Cim coasted easily into geosynchronous orbit around the Earth and locked her course for the International Space Station. Jack, meanwhile, was busy getting their new little passenger stowed away in the guest quarters and there was something about the little squirt that she just didn’t like.
She wasn’t exactly sure what it was about the boy that bothered her. Benjamin had warned her that she might feel a little jealous when Jack accepted passengers. It was only natural, he’d said, for her to want to keep Jack all to herself. So, was this jealousy, then? Cim wasn’t sure.
“Your ship sure is beautiful,” she heard the boy gush. The compliment made her feel decidedly peculiar. “How long has it been in service?”
“This is our first mission together,” Jack admitted proudly. “Why do you ask?”
“I’m just curious,” Timothy grinned. “I’ll bet the manufacturer made you pay a whole bunch for it.”
“Not at all,” Jack smiled, giving the boy a strange look. “It was a gift from a close personal friend of mine.”
“Unidentified Ship, please slow your approach, identify and state your purpose here,” a voice added from the International Space Station. Cim paused only briefly, knowing she couldn’t handle the call herself without revealing her true nature.
“Captain,” she said through the ship’s onboard communication system, “your presence is required in the console room.”
“On my way,” Jack responded in a tone that was all business. Cim guessed that he wanted Timothy to understand that Jack wasn’t a captain to mess with.
“Who was that?” Timothy asked, having to take two steps to every one of Jack’s just to keep up.
Another pause. “That was the navigation systems computer,” Jack answered finally.
“I repeat,” the voice on the communicator said irritably, “Unidentified ship, please identify and state your purpose here.”
Jack thumbed the interspace communications control. “International Space Station, this is Wavemistress, registry number two tango Zulu eight niner delta Charlie four, requesting manditory refueling. Our stated purpose is cargo delivery at Luna Base on the moon.”
“Acknowledged, Wavemistress,” the voice replied, “Please proceed to docking bay 12 where refueling will commence immediately.”
“Acknowledged,” Jack replied, “Wavemistress out!” Deftly, Cim maneuvered around to docking bay 12 and slid carefully into place by the airlock. There was a deafening clank as the airlock clamped itself into place over the ship’s gangway.
“So, the person who gave this ship to you,” Timothy asked, “is he a good mechanic?”
“Why are you asking so many questions about my ship?” Jack replied, one eyebrow going up as his eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“I’m just curious,” Timothy insisted, “My mom says the only way to get answers is to ask questions.” They watched together out a window as two men in suits attached a long hose to the fuel tank. Cim felt instant relief as the fuel poured into her. The trip out of the atmosphere had depleted a good deal of what she’d carried to begin with.
“International Space Station to Wavemistress,” the communicator blared.
Jack thumbed the control again. “Wavemistress here.”
“Your refueling is complete,” said the voice. “Please meet me in the airlock to finalize the procedure.”
Jack sighed and made for the gangway. The minute Jack’s back was turned, Cim felt Timothy’s little fingers begin to glide over the controls on her console. She felt strangely violated as the boy touched controls that, up to that point, only Jack had ever touched. She longed to tell the boy off, but didn’t dare say anything.
“Thank you, sir,” a stranger’s voice said from her gangway. “Travel safely.”
“You, too,” Jack replied politely, stepping past the gangway door just in time to see Timothy quickly step away from the forward console and stick his hands into his pockets. Cim shut the door quietly behind him, watching as Jack stalked over to the boy. “What were you doing?” he asked in a low, menacing tone that seemed to demand a response.
“Nothing,” the boy replied warily.
“Mmhm,” Jack replied in a tone that said plainly that he didn’t buy this innocent sounding response. “Do you have anything that you need to do right now?”
Timothy shook his head.
“Well, then, would you like to find something to do,” Jack continued softly, “or would you like me to assign you something?”
“Uh,” Timothy responded, “I guess I could unpack my things.”
“That’s a good idea,” Jack approved in his soft, deadly serious voice. “Get to it.”
“Okay!” Timothy chirped, turning toward the hallway.
“Okay?” Jack objected, stopping the boy in his tracks. “Try ‘Aye, Captain!”
“Aye, Captain,” the boy repeated rather sheepishly before scurrying off to his quarters.
