The space dock of Prime was bustling. It had only taken forty minutes for the transport to maneuver through the atmosphere and land safely on the tarmac; forty minutes too long for the hundreds of crew members on board. They left the transport, a mass of ecstatic young men and women, many still in their dress uniforms.
The Meyers resort was not far from the port, most of the Scipio crew had walked there, but not Ismaly. She called a cab and waited impatiently as the droves of crew members, jeering and laughing, walked past her. It didn't take long for the taxi to arrive, and she was glad for the silence that came when she shut the door. "Take me to the Meyers please." She said, swiping her card through the payment panel to her front. The taxi lifted off, joining the rush of traffic that pumped like blood through the arteries of Prime.
The closest bar to the Port was actually in the main building. This is where Pierre, Mathew, Jon and a few others from the Wolf Pack had gone. They had no intentions of checking in to their rooms until they were thoroughly intoxicated.
"So you're telling me ... " Subtext sat, the pitcher nearly spilling over as he did so. "You're telling me you were charged and promoted in the same day?
Mathew laughed. "Yeah, I guess that's how it goes."
Sophine shook her head. "That's ridiculous. I don't see why they had to charge you. I mean you saved a man's life!"
"Here here!" Jon said, raising his glass, to which the group drank.
Pierre put his cup down. "Look, it doesn't matter. We know the truth, we know what actually happened and if they want to charge him for it, who gives a hell. That was just procedure. They wouldn't have promoted him if they thought he was a bag of hammers. I was there!" He said, a burp interrupting his speech. "I'm surprised the Captain didn't get down on his knees and suck you -"
"Come on now."
Pierre laughed. "Anyway, you know what I'm getting at."
The door to the pub opened. Two men, still in their dress uniforms, entered.
Subtext frowned, "What the hell?"
"What's with the Marine uniforms?" asked Jon.
Mathew had just taken the last swig of his glass. He slammed it down and belched. "Those two gentlemen are from Delta flight. That's Jim Black on the left and Jon Low on the right. Once a Marine, always a Marine, which is why they wear that uniform in perpetuity. So long as they're in the service, they don't switch it out."
Pierre sighed. "Jesus, they've got racks on."
"Yeah, that's more than a few medals." Sophine added.
The group grew silent as the two men walked over to their table. They looked the part, wide and thick men with a seriousness to their eyes that told of hardship in their past.
Jon Low was the first to speak. "Gentleman, Lady. How are you all doing tonight?"
"Good to see you two again." Mathew said, raising his now refilled mug. "I heard you guys did good in that hairball on our first outing."
"I heard you crashed into things." Jim said, an oddly reserved smile on his lips.
"That I did." Mathew admitted, raising his cup. "Come have a drink."
"I hope you're not all planning on spending the night in this hovel." Low said, looking at the pub for what it truly was; a dank hole in the ground for port workers to wet their lips.
"Well, what do you have in mind?" Pierre asked.
"There just aren't any women here."
Sophine huffed. "Hey."
Low put his hand up. "Don't take offense Blackwood, but you're not a woman in my eyes. You're one of us. So far as I'm concerned you have a huge dick hanging between your legs. That's the only way I can sincerely come to terms with your piloting skills."
The table burst into an awkward laughter.
"Sorry boys, the Marines have a different type of humor, and I'm still not used to using a filter."
"So." Jon poured two new mugs for them. "Why the transfer to Navy pilot?"
Jim shrugged. "To be honest, there comes a point in time when you are sitting in a muddy hole, being pissed on by heaven and wondering if you'll ever have another solid shit, and just then, you hear the rumbling engines of a ship flying overhead. You start thinking. What the fuck am I doing wallowing in my own feces, in the rain, no sun for days, when that jackass that just flew over me is above the clouds, taking in the rays and voiding himself in a quaint colostomy pouch instead of his own god damn trousers."
Low nodded. "Yup, that's pretty much the gist of it."
The table burst into laughter once again.
"Wait, wait." Subtext collected himself. "When the hell do you find yourself in a position where you have to shit your pants? Couldn't you just, you know, squat while hanging on to a tree or something?"
Low started. "When you're two feet from an enemy observation post that hasn't noticed you slowly crawling up for the past three hours and suddenly they get up to piss on your head. That's when you're shitting yourself."
"I see." Sophine shook her head. "Well that's enough bowel movement talk for me tonight boys. I agree with Low, we should find ourselves a club with girls and dancing."
"Here here!" Jon said, raising his mug. "As soon as this establishment is completely dry, we'll meet up with you at the rendezvous."
Mathew laughed. "I'm good here. You guys are welcome to go find another place but, I've got a wife and kid back home and I've come to the conclusion that dance clubs are like giving cake to the fat kid and telling him not to eat it."
Low smiled. "You know you're hungry."
"I can hold out." Mathew said.
"Always the noble one."
"They don't call him the Noble Martyr for nothing." Pierre said, sucking back beer seconds later.
"Well." Sophine picked up her clutch, "Are you two gentlemen going to escort me to a more suitable establishment?"
Low put his arm out and Sophine hooked hers into it.
"See you guys tomorrow." She said, as the trio left.
Subtext finished his mug and got up. "Guys, not that I don't like you but, he had a point. I'd much rather be in the company of women then a dozen sweaty dock workers. I'll catch you guys later."
"And then there were three." said Pierre.
"This is the last time we might get to dance." Jon said, hesitating to refill his mug. "Fuck it, I'm going too."
"And then there were two."
Jon put his coat on. "Cheers boys!"
"Well Pierre." Mathew raised his mug. "To us."
"To us." Pierre said, clanging their mugs together.
The two downed their drinks and proceeded to refill them once again.
