“Frikking Navy Pukes!” swears Vera under her breath, “‘the Regs say this’ and ‘the Regs say that’!”
“Piss on the Regs! Ham wasn’t hurting anything! He just wanted to touch the pretty colored buttons, no harm done, and where does it get us? ‘You better keep watch on your pretty mucle bound moron, or we’ll…’! Or they’ll what? Frikking Navy Pukes! The ship’s Doc said the Navigator’s jaw wasn’t broken!”
Turning to Troll, Vera snaps, “Your turn to watch Ham. I’m gettin’ some shuteye before we transfer over to the insertion ship. Wake me when they start boarding.”
In the wake of Veras’ storming off the crowd around the scene begins to fade. Just as Harpoon is about to leave he slowly leans over to Ham and wispers.
“You know thaat Navy Docktor? Zee one wit zee huge…”
“If you say you had sex with her I will kill you.” Ham says with a deadpan stare.
“Oh…er…carry on then.” Harpoon beats a quick retreat to his cabin
‘That Harpuun fellow is asking for trouble. He better not be sleeping with all my females.’ thinks Ham.
A sudden pain from his bladder distracts him.
He turns the InstelArms Hercules Mark III Combat Armour Users Manual sideways, hoping the diagram that Harpuun had said said how to pee without getting your underwear wet would make sense. As far as he can tell, the rubbery thing went somewhere near his johnson, but then what?
He didn’t even want to think about going number 2.
When asked, Troll kept saying “depends”. Ham didn’t understand that either. Field-stripping his Rutger Hauer X04 7.62 3500 rpm LMG in a cloud of frozen methane at night, naked, was easier than this stupid “mono-carbon fibro-plastic carapace personal protection system”.
He sighs. Now he’d have to make sex with the boss lady again to get her help. He missed his tweedy brainy buddy from Glisten. WWKWTD.
As Troll leaves to get a sandwich, Ham leans over and picks up the ‘Guns and Ammo’ mag Troll was reading. He hopes there will be lots of pictures in it.
When he picks the Magazine up a book falls out onto the floor. Ham furrows his brow, concentrating with every fibre of his being as he slowly reads out the title.
‘“Crime and Pun-ish-ment”, by Dos….Dost…. Duzzyeff….oh Frak it. Some Zhodani guy or something anyway. I guess them Zhodani write a lot of Cop stories.’
Unfortunately apart from a not very distinguishable illustration on the cover, there are no pictures inside, and having already lost interest, Ham drops it back on the floor. Then he ambles off to his bunk, thinking ‘Need sleep now. Chase Rabbit in dreams, maybe catch him this time.’
A few hours later, Vera, refreshed, stumbles upon the classic novel laying near the pile of gym towels. Picking up a towel, she sniffs it delicately.
‘Ham.’ she sighs, ‘I knew you were smart…’
Throughout the journey, Vassily remained a little distant from the others in the group. Not having shared the success of the group’s first mission, he felt a little of an outsider, not getting the in-jokes of the others. He progresses through the training diligently but, as time wears on, it becomes obvious that he is starting to get bored of the endless, dull routines and is anxious to prove his new skills.
Most evening, Vass retires to his stateroom with a bottle of vodka. Those listening at the door hear a variety of different sounds emanating as the evening progress, cursing in some foreign tongue and crashing around, followed a while later by the sound of sobbing, finishing with loud snoring.
It is only when Ham mentions the book that his ears prick up:
“Dostoevsky,” he exclaims. “He is very famous author from Mir … Terra. My world, it is named after him.”
“It is not Zhodani,” he adds with a curl of the lips showing his obvious distaste for the brain-rapers.
“It is supposed to be one of greatest books from all time,” he adds. “We were to read it for school, but I had more important things to do when I was a malchik than sitting inside reading knigy.”