This is from a prequel to my Lone Wolf sci-fi series. It hasn’t got a proper name yet, so it’s just called Ben Drexel after one of my favorite characters from the series. It records Ben’s early life in the Galactic Marines. This first meeting is a little unique, because not only does Ben meet someone, so does his best friend, Ray.
Ahead of them in line were two women that Ben and Ray had their eyes on. Between themselves, the men called the women Ruby and Ebony. They sauntered up behind them, doing their best to appear casual, although secretly hoping that the women would notice.
Ruby looked behind her when Ray accidentally on purpose, brushed against her with his tray. Raising an eyebrow, she sucked in her cheeks, giving him a long, appraising look. He grinned, touching his brow.
“Evening, ladies. What’s on the menu tonight?”
Ruby pointed at the menu. Ray’s face fell. This was the third time in as many days that they’d had Swiss Steak and mashed potatoes. Ray wasn’t picky when it came to food, but he did like some variety.
“Guess they got a special deal or something,” he grumbled.
“Better than the food at our last posting,” Ben commented as his tray was loaded with food.
“True. That shit sucked balls,” Ray said louder than he intended.
Ruby glanced at him over her shoulder. Ebony giggled.
“Could ya not?” Ben said, ears reddening. He was much more careful with his language around women than Ray ever was.
“Not what? Complain? Yeah, that’ll happen.”
“I think it’s more the way you’re saying it than what you’re doing,” Ruby said with a sniff. “There are ladies present.”
“So? Like you haven’t heard bad language. You are Marines, aren’t you? Hell, baby, if you ain’t heard it by now, are you gonna get a surprise.”
“Could you shut up and move?” A corporal behind them said.
“Yeah, bite my ass, Prosser.”
“Yes, Gunnery Sergeant. Bare it and we’ll see who bites who.”
“Shut the fuck up, Prosser,” Ray said, irritated now.
Ruby and Ebony headed up the line. Ben followed and Ray purposely walked slowly as his tray was loaded with his selections. When they got to the end, he looked around for a place to sit. Ben had joined the two women, talking politely. There were no empty spots except for one seat at the same table. Ray ambled over casually, sitting without asking permission. The women eyed him incredulously but he stared at them, taking a bite of his food. Eating in silence, he listened to Ben and the women talk. They still hadn’t told him their names, but he didn’t care. He just wanted to eat and get back to his quarters before he embarrassed himself again.
“Una and I were planning to check out the laser show at the planetarium in town. Would you two like to join us?” Ruby said as she stood to dump her tray.
“That would be great,” Ben said, trying to hide his delight.
Ray was too surprised to speak until Ben nudged him. “Yeah, that’d be great. Thanks.”
“See, Benni, I told you he had better manners,” Ben said with a grin. “He is housebroken, but that’s about the best it gets.”
Benni’s eyes raked over Ray, examining every bulge and contour of his physique, finding it pleasing. She’d been interested for quite awhile, but wasn’t going to let on to him.
“I can live with that, Ben. So, Ray, where are you from?”
“Originally or lately?” He finally warmed up to the fact she was talking to him, instead of at him.
“Start with originally.”
“I was born on Io, but moved to Primos in the Delta Quadrant when I was a kid. Ben and I grew up together.”
“You’re from Primos?” Una asked Ben.
“Yeah. Been there?”
“Been there? I grew up there too!”
“No kidding? My family had a booth in the bazaar in Capitol City. They sold shnack-haueters.”
“No they didn’t!”
He chuckled, putting his arm around her shoulders. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure they did.”
“You’re that Drexel? Oh, my God! My father and grandfather taught me how to use a shnack-haueter before I could walk!”
“Really? We’ll have to get together and practice sometime.”
Benni looked between them, puzzled. “A what?”
“Shnack-haueter or snake hammer,” Ray explained. “It’s a weapon that’s kind of a cross between a whip and a club. Very complex and can be real unwieldy. Brutal as hell if you do it right, though.”
“Do you know how to use one?”
“Not too bad….”
“Don’t let him fool you,” Ben said. “For a non-native, he’s damn near good as me.”
“You’re good with your haueter, are you?” Una raised an interested eyebrow.
Ben laughed at her double entendre, at least he hoped it was.
“Among the best,” he said proudly.
“We’ll see,” she replied, snuggling closer.
“Where are you from?” Ray asked Benni.
“I grew up on Old Earth in Death Valley.”
“No kidding? I always wondered why it was called that. It’s such a beautiful place.”
“It used to be a desert, several centuries ago. It wasn’t until all climate changes in the Twenty-Third Century that it got the proper rainfall to grow anything but cactus and lizards.”
“Learn something new,” Ray said with a grin.
© 2020 Dellani Oakes
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