Back Amongst The Stars

Doc ratchets down the last tie-down strap on the Jeep in the hold and stands, straightens, and stretches his sore back. The last time Doc felt this tired was after his three day survival drop in the Georgia swamps. "Veronica?" calls to the intercom. "Yo?" she responds. "Hold our position until we figger out where we're headed." "Check," she says curtly.

Doc heads for the bar. After this last excursion, there is a beer in his future. The way there seems longer as his tired feet plod along the hallway. Steve is sitting at the bar with an untouched whiskey at his elbow. Off in the corner, Mark is fast asleep with a plate of steak & eggs half-eaten in front of him while the tv plays a porno with the sound down. The Cook and the Host busy themselves filling two picnic baskets with hot food and bottles of booze.

"Where's Thunderhorse?" Doc asks. "He and Miss Jazelle are on the observation deck 'reconecting' as he put it sir. Would you like some refreshment sir?" the Host responds.

"I'm too tired to eat," Doc says as he stretches, "but a tall draft beer would be nice." Doc settles in to the stool next to Steve. "How's it going?" he asks Steve softly.

"Huh? Oh, good." Steve says looking up from his calculations. "Nice job down there. Low body count and a successful mission. Good work..." he trails off, obviously thinking of something else.

The Host delivers Doc's cold beer with haste and returns to loading the groaning picnic baskets. The cold beer strikes Doc's throat with it's welcome chill and sting. It goes down easy, unlike Father Nathan's horrible wine.

The beer finds it's way home with a comforting warming effect and offsets his fatigue, but this isn't enough to calm Doc's concience. Looking for comfort, he asks Steve, "How badly could I have upset time by giving Father Nathan that map? Is it enough to screw things up, or just be a minor blip in the records of history? I'd hate like hell to think that I've buggered things up..." he trails off, looking deeply into his glass of beer.

"Well," Steve begins...

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