Nova Dancer – Chapter 3 Excerpt

Starr felt like he was tied up again.  He didn’t know what was holding him, but it was squeezing him to death.  He jerked awake and looked up to see Huppy’s bloated head leaning down over him.

“I brought you breakfast in bed, Starr.”

He thrust a bowl right under Starr’s nose.

“I got you cereal from the cafeteria and Viv said that it would be nice to give you breakfast in bed. Do you like it?”

Starr grabbed the bowl and struggled into a sitting position, his back against the bulkhead.

“It looks good. Thanks, Huppy.”

“You’re my best friend, Starr.  You and Viv.”

“I know.”

After he had finished his breakfast, Starr took his bowl into the galley, where he found Viv sitting at the table, one hand holding a cup of coffee and the other petting the Castorian who was curled up in her lap.

“Watch out,” he said, gruffly.  “You know Castorians are all perverts.”

“Who’s the racist now? I’m just giving her a scratch.”

“Her?”

“That’s right,” said Prinda, looking up.  “I’m a girl. And you have a lot of nerve, calling me a pervert after what I watched you do to that poor girl at The Pink Ubaxa.”

Viv opened her eyes wide and made an o with her mouth in a look of mock surprise.

“You watched huh? See?  Perverts.”

They left the planet with no problem and made the jump to hyperspace early, because of the relative emptiness of the system.  After that, it was four days of boredom.  The first day, Starr and Huppy swept the cargo bays while Viv repaired a leaking pipe in the head, but then they mostly just sat around.  On the second day out, Huppy taught Prinda checkers, which they then spent all afternoon playing.  Starr puttered around, trying to find things he could fix, and did manage to replace a few jumpers on some panels.  The third day, all of his attempts to keep busy failed, though Viv kept herself occupied reading.

“So, we arrive at Thim tomorrow?” asked Prinda, strolling into the galley on their fourth day out.

“That is the plan,” said Starr, without looking up from his coffee.

“Or we might have a misjump and pop out of hyperspace in the middle of a black hole,” said Viv, leaning back and allowing the Castorian to climb into her lap.  “I’ll bet it happens all the time.  Nobody ever hears about it because, you know… black hole.”

“Well, since we might be dead tomorrow, I want to treat your whole crew to a movie.”

“What’s a movie?” asked Viv, scratching her around the ears.

“It’s a video show that is projected on the wall, so that everyone can watch it.”

“How do you know everyone’s going to like it?” asked Starr.

“Oh, everyone will like it,” Prinda assured them.  “We’ll all sit at watch it and eat popcorn.”

“Popcorn?” wondered Viv.

“Yeah, I’ve had it before,” said Starr.  “It’s made of these fluffy little things.  The Rialtans love it.  I hope this little fur ball brought it with her.”

It turned out that Prinda had brought a metallic container of unpopped popcorn and a pocket-sized projector.  Starr and Huppy set up chairs, while Viv and the Castorian placed a blanket on the floor to lie upon while they watched the movie on the wall of cargo bay six.  Even Reed was there, sitting atop the basketball hoop high up on the wall.

The movie turned out to be a Karendian period piece, set three hundred years before, during the Sixth Interstellar War.  The main character was the wife of a soldier in the Karendian Navy.  She was busily engaged in an affair while he was away fighting the Providers.  Then, when he returned wounded, she selflessly devoted herself to his care. Starr didn’t much care for it.

“I think that was wonderful,” said Viv, climbing up from her spot on the blanket.

“I liked when the ships exploded,” said Huppy.

“Everyone does, except for the people in them at the time,” said Starr.

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