22 – Spectre

By now, the hyperwarp synerdrive cores had sustained continuous operation for a little over thirty days. After Mirida, the Kelsor made no stops, though Xannissa advised Atara that it would be wise to stock up on matter in a nearby star system sometime within the next week. Her recommendation came despite her slightest reluctance to shut down the drives for fear they may never restart—a fear substantiated by the fact that it had happened rarely with certain drive systems in the past. The happiness and excitement Xannissa felt at reaching the one-month mark on the synerdrive’s operation was dampened by news she heard circulating amongst the officers regarding her sister.

     Cylenna was slumped in a chair in her small quarters alone. She was naked from her waist to her knees—her short jacket fastened halfway up to her neck atop a combat-variant bodysuit that only covered her upper torso that she used as a brassiere to support her breasts. The elbow of her right arm rested on the chair’s armrest, and her right hand formed a blinder for her right eye. Her other hand lied atop her smooth, toned abdomen. In the weeks following Mirida, Strike Officer Kodi had her pilots run hours upon hours of practices and skirmishes aboard the simulators, though lately most of their encounters had resulted in a crushing defeat. Cylenna’s mind was fixated on the latest outcome, and her subsequent actions landed her in her modest quarters for the next two days. The Elestan pilot’s hand slid over her abdomen toward her crotch, and her fingers gently stroked her clitoris. The headache she was developing made the sensation less enjoyable than she expected. Upon hearing the doorbell, her hand quickly darted back to her abdomen.

     “Who is it?” Cylenna called. The door slid open and Xannissa stood there leaning against the frame.

     Xannissa said, “I heard about the heated words you exchanged with Kodi.”

     “Oh?” Cylenna responded. She remained quiet as Xannissa sat on her bed. Cylenna’s face was partially hidden by her hand.

     “Is that it?” Xannissa asked. Typically, Cylenna welcomed her younger sister with open arms. Today, she just wanted to be left alone.

     “Go away,” Cylenna growled. Her eyes dodged Xannissa; locking on the walls of the room instead. Xannissa crossed her legs.

     “I’m here because I care about you,” said Xannissa. “When I heard my sister was confined to quarters, I had to see if she was okay.” Cylenna was silent. Xannissa leaned forward on the bed’s edge, placed her meshed hands on her knee, and stared at her sister.

     “We were doing a tactical training simulation,” said Cylenna, still looking away from her younger sister. “It was going well until Kodi had us fighting Alliance heavy fighters.”

     “What happened then?”

     “We were slaughtered,” Cylenna told her.

     “Isn’t your training supposed to teach you how to handle defeat?”

     Cylenna said nothing for a moment. “They’re supposed to teach us how to win.”

     “You can’t win them all…”

     “Watch me,” Cylenna said loudly before sitting up in her chair.

     “…and that’s why I worry about you when I think about you flying those strikecraft,” Xannissa continued despite her sister’s comment.

     “I don’t want you to worry about me,” Cylenna’s voice quieted.

     “Then don’t give me a reason to.”

     “You know I live for this kind of thing.”

     “I do. But I wouldn’t worry if I didn’t love you.” Xannissa leaned over and placed a hand on Cylenna’s bare thigh. “Have I ever stood in your way?”

     “No,” Cylenna admitted, turning her head toward Xannissa and finally making eye contact. Cylenna digested that for a few seconds before saying, “That’s fair enough.”

     Xannissa stood up from the bed and said, “Come here,” grabbing her sister’s hand and encouraging her to stand. Before Cylenna could balance on her feet, Xannissa wrapped her arms around her sister’s gray skin in a loving embrace. Their faces rested against each other, and Xannissa closed her eyes.

     “I love you too, Xann,” said Cylenna, squeezing her sister tightly.

     “If I hear of any more insolence on your part, I’m taking you to the captain,” said Xannissa. “I do want you to apologize to Kodi.”

     “I will.”

     As their bodies moved closer together, an item hidden within Cylenna’s jacket, made precarious by her slouched posture in the chair, found its way out of its pocket. When the initial squeeze had ended, it fell from her jacket and hit the floor making a metal-on-metal tinging sound.

     “What was that? Did you drop something?” Xannissa asked, casually releasing her hold on Cylenna.

     “What? Did I?”

     Xannissa looked down at the white floor, and then she knelt down and picked up a small object.

     “What’s this?” Xannissa asked. It had a clip on the side and a plunger on one end which was protected by a cap. The other end had a small point. Xannissa twirled it in her fingers, looking at it from all sides. The device was only five centimeters long.

     “It’s a pen,” said Cylenna, “a writing utensil.” She stuck out her hand to receive it from Xannissa, but her sister did not give it back.

     “It looks pretty uncomfortable to use for writing.” Xannissa removed the cap on the plunger and pressed it down. A clear fluid dripped from the tip. “That doesn’t look like ink,” Xannissa remarked in surprise. Cylenna said nothing. “You’re not lying to me, are you?” Cylenna kept her silence. “You know what else this looks like? An injector. Are you using drugs aboard this ship?” Cylenna’s facial expression changed.

     “It’s a victimless crime,” said Cylenna, noting the Federation’s policies toward such offenses. Xannissa grabbed her sister’s short jacket by the collar and pulled her close.

     “You don’t know how serious this is,” Xannissa spoke through a grave face. “Certain rights, like recreational drug use, aren’t afforded to military personnel, and you should have the sense to know that. I’m taking this for analysis, and I won’t tell anyone, but as long as we serve on the same ship, I’ll see that you straighten your act or I will have you incarcerated for the remainder of our mission. Is that clear?”

     Cylenna nodded. Xannissa walked briskly out of the bunk room and down the corridor. Taking a lift to the medical bay, she looked at the device once more and shook her head in disbelief.

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