“I don’t know about that kid,” Jack muttered when the boy was out of earshot behind the closed cabin door.
“Jack, how do you know when you’re jealous of someone?” Cim asked, hesitant, but remembering the boy’s comment about getting answers by asking questions.
“Well, you feel kind of afraid or insecure,” Jack tried to explain, “because you worry that you might lose something or someone that means a lot to you. Why do you ask?”
“I don’t like Timothy,” she admitted.
“You, too, huh?” Jack grinned. “Why not?”
“I don’t really know.” Cim replied sadly. “There’s something about him that makes me feel uneasy.”
“Like when he was fingering your buttons?” Jack suggested sagely.
“Among other things,” she replied, doing nothing to hide her irritation with the boy.
“Such as?” he prompted.
“Well, there’s all the questions he’s asked you about me,” Cim offered. “He hasn’t asked you a thing about you, yet. Why? He also hasn’t told you much about himself. Again, why?”
Jack smiled. “You’re not jealous,” he informed her. “you’re wary. I want you to understand something, Cim. If you ever feel this way again, about anyone, don’t hesitate to tell me.”
“Okay,” she agreed.
“For example,” Jack suggested, “what’s the kid doing right now?”
“He’s just finished putting his things away,” Cim replied, lowering her voice. “He’s heading for the cabin door.”
“All done,” Timothy said, emerging from the short hallway.
“Ready for inspection?” Jack asked, all business again.
“Inspection?” Timothy objected.
“Of course,” Jack replied, walking purposefully toward the boy’s cabin. “I want to be sure you put everything away properly.” He turned, eyeing the boy in a way that made it clear Timothy wasn’t supposed to just stand there, as he was doing.
The boy shrugged and followed along behind.
Cim watched as Jack carefully checked the drawers built into the wall. The first drawer contained the boy’s food supply. There were six C-rations in cans, four freeze-dried MRE pouches, a small hand-held can opener, a bottle of water and a plastic spork. Cim’s research said that this food would likely run out before they reached the moon. It was probably a good thing that Ben and Jack had installed a food replication unit in the kitchenette. Cim was still learning how to make the thing work, but she could make a decent slice of buttered toast and a cup of chamomile tea if she was pushed and the situation called for it.
The next drawer down contained an assortment of patched and worn clothing. Underwear, socks, pants and shirts had all been neatly folded and placed carefully in the drawer. The other two drawers were empty.
Once Jack’s inspection was complete, the two returned to the console room to supervise the ship’s separation from the International Space Station. In reality, it was Cim doing most of the work, but the tech on the space station didn’t need to know that, so she let the man call instructions to Jack, even though she followed them herself.
“Now,” Jack sighed, turning to Timothy. “You need something to do.”
“No, I don’t,” Timothy replied, shaking his head.
“Don’t argue with me,” Jack said, his voice lowered to a menacing growl. “This isn’t a pleasure cruise. If you want to go to the moon, you’re going to work. Otherwise, we’ll turn around right here and leave you at the International Space Station.”
Timothy tucked his chin into his chest and muttered something that sounded like an affirmative response.
“All right, then,” Jack replied, seating himself in his console chair. “You are going to go to the kitchenette and scrub the floors. Go on. I’ll join you in a minute with some appropriate tools.”
“Jack,” Cim asked, confused, “What are you doing? The kitchenette has never been used. It’s clean.”
“Don’t tell me you’ve decided you like the kid after all,” Jack groaned.
“No,” Cim replied, opening the compartment containing the cleaning supplies “I was just wondering why you told him to scrub the floors in the kitchenette.”
“Cim,” Jack said, rising to collect a floor brush, a bucket and some cleaning fluid. “Our objective is to keep the boy busy so that he doesn’t get curious again.”
“It’s too late for that,” Cim whispered, feeling decidedly uncomfortable. “He’s in the engine room.”
“What?” Jack exclaimed, dropping the cleaning supplies and dashing down the corridor. Soon, Jack had emerged again from the engine room access door, half dragging a most unwilling Timothy with one hand firmly grasping the boy’s armpit. Jack pushed the boy into the guest quarters again and stepped in after him. “Exactly what did you think you were doing?” he demanded, arms folded in a look of barely contained anger. “I thought I told you to go to the kitchenette and wait.”
