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was open in astonishment. The situation wasn't covered in the manual.
"Love," Narvi choked finally. "With an alien? You must be joking."
"That blow on the head must have been solid as a rock."
Thesa just stared, without speaking.
"Beth is a wonderful woman and I'm in love with her. If the blow on the
head did that ... well then, I'm glad the ship cracked up."
"But, Lors! She's an alien! It's like a farmer, falling in love with his
stock! It's crazy! You couldn't live on this planet the rest of your
life, and she couldn't live with you!"
"What about Jela," Narvi demanded swiftly.
He didn't answer him. Memories of the blond woman with the trim ankles,
the slim waist and the large breasts floated back to him; memories of
the many evenings they'd shared walking along the sand under the stars.
He sat there fingering the thoughts as they rolled past, without feeling
anything. He was aware, finally, that Narvi was speaking to him.
"... know how you feel, Lors, but forget it. You could never work
anything out. Go on back to Jela and forget about this alien. It doesn't
matter how wonderful she is; probably nothing short of killing her
husband would gain her for you."
Lors smiled thinly. "We can do that, too." He paused and looked
thoughtful for a moment "What did Imry do with Danson?"
"Nothing. He lives better than most spacers. Since we are minus prisons
on starships, Imry installed him in your quarters, under guard, of
course. Commander Zark hasn't been able to figure out what to do with
him, yet. That's what he wants to talk to you about."
"Have you a scout ship here?" Lors asked.
"Certainly. We use them to make reports. The Terrans would pick up the
radio waves otherwise."
"How about a uniform?"
"You can borrow one of Thesa's. You'd never get into one of mine."
"Fine. As soon as I'm properly attired, we'll go see Zark." Grinning at
Narvi, Lors followed Thesa into the bedroom for the uniform.
* * * * *
Later, dressed in the uniform of a Firstspacer, Lors checked himself in
the mirror of the bedroom making certain that he was properly dressed.
Trousers bloused neatly into the black, half boots, the yellow stripes
perfectly aligned, the cuffs of the tunic fastened at his wrists and
throat, the emblems of the 8th. Terran Command on the collar, the patch
of rank on his left shoulder sleeve. Yes, he was all set. Precise.
He grinned at Thesa. "Feels good," he said.
The sandy haired spacer handed him the black leather belt containing the
auto-pistol and the cartridge belt. He buckled it on, feeling the
familiar weight drag at his right hip.
"Okay?" Thesa asked.
Lors nodded. "Thanks for the loan," he said and went out to where Narvi,
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