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Blah!?

In Space, No One Can Hear You Sneeze (F, 3/?) Updated 10/25

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Blah!?

So, I've decided to kick it old school and write a comedic space adventure that also has some sneezing. I feel like I've managed to really get back into my casual groove, and writing this has just been a ton of fun. I've kinda been going for something epic in scale but not so epic in stakes, so it's fun and easy the whole way through. I'm kind of amazed it's been so long since I last wrote something sci-fi, I guess that D&D kick was stronger than I thought.

At some points this definitely becomes more about the adventure and the characters than just the sneezing, but personally I like it that way. Hopefully this'll be enjoyable for everyone, let's go!

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Chapter 1

Sitting in a frigid holding cell wasn’t exactly how Athena Anara wanted to spend her evening. Still, master thief that she was, this certainly wasn’t her first time, and she was sure it wouldn’t be her last. For the moment, she only needed a way to pass the time. A surprisingly comfortable cot and the shifting patterns on the cell’s forcefield were her only amenities, however, and boredom quickly took hold.

 

Athena’s nose tickled as she stared up at the immaculate white ceiling. Every jurisdiction she visited seemed to find new ways to mistreat prisoners. She’d been through a lot over the years, but having a tracking device shoved up her nose was different, to say the least. Scrunching up her face, Athena gently rubbed her index finger in a circular motion against her left nostril. It was largely a performative gesture, her nose still tickled all the same, but she couldn’t just ignore it.

 

The sound of footsteps began to approach Athena’s cell. She could immediately tell they were different from the metallic footfalls of the robotic soldiers that crewed and patrolled most of the ship, and that could only mean one thing. Just before her visitor arrived, Athena felt a twinge at the back of her nose. It came on so suddenly that she gave a quiet snort, and rather than prolong the inevitable, she decided to give herself over to it.

 

“Hhh… ahh… hetSHUH!”

 

The sneeze lifted Athena’s head from her pillow just enough for her to catch sight of someone on the other side of the forcefield. After taking a second to rub under her nose again, she sat up and smiled. Just as she’d expected, a tall, violet-skinned woman in uniform stood before her, expression stern but ever so slightly amused.

 

“Bless you, Miss Anara.”

 

Athena chuckled, pulling her knees up to her chest and wrapping her arms around them.

 

“Ah, Captain Mevo. I’m flattered you came to visit me. Here to pay my bail?”

 

The officer’s face shifted to a mirthless smile.

 

“Afraid not.”

 

Athena pouted, letting her hands flop down onto the bed beside her.

 

“But we were getting along so well at dinner. I… I… hhh! E-excuse me, I… I have to… I h-have t-to… ehtCHUUH!”

 

Captain Mevo sighed and pinched the high bridge of her nose. She peered at Athena over her fingers, watching for a moment as her captive desperately rubbed a finger under her flaring nostrils.

 

“Bless you. Things didn’t need to be this way, Miss Anara.”

 

“I know,” Athena mumbled, her voice nasal as she continued rubbing her nose. “You didn’t have to put this thing up my… Hhuh-up my… haaSHUH!”

 

Hanging her head, the captain sighed again.

 

“I suppose this doesn’t mean much coming from me, but it wasn’t my idea. I give you my word it’ll be removed once we’re out of Ovat space.”

 

Sniffing dejectedly, Athena wrinkled her nose and gave it another firm rub.

 

“Thanks, I guess.”

 

Captain Mevo smiled, content to take what she could get. She shifted her heels and clasped her hands behind her back, giving her prisoner a faint albeit more genuine smile.

 

“Well, I think it’s about time we got underway. It was an honor to finally meet you face to face, Athena.”

 

Finally managing to lower her finger away from her nostrils, Athena hugged her knees once more.

 

“You too, Kyase.”

 

“Any requests for your breakfast?”

 

Athena shrugged, glancing off to the side.

 

“Eh, I’m not picky. Ahhactually, do you… D-do you think you could… H-hold on… hh! hett-SHUH! Whew, excuse me. Do you think you could sneeze too? I’m feeling kinda singled out here.”

 

Kyase rolled her eyes, but she smirked as she turned away from the holding cell. After taking a few steps down the corridor, she held up a hand and gave a slight wave.

 

“I’ll send you some tissues.”

 

“Thaaanks, love you!”

