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Sex, Serendipity, and Salacia Station

By Jessie Pinkham

Published by JMS Books LLC at Smashwords

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Copyright 2018 Jessie Pinkham

ISBN 9781634866040

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Cover Design: Written Ink Designs |

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published in the United States of America.

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Sex, Serendipity, and Salacia Station

By Jessie Pinkham

Chapter 1

“Can you believe people used to think our first encounter with alien life would be like this? Bipedal, human-sized, with a fake third eye, and suspiciously good command of human languages?”

Mick could. He enjoyed the old movies with their smart and often humanoid aliens, and honestly found such fictional extraterrestrial life much more interesting than the real variety. So far humanity had yet to find anything more intelligent than your average rabbit, and while Mick had nothing against rabbits, he didn’t find them particularly fascinating.

“Sure,” he said. “Why not? Most people aren’t captivated by bacteria, you know.”

His good friend Larissa Donovan, PhD, studied the bacteria in Neptune’s atmosphere, the existence of which she’d co-discovered. It was no surprise that her view on alien life was vastly different than Mick’s.

She frowned. “Bacteria are so underappreciated.”

“You have to admit it wouldn’t be an exciting movie.” This from Ott Gulbis, a man who couldn’t enjoy a movie with a flawed depiction of engineering. Mick knew from painful experience that such films accounted for a large percentage of movies ever made.

“I’ll admit no such thing,” said Larissa.

“Unless your bacteria were evil,” amended Ott.

“Bacteria can’t be evil. You can’t apply moral judgments to bacteria.”

“They could be killing off the entire human race.”

“That doesn’t make them evil.”

Mick drained his beer and said, “It would make them a suitable antagonist, though.”

The three of them spent a fair amount of time discussing movies for lack of other entertainment options. Salacia Station had never in its fifty-two-year history been renowned for its variety of leisure activities, because apparently the designers had been more concerned with keeping the station from crashing into Neptune and less concerned with the residents going mad. Some days Mick thought that was short-sighted of them.

At least the design team had concluded that eating real meals merited carving out space for a kitchen. Therefore Salacia’s residents enjoyed the physiological and psychological benefits of actual food as opposed to nutrient shakes, and Mick enjoyed full employment.

Salacia was the last station in the Sol system for outbound travel and the first for incoming (at least, most journeys were aligned with planetary orbits so that this was true), therefore most of their entertainment came from travelers passing through. At the very minimum the station could expect to receive some new gossip, like the previous week’s revelation that the lead terraformerer on Mars claimed to have fallen in love with his robotic assistant. When visitors were scarce Salacia’s residents had to amuse themselves any way they could, and to that end, movies were shown twice daily in one of the lounges.

“Why can’t bacteria be a protagonist?” asked Larissa.

“Because nobody wants to watch that.” Ott shook his head as though the answer was obvious. Which, to be fair, it probably was to everyone but Larissa.

“He’s right,” agreed Mick.

“Yeah, well, nobody wants to watch movies about station mechanical parts or paring knives either.”

“Never said they did,” Ott replied.

Mick shook his head, wishing the station didn’t have a strict one-drink per day limit. He’d have liked another beer. “Hell, I’m a chef and I don’t want to watch a movie about paring knives.”

“And I see mechanical parts all day at work. I’d rather see something else when I’m relaxing. Which just goes to show that your obsession with bacteria is unhealthy.” Ott punctuated this by setting his mug down loudly.

Mick wished Ott would let go of Larissa’s bacteria already. The man needed to find another hobby besides riling her up.

It would also help if Larissa learned to stop taking the bait, but Mick wasn’t that lucky. She bit. “You do realize that symbiotic bacteria keep you alive, right?”

Last time they had this discussion Larissa spent five minutes explaining the importance of gut bacteria, and partway through Ott’s retaliatory explanation of the artificial gravity system Mick grew bored and went home to jerk off to some porn.

“Isn’t there something new we could talk about?” he asked.

Ott said, “There’s a team docking tomorrow. They’re heading to the Gliese system.”

“They’re the deep-ocean survey, right?”