A few hours had passed, and Ismaly wasn't even close to being ready yet. She had just gotten out of the shower and was now sitting, nude, in front of the mirror. The makeup case made a pop when she opened it. She looked at herself, pulling at her skin here and there, turning her head to examine her cheekbones and jawline. To her, this was a ritual: the vanity; her easel, the powders and pastes; her paints, her face; the canvas. She would spend the next couple of hours transforming herself into a masterpiece.
The dance floor was an ocean of bodies, grinding, wrapping and curling into each other. The night life of the greatest city on Terra was not overrated. Here, Ismaly was at home. She walked into the club and men everywhere turned to watch her go by. In the masses, she recognized many faces, most of them from the Hounds, but all sorts of crew members had found themselves at this particular club. This was not a coincidence. Club 42 was the best on this side of Prime's sprawling expanse.
A table of locals waved her over.
"Hey." said a stranger, waving at her to move in closer.
She leaned forward and the man brought his lips up against her ear, their cheeks sliding against each other. "My buddy." he started, yelling louder on the second try to overcome the music. “My buddy thinks you're hot.”
“Really?” she said. “Then maybe he'll buy me a drink.”
The first of many to come as the hours coursed onward.
Almitt turned, thinking he'd heard his name.
He had indeed heard his name. Drenix was pushing through the mass of people lined up at the bar. “Hey how's your night going?”
Amon sighed. “It's nearly four in the morning, and I'm not as young as you think I am.”
“What're you saying? Terra never sleeps man!”
“Maybe not, but I certainly do.”
“Aw, come on. You're such a downer.”
Amon smiled. “Have a good night Harken, I'll see you back on the Scipio.”
“Take it easy boss.”
Almitt paid his tab and started on his way to the Meyer resort.
Ismaly watched him go by as she sat at the bar, two men still talking to her as though she were listening, trying to feed her shots. She sighed and got up. The song that the disk jockey had just transitioned into was one of her favorites. She closed her eyes and let the rhythm take her body. Her hair swayed with the music, her hips rolled and popped as she moved, ever so slowly into the center of the cluster of dancers, her body brushing against anonymity as she went. One of those men had followed her, and had grabbed her by the waist with one arm.
“Here.” He said, passing her another shot.
She cranked her head back, letting the red liquid drop down her throat.
Just as she swallowed, the man kissed her.
She pulled away, grabbing him by the throat. “Who the hell do you think you are?”
He responded with nothing but gargled attempts at breath.
She drove her knee into his crotch and watched him drop to the floor. “Fucker, you ruined my night.” With that, she left to the lobby and got into one of the many taxi's waiting for fare on the promenade outside.
At the Meyers, Almitt was brushing the booze out of his mouth when suddenly, his stomach growled at him. He looked down, assessing whether it was worth eating something at this time of night. The decision was made, and he soon found himself in the hallway in front of a vending unit, searching for the lesser of all evils. “This is disgusting Amon, what're you doing.” He said to himself, shaking his head.
The elevator behind him rang, and the door opened. He turned around to see Ismaly walk out.
“Turning in already?” He asked.
Her brow furrowed. “What's it to you?”
“Good point.” Amon answered, returning to the vending machine. He heard her footsteps behind him as she continued to her door. “Congratulations by the way.”
“On your promotion?”
Ismaly laughed. “I don't need your praise.” She slid the key card through the lock and the light flickered orange, beeping that it had misread.
Amon had finally chosen his poison and was returning to his room with it. “Having problems?” He said, an ambiguously “fresh” foodstuff in his hand.
“Apparently.” She said, in frustration.
“Let me see.”
“Fuck off.” She said, elbowing him as he moved in from behind.
“Come on, you're wasted. I can get you to your bed, which is what you want right?”
She slid the card through again, it blinked orange again and beeped that same annoying tone. “Urgh!”
Amon snatched the card from her hand and reached over her shoulder, sliding the card slowly through the lock. A green light flashed, and the mechanism released. He pushed the handle down and the door swung open.
Ismaly turned around, but said nothing.
“No thank you?”
Her eyes locked on to his with a blank seriousness.
“You think you know what I want?”
“I think you were trying to get into your room, which has a bed, so I deduced that maybe you wanted to go to sleep.”
“I know what you want.” She said. “I know it better than even you do.”
“What're you talking about?”
Her hand swung forward.
“You want me.” She said, her hand on his crotch.
Almitt was too shocked to speak, and before he knew it, Ismaly had leaned forward and was hovering millimeters away from his lips.
“You can't lie to me.” She said, her lips grazing his as she spoke. “I can feel you growing in my hand.”
His heart was racing, his mind a million scrambled thoughts. Then, without warning, her tongue slid into his mouth. She pulled down on his pants and they slid, only half way past his hips. Her hand drove below his belt and he grunted again. She squeezed, and he grunted again.
She pulled away from his mouth, saliva glistening on her lip. “Gotcha.”
“What are you -” His words were cut short when she knelt, and he felt the heat of her mouth envelope all that she'd exposed.
She stopped and hooked her hand into his pants, pulling him into the room and closing the door. She turned around, reached underneath her skirt, pulled her panties down and bent over, leaning up against the wall. Looking back over her shoulder, her golden hair covered half of her face when she said, “Fuck me.”
Amon could feel his pulse in his head. His mind had regressed to a primal state. His hands fumbled with his pants until they'd fallen to his ankles. He grabbed Ismaly's tiny waist and pulled her toward him.
Ismaly moaned, her cheek pressed against the wall as his hips slapped against her. Soft at first, then harder until she gritted her teeth, her head hanging between her arms as her elbows braced against the wall.
Outside, Mathew and Pierre stumbled down the hall trying to find their rooms, stopping briefly when they thought they heard someone yell.
“What was that?”
Mathew shrugged. “I don't know.”
It came again, the sharp scream of someone in pain.