 

Kicking out her legs, Athena fell back onto the bed. She folded her arms behind her sapphire hair as she laid down, but only for a moment before sniffing harshly and rubbing her nose anew. While she’d been playing the tickle in her nose up for fun in front of Kyase, the tracking device really was quite bothersome. Curling her index finger, Athena slowly but firmly pressed her knuckle around the edges of her left nostril. She longed for a great big sneeze to send the capsule flying from her nose, but she knew it wouldn’t be that easy. Still, imagining the overwhelming relief made her feel a bit better.

 

As the minutes passed, Athena caught herself dozing off more than a few times. Her senses sharpened somewhat as she felt an almost imperceptible rumble. It gradually intensified over the course of just one second before vanishing, and as an experienced spacer, Athena knew that meant the ship had just jumped to hyperspace. She quickly sat up, rubbing her eyes and then rubbing her nose, confident she could come up with a plan before breakfast.

 

A soft crackling sound reached Athena’s ears, and much to her surprise she saw a flat, wheeled robot simply pass through the forcefield keeping her in her cell. Its entire top surface seemed to be nothing more than a tray, and on top was a plain, unmarked tissue box. Athena’s face lit up.

 

Grabbing a tissue from the robot’s box, Athena immediately blew her nose. She rapidly shook her head to alternate nostrils, and while it did bring much needed relief, she could also feel the tracking device vibrating inside her nose.

 

“Hh… Hh-huhh…”

 

Athena scrambled to fold her tissue over and clamp it back over her nose, feeling a new sneeze coming on. She gently squeezed her nostrils just in time, and she doubled over with a desperate “aahhCHUH!” Blowing her nose again, Athena allowed herself to bend at the waist a second time. Then, she crumpled up her thoroughly used tissue and left it neatly on her pillow for Kyase to find later.

 

With a spring in her step, Athena propelled herself off her bed. She retrieved the tissue box from her robotic visitor, and then she tiptoed behind it as it turned around and headed back toward the forcefield. Hugging the tissue box to her chest, Athena carefully stepped on top of the robot’s tray and squatted down. Making sure to keep her body within the little robot’s silhouette, she held perfectly still and simply waited to be carried through the forcefield.

 

“Thank goodness for the lowest bidder,” Athena mumbled, grinning as she effortlessly passed between the two security robots guarding her cell. She blew one of them a kiss as the delivery robot turned and began to make its way down the corridor, but unfortunately she didn’t get far before the tracking device in her nose began to act up again. Giving an agitated sniff, Athena rubbed an index finger under her nostrils before rapidly transitioning to squeezing her nose between her thumb and forefinger. She knew she’d need to get rid of the capsule at some point, but she’d hoped it wouldn’t become a problem this early.

 

“hhh... hh... huhh! hn-ngxsh!"

 

Firmly holding her nose shut, Athena bobbed forward with a stifled sneeze. She fought hard to keep her balance, but ultimately she managed to stay on top of the delivery robot. If she could at least get through the next door, then she could start making some real progress. Her legs were starting to feel fuzzy, and to make matters worse, a new tickle shot through her left nostril. Athena gasped for breath, and before she could stop herself, she unleashed a powerful “EhttSHUUH!!”

 

Athena tried to shift her weight back in an attempt to counteract the force of her sneeze, but she leaned too far and tumbled off the delivery robot. Free of the excess weight, the little machine zipped away, leaving Athena on her back and looking up at the fast approaching security robots.

 

“Uh, hi guys,” said Athena with a nervous smile. The robots raised their right arms, each one deploying an attached beam weapon. Biting her lip, Athena looked down her body toward the door. She couldn’t assume the ship’s security was so incompetently designed that the detention center doors would simply open for her, so she knew she’d need to catch up to the delivery bot. Flexing her core, Athena quickly lept up to her feet. Her half-asleep legs immediately gave out under her, leaving her to fall flat on her face instead.

 

“Ow…”

 

A laser blast singed the floor beside Athena’s head, nearly making her jump out of her skin. She yelped and scrambled toward the end of the corridor on her hands and knees, gradually lifting herself back up to her feet. Ignoring the lasers flying past her on all sides, Athena sprinted after the delivery bot and dove through the detention center door just as it was about to close. The security robots would surely follow, so Athena kept running. She didn’t know where she was going, but anywhere else was preferable.