“I was just curious,” the boy suggested. “This is such a neat ship.”
“I see,” Jack replied, obviously unconvinced, “Well, you won’t be seeing any more of it until we reach the moon. You’re confined to quarters.” He turned and marched from the room. Cim shut the door behind him and sealed it.
“Cim,” Jack called, “seal this door and keep an eye on the kid until we reach our destination.”
“Already done,” Cim replied.
“Good,” Jack sighed, “I need a shower.”
“I’ll have the water running when you get there,” Cim told him, smilingly.
“Thanks,” Jack grinned back.
The next three days were comparatively quiet. Timothy remained in his room and Jack only opened the door to bring him food. Jack took the opportunity, at one point, to go in and question the boy about his father. Timothy resisted at first, until Jack threatened to give him nothing but chicken broth for the remainder of the voyage.
Cim meanwhile spent most of her time learning to use the food replication unit and could soon mimic such dishes as macaroni and cheese and potato salad, though she was still a far cry from being a chef in a five star restaurant, at least Jack didn’t have to wonder why he hadn’t bought more food for the trip. She was much better at baked goods and could turn out a nice batch of piping hot oatmeal raisin cookies with a minimum of effort.
Soon, they had arrived at the moon and were being hailed by Luna Base. Jack, who had spent nearly the entire trip in the console room, chose to navigate the landing himself. Cim watched, impressed in spite of herself.
“Now,” Jack said, pushing away from the console, “Can you access Luna Base’s computer system?”
“Of course,” Cim responded easily. Carefully she connected to the base’s computer system. There was a password, but it was easily circumvented. “What would you like to know?”
“Pull up any information you can find on Angus Ford,” Jack suggested, leaning forward.
“Got it!,” Cim answered about two seconds later. She put the information on a screen.
“So, he does work here,” Jack replied. “This says he’s head of security. Also, he’s not just Angus Ford. He’s Major Angus Harold Ford.”
“Yes, but there’s a problem,” Cim answered, “he doesn’t seem to be anywhere in the facility.”
“Okay, well, see if you can locate him,” Jack replied, “while I go get our cargo unloaded.”
Cim watched with half her mind while Jack went to the cargo bay and made sure that everything was unloaded properly. With the other half, she spend her time searching the base’s video surveillance for any sign of Major Ford. When Jack finally returned, The cargo bay was blessedly empty and Jack looked thoroughly harassed.
“The person who met me to receive the cargo,” Jack growled, throwing the signature pad down on the console table, “is a complete moron. I had to ask him three times before he finally signed the cargo out. Did you find Major Ford?”
“Yes, unfortunately,” Cim responded.
“Unfortunately?” Jack replied, looking, if possible, even more unhappy.
“Yes,” Cim said, “take a look.” She pulled up a video she’d found of someone that matched the photograph of Major Ford leaving in the company of three other men.”
“Well, that’s strange,” Jack frowned. “Why would he leave if he’s head of security?”
Just then, the screen flickered, followed immediately by the lights.
“Cim?” Jack asked, “What was that?”
“Something’s wrong!” Cim replied, “I can’t feel the door to the guest quarters. There was some kind of electrical short and now it’s just gone.”
“What?” Jack declared, surprised, “That’s not possible!”
“You should probably go and check it,” Cim suggested, worried, “just to be safe.”
Jack moved warily to the guest quarters where, to his surprise, the door was standing open. The inside panel had been removed and some of the wires appeared to have been stripped and burned. Suddenly, before Cim had a chance to say anything, Timothy jumped out of the closet and jammed something up against the back of Jack’s neck. There was a loud humming sound and Jack jerked and twitched for a second, then collapsed, unconscious, to the floor.
Cim was on her own.
Thank you for reading this third installment of the Adventures of Captain Jack. If you like what you’ve read so far, feel free to make suggestions. It looks to me like Jack and Cim are in a jam. How do you think they’ll get themselves out? Also, what’s with Timothy? Why has he been acting so strangely? You decide! What would you like to see happen to Jack next? Tell me in the comments section below. I’m anxious to find out what happens next!
Also, large thanks to jaklumen and princess for their suggestions.