The flight back from Chandra Isle to Long-Pig station had been suprisingly quiet, they'd had to avoid some company interceptors that had been sent to investigate the explosion, but it seemed that the base had either not had time to get off an alarm, or had not wanted to for some reason.
The Intercomm buzzed,
'Captain, this is Torville, Dorys' bed hasn't been slept in.'
Dorys was one of her finest marauders, she hadn't had time to do a headcount in the drop-pod when they had bounced back to the ship as the base was exploding.
'Are you sure she's not just gone landside?'
'No, no-one can remember seeing her since we made way.'
'Right, get the crew back aboard, we're going after her!'
'Now, Mr Torville!'
'It's Dr When's birthday, he'll be celebrating.'
The Captain disconnected the Intercomm and performed a sliding face-palm, her first officer was known for his somewhat salacious personal life, finding him on Long-Pig was bad enough normally, but the chances were - he wouldn't want to be found.
'Frobisher?' She called, addressing the brass head in the corner of the room,
'Is When's locator functioning?'
'No Ma'am, it appears to be disconnected.'
'You mean turned off?'
Frobisher's immovable features still managed to look slightly embarrased.
'I don't suppose we can use the station's security cameras to locate the good Doctor can we?'
'I will try to connect.' The lights on his face cycled through the colours of the rainbow and settled on red, 'I'm afraid the security systems are significantly tighter than the last time.'
'Remind me why you're still connected Frobisher?'
'Ma'am, it's because the output from the old fusion engines that you insist on using fluctuates so rapidly that without me to correct the baffles, you would all die in a massive thermonuclear event.'
He was right, the engines were rated for a much smaller boat, that's why they had twice as many, but they were the only brass ones she could find, and they were beautifully engraved.
'I'm going landside,' She announced to the bridge-crew, 'If When comes aboard whilst I'm away, contact me immediately.'
The cries of 'Aye Ma'am!' were still ringing through the walkway as she reached the external door. Pressing the opening stud caused an alarm to sound and a recorded warning message to be played in Frobisher's voice,
'Danger, docking arm is currently located on the port side of the ship, attempting to open this door could cause personal injury or painful death. To reach the port docking area, please follow corridor A-24 to...'
'Warning, over-riding thi....'
'Acknowledged, opening starboard doors.'
The cargo doors opened with a squeal of protesting metal, she would skin the maintenance team alive when she got back aboard. She took a step back, breathed in deeply, and jumped through the still opening doors.
The ground was around two hundred feet below her, giving her about six seconds before she became an unpleasant greasy stain on the floor. She continued to fall in a graceful swandive until there was less than fifty feet between her and a sudden stop, she grabbed hold of the steel hawser that connected the Edward Teach to the ground and engaged the grip function of her power-gloves. As he slowed, she could see the upturned faces of the roustabouts below her. At ten feet, she disengaged the gloves, backflipped off the rope and landed, like a cat, on the deck.
She turned to the assembled men, gently blew the smoke from her palms and said,
'What? Have none of you swabs ever seen a lady get off a boat before?'
'Y... Y... You jumped!', said one of the dockworkers, a solid lump of off-green muscle. He pointed upwards, 'From up there!'
'Yes, yes I sort of did, didn't I? Anyway, have you seen my 1st Officer? Solid looking fellow, hair in a ponytail? Centauri accent?'
The assembled throng slowly shook their heads, or whetever they chose to keep their primary sensory organs in.
'He's in the Queen and Scorpion,' Said a tired voice from above, 'Behind the Governors building, follow the stream of tuppenny doxys, you can't miss it.'
'Thank you, Mr....?'
The wiry man perched on top of the tall pile of packing cases regarded her closely from under the brim of his hat , and replied,
'Preen, Criven Preen.'
'Thank you Mr Preen, a credit for your trouble.' She tossed a ten credit piece up towards him, he raised his hand, the coin stopped dead in the air and fell to the ground.
'No thanks required... Ma'am,' He pulled the brim of his hat down over his eyes and his posture made it clear that that was the end of the conversation. She gave him one last look, sighed, and set off for the bar.
Preen was right, it was easy to find, there was an almost constant stream of 'ladies of negotiable virtue' flowing in both directions, both towards and away from the establishment. The latter looking significantly more flushed than the former, although they also looked to have fuller purses.
Arriving at the main doors, a quick glance towards the sign above her confirmed the building's identity. It portrayed a buxom female wearing a tiara, presumably the titular queen, her armoured suit mostly torn away apart from a few choice pieces that protected her modesty. She was standing on top of a construct in the shape of a scorpion, whilst tearing one of its legs off with her teeth - A nod to some half remembered skirmish with the Spiders perhaps?
'Where you go?' A grey reptilian paw grabbed her shoulder.
She slowly looked up, and then looked up some more, and saw a face that could only be described as belonging to a lightly furred T-Rex with rotten teeth and a single, long eyebrow.
She pointed around him, as well as she could, 'In there?'
'Nope, men only, no little girl allow in there, you be in big trouble.'
The Captain, shuddering, plunged her hand into the Doorman's cloaca and squeezed. The reptile dropped to his knees and he started to cry, 'You go... go inside... no charge... please... let go... Try the... Veal... come... back soon...' She left the giant reptile rolling around on the floor and walked into the gloom.
'I got your When right here Bayb*urgh*' The stool caught the pruriant patron under the chin.
'When! Where are you, you stinking pile of kraken guts?'
'In there...' replied a familiar voice, 'Through the door marked Whore-Pits.'
'It seems that I owe you thanks again Mr Preen.'
With a deep bow, he disappeared back into the shadows. She turned towards the door, took another deep breath and turned the handle.
Even though she'd known When for many years, the sight of him naked, apart from some welding goggles and an odd pair of suspender socks, surrounded by over twenty women, in various states of undress, whilst what looked like a cross between a marmoset and a bagel played the harmonica in the corner was too much.
She unholstered her Sutter and Aitchinson Compression pistol and shot out the lights one by one.
The dischordant music stopped instantly and When turned towards the source of his interrupted reverie.
'Who the... Ah, Captain, I...' He tried to cover his shame with a sadly undersized one hundred credit note.
'Find your drawers, pay anyone who needs paying and get back to the ship, we've got a rescue to organise!'