 

Throwing herself through another doorway and around a corner, Athena pressed her back against the wall and tried to keep quiet. She could hear the security robots clanking in the distance, uncertain if they were still onto her. Her more immediate problem, however, was the tracking device in her nostril. It seemed to have shifted somewhat, and it was emitting a gentle but constant buzz. Perhaps falling on her face earlier had done something to dislodge it. Deciding to allow herself a sneeze, Athena gently squeezed the base of her nose between her thumb and forefinger, giving a firm but stifled “huhh! h'tngx! h'gk-tsh!”

 

Still holding her nose, Athena blearily opened her eyes and lifted her other hand. To her dismay, a laser had burned clean through her tissue box, leaving nothing but a smoldering hole. She couldn’t be sure how long ago it happened, but there was absolutely nothing useful left. Athena scrunched up her face in frustration and hurled the burnt cardboard at the floor.

 

“My tissues! I needed those! Eh? hhh… hih! hettCHUH!

Athena slumped back against the wall and furiously rubbed her nose, starting to sniff and snuffle. She briefly waggled the tip of her index finger around the edges of her left nostril, trying desperately to pull out the tracking capsule, but it was still just too far inside for her to reach.

Letting out an irritated groan, Athena pressed the underside of her nose upward with her palm and folded her arms in a huff. Once she opened her eyes, however…

 

“...Oh. Well how about that?”

 

Somehow, Athena managed to accidentally find her way to the ship’s shuttle bay. She didn’t think she’d gone all that far from the detention center. Either this ship was much smaller than she’d expected, or it had been designed by a complete idiot. In all likelihood, probably both. Regardless, Athena pleasantly surprised to find her own ship, the Olympia, impounded just a few meters away. She jogged over to her small, unkempt beauty of a vessel, grin turning to a full-on cackle as she arrived beside it.

 

“Alright. Wakey wakey, Ollie. We’ve got work to do,” Athena said under her breath as she tapped lightly on the Olympia’s hull beside the cargo hold. A small panel slid open, revealing a screen and keypad. The screen flickered to life with a bit of static to display a simple, cartoonish portrait of a cheerful young lady’s face. Ollie shifted between static images of a resting smile and an excited gasp as she recognized her captain.

 

“Hi, Athena! Glad you made it back so soon!” exclaimed the artificial intelligence, her voice natural but somewhat fuzzy. Athena smiled back and gave a little wave before starting to enter a code on the keypad.

 

“Thanks, Ollie. You manage to… M-manage to… H-hold on, I… hih… eh-SHUH!”

 

A hand briefly appeared over Ollie’s gasping mouth before her portrait changed to a more concerned expression.

 

“Gesundheit, Athena! Are you alright?”

 

Athena nodded, shook her head, and then nodded again. She lightly waved a hand at her face, cleared her throat, and then entered the rest of her code.

 

“I’m okay. The drones put some kind of tracking capsule in my nose when they arrested me, and it’s making me… M-making me… heh! Heh!! hhh… Hooh…”

 

“Whew, close one.”

 

“Think you can get us out of here?” Athena choked, scrunching up her face and rubbing hard under her nose. Ollie frowned apologetically.

 

“All systems are operational, but my engines have been locked down.”

 

Athena’s eyes widened in rage. She jogged around to the rear of the Olympia as the cargo bay door slowly lowered.

 

“Oh, she did not give me the boot!”

 

Sure enough, when Athena arrived behind her ship, a pair of large, yellow clamps had been installed over both engine assemblies. She silently thrashed about for a second before giving a pitiful, defeated squeak. While she couldn’t fault Kyase for being thorough, she so desperately wanted to. Kicking over a small box in defiance, Athena ran back to the Olympia’s cargo hold and hopped inside. She climbed a ladder up to the main deck and headed for the cockpit, giving an angry “haettSHUUH!!” as she trudged down the corridor.

 

“Gesundheit, Athena,” Ollie repeated. A new tissue box popped out of the delivery port beside the pilot’s chair, and Athena couldn’t help but smile. She grabbed a tissue and powerfully blew her nose before sitting down and running a hand over the control yoke, if only for the familiar touch.

 

“Thanks, Ollie. Alright, bring us up to full power and heat up the engines. That should get her attention.”

 

“You got it, Athena!”

 

The Olympia rumbled as power washed over the ship, lighting up panels and consoles from the engine room to the cockpit. Display overlays flickered to life on the main viewport, including a larger portrait of Ollie that this time showed her full body, currently in pajamas. Once the ship finished powering up, Ollie’s image flipped and her outfit shifted to a leather jacket and jeans, and her expression to a confident grin.

