Harper was alone on the command deck. It was his turn to do the night shift. He thought, 'Now this is the life. The whole ship to myself, to do whatever I want with.' His thoughts were interrupted as Andromeda informed him, "Another ship is approaching, and hailing us."
"Really? On screen."
A familiar man appeared on the screen. "Agio?" Harper said.
"Harper? What are you doing on that ship? Did you and Becka steal it?" Agio asked.
Harper gave a short laugh. "No, we're part of the crew. Looks like you're still stuck in that same junk heap you like to call a ship."
"At least I have a ship. What happened to the Maru?"
"We still have it. We just like to ride in style now."
Harper was so busy talking to Agio he didn't notice Trance walking onto the command deck.
Agio said, "Bet I could still beat you."
"Oh please." Harper scoffed. "There's no way your ship is faster than the Andromeda. It's like ten times the ship yours is."
"Care to make a wager on that?"
"You're on! We can "
Trance interrupted, "I thought it might be nice to come up and see if you wanted any company, and to see if you were getting into any trouble, and apparently you are."
Scowling, Harper gestured to the screen. "Trance, you remember Agio."
Trance said, "Oh, Signa's Drift. A group of Nietzscheans who like to rule their corner of the universe like a gang of criminals."
"At least we rule our corner," Agio said.
Harper said, "See! He's such a bonehead! Don't you want to see me beat him just once? Just to the next slip point. That will be it."
With a mischievious smile Trance said, "Dylan's gonna kill us."
"Dylan won't know a thing, and Andromeda can't even hear us. She's off on a ship wide diagnostic," Harper said with confidence.
Andromeda appeared on screen next to Agio and said, "The Commonwealth has issued cautions when dealing with anyone from Signa's Drift. Their numbers are growing." Then she looked directly at Harper and said in a firm voice, "I can ALWAYS hear you Harper."
Harper scowled. "Yeah? Well I'm in Command! Dylan said! And I command we give Snobby a dose of Harper's Afterburner. Trance, shut the AP cylanoid valve, pretty please with a whole lot of love on top."
Trance said, "Closing the AP cylanoid valves."
Harper said, "Super injecting more antiprotons into the accelerator tanks."
"The mouths of the tank are radically swelling." Andromeda warned. "They are approaching capacity."
"What are you trying to pull child?" Agio asked.
Harper was smug. "That's Stallion to you, and in answer to your question Agio, the sudden jump of mass pouring into our core, under super pressure will give us a super burst of super speed!"
Andromeda said, "Exceeding capacity."
Harper yelled, "Eat our protons! Trance, open the valve now."
Trance nervously pushed the button. The ship lurched forward making everyone fall backwards.
Dylan, who had been in bed asleep, woke up with the movement. After looking around and listneing for explosions, he rolled over and tried to get back to sleep.
Harper started to pilot the ship in slipstream and gave victory yell. "Agio is space dust! Harper's Afterburner- otherwise know as HA! Take that ya looser!"
Andromeda's warning alarm started to blare.
Harper muttered, "What the
Trance said, "The valve is wide open."
"What!?" Harper started to panic. "But it's supposed to automatically close to regulate the flow!"
"Well, it's not. It's WIDE OPEN. And if the spill over is spilling over right back into the tanks "
Harper rambled to himself, "If the fusion spills back over into the tanks, we're gonna spill into the great wide beyond."
Turning reluctantly to Trance Harper said, "Somebody has to wake up Dylan."
Trance whispered, "I'm not waking Dylan!"
Harper called, "Andromeda ."
"Don't bother," Andromeda said with irritation. "He's already awake."
Harper pleaded, "Andromeda, please, you gotta do something."
Andromeda forced herself tocome out of slipstream with a jolt.
Dylan was tossed out of his bed and onto the floor. "Andromeda, what's going on?"
"Fusion from the core is beginning to spill over into the accelerator tanks," Andromeda's voice answered. "Harper is in command with Trance."
Sighing, Dylan stood up and started getting dressed. "All right, Cancel the monthly ship wide diagnostic, and report." He looked to the ceiling for guidance and said, "Harper, it's a simple night shift."
On the bridge Andromeda said, "Containing spill over in the accelerator tanks."
Once the emergency was over, Andromeda raised her voice. "Harper what were you thinking racing me out here far from known Commonwealth space!"
Harper stammered, "Uh, .Well "
Andromeda cut him off before he could say anything else, "You two are lucky I don't
" She stopped talking mid sentence. "Dylan is on his way."
Trance said, "What?"
Harper started shaking his head. "Dylan doesn't need to come to the bridge. You said you were containing the spill. Come on Andromeda, tell him the crisis is over."
Dylan walked onto the bridge with a scowl.
Harper plastered a smile on his face. "Umm
Hi, Boss. No need to come check on us. We had a minor issue, but it's all taken care of. You should go back to bed."
Dylan crossed his arms. "I had a little talk with Andromeda about that issue. Trance, walk with me." Without another word Dylan walked out the door.
Trance bit her lip and turned to Harper.
Scowling Trance whispered, "Thanks a lot Harper," as she walked out to meet Dylan.
Dylan started walking and Trance fell in step beside him.
