“It’s fookin’ WHITE”
“It’s Ice White”
“It’s white, white fookin’ white”
This had been carrying on for a couple of minutes. Not a debate. Not even contradiction as essentially both men were in agreement as to the colour white. The bone of contention appeared to be the addition of the word ‘ice’.
“Dogg” Toad finally looked exasperated “I’m not saying it isn’t white”
Mahdogg threw his head back triumphantly.
“I’m just saying that Lakon call that particular white, ‘Ice White’. Cynnrain, am I right”
I smiled and nodded. This is how it is with CMDR’s Toad and Mahdogg. Dogg looked disbelievingly at Toad.
“Can you hear yourself man? What are you, some sort of Lakon paint expert? Have you got Lakon colour charts pinned up in your cockpit? Have you got I heart Lakon stickers on the back of your ship? You need to get out more Toad”
“None of those things Dogg. If you cast your mind back to the pretty brunette girl I used to be … friendly … with at Massimo Dock. Can you remember what she did for a living?”
“Yes. Sales. She sold paint for Lakon”
“Wow!” Dogg looked around the group “That was your pillow talk was it? Testing each other on Lakon paint terminology?”
“Don’t be so crass”
“Can I get you commanders more coffee?” The waitress provided a welcome distraction. Nods and smiles from all six commanders.
“I thought there would have been more at the party last night” Toad to nobody in particular “I thought at least Alvin might come. He gets on really well with Cynnrain”
“Everyone gets on well with Cynnrain” Commander Vingtetun didn’t bother shifting from the head tilted back position he’d taken up as the waitress left the table “I told you we shouldn’t have let Cecil send out the invitations”
“Dear boy” Cecil was swaying in his seat “The invitations went out. Trust me.” Raised eyebrows from all at this final statement.
“How many did you send Cecil?” from Hober this time “How many?”
“I lost count after six old fellow”
“There are six of us around this table” Vin’ looked at Cecil with narrowing eyes “You only sent out six invitations didn’t you? And … oh no … you actually invited Cynnrain to his own surprise going away party as well? Well done old fruit. You’ve outdone yourself”
“It’s fine Vin.” I thought I’d better come to Cecil’s defence. The old chap still reeked of Centauri Gin and probably didn’t need a hard time right now “It was a good night, wasn’t it?”
The waitress arrived with more coffee and there was silence other ‘thank you’s’ as she poured.
“Farm boy. Have you done your final checks?” Toad gave Dogg a sly wink.
“You know he has Toad.” Vin answered before I could “I’ve been out with him twice to check everything before you even woke up.”
“You never really left the navy Cynnrain, did you?” Dogg joined in “Do you ever get tired of checking everything is in working order?”
“This coming from the man who is on first name terms with most of the fuel rats” Vin to my rescue this time “You’d do well to take a leaf out of Cynnrain’s book, Dogg.”
“They love it. They’d get bored without my weekly call for help” high fives with Toad across the table.
“Let’s drink up and get Cynnrain on his way.” Vin drained his cup and stood up “Are you ready Cynnrain? Time you were out in the black old fruit”
The walk to my Keelback was slow owing to Cecil’s two steps forward, one step back approach. Down to, entirely, to the quantity of gin he’d thrown down his throat last night.
“I still don’t know why you sold your Cobra Mark III for that” Toad jabbed a finger towards the white Keelback.
“Now, now Toad” Hober interjected “Keelback’s are perfectly capable exploration ships. All sorts of ships are out in the black. And if you remember, Cynnrain does have a taste for the out of the ordinary sometimes. Remember his first Hutton run in a virtually unmodified Sidewinder?”
Toad gave a laugh and nodded as he turned towards me ”I do. For an obsessive compulsive worrier Cynnrain, I have to say, you do sometimes have a capability to do some really odd things. Now, are you sure you’ve checked you’ve got everything?”
“I’ve got absolutely everything I need. Everything has been checked and double checked”
“And you’re sure you don’t want to check everything again before you leave? You’ll be away for at least a couple of months, you know?”
At this point, I remember looking at Vin for his thoughts. I got a shake of the head and a smile in response “No need old fruit. Everything is working fine. You know it is.”
I think Toad and Dogg thought I might panic at this point and go for another check anyway. They were both looking at me with strange smiles on their faces. I held firm. I had to shake this dull, methodical, obsessive reputation I seem to have got myself.
“No, as you say Vin. It’s all working fine. Everything is in order” I said as I reached for my door remote to find it wasn’t there. Panic. I started patting the pockets of my boiler suit. Toad was swinging the remote in front of me when I looked up. Panic over.
“They had fallen out your pocket at breakfast Cynnrain. I meant to give them back earlier but forgot.”
“Thanks Toad. I can’t believe I did that. I’m usually so careful about these things”
“Well, you’ve had a lot on your mind Cynners” Dogg patted me on the back as I opened the Keelback entry hatch “First exploration voyage and all. It’s all very exciting fella isn’t it?”
“Well, I appreciate it lads. Thank you. For the Mug Commanders” I addressed the small gathering and saluted to a chorus of “For the Mug” and returned salutes.
And a few minutes later I was in the cockpit and waiting for station clearance to take off. The gang had moved up to one of the viewing gantries to wave me on my way. They must have prepared the gantry because they were all holding up silver Hutton Orbital Trucker mugs. But then Toad and Dogg pulled up a big hand written board. I was puzzled. I had expected ‘#ForTheMug’ to be written on it. Or maybe ‘Goodbye Cynnrain’. Or something of that nature.
But no. On the board was written ‘#ForTheBum”. They were laughing and waving their free hand with great enthusiasm. Before I was able to puzzle any further, the flight controller’s voice came over my intercom. The last female voice I’d hear for some time. “Landing gear released Commander. You’re ready to leave the station. Stick to the greens on the way out”. And I did.
I took my time plotting my course and had only made two jumps when Vin’s familiar tones broke over my radio.
“Cynnrain. Are you there old fruit?”
“I am Vin’. Is everything okay?”
“Everything is fine Cynnrain but you’re going to need to stop off before you hit the black.”
“Why?” Now I was really puzzled
“If you check your cargo hold, you’ll find that pair of jokers Dogg and Toad have removed all of your toilet paper. They lifted your hatch remote before breakfast and removed every last roll. For the Bum, old fruit. For the Bum”
And with a lot of swearing, I carried on my way to my first exploration trip. Albeit on a false start.