Read Kris Longknife 13 - Unrelenting Online

Authors: Mike Shepherd

Tags: #Fiction, #Science Fiction, #Military, #Action & Adventure

Kris Longknife 13 - Unrelenting (8 page)

BOOK: Kris Longknife 13 - Unrelenting
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She could not reshuffle her crews constantly.

So Kris decided to treat her crews like grown-ups. What you did on the Navy’s time was the Navy’s business. What you did on your own time was your business if it didn’t get carried back to Navy time.

There had been some restrictions. No dating across the officer-enlisted barrier without permission. No dating more than two ranks or rates up or down. Again, permission could be granted for exceptions, but they were looked at real hard.

Admiral Kitano had already relieved one captain for cause while Kris was out traipsing around the galaxy. Kris had endorsed the relief and assignment to the bird-guano mine. An enlisted young woman should not have to tell her captain no more than once.

Kris had not had to make more than one example.

So, there were a lot of officers dining as couples. Kris glanced around. Most of the couples were male-female. There were a smattering of single-sex pairs.

Kris wondered about the tables seating four and six. Where they just friends, or were some berthing spaces connected now in larger groups.

I CAN GET YOU AN ANSWER, Nelly offered.

IT’S NONE OF MY BUSINESS, AND YOU ARE DEVELOPING A DIRTY MIND, NELLY.

NO DIRTIER THAN YOURS.

Jack picked that moment to start making gentle circles on Kris’s palm. He did that when she’d wandered off someplace on business or otherwise. It usually brought a smile to her face and her attention back to him.

It worked tonight.

“I’ve got plans for this evening,” Jack said.

“And I’m so glad you do, my husband.”

10

 

Next
morning, Kris waited until Jack was in the shower before she pulled the pregnancy test out and did her thing on it.

It was pink. As she counted to five, it turned blue.

Kris’s mind spun.

She pulled the instructions out and read them again . . . slowly. Then read them again. The words seemed to spin around in front of her. She could make no sense of them.

Finally, she put one finger over the writing and read it one word at a time.

Pink was negative. Blue was positive. Blue meant you were pregnant.

Congratulations, the instructions said.

“You going to join me in the shower?” Jack asked.

“Yes. Just a second.” Kris wiped down the test and slipped it back into the box it came in and the box back into her purse. She went through the necessary actions step by step. That was what she always did when she was in a fight.

Only I’m not in a fight. I’m pregnant!

The test has a .5-percent error rate,
some part of her warned.

Yes, yes, yes,
another part of her answered as she slipped into the shower.

Jack greeted her with a kiss and began soaping her front.

Kris smiled back at her husband and relaxed into the sensuality of his touch.

Careful, girl, or you’ll be late for chow.

Who cares? I’ll just throw it up again.

You going to tell him?
brought Kris’s wandering mind to a halt.

No. Not now. Not until Doc Meade says it’s for real, not 99.5 percent likely.

Kris washed Jack down, then rinsed him off. Sadly, he was in full business mode, and they were not late for breakfast.

She again had to dismiss herself from breakfast to hurriedly deposit her meal in the toilet.

Jack flashed her a worried look, but she managed a smile and an “I’m fine” lie that he usually accepted at face value if not as fact.

Ten hundred hours could not come soon enough.

The nurse took Kris’s vitals and accepted “intestinal distress” for a reason for the visit.

Doc Meade didn’t keep Kris waiting. She arrived in full professional mode. “Tummy problems, huh. You ever had this before?”

“No, and I only have it in the morning,” Kris said, and removed the pregnancy test from her purse.

“Hmm, I knew one of those had gone out. I figured it couldn’t be for Abby. I should have figured that only Nelly could jigger my system.”

“Thank you,” Nelly said.

“Blue, huh?” the doc said, looking at the test results, then asked, “Your last period?”

“Fifteen days ago. Scanty as to be nearly nonexistent.”

“And I take it that you and Jack are still acting like newlyweds?”

“Horny newlyweds,” Kris said.

“I didn’t know there were any other kind,” the doc said with a smile.

“I had my implants replaced last month,” Kris said, fingering the three lumps on her arm.

“Yes,” the doc said, looking at her med reader. “Right on time. Those things have about one failure in a million.”

“It would be a bitch if I was that millionth,” Kris said.

