Rules of Observation, Part 1

Characters: Miina Awenata, Beltrann, Apoloniusz (Tass) Tasszhar

Miina hurried to the shuttle. She hoped that the other Ranger…Beltrann, yes, that was his name, would not think too amiss of her for being late. She smiled. Hurrying was not something she was used to. Not until Tass, that is. Nowadays, she waited until the last possible minute to leave him. And suddenly she berated herself. What was she thinking? How could she possibly leave Tass? And for two weeks? And what if those two weeks turned into more? And what was she thinking? She had volunteered. Volunteered.


 

“It’s an important mission,” he had assured her. “Of course you volunteered. Your move to science was probably the best decision you’ve made in a long time.” Then he had grinned and pulled her close. “Well, maybe not the best, but in the top five anyway.”

She drew back teasingly. “Only the top five? What are the others?”

“Well, besides me,” he said, “How about …going along with Gigia about the wedding? That was a good one. I know you wanted it to be on your mountaintop at home, but she had her heart set on Alonissos.”

She smiled. “Yes. Although that was less of a decision, and more of…self preservation. Your grandmother is just a little intimidating.”

He drew back, pretending to be shocked. “Gigia? My grandmother? Intimidate you? Why, she’s four-foot-nothing, and you…”

“Took her favorite grandson out of circulation?”

“I see your point. OK, Grandmother, Me, Science, and joining the Rangers.”

“That’s only four.”

“Only four? You mean you think I’m not worth at least two?”

She smiled at the memory and quickened her pace. Yes, two. And there would be two of them on this mission. She was glad someone else had spoken up and joined, though it might have been easier to have been just a single observer. She still didn’t find conversation easy. Not only did she not know what the Huka were going to be like, she didn’t know Beltrann at all.

“Are you sure you don’t want to switch to Science, too?” she asked, as a last parting comment. “We could be a team…”

“We’re already a team,” Tass told her. “Besides, I’m indispensable in Engineering. They need me.” He grinned. “You’ve seen how high I rank on the roster…”

“Just because you haven’t gotten pinned down and labeled…”

“Ew,” he said, shrugging his shoulders as if trying to wriggle out of invisible vise grips. “Is that what happens after awhile? You get pinned down on a specimen board and labeled, ‘Terran Engineer’? I thought it was just you science guys who did things like that.”

“We don’t do things like that…well, at least we’d wait until you stopped moving…”

“I’ll be sure and send ahead a warning to the Huka…beware of Rangers with giant stick pins…”

She laughed. “You are impossible!”

“I know. It’s one of my many gifts…”

“I have to leave now…”

“All right. Just don’t give me a second thought,” Tass had teased. “While you’re out on your big adventure, don’t forget me. I’ll just be here in Engineering, trying to think of some way to make myself useful. You, on the other hand, get to have one big adventure. And at the end, you win the prize.”

“The prize?”

“Me!”


 

Beltrann was waiting near the boarding ramp, as Miina hurried through the doors of the docking bay. He bowed as she approached. “Anla’shok Awenata,” he said. “Everything is ready. I have confirmed with the colony that they are ready and looking forward to our arrival.”