"What did you want to see me about?" she asked.
Dylan stopped and crossed his arms. "I can't believe you went with Harper's plan. I know Harper is impulsive, and even though we're working on it, he may never stop to think about the consequences before he acts. But I really expect better from you."
Trance broke eye contact and turned slightly more golden than usual. She said sincerely, "I'm sorry Dylan. I . I guess I just got caught up in the moment. I really don't have a good excuse."
"I know Harper is your friend, and he's a very good engineer, but when he comes up with a plan to do something that you think might not be the best idea, I expect you to try and stop him, not to go along with it."
"Okay," Trance agreed with unshed tears in her eyes.
"All right, that's all," Dylan said. "I want you to take over the rest of the night shift for Harper. I need to have a talk with him."
Trance nodded and they headed back to command.
Harper was getting even more nervous, and was close to having a panic attack. Dylan had spanked him on more than one occasion, and Harper was desperately hoping that it was not going to be the case tonight. He could imagine Dylan talking about a 'lack of judgement', and 'endangering himself and others'. He heard the door to command open, and he saw a very repentant Trance coming in with Dylan right behind her. Harper gulped, and Dylan crooked his finger at Harper beckoning him towards the door. "Mr. Harper, walk with me please."
Harper stammered, "But I have to stay here. I have the night shift."
"Trance has graciously agreed to take over for you for the rest of the night. I'm not going to ask you nicely again, so you better start walking."
Turning red at being publicly scolded, Harper started walking. As he passed Dylan he made sure his front was to the bigger man the entire time.
Dylan walked out and the door closed behind them. "My quarters please," Dylan said before walking that direction.
Harper's stomach sank. Now he knew he was in for it. Dylan never told him to go to his quarters if he was just going to chew him out. Harper thought about running and hiding in an access tunnel, but he'd tried that once and didn't like the results. He'd been found by Rommie fairly quickly, and she had then taken him back to the captain's quarters where he had gotten two spankings instead of one.
He slowly walked towards the captain's room with his head down.
Dylan looked back and snapped, "Make it quick, Mr. Harper."
Harper didn't look up, but did increase his speed. His stomach was in knots and he was starting to sweat. He thought, 'You don't have anyone to blame but yourself Harper. You just had to go racing with Agio. Stupid of me to think Dylan wouldn't find out. Andromeda and her big mouth are sure to tell Dylan anything he wants to know. And Rommie isn't any help either. I made her, and she still takes Dylan's side over mine. I bet Dylan wouldn't be so mad if the stupid valve had automatically closed like it was supposed to.'
Very soon he found himself at Dylan's door. Dylan was standing just inside the door waiting for Harper to come in. Harper walked in past Dylan who swatted him as he went by.
"Oww." Harper rubbed his butt.
"Privacy mode," Dylan ordered.
Andromeda's voice said, "Privacy mode engaged."
Feeling sorry for himself Harper muttered, "Why bother? She knows what you're gonna do. At least Tyr and Trance don't know."
Dylan pulled out a chair, went to get his hairbrush off his dresser, and sat down. "I'm tired let's get this over with."
"Or, you could just go to bed and forget about it," Harper said hopefully.
Dylan had had it. He stood up, grabbed Harper's arm, and marched him back to the chair. Keeping a hand on Harper he said, "Pants down."
Harper winced at the sharp order and undid his pants. They fell to the floor and Dylan tugged Harper across his lap. Dylan immediately started swatting the seat of Harper's boxers.
"Ow!" Harper yelped and grunted with each swat. He knew Dylan was really pissed, because he didn't even do his usual 'Why are you getting spanked?' routine. Very soon Harper was yelling, "I'm sorry. Ahh! Dylan, I'm sorryyyyyy."
Dylan said nothing, and just kept spanking him until Harper started to cry. Then Dylan slowed down, concentrated all the smacks on Harper's sit spots, and said, "You will not race the ship again, Seamus. Have I made myself very clear?"
Dylan stopped spanking and tossed the brush on his bed. He let Harper lay there for a minute and rubbed his back while he cried. Once the tears had slowed he helped Harper stand.
"Fix your pants."
Harper pulled his pants up and fastened them while sniffling. He wiped his face with his arm and tried not to cry any more, feeling pathetic.
Feeling bad that he'd done things so abruptly, Dylan pulled Harper into a hug. "I'm sorry I was short with you Harper. Waking up in the middle of the night doesn't do good things for my disposition. We'll talk more about this tomorrow."
Harper shook his head. "We don't need to talk more about it tomorrow. I got the message loud and clear. No racing Andromeda."
Dylan let him go, and leaned down slightly to look him in the eyes. "We are going to talk about it tomorrow. But for now I want you to try and get some sleep."
Harper reluctantly nodded and walked out the door. The walk back to his own quarters always seemed much longer when his butt was aching then it did on a normal day. He wasn't looking forward to talking more about the whole mess the next day with Dylan, but he wasn't surprised either. Dylan never let things go without making sure Harper knew exactly what he'd done wrong, and what he should do in the future if faced with a similar situation. He could hear the guilt inducing lecture already.
Sighing he walked through the door to his quarters, flopped onto his bed stomach side down, and fell asleep pouting.