“You can’t be the millionth,” Doc Meade said. “We’ve had three pregnancies reported in the fleet this week. One the week before.”

Kris frowned. “Once may be an accident. Two is bad luck. Three or more is enemy action,” she quoted the old military axiom.

“We’ve got something just like that in the medical profession. Well, let’s get some blood work and see if that test is accurate.”

Kris waited while blood was taken. It was sent off to the lab with no name on it and a
Rush, we want this five minutes ago
note.

It was back before Kris and the doctor could adjourn to the office.

“Yep, you’re the fifth pregnancy in the fleet. I wonder how many more we’ll have.”

“This is going to be a problem,” Kris said.

“Between you and Jack? He does want kids?” The doctor paused. “Oh, do you want children?”

“Of course I do. I mean, yes, I think.” Kris sputtered to a halt and frowned. “I really hadn’t given a lot of thought to it. I had the implants. We’re out here with a fight coming at us every second of the day or night. Kids were something to think about later. Maybe. I guess.”

“You and Jack did discuss kids before you married?” the doctor asked.

Kris thought long and hard. “I think we may have missed that part.”

“So, you’ve got a lot of talking to do tonight,” Doc Meade said.

“And I’ve got a fleet to run with five pregnant women in it, including the Admiral Commanding.”

“Hmm,” the doc answered. “It is a discharge offense to remove your implants and get pregnant without authorization.”

“So, where does that leave us five? Did any of us have our implants removed?”

“Not a one.”

“Have you studied these implants? Did we get a bad batch from the factory?”

“I don’t know. What with you pregnant, I’ll need to remove the implants. You’ve got enough hormones coursing through your system without tossing in more.”

“Do you keep track of these implants? Is there any chance that we can identify the bad batch and get them out of fleet distribution before there are too many more of these ‘little surprises’?”

“Let’s get you back to a room and see what we can see.”

Five minutes later, Kris was lying down on a table with an anesthetized arm. A nurse was standing by as Doc Meade removed the first implant. “Get me the number on that joker.”

The nurse put the strip under a magnifier and read out a number.

“Hold it. That batch was issued three years ago. Maybe more. That number has got to be wrong.”

Doc Meade did her own eyeball check. “Damn, that’s the number.”

With a frown, she went back to Kris’s arm, made a second small incision and withdrew the next implant strip.

The nurse eyed the strip, and turned to the doctor. “This number is not in sequence with the first.”

In a blink, Doc Meade was looking over the nurse’s shoulder. “Double damn,” she breathed.

“What’s this sequence of which you speak?” Kris asked.

“You get three implants, each numbered. Almost always one right after another. There’s a chance the batch can get mixed up a bit in the machine that puts them in three-strip packets, but they’re always the same in the first five or six numbers. This one is way off.”

“And the third is?” Kris said.

Doc Meade removed the third and, instead of handing it off to the nurse, walked it over herself, set it down, and eyed it.

“Totally different batch,” she said. “Three different batches, all from three years ago. Kris, my good Admiral, this is no accident. This is sabotage.”

“Damn,” Kris whispered.

11

 

How
do you tell your husband you’re pregnant?

Kris tried to remember what it was like in the Longknife household six, nine months before little Eddy was born. She was four. She remembered nothing.

Okay, how do I tell my husband he’s going to be a daddy? He wants this baby, right?

Kris’s internal dialogue stumbled.
I want this baby, don’t I?

Kris’s empty tummy grumbled, no answer to her question, but it pointed in a direction. On the
Wasp
, she’d call him up and invite him to lunch at the Forward Lounge. There he could have a drink. He’d think nothing of her having something nonalcoholic. There she could let him in on her little secret.

That was getting bigger by the day.

But the
Princess Royal
had no bar aboard, and it was very likely that the next
Wasp
would be a dry ship as well. Third
Wasp
in less than that many years.

You’re hard on ships, kiddo.

Kris had to admit that she was. But that was another problem. For now, she had a different one.

KRIS, I COULDN’T HELP BUT LISTEN IN. YOU’RE THINKING VERY LOUDLY, Nelly said.

SORRY. WAS I BOTHERING YOU?

NO, BUT YOU KNOW, I COULD TURN YOUR DAY QUARTERS INTO A VERY NICE PLACE TO SHARE A CANDLELIT DINNER WITH JACK.

