Monday, January 17, 2011

Pandora Post #9

Title: Pandora

Part Nine: Into The Fire

Notes: This is the next part of a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica (titled Bonded, as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. The saga continues. Enjoy The first parts can be found a few posts down.

Working in a lab was just like working in an office in some ways. There weren’t cubicles, but there were places where people were expected to keep their things, boundaries between projects and equipment and space used depending on the scientist’s standing and the importance of their work. A person needed to be polite moving into another person’s space. You didn’t just lay your hands all over their bio-reactor; you asked politely if you could examine the slides. Even your superiors played nice before they delved into your experiment. At least, that was how things normally went.

Garrett was escorted across half the damn ship by Officer Brady, spent another five minutes going through a ludicrous number of scans before getting into the central lab, and was then treated to the shrill scream of metal on metal, highlighted by an irritated alto. A lovely red-headed woman who looked like she’d be more comfortable sunning herself on a beach somewhere was unclamping and moving a laser set up of some kind, and haranguing the poor man standing a few feet back from her as she did so.

“—far too expensive for you to screw them up by running your heat source too close to the gels! How many times do I have to tell you, Alberts?”

“Andrews,” the man offered quietly.

“Whatever. Did I or did I not tell you this yesterday?”

“I was going to wait until the experiment was done before moving the equipment. I’ll have to recalibrate everything and—”

“And what? Give me your substandard data and ruin countless other experiments in the future because you were too lazy to keep your heat source from fouling the gels? Oh yes, that makes perfect sense.” She stopped pushing the massive laser and wheeled on the man. “I want your experiment up and running with proper calibrations before you leave this lab today. No excuses! If it takes all night, good, that may teach you a lesson about disregarding the guidelines of this lab in favor of expediency.”

Garrett moved a few more feet into the room, and the woman whirled on him like a dervish. The other man, Andrews, shrank back to his equipment and kept his head down as the woman found a new target.

“How the hell did you get in here?”


She blinked at him. “What?”

“Actually I used the doors.” Obviously, his snarky tone suggested.

“Yes, but how did you get the clearance to make it through the doors?”

“By being hired as an employee and given a card.”

“What?” She looked him up and down scornfully. “Please.” She stalked over and thrust a hand out for his badge. He gave it to her calmly and glanced around, meeting a few people’s incredulous eyes and smiling.

“Garrett Carac…Cataract…whatever. You’re my climatologist?”

Garrett arched an eyebrow. “You’re my boss?”

“Doctor Martina Sims, head scientist and engineer, and yes, I am your boss,” she snapped at him. “Even though I didn’t hire you. I don’t appreciate having pretty-boy dilettantes shoe-horned into my operation just because their daddies are friends with the morons on high.”

Damn. This woman had to be a hell of an engineer for Jezria to tolerate her. Garrett wanted to tell her exactly what she could do with her operation, but his innate diplomat reminded him that he’d signed a contract, he was here for three years and he had to find a way to get along with Doctor Martina Sims. “Where will I be working?”

Doctor Sims sighed loudly and handed his badge back. “Over here.” She turned on her heel and led him down the length of the lab, past a dozen staring eyes, and over to a small table. A ridiculously small table, with a ridiculously antique climate modeling unit collecting dust on top of it. “Right there,” she stated, and folded her arms challengingly.

Clearly no one had challenged her lately. Garrett, however, was about to do just that, because there was no way in hell he was working like this. “Impossible.”


“You couldn’t accurately model an asteroid’s climate with this piece of shit, much less a system of the size and scope of Pandora. Unless you want to set me up to fail and by doing so prove to your superiors just how incompetent a manager you are, while potentially putting the entire expedition at risk, you’re going to get me a better set-up.”

“Do you have any idea how much those cost?” she yelled, gesticulating angrily. “I have to supply equipment for physicists, chemists, biologists, and the medical team is constantly stealing from our budget, and I have to deal with idiots wasting gels and issues of stockpiling and—”

“If you want accurate climate modeling that could save hundreds of lives and millions of credits, you’ll get me a better system,” Garrett interrupted. “It’s that simple. You can’t hamstring a lab that will need to operate successfully in the fringe by trying to save money at the outset.”

Doctor Sims stared at Garrett. He stared back. She tapped her foot. He politely stifled a yawn behind his hand.

“I might be able to afford an M-series. Older M-series, mind you.”

“I want a T-series, at least, with all the attachments. Soil analyzer, water analyzer, the works.”

“Ridiculous,” she scoffed. “That’s half the budget for this entire lab! P-series, with the soil analyzer.”

“S-series, with all the attachments.”

“S-series, but no attachments. You can use the geologist’s analyzers.”

“Those will have a completely different operating system and it will be a huge pain in the ass to transmit data between the two. Unless you have a programmer on board who’s fluent in both languages and a genius at making them work together…no? I didn’t think so.”

