"I have seen you", the Doctor said.
Penny stood in front of the ops screen, dimly lit by the blue gleam of the night light.
The oval windows showing strange stars gave her the impression of standing at the bottom
"I've seen you watching me." Hands in his trousers' pockets the Doctor strolled over.
Softly he took her hand and directed it to his lips. For a moment his beard tickled the palm of her hand.
Penny pulled her hand away. "I don't think so." She stepped back.
"Well, that's the point. YOU want to go to bed. Gone are the days when your mommy sent
A whisper of a name, but it seemed to be echoing from the steel walls forever.
Waiting for her reaction the doctor looked at her.
"No Penny anymore." He stated.
"Not since a long time!"
"Oh, I know, I know!" he said soothingly. "But no one noticed. Besides me."
His mouth at her ear he said: "I observed you for months. Waiting that you started to go
"The all knowing doctor", Penelope spat. She lifted her chin defiantly and looked him in the eyes. "Why do think you know I have no one to talk to? What for do you think big sisters are?"
He smiled nervously, just a twitch at the corners of his mouth.
"Judith? And, could she help you?"
"A bit", Penelope answered deadpan. "She was ready to lend out West."
Jealousy swept through his body. "NO!", he forced out between thin lips.
Penelope smiled. "No", she agreed. "This is so important for me. Who knows how many
"And you are seventeen already."
"Seventeen and a half" , she corrected.
"Seventeen and a half, of course." He smirked. "How inconsiderate of me."
His face went serious. "I am not used to do things halfway, Penelope. Either you're with me
Now it was her turn to step up to him. "But I have already made my decision."
For a moment it was quiet at the Ops. Amazed Doctor Smith stared at the young woman.
At that moment the Doctor was painfully aware of his age. His buzzed-down gray hair.
Penelope was thriving, while the ship and the food afflicted him harder every day.
"There is no way", he said pointedly. He disengaged from her.
"I don't have to. I can", she reminded him of his own words. She laid her hand on his chest
He swallowed. He hadn't expected it to be so easy. "And your family?"
"Will be still my family. But you will be my guide and mentor, my teacher and lover if –
"Yes?", Zachary asked.
"If you give me the weapon now."
For the length of a deep breath, the doctor considered to lunge at her. Her at first, then the parents, securing West next don't forget the boy let Judith live to have a hold on the pilot...
But the moment went by, he breathed out, in again and put one hand behind him. From the
He held it out to Penelope, and she gently took the weapon from his hand.
"I have another thing for you", she whispered and drew a small metal object out of her pocket.
Without a word he took the stick with his still extended hand. Incapable to look her in the eyes
"Well", she said. "I thank you for your commitment to me, too."
With some effort he looked up without saying a word. Later, when his astonishment had
"Good night", he murmured and stole out of the Ops.
Penelope looked after him a long moment.
Behind her Judy stepped out of the shadows. "Well, that worked out just fine."
Penelope nodded and held out the weapon without a word.
Hesitatingly Judy stepped to her and took it. "It's late, isn't it? I want to go to bed."
Darkness enclosed him like a cocoon. One hand on his heart he tried to control his breath. He had gambled all and nearly failed. She really did surprised. Little pouty Penny! Now she knew how to bewitch him – she already managed to relieve him of his weapon. He didn't want to imagine how she found out about it.
He had made the mistake to underestimate her. This would not happen again.
The LED of the CamWatchStick flashed for a moment when he activated the device. He held it near his face and began to speak:
"Penelope... my precious..."
As if of its own volition his free hand swept under his trousers' waistband. He ended the message and closed his eyes.
To Penelope it seemed as if she could hear a faint buzzing from the planet the Jupiter sled by. Very softly the pilot Don West adjusted the impulse jets, and the shimmering green ball slowly drifted by. West flew near enough to assist Penny and Maureen scanning the planet with the ship's bio sensors. It was tricky work not to get caught by the planetary gravitation. But to give West his due; he was a great pilot!
The first testing scans showed the planet was not as green as it looked from above. But besides the vegetation there was something a lot more on its surface: Water!
Without asking West adjusted the receiver and switched incoming signals on the Ops' speakers.
