part 1 is here.
“Can I get some coffee over here?” the sole customer asked.
“Excuse me,” Cheryel, the waitress, told the hulking creature with a face only a mother jack-o-lantern could love. “I have a job to do.” She headed for the coffeepot.”
“What do you mean, you aren’t human?” Maggie, her fellow Otherworld Diner employee asked, from the booth where she and Jody, the third employee still sat.
“She’s Vulcan,” the customer told them. Almost bald, the man looked like the stereotypical mild-mannered, middle-aged man.
“Vulcans aren’t real,” Jody told him.
“That’s right, they’re from Star Trek.” Maggie sounded sure, but her eyes were wide enough to indicate that she was confused, and more than a little frightened.
“Oh, Vulcan’s are real all right.” The customer said. “And they’re the bane of existence for the rest of the known galaxy.”
“I beg your pardon!” Cheryel glared at the man, as she poured his coffee with the skill that comes from much practice.
“Well, you are.” The man’s lips quirked just a hair.
“Yeah,” Pumpkin Head put in. “They do things to people. Like steal spaceships.”
“Borrow.” Cheryel turned her glare on the alien.
“Without permission. That’s stealing,” Pumpkin Head said.
“Not if I bring it back.” Cheryel took the coffeepot and put it back where it belonged before she used it to brain somebody. This was not as much fun as she’d thought it would be.
“So, I take it real Vulcans aren’t logical and stuff like Mr. Spock?” Jody asked.
“Hey, I’m logical,” Cheryel argued.
“And you stole my spaceship,” Pumpkin Head said.
“I left a note telling you I’d bring it back.”
“And I’m suppose to believe some random note?”
“It wasn’t random. It was signed with the Vulcan seal.”
“Like that means anything.”
“You don’t have to insult me like that.”
The bald man’s voice reverberated off the ceiling and had the glassware tinkling in the cabinets. Everybody stopped and looked at him. Obviously there was something odd about the man. Not everybody had a voice that literally sounded like thunder.
“Now that I have your attention,” the man said, “let’s see if we can get to the bottom of this. You say she stole your spaceship?”
“She admitted it.” Pumpkin Head glared at Cheryel.
“Yes, I heard. You say you borrowed his spaceship?”
“I did. I left a note with the Vulcan seal. Standard practice. Anybody with a real brain knows what that means.” Cheryel glared at Pumpkin Head.
“Hey!” Pumpkin Head exclaimed.
“You don’t have to insult the Celerian,” the customer said.
“He insulted Vulcans,” Cheryel said, then turned to glare at the bald man for a while. “Actually, so did you.”
“I said Vulcan’s are the bane of existence for the rest of us. You are.”
“How dare you!” Cheryel felt her face go as hot as the steam from food thrown on the grill. “You...you.... You’re an Umpire, aren’t you?”
“Some kind of law enforcement, I take it. Good. You can arrest her.” Pumpkin Head crossed his arms across his narrow chest and eyed the bald man as if waiting for him to do his job.
Cheryel didn’t waste a glance toward the alien. Her gaze was locked on the bald man. “What you can do is explain to brainless here what the seal means.”
“She stole my spaceship!”
“Stop!” the reverberating voice shook the diner again, and again the bickering came to an abrupt end. “Now that I have your attention. Again. I’ll explain things to both of you. The Vulcan seal means that the ‘borrowed’ item is guaranteed by Vulcan law to be returned, in the same condition in which it was taken.”
“See.” Cheryel glared toward the Celerian.
The Celerian stepped forward as if he were ready to passionately argue his case. “But—“
“I’m not finished.” The voice didn’t shake the place this time, but it was strong enough to bring the discussion to an abrupt halt. “Now, if you’re through acting like a couple of three year olds, I’ll make a rules ruling.”
“Rules? What kind of rules?” Maggie asked.
“The rules of that stupid game that the Vulcan’s play.” Pumpkin Head looked thoroughly disgusted.
“There’s a game?” Jody looked confused. “I’ve never head of any spaceship stealing game.”
“Humans don’t play The Game,” Cheryel told her friend and co-worker.
“Neither do Celerians.” Pumpkin Head lifted his chin well into the air.
“Yes, they do,” Cheryel told him. “They’re listed in the Handbook.”
“Well, I don’t play.”
“Then you shouldn’t leave your ship in the designated Game area.” Cheryel glared hard at him.
“Stop!” It took a bit of shaking for the bald man to get everybody’s attention this time. “My ruling is that the Vulcan has to return the spaceship immediately. The Celerian’s complaint will be duly noted. Two thousand points awarded to the Vulcan.”
“What about my spaceship?” the Celerian Pumpkin Head asked.
Cheryel shrugged, the round was over. “It’s at my house. I’ll take you there. Just give me a minute.”
“I’ll wait for you outside.” She was thrilled to see the Celerian go through the front door of the diner. The bald man/umpire went back to his coffee, and quiet again descended on The Otherworld Diner.
Cheryel turned to the booth where her human co-workers sat. “Sorry, guys for leaving you shorthanded. I’ll be back in as soon as I can.”
“Don’t worry about it. We’re pretty quiet today anyway,” Jody said.
“So, what is this game?” Maggie asked.
“Intergalactic Maneuvers,” Cheryel told the humans. “It’s an old, respected game. The winner each year gets a nice trophy.”
“Good luck,” Jody said.
“What’s that noise?” Maggie asked.
Cheryel spun and ran toward the window where her fears were confirmed. “That lying, vegetable brain. He stole my spaceship!”
“Four thousand points awarded to the Celerian,” Umpire Man said.
Cheryel let out one long, heart-felt, moan.
The end—for now, anyway