 

“Ready to roll, Captain.”

 

Athena smiled and wove her fingers together, but before she could respond, a sharp tickle in her left nostril made her snort inelegantly. Scrunching up her face, Athena rubbed her nose for what felt like the thousandth time that day.

 

“Ugh. Good job, Ollie,” she grumbled, her voice nasal as her finger pressed against her nostrils. A distinctive chirp caught Athena’s attention, and she just had time to spot an exclamation point as it appeared on the main display before her eyes clenched shut.

 

“We’re receiving a call from Kyase Mevo,” said Ollie. “I assume you wanted to talk to her.”

 

Athena nodded weakly, alternating between waving a hand at her face and pressing her fingers to her nostrils.

 

“Yeeh… Heh! Y-yhh… hh… hh!! hett-CHUUH!!”

 

When she finally opened her eyes, Athena found herself face to face with Kyase’s scowling face, her officer’s cap slightly tilted but not a hair of her jet-black bob out of place.

 

“Bless you, Miss Anara.”

 

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And that's chapter 1! I actually have a few more done already, but I'm kind of on a roll with writing the next one, so I don't want to throw them all out at once. I'll probably put the next one up soon, though I guess I don't really have a set schedule.

 

Thanks for reading, I hope you liked it! As always, feedback and constructive criticism are more than welcome! And I swear I'll try to actually reply to comments this time.

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Usagi

Hey this is pretty good! Ive missed seeing your stuff! I'm glad you're still around man! 😀

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Blah!?

@Usagi Thanks so much, I'm glad you like it! This story has really felt like a return to form to me in some ways, and I've been really happy with it so far. I hope everyone's enjoying it!

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Chapter 2

Captain Kyase Mevo retrieved a cup of tea from the table beside her chair. On the screen before her, one Athena Anara was still tending to her tickly nose, snuffling and snorting away. After letting out a long sigh through her own nostrils, Kyase sipped her tea and waited silently. Eventually, Athena doubled over with a firm “ah-SHUH!” and finally seemed to recover.

“Hey Kyase,” Athena choked, blearily fluttering her eyelids and pressing a finger under her nose. “What’s… What’s up?”

Kyase set her teacup down, crossed her legs, and rested her hands calmly in her lap.

“I won’t insult your intelligence, Miss Anara. We both know ‘what’s up.’”

“Uh, yeah. Yeah. Guess so. Thanks for bringing my ship along, by the way.”

“I’m delighted you’ve had such a touching reunion, but I’m afraid this is where it ends. We’re still well on our way to Alliance space, and even with your own ship you can’t escape. Let’s not have any undue-”

Kyase was interrupted by Athena loudly blowing her nose. Letting out another sigh, Kyase gave her a moment to finish. The sapphire-haired Terran folded her tissue over and gently slid it back and forth under her nostrils, and finally she crumpled up the soft paper and tossed it away.

“Let’s not have any-”

Athena grabbed a new tissue and blew her nose again, even more forcefully than before. Kyase’s lips tightened as she watched Athena gently wrap the tissue around her index finger and then insert it into her left nostril, clearly still attempting to remove the tracking capsule. The captain took a deep, frustrated breath, her own slit-like nostrils flaring to a pair of large ovals.

“Athena, if you truly wish to spend your last moments as a free woman picking your nose-”

“Oh!” Athena stammered, shooting upright in her chair and blushing furiously. “Oh! Forgot you could see me, terribly sorry about that!”

“No more games, Athena. Let’s resolve this with some dignity.”

After giving her nose one more thorough rub through her tissue, Athena smirked.

“On the contrary, I’m just getting started. You ready, Ollie?”

Resting her chin in one hand, Kyase drummed her fingers on the armrest of her chair as Athena’s AI acknowledged her.

“Good to go, Athena! Just say the word!”

Rubbing her hands together, Athena chuckled and rocked back and forth in her chair. Kyase blinked slowly, her flared nostrils betraying her annoyance.

“Alright, drop us out of hyperspace right… About… Now!”

To Captain Mevo’s horror, she felt the ship shudder as it did in fact return to sublight speed. 

“If I can’t use my engines, I’ll just have to use yours,” said Athena with a wink. “I’ve put us into a decaying orbit around, let’s see… Ah, Apith-2. Still in the process of being terraformed. Air’s breathable, but it’s definitely not gonna be pretty down there.”

