guys," said John. "All ready?" There were murmurs
and nods from the collected crewmembers, with the exception of
Stark, still mumbling. John tried to get his attention. "Stark?"
No answer. "Yo, Stark?" Still no answer. "Hey,
Zhaan, little help?"
and gently placed a hand on the Bannick's shoulder, as if to
drag him into the land of the living. It seemed to work. He opened
his eyes, stopped muttering, and smiled.
now?" Stark nodded. "Good. Now, I know you hate it
when I do this, so I'll try and make it brief, but just so you
know, this one isn't dangerous or life-threatening. However,"
he added, quickly. "That does not mean you can leave. Sit,
sighed heavily and sat down between Jool, who was still leaning
on the console, and Aeryn, also sitting on the floor. John eyed
him warily, judged the difference between them, and continued.
all remember about two monens ago when I told you about that
Earth ceremony. First person to name it gets a prize!"
Aeryn was the
only one who put her hand up; after looking around her, she self-consciously
put it down again. John pointed to her and spoke in a cheesy
with the pulse pistol, what's the answer?"
enough. Glad to see at least one of you remembered." The
others were unfazed by the comment, so he continued. "Anyway,
this monen, on Earth, is called 'February', and today it's around
about the sixth day of that monen. In February, we have a traditional
day on the 14th called 'St. Valentine's Day.' I never much went
in for it myself, but I figure it could be fun, and God knows,
we need something to do!"
the phrase in his mouth. "Sunt Fahllentyn's Day?"
close enough. And yes."
gonna have to decorate again?" asked Chiana. "Because
that whole Kris-mass thing was frelling difficult to organise."
as it's got food, I couldn't care less." That was Rygel,
the spirit, Rygel" said John, sarcastically.
John," ventured Aeryn, talking over the already chattering
crewmates. "So explain this thing to us."
When the noise
had died down again, he cleared his throat. "Well, I don't
know the physics behind it, as it were, and over the years, the
whole damn thing has become a commercial vehicle, and left thousands
of teenagers broken-hearted for cycles. DK hated it with a passion.
There was never anything in his mailbox. Me, on the other hand"
He seemed to drift off for a moment. Everyone looked completely
At that particular
moment, Chiana's foot, which had been resting on the top on the
console so she could rest her head on her knee, slipped, and
slammed into Jool's back, hard. The Interon's hair gloweda vivid
red, as she began to spin to face her, yelling:
you stop frelling kicking me, you annoying little tralk!!"
was to smack Chiana good across the face, but, unfortunately,
it didn't turn out that way. Instead, her foot caught on the
tail of Crais' trench coat and she went flying. In the brief
time it took her to realise this, however, she decided she wasn't
hitting the ground alone, and grabbed Chiana by the leg.
They both descended
with a shriek. Chiana ended up on the floor. Jool had a much
softer landing, finding herself in Crais' lap, much to his annoyance.
Aeryn (and everybody else) barely managed to repress their smiles
at this, especially Pilot, who now had room to work again.
you, Joolushka," he said. Jool was too irritated to hear
him, and still hadn't noticed where she was sitting.
up in Pilot's direction. "Oh no, Pilot. I think you'll find
the pleasure is all mine" Jool finally figured it out, but
made no discernible reaction. Crais waited two microts, and then
"GET OFF ME!"
in a matter of nano-seconds and went back to where she'd been
standing. When nobody said anything, she frowned. "Come
on, Crichton. We haven't got all frelling day."
said John. "Where was I?"
about broken hearts and mailboxes," offered Zhaan. Stark
Blue." He tried again. "Anyway, the whole point of
the day is to show whoever it is you uh like that you do."
He was meant with blank faces. "It's like courting."
Silence. "You don't do courting out here?" More silence.
"That doesn't surprise me" He attempted it one more
time, by example. "Okay let's say I like Aeryn." He
was met, this time, by a collective groan (and possibly one from
Harvey, too), but he continued. "It's just an example. Okay,
fine, I like someone, and I can't build up the courage to tell
them, so instead, when the big V comes around, I give them a
little something - a note, or a present - to let them know. Get
utterly pointless," said D'Argo. "If you're not brave
enough to tell the person you like them, you don't deserve their
a true romantic, D." John rolled his eyes and sighed. "Like
I said, it's just a bit of fun. Nobody ever takes it seriously,
said Crais, "it can't possibly get any more tedious around
here. I'm willing to participate."
at him, open-mouthed. John was the first to recover.
Come on, guys! If Crais can lower himself to one of my crazy
ideas, it can't be that bad, right?" They all exchanged
glances. "It won't hurt you, for God's sake! Just humour
like a wonderful idea, John," said Zhaan, smiling. "I
would be happy to join in, too."
me too!" enthused Stark now that Zhaan had offered.
three. How about the rest of you?"
multi-tasking, and without looking up, said, "Moya is curious,
therefore, I will also participate."
I'm in, too," said Chiana. "If D'Argo is." The
Luxan sighed, but nodded his assent anyway.
fahrbot," complained Rygel. "But if I must, I must."
take that as a 'yes'" said John, and did a mental head count.
Everyone had agreed now, except for the one person he'd planned
this whole thing for. Without her, he wasn't going ahead with
looked up at him. For a fleeting, horrible moment, he thought
she was going to refuse. Instead, she shrugged. "Much as
I know I'm going to regret this I suppose-"
He didn't let
her finish. "Yes!"
exactly, will this entail?" asked Crais, apparently bored
enough to be interested as well.
all bear with a me a few more microts, I'll let you know"
that their escape had been thwarted again, everybody settled
down again to listen as John explained what they had to do.