Larissa was probably right, because she kept up on the scientific groups. The science could be interesting, but Mick preferred the people. Watching the people who came through Salacia never failed to interest him. Deep space voyages weren’t for most people—hell, living as far out as Salacia wasn’t for most people, and leaving the solar system was much more demanding, not to mention riskier.

“I wonder if they get to fish,” mused Ott. “I haven’t been fishing in three years.”

“Plenty of fishing on Earth,” pointed out Mick.

“There are also Gulbises on Earth.”

Ott had taken his job because he liked orbiting a completely different planet than his family members. It was extreme, even he would admit, but it worked for him except on those occasions he missed fishing.

Mick didn’t catch Larissa’s comment because the lounge door opened to admit a cute guy. Average height and build, a little bit smaller than Mick, which was just how he liked his men, lush brown hair, and the kind of lips that would look amazing wrapped around…

“Salacia to Mick.”

“Shut up and let the man ogle, Ott. Not my type, but whatever boosts his rocket.” Larissa smirked, pleased with her terrible innuendo.

Ott made the same befuddled face he always made when people started talking about sex. As a self-proclaimed ‘flaming asexual of the aromantic variety’ he never understood Mick and Larissa’s behavior when attractive men visited the station, nor Mick’s delight on the occasions when said attractive men were gay or bi and interested.

“At least this time I won’t have to listen to you two argue over who gets a man if he turns out to be bi,” Ott told Mick and Larissa. “That’s not a conversation I’d care to revisit.”

Mick decided it was time to introduce himself to the newcomer. If nothing else, he might make a new friend and hear some good stories. “Later, you two.”

“Sure, ditch us for greener pastures,” said Ott as though he never did the same thing. Not hoping for sex, of course, but he liked talking with passers-through as much as anyone else and he’d been known to gab for hours when he found another rugby fan.

Mick didn’t care for pickup lines, preferring authenticity, so he simply walked up to the cute guy and said, “Welcome to Salacia. I didn’t think we were scheduled for any ships today.”

“Our stop was unscheduled. We’d planned to head straight in to Titan but one of the engine parts is balky.” He stuck out his hand. “Kevin Roth.”

“Mick Santorino.”

Kevin’s smile seemed to extend to his pale blue eyes as they shook hands. Mick deemed this a good sign.

“I take it you’re a permanent resident here,” said Kevin.

“As permanent as it gets, anyway.” Nobody stayed on Salacia forever, though Ott might end up being the first. “I’m the head chef.”

“So I have you to thank for that great roast I just ate, not to mention the fudge.”

“I don’t cook everything myself,” he said, though he did a good percentage, “but I get blamed if anything goes wrong, so I guess it’s okay if you give me credit for what goes right.”

“After seven months of nutrient shakes and meal bars I’m not picky.”

“Where are you coming from?” Seven months wasn’t one of the longer trips.

“Surveying the Kuiper Belt.”

“Are you a scientist?”

“I’m a computer guy, though I’ve learned more about the Kuiper Belt than most people want to know. I was on the mission to beta test new navigational software.” As he spoke Kevin looked past Mick to where Neptune was just coming into view.

Taking his cue, Mick asked, “Is the scenery nicer here?”

“Much. Neptune is gorgeous. Plus there are good-looking guys around,” Kevin added with a little grin.

Mick felt like cheering but kept it reasonably cool. “True. Though it doesn’t seem like your ship was badly off in that department.”

Kevin’s cheeks flushed ever so slightly at the compliment. “We try.”

“If you want to look out the windows, those seats are pretty comfy.”

“Good to know. Do you have any other useful tips about the station for me?”

“This might take a while.”

“We better sit, then.”

Mick led the way to a plush couch in front of the center window, gaining a new appreciation for the updated lounge furniture the station had received a few months earlier. It was a much more comfortable spot to bring a guy than the old lumpy couches.

“What do you do for fun around here?” asked Kevin once they were seated.

“Our main options are movies, reading, working out, playing games, inventing new games, and getting overly invested in weird competitions.”

“Weird competitions?”

“Speed poetry, sculptures made only from recycling bin objects, that sort of thing. I’m pretty good at chessarades.”

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