridge.
"It's all right," the Daranaean replied. "I don't believe we will receive any communications for a while."
"Could you work on the project with Wes?" Mack asked, referring to the need to install surveillance cameras.
"Certainly," Crita replied. She flipped a few switches on her console and took a small earpiece out of a large, triangularly-shaped, fluffy white ear. "If we finish early, is it all right if I paint? I'd like to work on the running track mural a bit."
"Sure; take your time. I'll get someone in here, or call you back in if we have a problem," Mack stated. Crita left. Mack turned to Daniya. "Well?"
"I, well, this is a little embarrassing."
"Oh?" Mack, at age fifty, was a good two decades or so older than Daniya, maybe even more. "Tell me your troubles."
"The Orion Syndicate says I owe more money than I thought I did."
"A lot. They must have figured out that we're starting to make some serious coin now. They want their cut."
"From who?" asked Mack. "I'm not an Orion, and you're only half, and you don't work for them anymore, anyway."
"Well, you see, Dana, the problem is that an Orion woman can never truly leave the – alleged – service of the Syndicate."
"Surely, they would allow you a stipend to live on, right?"
Daniya shook her head. "They don't care."
Mack sighed. "Just how much are we talking about? Maybe I could loan you the money."
"It's almost a year's worth of my pay, Dana."
"Okay, that's bad. What'll happen if you don't pay? You just up and refuse?"
"They'll take shots at us whenever we're in their space. And they will have no qualms about grabbing anyone on the team, from anywhere, to hold as a hostage until I either give up, or I pay them, preferably both, so far as they're concerned."
"So, they could conceivably kidnap the Puppy Girl on her wedding day?"
"Yes, Dana they could potentially try to kidnap Crita, even on Daranaea."
"What about the Federation authorities?"
"They seem to look the other way. I don't know," Daniya shrugged, "but I would not be shocked if there was corruption."
"I can call my cousin Marty. Something's gotta be possible."
"It won't be. I'll have to resign. I'm sorry."
"No, no! C'mon, Daniya! We can fix this. Just, just give me a chance. Please?"
"They are ruthless. This is dangerous."
"I was in stir for nearly two decades. They can't do to me anything that I haven't had happen to me already."
"But Crita hasn't, and Wes hasn't, and I bet that all of the others haven't. Dana, I can't let anything happen to any of you. I would never be able to live with myself."
YOU ARE READING
A temporal fix, and Dana 'Mack' MacKenzie and her barnstorming sports team were restored to the original timeline by the employees of the Temporal Integrity Commission, in the 32nd century. But there was a Temporal Cold War raging, and the faction...