The ship soared through the shimmering black, riding the edge of spacetime on the crest of an antimatter explosion. The massive stardrive engines roared silently to the void.
In the pilot's chair, Captain Jack Masters had just about lost his patience with his first officer.
"You're lucky you're a woman," he snarled over his shoulder as he turned back to the controls. Damn GPC, sending a woman out on his ship. He didn't care if she was post-human, and had once piloted a rail-ship down from orbit unpowered, she was still a woman.
And women just got in the way. Got between a man and his ship. A man and his... crew.
"Ugh, stop that!" she said, shaking her head.
"What?" He looked around at her.
"Ugh, stop that, sir," she deadpanned. "I'm an empath, among other things. That means I know when you're getting homoerotic, because I get hit with all your weird guilt." She choked back a laugh. "No, it's too late to start thinking of me naked. And you're not half as aroused as when--"
The captain stood up from the pilot's station, looming over her and glaring down at her. She looked up at him and grinned.
"Have I made you mad enough to take a swing at me yet? Sir?" She took one step back, rising up onto the balls of her feet, bouncing in front of him, taunting him. "Or does a subordinate get away with mocking you just because she's a--"
She dodged his first punch, and the second. She leapt over a series of kicks, and spun away from another punch, grabbing hold of his overextended arm moments later and tossing him across the bridge.
"Johnny," she said calmly. "Take the pilot's station."
"Aye, ma'am." Johnny ran to the station. He was a young ensign, on his first assignment, and he had idolized the heroic Captain Masters, begging at each new world to join the exploration team, wanting desperately to be part of the adventures he kept hearing about from the officers.
Then one day he'd been included on a team, and went down to the planet with the Captain and a few others. Most of the others had died, and the chief of security had escaped back to the ship. But Johnny and the Captain had been captured. Thrown into a squalid alien prison. They languished in the cell for days. He thought of the cell, and the Captain, and what had happened.
And he smiled a nasty little smile for what would surely happen next.