“Bets! Lay your bets!” Andy Miller yelled at his fellow crew members. They were in various stages of inebriation, but that was to be expected. It was, after all, July ninth of 2162, AKA Game Night on the ISS Defiant.
“What are we betting on?” called out Chief Engineer Frank Ramirez, over the din, as the synthbeer flowed and the few women on board who were foolish enough to watch the game in public were groped and pawed at.
“We got a possible play at the plate!” Andrew yelled back. “Ty Janeway’s on fourth base. You know Constantine will block home plate if Janeway runs for it. So I wanna know,” he took a breath, “who you think’ll win in a showdown?”
“Constantine,” Ramirez said, coming over and handing over his PADD. Andy clicked it against his own PADD in order to secure the wager. “Don’t look now,” Frank said softly, and he was hard to hear, “but isn’t that the new night shift pilot?”
A few wolf whistles confirmed that, indeed, Melissa Madden had joined the fray. She looked around for a seat. Guys like Billy Dane and Sterling Hutchinson and Walter Woods patted their own laps. Brooks Haynem even approached her, but she shoved him out of the way.
“Mister New First Officer,” she said to Andy, although it had been a few years since Travis’s death and he was no longer a newly minted Commander, “what the hell are you doing here?”
“I handle the betting. Now watch Constantine, the left-side catcher, and Janeway, on fourth. There’s gonna be a plate block, I can just tell.”
“Wanna bet?” she asked, brown eyes beguiling.
“Sure,” he said. They clicked PADDs.
On the widescreen, the announcers were overly excited. “And they’re staring each other down, just like two gladiators, Jeff,” said the color commentator.
His partner in the booth said, “Let’s watch Cole and Fong with the windups, Ted.”
There were five bases, two batters, two pitchers and two catchers - such were the ways of baseball in the Mirror Universe. Nearly simultaneously, the two pitchers hurled horsehide.
Both batters connected, but the left-side batter’s hit was far less powerful. As Andy had expected, the runner on fourth, Ty Janeway, charged toward home, with left-side catcher Dave Constantine standing there, in the way.
At the last second, there was a flash of silver, and Janeway stabbed Constantine as he slid. This got the big catcher out of the way, and Janeway touched home easily as his opponent writhed in pain. The benches cleared as the game turned into a brawl.
“You lost,” Andy said to Melissa. He had collections to make, but those others could wait.
“Come to my quarters later and collect, Mister New First Officer,” she eyed him as she said that, and then turned and left the recreation room.
He stared after her until he was punched in the arm. He turned to look in the direction of the punch. “What the hell’d ya do that for, Ramirez?”
“Miller,” Frank said to him quietly, “you are the Empress’s boy toy, and you’ve been so since Travis was killed, or have you forgotten? You go around chasing pilot tail and even the agony booth’ll be too good for ya. She’ll throw you in there for hours, watch you scream and beg and she’ll cut souvenirs off your body and then she’ll get Security to shove you outta the nearest airlock.” He clicked his PADD against Andy’s again, in order to pay off his gambling debt.
“Huh, uh, yeah,” Andy said, “I’m not thinking straight.” He finished collecting and left the room.
Instead of walking to the Empress’s plush quarters - like he was supposed to - he found himself wandering the Defiant’s hallways. He considered visiting Madden and collecting, but it seemed far too risky. The mighty Empress Hoshi Sato was blocking the plate and, in every way that counted, was preventing him from scoring.