Only Human

Only Human by Chris Reher

Book: Only Human by Chris Reher Read Free Book Online
Authors: Chris Reher
the bed. When he
had covered her with a blanket he retreated to the cockpit and programmed a
course for Anders' base on Delphi.
    Under his touch, Eagle Seven soared
noiselessly, its converters absorbing the cold vacuum as a whale consumes
plankton. He would cross the reach tomorrow; at this point he doubted that he
would find the state of serenity he needed to make the jump.
    But Tychon did not yet crave sleep. As
always, the dim silence of the cockpit soothed and, as always, he was amazed by
the comfort that the thin shell of his ship provided against the dead emptiness
outside.
    Two people now slept peacefully in this
shelter, uncaring of the power that hurtled them onward. Their trusting
presence aboard made the vigilance of the Eagle all the more awesome. Tychon was
happy to share this wonderful piece of machinery with them, this machinery that
had been his home for years.
    Tomorrow, the ship would awaken them as it
had been told to do. Nova's cheerful restlessness would enliven the in-flight
days when solitary comfort could otherwise turn easily into loneliness. Anders,
Tychon knew, would bring laughter and a welcome break from routine.
    Smiling, he wondered why he had preferred
to fly alone for so long.
    * * *
    Anders had recovered enough after a long,
healing sleep to join Tychon and Nova for breakfast. Nova chuckled when he
entered the main cabin dressed in some of the Delphian's clothes. Both shirt
and pants were too long in sleeve and leg while looking uncomfortably tight
about the waist. But he looked rested, his blond hair cropped back to mere
stubble, and a ready smile was on his lips.
    "Are you laughing at my attire or my broken
nose?" He bent over the reflective surface of the map table that also
doubled as dining area.
    "Your nose can be repaired," Tychon
reminded him, sipping tea. "You will just have to live with that body of
yours."
    Anders turned to Nova. "And what are
you doing with the friendly giant here? Us Humans not good enough for
you?"
    Nova glanced at Tychon, embarrassed.
    "Space slop!" Anders exclaimed.
"I never dreamed I'd ever be happy to eat freeze'n nuke again! No way did Ty
cook this. He's inept. Will you marry me, Nova?"
    "Eat slow if you want to keep it
down," Nova warned, amused and concerned. "And Tychon did make
that."
    "You wouldn't believe the shit they
serve on K'lar," Anders chewed slowly, savoring the precooked, nutrient-balanced
meal. "Has sand in it. Seriously, they can actually digest the stuff!
How's that for roughage? Can't say I liked it there much. Had a couple of
cellmates for a while but we didn't have any cards. And the Ruwwies aren't much
for playing Lo-G ball, not like Tychon Of The Mighty Backhand here. Wasn't a
total loss, though." He drained his cup and held it out for more.
"Happen to overhear back there that they're planning an assault on Targon.
Search and destroy, mainly. I doubt that they've a definite target."
    “Targon! When?"
    Anders shrugged. "Didn't come up.
Soon, I suspect."
    "Do they know that you know?"
Nova asked.
    He shook his head. "Didn't let on that
I knew their language." He leaned toward her. "I speak Grunt, you
know."
    "I'll send a report," Tychon said
and left the table.
    "So, tell me, Nova, how about taking
up commission on my base? It's on Delphi but we've got some Humans there. None
as pretty as me, though, once I get my nozzle fixed. It'll be a party!"
    She shook her head, smiling. "I like
this work."
    He leaned back, slapping the tabletop in
mock exasperation. "Risking your butt every day with this madman? Not
healthy at all. Come stay with us on Delphi. You can trade laser burns for
politics. That's practically the same thing. It'll be a vacation compared to
this."
    "I hardly know you!"
    He winked. "You will."
    Tychon returned from the cockpit.
"Don't listen to any of his exhaust. He has more women than he can keep
organized and I need an able pilot more than he."
    "Yes, but I'm out of Terrans and your
blue beauties won't come near

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