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“I think I’m in love,” Keyla said as she tore into her replicated sauerbraten. She almost felt sorry for it.

“They say it’s a mark of a great captain when his crew falls in love with him, just a little,” Joann said as she worked over her falafel plate. 

“Who says that?” Airiam asked, cocking her head quizzically.

“They.”

“But who is they?”

“Them.” She took a spoonful of yogurt dressing.

“Well, I’m not in love him,” Gen said, “I’m just privileged to be serving under him.”

“You’re in love with Lieutenant Bellino,” Keyla said. “And I got bad news for you: She’s back with Tamara from Botany.”

Rhys looked at her like she’d shot his puppy.

“Surely you didn’t think that break up would last, did you? Those two are going get married.”

“Besides, Joann said, “We’ll be stopping off at Starbase Thirteen next week. Maybe you’ll meet the girl of your dreams there.”

“No one loves Rhys,” Airiam said, adding extra dejection to her vocal synthesis.

“Shut up,” he grumped.

"I really could use a salad," Owosekun said. "I don't know why the replicators have such a limited menu during third-shift."

"Mid-rats," Rhys explained.

"You're eating rats," Airiam said, her synthesized voice somehow conveying delight. "Biologicals are gross."

"Midnight rations," Keyla explained. "Late-night food. Deep-fried. Unhealthy. At least that's the tradition."

"Now it's all healthy," Owosekun said, "but the menu is limited. I guess it's a nod to tradition."

"Are you sure you're not eating rats?"

"I don't care if I am, I'm famished," Keyla said as she shoveled a forkful of sauerbraten into her mouth.

"Biologicals are gross," Airiam repeated.

“Today was a hell of a day on the bridge," Rhys said.

“The Captain’s a damn force of nature,” Keyla said more effusively than she expected. No one seemed to have noticed.

“We’re lucky to have him,” Owosekun agreed. 

“I’d follow him anywhere,” Rhys said, hoisting his tortilla up for his first bite. “I’d follow him to hell.”



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