She stared. He stared. She sighed. “Fine. S-series with attachments, but you’d better be worth the money, Doctor Caratac…whatever your name is.”

“Just call me Garrett,” he encouraged. “Much easier.” Doctor Sims rolled her eyes and turned to go. “And I want a better chair.”

She spun back. “Your chair is fine!”

“It’s a stool. No back, no arms. No support.”

“Would you prefer a bench? Because I’ve got a limited budget which, thanks to your extravagance, is now even smaller, and you seem to expect me to work miracles with it.”

Garrett sighed internally. “Do you mind if I bring in my own, then?”

“Oh.” She seemed flustered for a moment. “No. Not at all. As long as you’re paying for it and you aren’t bringing in any electronics that will distort the signals of our equipment. And absolutely nothing with an entertainment unit. When you’re here I expect you to be working.”

“Not a problem,” Garrett promised her. Doctor Sims nodded, spun around again and stalked down the aisle, muttering to herself even as she scolded other scientists for being in her way.

A short, plump man sitting at the table next to Garrett leaned over and muttered, “Do you think you could wrangle me a new computer?”

The woman next to him smacked his shoulder. “Shekar! He’s not here to handle the dragon lady for all of us. Although,” she batted her eyelashes theatrically, “you are my hero.” She held out her hand. “Lila Englander. I’m the geologist whose analyzers she was offering up.”

“Shekar Pradani,” the man said. “Mathematician. I’ll help you with your modeling if you need, I have some good programs for that sort of thing.”

“Thank you,” Garrett replied. They all shook hands and then he pulled back a bit, looked around the room at the different areas, all partitioned off with glaring warnings, all apparently fair game to the wrath of Doctor Sims. “Is she always like this?”

“Doctor Sims is a little high strung,” Lila said diplomatically.

Shekar snorted. “She’s driven off three staff members in two weeks. We’ll be lucky if the lab isn’t pushed to rebellion before we get underway.”

“She’s not so bad when she’s back on Pandora,” Lila insisted. “Her husband is a geneticist with the expedition, but he stayed behind to run the home lab while she came here and organized the new arrivals. Frankly it would probably have been better if they’d switched, but she’s got seniority on him, so it’s her job to do it. He calms her down.”

“Then all we have to do is survive the trip to Pandora and we’re home free, huh?”

There was a crash at the far end of the lab, followed by a yell of, “Alberts!”

“Wonderful,” Garrett said flatly. “I’m sure that thought will be very comforting over the next two months of our lives.”

It wasn’t very comforting for the rest of the afternoon, however, and Garrett remained stubbornly uncomforted when he had dinner that night with Jezria. “You could have warned me you have a harpy for your head scientist.”

“Martina is an excellent scientist.”

“Well, she’s a shit administrator,” Garrett said, sipping at his wine. “This is good. Did Claudia give you this?”

“She did.”

“Did you bring enough to last you a while? I hear our alcohol consumption is going to be restricted.”

“Not just restricted but monitored,” Jezria said.

“What? Why?”

“Because I don’t want any of my colonists so inebriated that it affects their health or their ability to work,” she explained. “Think what you like about Pandora, Garrett, but this planet represents a new life to thousands of people. It’s a daunting undertaking for all of us, and there will be enough stresses on folk without the damage that can be done by self-medicating with copious alcohol or drugs. Especially since so many colonists are naturals. There is no rapid detox for a natural, no magic pill for them to swallow that cures a hangover. While we’re settling people into an alien environment that they’re going to have to make into a home, they’re going to obey some fairly draconian rules because they agreed to, to make the transition easier on all of us. You agreed to it as well,” she reminded him.

“I know,” he said sourly. “And may I just say how much I loathe the color tan? Beige, sand, dun, whatever you want to call it. It is possibly the most boring non-entity of a color in existence.”

“Loathe it all you like,” she said with a gracious smile. “Just learn to live with it.”


  1. What a nice surprise to get another installment of this story so soon! I had just been wondering how I was going to make it another week without an update. :-) Thanks for posting!

  2. I have my muse captured and tied up at the moment, long may she rest compliant:) I'm glad you enjoyed it. Hopefully I'll post again before another week has gone by.

  3. Hello from home,
    I am so glad that you keep writing and posting despite being where you are. I first found your work on Literotica site and got hooked. Please don't ever stop writing.
    Btw, if you like winters in Boulder you are not missing much this year. So far, it snowed a grand total of two times :(

  4. Irina from Boulder! Sweet! OMG, the home team comes calling. Some friends told me that it had snowed a lot in the mountains but almost none in Boulder, which is too bad. Maybe you'll get some big spring snows.
    Thanks for the compliments and for looking me up, Irina. I plan to continue writing and bothering my local internet cafe nonstop:)