Jillian stepped out of her shower and dried off. She wrapped the towel around herself and sat down in front of a mirror to apply some makeup and brush her hair.

Even with Lootie down, or mostly down, she was still able to order needful things like underwear and makeup, which were delivered to the tower by delivery drones. Raleigh made sure she had plenty of uniforms. He said there were several hundred t-shirts and other related items in the building. Just about everything the pirates usually needed was stored here.

Out of the selection he gave her, she chose the smaller sizes. He seemed to like it when she wore form-revealing tops. If at all possible, she wanted to keep his attention focused on her.

That had proven rather difficult over the past couple days, with all the many chores and tasks he had to handle now that the Mule was back home. Still, he had stopped by her room and shared supper with her two nights in a row. She thought that was promising.

They still had not kissed, although Jillian had continued tossing off indicators that any pass he wished to make would be more than welcome. Unfortunately, he really was very busy and could only stay for an hour or so to eat before rushing off to handle other pressing matters.

Today she hoped maybe things would settle down enough and they could finally spend some quality time together. And by quality time, she meant romantic moments. Thus she diligently applied the makeup, including lipstick, in the hope that her efforts to steer them to this desired event might at last come to fruition.

She hung up the towel and put on her clothes, gently pulling on the t-shirt so it didn’t mess up her face.

She had slept in and missed breakfast. Now it was almost lunchtime. She palmed the door to her little room and it opened up. She stepped out in the hall and headed for the elevator.

She was on the 51st floor, in part of the skyscraper that was reserved for crew’s quarters. The Aquamarine’s crew and passengers were housed on lower floors. Chris, as she had come to call Captain Raleigh, had informed her over dinner that ordinarily he liked to keep passengers and crew onboard a captured ship until payment demands were met. However, since the Aquamarine’s main electrical system was shot, he allowed them to travel down to Port Ryan and be moved into Mule Tower. Teleportation was still on the fritz while LuteNet’s core was being restored, so everybody had been ferried down via transports.

The poor girls who had been forced into serving as indents were evacuated from Aquamarine the same way, she discovered. But they were put up in local Red Cross shelters. That suited Chris just fine. He donated their remaining food supplies on the ship to assist the charities taking care of the women.

The elevator dinged. She walked in and touched the floating hologram of number 121. The doors closed and it headed up to the “mess.” Anywhere else and it would be called a restaurant, she thought. All crewmembers were welcome to eat in the mess at any time. Meals were deducted from their accounts.

Chris set her up with an account as a new crewmember. It did not have anything in it, yet. He said the balance would be adjusted after the payout from her first voyage. He was not sure when that would happen, though. Part of her very much looked forward to that next voyage, when hopefully he would have plenty of time to devote to her.

She looked longingly at the number 120 floating beside 121. That entire floor, she knew, was his. Someday soon, she hoped, she would get the opportunity to visit it. Maybe even someday, it could be hers. Or, half of it anyway. How did laws on Lute govern property owned by husbands and wives? She resolved to look that up at the next opportunity.

The rest of her day would be spent in weapons training, combat training, and other things pirates needed to know. But for right now, she needed to eat.

The door dinged open, and the floating number nearby read “121.” She walked out of the elevator and into the mess. Some people were already there. She recognized Kim, Pak, and Roddy. They were sitting at a large table with a handful of others.

Everybody waved at her and she walked over. All the men had remained very polite to her at mealtimes. Nobody put any moves on her, nor said a word out of line. She presumed this was because everybody knew of the mutual interest she shared with the Captain, and in that she was not far off. People had noticed the time he spent with her on the way back home, how he shepherded her through the onboarding process in joining the company, and the fact he spent suppertime with her every night.

Nobody would ever say the pirates in the Ultima Mule Company were dumb. They would not be doing anything to get between their Captain and his woman. Even if said woman was not officially his, yet.

She headed for the table. A robot waiter arrived with a tray full of food. Apparently the men had already ordered.

Before she got there, the lights started blinking red, and a klaxon sounded.


A male voice in the air said, “Electronic intruder alert! Electronic intruder alert!”


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