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Kane's Cloak Dilemma
Kane's Cloak Dilemma
By ACJ Leveille


"Captain, planet is in visual range.  Time until arrival is estimated at three hours and twenty six minutes."

Kane Blueriver looked up at the computer's voice spoke though the ship-wide PA system.  He missed Canal.  "Thank you, Vorfeed," he said, going back to his task.

He stood before his closet, both doors of the huge space shoved open to reveal his cloak collection.  "Which one?"  He wondered aloud.  Choosing his suit hadn't been so difficult - he wanted white, snow white.  The question became what cloak to go with it.  He wanted to be perfect when he saw Millie again, and he had no qualms about admitting it, now that Canal wasn't there to bug him about it.

Canal.

"Ship, estimate time to full personality restoration."  

Vorfeed hummed.  "Two days," she replied in that cool, genteel voice.

Kane breathed a sigh of relief.  Back to Millie, back to Canal.  Finally, the crew of the SwordBreaker was going to be together again.

"Navy blue, or white?  Or black?"  He was back to his problem.  He propped his chin on his hand and considered.  "The black," he finally decided, liking the idea of a stark contrast in his clothing.  He took the fabric down off the hanger and swept it over his shoulders.  "Perfect," he said, turning to look at himself in the full-length mirror on the other side of his room.

"What?!"  He screech echoed down the halls of the ship.  "Vorfeed, what is this?"  

The computer hologram flickered to life in Kane's cabin, watching impassively as the captain stuck his hands in and out of several holes in his cape.

"Computer analysis indicates that it is a cloak."  

He glared at the hologram.  "Not that," he ground out, wishing more than ever for Canal's return, "what are these holes in my cape!?"

Silence as the computer `thought.'  "Moth holes," Vorfeed finally said.

"Moth holes?!"  Kane screeched, turning to his closet and ripping the cloaks from their hangers one by one.  A cloud of moths flew out, winging around the captain's cabin.  Kane swatted at them, feeling a wild burst of pleasure as he managed to squash one of the beasts.  Fifty more made it safely out of the room.

"Vorfeed, exterminate them!" Kane commanded, frantically going through his cloak collection to see what all had been damaged.  The pile of moth-eaten fabric quickly outstripped the pile of still-good cloaks.  

"Oh, no," he mourned, "not my good white synthapol!"  He hugged the sleek fabric to him.  It had been one of his favorites.

"Captain," Vorfeed's voice echoed in the cabin, "I have found a chemical which may destroy the species of insect that is inhabiting the ship at this time, but it is very caustic.  It may damage the ship's more delicate systems."  

Kane sighed, looking at the cloaks.  There were still moths flitting in and out around the piles, and no doubt baby moths living in the folds and linings of the cloaks.  "I've got it!"  He said, running and putting all the loose objects in his room in sealed drawers.  His was the only room with anything lying around it, and he knew it.  

He rigged a line, pinning all his capes to it with heavy-duty clips originally meant to help repair fuel lines and energy conduits.  "That'll do," he said, pulling hard on one of the capes to test the hold.

Then he ran down the hall and climbed into his spacesuit.  "Okay now, open the airlock!"  

The ship rumbled as the pressure changed, and a sudden suction pulled on Kane.  He was glad he had attached himself to the closet door handle.  He held on as the suction increased.  The cloaks first fluttered, then began to whip around.  

"Okay, Vorfeed," Kane said, "You can close the airlock now."  He was satisfied that the pests had been sucked out.  

"Yes," Vorfeed acknowledged the command, and Kane felt the vibrations in his boots as the lock began to close.  He glanced over at his cloaks just in time to see one come ripping free of the hook holding it to his makeshift line.  

"No!" He cried, lunging for it, but unable to move quickly.  Before he reached it, three more capes had pulled free, then two more.  The pressure began to return and he found himself running down the corridor to the airlock.  The capes flew out of the ship just as the lock slammed shut.  

Kane sank down against the airlock and sobbed.  

"Ten minutes to planetfall," Vorfeed said.  

"Millie!  Aargh!"  Kane pulled at his hair.  He stalked back to his room, a twitch in his eye.  The door slid open before him and he looked at the mess inside.  Capes hanging limply from the lines, holes prominently displayed.  "Why couldn't you space the ruined ones?"  He groused, shaking his head.  

He sifted through the capes, piling them up again.  When he was done, he had three capes to choose from - three in the most unlikely colors: teal, hot pink and eggshell.  "Why do I have these, anyway?" Kane wondered, looking at the satiny sheen of the hot pink fabric as it slid over his hands.

"Three minutes."

Kane winced at Vorfeed's warning, and then happened to glance down and see the blotches of sweat that stained his space suit.  He clambered out of it, and was horrified by the sight of his outfit.  His immaculate white suit was covered in watery sweat and melted carbo-bars.  "I knew that I shouldn't have been eating in my suit," he cursed, searching through his drawers for a clean outfit.

"Two minutes," Vorfeed called.  The viewscreen in Kane's cabin blinked, and he saw before him his home planet.  The green land masses were half-covered by swirling gray clouds, but it looked wonderful to him.  

"I'm coming Millie," he breathed, rushing.  He pulled out a pair of pants and managed to stumble into them, uncaring what color they were or what they looked like, beyond the fact that they were clean.  He thrust his arms into a shirt and pulled it snug.  He grabbed the eggshell cloak and threw it over his shoulder, only then noticing the fist-sized hold at the shoulder.

He hissed a mild obscenity, and tossed the cloak into the incinerator.  He debated briefly over to two choices left and, still cursing, grabbed the hot pink one.  He made for the bridge at a dead run, vaulting into the captain's seat just as Vorfeed initiated planetfall.  

"Millie," he breathed as the planet got closer and closer.  

*         *         *

"Oh Kane, I missed you so much!"  Millie threw her arms around her captain, then pulled back, looking him over.  He didn't seem wounded orů

Millie gasped, wincing.  

"What is it?"  Kane asked, his blue eyes looking puzzled.

Millie forced herself to smile, averting her eyes from the hideous color combination that decorated her captain's body.  Neon green pants, white boots, a velvet-looking yellow shirt and a sateen hot pink cape.  Millie patted the man on his shoulder, trying to keep from gagging at the sight.  

"Nothing," she said, leading him back the small transport vehicle that she had left running.  "How about you come home and get a nice dinner.  I've cooked something wonderful for you!"  

Kane sighed, climbing into the transport and lounging with his eyes closed.  He crossed one leg of the neon green pants over the other and Millie noticed the pale purple stripe that went down the inside right thigh.  "Oh my," she said, climbing into the driver's seat.

"Millie," Kane said, and Millie forced her gaze from the fashion disaster.  

"Yes, Kane?"

"You're the best cook in the universe."  

Millie laughed.  "You know what Kane?"  

"What?"  The man asked, never cracking an eyelid.  The wind ruffled this thick russet hair and he smiled as he relaxed.  

"I like your cape," she said, watching the fabric warily as it blew near her.  She edged away, pushing gingerly on the fuel release valve.  

Kane's ears pinkened as the transport moved toward the high clapboard house.  Millie laughed again and knew that she would always remember this particular cloak.

THE END

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