Both woman winced. A monotone rumble interspersed with a higher pitched hiss filled the Ops. Penelope's water glass started to dance. Her mother sent a sharp look to West, but Penny just asked: "Are you recording it?"
West looked puzzled for a moment, then pressed a button. "Now I am."
"Fantastic." Penny closed her tired eyes. "Celestial sounds", she mumbled.
"Sorry?" Maureen looked up from the data pouring in.
Penelope waved dismissively and looked at her mother. "I'm pooped. May I quit?"
It was a rhetorical question. Maureen knew her daughter previously had worked the whole day shift in solar cartography.
"Go ahead, darling." She nodded. "The most important data are already interpreted. Time enough for a little walk into Morpheus' arms."
She deactivated her screen which slid back inside the work station. Then she went to the pilot. "I'll send John to relieve you, Major." West tried to disagree, but Maureen waved his protest away. "Tomorrow you have to land the ship carefully. And then we have to dispatch a reconnaissance mission. So good night, Don."
Penny waved. "Good night, Donboy."
With clenched fists Penny walked briskly to her quarter. Troubled like she was, she had to will herself not to run. Finally, after endless hours, to be alone with the stick!
Today it had been one of her jobs to bring the "parasite", as Major West used to call him, his supper.
She had knocked on the bulkhead knowing no one else of the travelers did. Smith didn't rise his head when the door slid aside and she stepped in with the tray. He tinkered with one of the medical panels which were part of the quarantine unit in which he lived. Three years before he had destroyed the equipment in anger when he was locked into his makeshift cell. Still parts of the mirrored walls were cracked. But now this room was his home and he tried to fix it.
"Put it somewhere", he said instead of a greeting.
"Thanks, and a nice evening to you, too, Doctor", Penny answered.
Without a word he held up the CamWatchStick and handed it to her above his shoulder. Then he worked on as if he had forgotten her presence.
Astonished and a bit hurt she left the quarantine unit. But after she locked the door she thought she heard a word floating in the air.
Now she shed her uniform, cleaned her teeth with the sonic brush and flung herself in her berth. Then she remembered the stick in her uniform and stood up again.
Devoutly she held the stick. Did she really want to know what he had recorded? And what if he didn't use it? Was she alone again already?
She sat down on the bunk and activated the stick. The little screen opened with a faint whir and she looked into a pair of blue eyes.
"Penelope, my precious. I don't know what is safe to record. Just the fact I am recording this... Major West would be more than happy to kick me out of the airlock. You know – away with the garbage."
Actually Don West had already tried to kill the Doctor. It was sheer luck for Zachary they had needed his medical expertise. He had saved Judith's life and was let alive therefore.
"Out there it is pretty cold, very unpleasant, even if you would accompany into the vacuum." He stopped as if he think his words over and started recording again with a strange shake in his whisper: "I forgot; it is my part to fill a vacuum." He winked into the lens, and Penny's pulse accelerated. "We have to find a way to meet alone, have to find a place to come together, our place."
Penelope smiled wistfully. Where should this place be?
"There I can explain, why I can't sleep – and what I demand from you. For this moment I await some proposals. Recording stop."
Now Penelope had to make a tough decision. The stick could save unlimited data, but was it wise to keep the recordings? Any way she looked at it, the answer was a definite no.
She nestled down in her silver quilt and clamped some of it between her knees. It helped her to play with her vulva muscles. Penny knew she had just this night to memorize his words. In the morning she had to erase the stick. The LED glowed and the message started again.
"Penelope, my precious..."
With the displaced atmosphere screaming like a banshee around her upper structure, the Jupiter 2 fell towards the surface of the planet. As always, Don West didn't see a reason for restraint and brought the ship down hard and fast, the environment be damned. Regardless of the consequences he made touchdown as hard as the Jupiter 2 could bear it. The crew had to wait for some time till the dust settled and the sensor cams delivered a half-decent view of the outside on the ops' monitors.
Judith and the Doc were scheduled for the early shift and stood already on the bridge in their outboard suits.
Judith frowned on Major West's showing-off. She turned to Smith and said: "Ah! So this was the swaggering pilot gene in action."