WHERE WOULD WE GET THE FOOD?

KRIS, MOST ADMIRALS HAVE THEIR OWN MESS FOR THEM AND THEIR STAFF. I COULD EASILY ARRANGE FOR THE WARDROOM TO DELIVER. THEY HAVE A FEW STEAKS LEFT OVER
FROM OUR VICTORY DINNER. I THINK I COULD GET YOU AND JACK TWO WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS.

COULD YOU?

I’VE ALREADY ARRANGED IT.

AND MY DAY QUARTERS?

WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE WHAT I’VE DONE.

WELL, SINCE YOU’VE ARRANGED IT, TELL JACK I’D LIKE TO SEE HIM IN OUR QUARTERS IN A HALF HOUR.

HE SAYS HE’LL BE THERE.

Now, how to let him know. Hmm, maybe if I dress the part, I won’t have to tell him.

•   •   •

 

Major
General Jack Montoya opened the door to his wife’s day quarters and came to a complete stop. Dead stop one might almost say.

He did not recognize the place.

In place of the usual spartan walls and furniture that made clear that his wife was business with no frills, the place looked like some quiet little hideaway.

The walls were made out like adobe, and there were red roof tiles. Flowering plants circled the wooden roof supports. The deck had been made into flagstones of several colors in a pattern that delighted the eye.

In the middle of all this, Kris sat at a wooden table.

He had to look twice to notice the table. Kris was wearing the white negligee that he’d bought her the last time they were dirtside on Alwa. The two thin straps allowed for a truly plunging neckline. Made of hand-tooled lace, it let her lovely skin play peekaboo with his hungry male eyes.

While the guy part of his brain lapped all this up, the major general section was hammering alarm bells.

WHAT’S UP? Jack asked Sal, his computer and one of Nelly’s kids.

I DON’T KNOW ANY MORE THAN YOU DO, BOSS. MOM’S BEEN OFF-LINE TO THE REST OF US KIDS FOR MOST OF THIS MORNING.

Throwing caution to the wind—
who do you trust if you can’t trust your wife?
—Jack stepped into this illusion and crossed quickly to seat himself across from his wife.

“Am I overdressed or underdressed?”

“You’re perfect, as usual,” Kris said.

“What’s that I smell?” Jack went on, filling the silence until Kris chose to let him in on what was actually coming down here.

“I’ve ordered dinner from the wardroom. May I serve you?”

“Please.”

Jack hadn’t noticed the serving cart from the wardroom, now it moved out of the shadow of Kris’s wooden desk and came to the table. Nelly magic, no doubt.

Kris uncovered two plates, deliciously smelling of steak, potatoes, and sautéed vegetables, all likely from the larder of the newly arrived Earth fleet. The next crop wasn’t due until after they got back.

Kris returned to her seat, and they cut into their steaks. Jack saw red as he cut. “Perfect,” he said.

“I’m glad you like it. Nelly oversaw its cooking.”

“Thank you, Nelly.”
Now just what is a wizard of a computer doing in the kitchen?

Down boy, this is her show. I have a real strong suspicion that the best thing a husband can do is let the lady play this exactly how she wants to.

I just hope she’s not about to announce she wants me to move out. Or add some third to the bedroom.
Jack made sure his internal turmoil didn’t show on his face.

Two bites later, Kris paused with a fork just short of her mouth. “We never talked about children back when we were thinking of tying the knot. How many kids would you like? Someday, I mean.”

While one part of Jack’s brain did a quick threat analysis of where this conversation was going, the simpler part of him answered her. “I come from one of those large Catholic families. There were four of us, a brother and two sisters. I know you grew up with just your brother.”

“There was Eddy for all too brief a time,” Kris pointed out, still chewing that bite she’d used to cover her question.

“I figured two, maybe three kids.”

“Two point five. That .5 kid would need real love,” Kris said, with an imp of a smile that he loved.

“No doubt my wife will find all the love in her heart that any of our kids needed,” Jack said, smiling his love back.

They took another bite. As Jack chewed, he took in his wife. She was lovely. Lovely as she always was. She was also troubled. Taking extra care not to narrow his eyes into an inquisition, he studied her not as a loving husband but as a fellow soldier.

BOOK: Kris Longknife 13 - Unrelenting
12.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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