Chapter 2 – The Giant Pizza

Rhett Crisko lent back in his swivel leather armchair, and fumbled distractedly with his prize possession, a leather flying cap with goggles personally autographed by his hero, Captain Ace P. Lott. So the leather had had to be replaced over the years, and the signature had faded to a few grubby marks, but still, it was the thought that counted! His office was neat and tidy, and decorated with a minimal touch, usually a location for peace and solitude. But today, something was in the air, and it polluted the serene ambiance of his chambers. Crisko was the commander of the station and a Captain in the Terran Galactic Starforce, sandy-haired with a firm jaw. He had been a member of the elite military force for a number of years now and was considered the Old Man of the fleet even if he was one of the younger ones.
He longed to be a freighter pilot: the military life was not his idea of fun. In fact it always annoyed him that he kept getting promoted when all he was trying to do was avoid being sacked.
And this gnawing feeling of imminent trouble didn’t help.

Rhett’s anxious reverie was broken by a ping from his comm. He glanced at the CL-ID and his melancholy deepened. It was his second-in-command, Kia-Ora Dorris, who he knew had the hots for him.
“Yes, what is it?”
“Incoming message, sir,” a dark-haired middle-aged lady with high cheekbones appeared on his monitor. She was of medium build, and had a perky personality that grew on you about the same way that mould grew on bread. Kia-ora loved all things technical and was enamoured with the whole idea that you could talk to someone in any location on the station. Even if they were adjacent to you.
“Okay, Dorris, patch it through, please, “ Rhett instructed.
“Sure, dear, will do ….” she purred.
Suddenly the screen changed and another face appeared on his monitor. The face was round, and lined with years of ozone abuse from various suns on a variety of worlds. This was a man who looked as if he had led a full and active life and his piping, which designated him Admiral, did nothing to dissuade anyone of that.
“Hello Rhett, how is life on the big space pizza?” the Admiral remarked jovially.
“Ah Admiral Jirk, what can I do for you?” Crisko replied, rolling his eyes at the pizza comment. He had heard that one a million times.
“It’s pronounced Yurk, it has a silent J,” instructed the Admiral irritably. “French ancestry, y’know. Anyway, as I am sure you are aware, since the last war with the Domino ended we have had overtures from them to sign some sort of trade pact, and we’ve decided we want your station to play host to this glorious event.”
Rhett smiled back, “Ah, so another holiday for various TGA Senators again, then…” he mused. “Should I prepare the knives to spread pâté or to be made ready to implant into a vulnerable back or two?”
Jirk ignored the jibe. “Well as always, the free food alone will bring them flocking. But this time there is a special incentive. The Server Farm Fleet is sending one of its number to the ceremony,” the Admiral shuffled some papers. “By the name of Slogs, I believe.” Noting the cringe on Rhett’s face Jirk smiled, “Ah you know him then!”
“Know him!” he retorted tartly, “I avoid him whenever I can!”
Jirk noted the lack of acceptance and stared at the Captain. “We are clear that this is not some personal vendetta between you and the Server Farm Fleet, are we not?!”
Rhett nodded as if to say he understood. The scientific and exploratory service did nothing for the TGA as far as Crisko was concerned.
The Admiral moved to a new topic. “Furthermore, you will be receiving a visit from the Ambassador of the RARS Empire, Javva the Hub, from Titfortat, so prepare well for this one, okay?”
“As always, I will have the red carpets beaten and give the Ambassador the true shag treatment,” Crisko slyly responded. “Just call me caterer to the stars”, he sighed.
The Terran Galactic Starforce, the military wing of the Terran Galactic Alliance of Peace (or TGA), now occupied the station. As the last outpost of law in the galaxy it was at the centre of many intriguing situations.

*****

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