"A medically unacceptable theory, Dr. Robinson", Smith commented gravely. "I assumed a damaging of the vagus nerve. To much zero gravity, I am afraid."
Judith looked at the ground, hiding her smile.
"Hey! I dont have this vagithing!", West railed.
Judy and Smith snorted with laughter.
"Please, don't say nothing more", Judith begged.
Smirking she went to her colleague. "Now quit the doctor's jokes. We have work to do."
Grumbling West raised from the pilot seat and walked stiffly along them to the slowly opening main bulkhead.
Much too early in the morning Penny awoke. The first thing she did was erasing the message. She sighed and dressed unenthusiastically. I don't want to know what Mum replicated for breakfast, she thought and shivered.
Due to the limited ship resources they had to recycle all and anything on this ship over and over again. Don't think about it.
Will was already in the kitchen, and Maureen stood beside the breakfast table radiating disgustingly good spirits. "Penny, darling. Nice to see you up so early!" She kissed her daughter and presented her a blessedly undefinable porridge.
"Yuk!" Penelope wrinkled her nose. "What is THIS?"
"Snot", Will answered quick like a shot. "Thick, slimy, nutritious snot." To emphasize his words, he wildly stirred in his bowl and shoveled up the lumpy compound. "Yum-yum. Great, Mum, you really outdid yourself today."
"Cut it out, Will!", Maureen snapped at her son. "You are disgusting these days." She took a spoonful of the porridge and swallowed it. "And it is not slimy." She made a dramatic pause and looked at her children. "Did you know you could roast coffee from cat droppings?"
Will dropped his spoon. "I have to repair some robots", he declared and ran out of the kitchen.
Penelope and her mother looked at each other. Waggishness twinkled in Maureen's eyes, but Penny wasn't sure if her mum really was just joking.
"I'll go outside and check the hull, o.k.?"
Maureen frowned. "Out of your own free will? Are you ill, darling?"
"Don't kid me, mum." Bravely she gulped down a spoon of porridge. "You think I didn't feel how hard we were coming down? I wouldn't be surprised if there would be some welding to do."
Maureen smiled. "Nice to see you are beginning to take responsibility for your companions by yourself."
"Don't wind me up, Mum", Penelope said, rose and kissed her mum on the forehead. "Thanks for breakfast."
Late in the evening the outboard crew arrived back at the ship.
"Never ever again", Judy declared as she went to the ops.
Her father looked up and smiled vacantly. "What is it, darling?"
Judith pointed at West and Dr. Smith. "I'll never go on a mission on an unknown planet with these two guys again. No way!"
Now Penelope and her Mother looked up from their monitors. "What happened?"
"I'll tell you, Mum!" She nodded towards the both men who were glowering at each other. "None of them can't turn his back to the other one. The doctor made jokes about West, Don affronted Dr. Smiths parentage, and I stand between them and watch they don't try to kill each other. Who do you think I am? Their nanny?"
"I don't know why you're complaining so much?", West piped up. "If you had looked the other way just for a moment, we would have one useless eater less.” He formed a circle with his arms. "The circle of life, you know? Survival of the fittest?"
His rambling was answered by icy silence.
"If you had followed the circle of life on your own, Major, you would sit in one of the trees outside instead of boring us to death with your semi-intelligent gibberish", Smith noted dryly.
"See? See?" Judy was furious. "That's exactly what I mean!"
"And this the whole day", Penelope said pitying.
Judith shook her head. "I won't go out for any more data gathering with these two. Next time it's your turn, dad."
Professor Robinson, completely immersed in his work, nodded automatically. "Whatever you say, my darling."
Judith looked at her mother who gave a shrug. At night, inside the parent's cabin, she would talk to her husband. Since a few days he was not himself. Judith took a deep breath and handed her mother the data recorder. Smith followed. "Flowers for the ladies", he joked and lay a plant probe in her arms. He went as near as possible, so Penelope had a chance to give back the message stick.
West threw his hands in the air. "O.k., I see I'm of no use here. If anybody needs me, I'm in my quarters." Angrily he stepped away.
