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Siofra cover1 copy

“Orson, honey,” Síofra’s soft voice trickled in over the rough sounds of the men’s laughter. “I hate to interrupt, but I thought your friends might enjoy some refreshments.”

Until today, she hadn’t dared to intrude. Her husband insisted the handful of travelers who arrived through the Warp Portal for food staples and additional resources once a year would want nothing to do with a botanist. To be fair, he’d been talking about hired labor manning interplanetary cargo ships; the odds were 50/50 or less that they cared about Orson’s status as a retired planetary engineer either. If, by some random stroke of luck, these men were curious about his involvement in the early days of the A.B.T. project, well, she had been right there, working beside him. Damn the rules for once; Síofra had just as much of a right to enjoy their company too, didn’t she?

Four pairs of startled eyes tracked the ebb and flow of her movements as she pushed her slender-wheeled cart around the perimeter of the gaming table. Starting with her husband, she graciously handed each man a mug of fermented monk flower nectar, careful not to spill any, despite her sudden nerves. It was one of many recipes she was proud to have developed from the indigenous plant life; plus, she figured if anything possessed the power to win over disgruntled travelers, it would be alcohol.

A dark-haired man with stubble on his chin muttered something like “Sweet Jesus on a half-shell” under his breath as she passed. The second, a male with similarly dark hair, whistled so long and low that it reminded her of an antique tea kettle. The third one was different, a little less broad through the shoulders, with perceptive green eyes and hair the bright color of torch flower petals. He stared openly, eyes widening in disbelief as she considered him in return. His cheeks reddened, as if his curiosity somehow embarrassed him; then, he ducked his head and went back to shuffling the holodeck.

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