The Luna

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It was a crowded hallway, filled with Calafans of both types. Coppery and silvery, they walked, or stood, sometimes alone and sometimes in groups.

Sometimes one would find another, and there would be a reunion of sorts and they would disappear through a suddenly-appearing door off to some unknown room with, perhaps, an unknown bed.

Others searched and did not find their desires, and stood disappointed, rejected, jilted.

Still others flicked fingers at one another or ogled or looked on with unrequited desire or shyness.

It was a huge singles bar, a pickup joint in a shared subconscious.

The hall seemed to stretch on forever. Arm in arm, Norri, Neil and Malcolm walked.

A large Calafan man came over to Norri and flicked his finger twice at her. She had no idea what that meant, "Are you searching?" he asked, a tall, bald, coppery fellow with piercing hazel eyes.

"Yes," she said, not understanding the implication.

"You are human," he said, looking her up and down.

"Yes."

He blocked their passage.

"Excuse me," Malcolm said, his mouth tight.

The Calafan man towered over him, "Is this your man and your son?" he asked Norri, "You are inexperienced with this. You are not supposed to bring them along."

The light finally dawned. Norri said, "Sorry, we aren't looking for you."

A coppery Calafan woman came over, "Leave them alone," she said to the man, who blended back in the crowd, just another coppery bit in an endless stream of metallic tones.

"We are looking for two humans," Malcolm said.

"Ah," The woman said. A door appeared and she touched it.

A dream, it's just a dream, Norri said to herself.

The door, and the woman, disappeared, and they were left in a bare room with Lili and Doug.

Doug and Lili rushed over.

"Don't," Malcolm cried out, a little louder than he'd intended. He put his hand up reflexively.

"What? What's the matter?" asked Lili.

"He's in a lot of pain all the time," Norri explained, "So tread lightly."

"I see," Lili said, "It's still good to see you," she smiled tentatively. He looked so much older.

"Where's Melissa?" Doug asked.

=/\=

José Torres sat in the command chair on theISS Luna and smiled a little to himself.

The Luna was a small vessel and he was not happy that it had no real weapons to speak of. It was good for little more than scouting, which had been its original purpose. But at least it was his. It would be able to ram through a far smaller gap between the universes than the Defiant would require and, perhaps, would be able to make the passageway larger, so that the Defiant herself could finally come through. It lazily orbited the rock below – what was its name again? – Lafa II.

He surveyed his crew, such as they were. Hodgkins was piloting. Someone else – Curtis? – was manning the meager communications station. It was a total of eighteen men, mostly from Security. Miller and Rosen had reported but he hadn't needed them. No sense in sharing the glory with more people than necessary. And he was particularly glad to be rid of Thomas Sato.

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