Judith, Maureen and Dr. Smith went to the biocsan console to watch the recorded data.
Hi Doc. Mum says we'll stay a few days to collect water, clean it, change the air filters and so on. And who knows, maybe we'll get lucky with the vegetation. Would be a nice relief from the recycler meals. You should count yourself lucky you missed breakfast!" Penny grinned into the cam. "Well, straight to the point. Here's my proposal: I assume you can leave your cell any time you want, otherwise I would be seriously disappointed. With a little help from me you can get out of the ship without using the airlock. At the moment I have to polish the hull on a ladder at starboard. What Do you think? Is 0030 ship's time o.k. for you? I will wait for you out on the hull. The code for the auxiliary hatch is 21151014B6. Stop recording!"
For a moment Zachary just lay there and listened. A gentle drumming thrummed through the ventilation shafts. Somewhere above him there were heavy footsteps and a rumble that had to be the monstrous robot. He was surprised by himself. Two days ago he wanted to kill the whole family, and now he was more or less an ally of the captain's daughter and got hull codes for presents. What a progress!
Laid-back he stretched on his cot, put his head on his arm and devised a new plan.
On this planet, the night was not completely dark, but filled with shadows. One had to have strong nerves to walk out of the ship. But the gods are with fools and drunks, Penelope thought and ran to the ladder that dangled from the starboard side. She raced up the ladder. When she reached the last step, a strong hand gripped her arm. Nearly jumping out of her skin, she looked up.
"Being in a hurry, my precious?" Smith pulled her up and hugged her. She couldn't read his expression.
He bowed down to her and asked: "How do you feel, Penelope?"
"As if I'd eaten ice cubes."
The corners of his mouth shot up for a moment. "It has to be like this", he asserted. “It's the same with me." Then he kissed her just like that.
Penelope expected a rapturous kiss, wild and violent, and was surprised about Zachary's restraint. With half open mouth he sucked on her lip and licked along her front teeth. Then he stopped and watched her reaction.
Penelope inhaled deeply and opened the upper buckles of her jumpsuit. She sat up and clumsily pulled her bubble printed shirt over her head. One of its seams gave with a crunch.
"Easy, my precious! We have all the time..." The doctor tried to ease her tension with a little laugh. She looked at him through her half taken-off net shirt and said: "I don't wanna wait for twenty years."
His smile disappeared. "No. And you don't have to." He gripped her arms as if to help her to undress. But then he took the long sleeves and knotted them behind her back, securing her arms.
Penny looked at him in bewilderment.
Zachary smiled about her expression and whispered: "I trusted you when I gave you my weapon – now trust me."
He opened his jacket and pulled the front of his shirt up, so that his chest also laid bare.
Penelope took a deep breath. "Okay", she squeaked nervously.
Smith enclosed the small waist of his schoolgirl with his hands and pulled her on his thighs. Then he pressed her chest tenderly on his.
"The first time you feel the skin of another person on yours is something you'll never forget" he whispered. He kissed her forehead and hugged her stronger. Penelope started to shiver, not knowing if it was because of the cool night air or because of his presence. For a moment both shadows melted into one, then Zachary disengaged from her.
He looked in her eyes and was glad to found no fear, just curiosity. Carefully he leaned over her, slid his tongue from her mouth down the face, down her neck and finally fondled her small breasts with his lips.
Penelope sighed languorously, and at this signal the doctor resorted to her left nipple. He slowly breathed on the light brown, erected bud. It bloomed and got even harder. Softly he closed his lips over it. Carefully he increased the pressure and let her feel his teeth.
Penelope gasped for air. At once the pressure of his teeth stopped. She felt his tongue play over her breast and wandering up again to her face. The doctor kissed her as soft as before and looked her earnestly in the eyes.
"Penelope, I can't show you all the things I want in one night. But never forget: Between lust and pain there is just a flick of the tongue."
He sealed this with a kiss, initially tender like the first one, but growing wilder fast. His hand at the back of Penny's head gripped her hair, his trimmed beard scratched like sandpaper on her skin. She barely noticed the doctor pinching her nipple.
But in her loins Penelope felt a warmth that made the soft skin between her thighs tingle.