Kyase gritted her teeth and leaned forward.

“You’re going to hold this ship hostage, Athena? The ship that you’re still on?”

Athena threw back her head with a grin.

“Ha! No, of course not. I’m holding you hostage. I don’t care about this ship, and neither do you. You said this ship, not my ship. Frankly I think I’m doing you a favor. A captain of your stature deserves a mightier class of vessel than this drone carrier.”

Resisting the urge to punch her armrest, Kyase closed her eyes and sat back calmly.

“I don’t believe you’ll really kill us both if I don’t simply let you go.”

Athena smiled and shrugged.

“I’d prefer it not be today, but I do plan to die on my feet. As for you, you know my style, I’ve never killed anyone. I’m confident you’ll make the right choice.”

Kyase finished her tea and set the empty cup down on her table.

“Well, Athena… It’s been a pleasure-”

“Come on, Kyase!” Athena interrupted, slamming her fist down on her own armrest. “Just unlock my engines, please!”

Captain Mevo closed her eyes and folded her arms.

“No.”

“Pretty please?”

“No.”

“Pretty please with chocolate on top?”

“N- Chocolate? What’s chocolate?”

Athena gasped incredulously, leaping out of her chair.

“You’ve never had chocolate? It’s a Terran delicacy! I’ll get you some next time we have a dinner date!”

Kyase punched her armrest in turn and roared.

“That was not a date!”

A sudden rumble sent her falling back into her chair, her officer’s cap askew over her eyes. The teacup crashed to the floor, and by the time Kyase righted herself, Athena was looking away from her display and frantically hitting buttons on her control console.

“Oh yeah, we’re crashing, by the way. Better get to your escape p ah… aah… aahhh… attSHUH!”

Just as Athena sneezed, Captain Mevo’s chair disappeared into the floor, bringing her along with it and leaving her cap hanging in the air for half a second. Dim lights flickered on all around her, and Kyase found herself in a small lifeboat, stocked with everything she’d need to survive for a week in space or on an uncharted planet. Her head falling back against her chair, she groaned in utter defeat as the lifeboat launched itself out the bottom of the ship, quickly diverting itself away to avoid being crushed. 

The reflection of Kyase’s pale violet face stared back at her as she watched her ship descend into Apith-2’s atmosphere, and before long the lifeboat began to do the same. She knew Athena had been right about her ship, and that only made her angrier. If she had an actual crew rather than a horde of literally mindless drones, she knew Athena never would have crashed the entire ship just to make a daring escape. Unable to do anything else, Kyase covered her face with both hands and allowed herself a brief, pitiful scream.

Captain Mevo’s lifeboat touched down clumsily but safely in what appeared to be a massively overgrown jungle. The escape pod’s sensors were completely fried, so she had no way to properly judge her environment. Kyase opened the lifeboat’s survival kit and checked its contents. Rugged clothes, a week’s worth of food and water, plus an emergency sidearm and other equipment of dubious use. ‘Built by the lowest bidder,’ as Athena would surely say. 

Rolling her eyes, Kyase pulled on a coat over her uniform, and with a flick of her wrist, a virtual display appeared on her forearm. The survival coat had its own short-range sensors, and fortunately Kyase was able to confirm that Apith-2’s air was indeed safe to breathe. She was also picking up a faint transmission from the edge of her scanner’s effective area. With a confident grin, Kyase slung the survival kit over her back and charged out of the lifeboat. She’d capture Athena Anara yet.

The hot, humid air immediately made Kyase start to sweat. The lifeboat wasn’t even out of sight yet and she already felt overdressed, but she needed the coat’s scanners, and she had no idea what other dangers might be waiting for her. Captain Mevo’s biggest foe, however, was quite literally right under her nose.

Apith-2’s jungle wasn’t too different from those one might find on Inor or Terra, though a few deliberate changes had been made in the terraforming process. Most notably, the newly seeded plant life had been altered to grow at a dozen times the normal rate until a control substance was released into the atmosphere. As a result, Apith-2’s flora was pollinating out of control.

The farther Kyase pushed into the jungle, the denser the pollen became. She absently waved a hand at her face every now and then, completely uncaring that little clumps of yellow were collecting on the broad, flat underside of her nose. The environment on Inor was harsh and dust storms were frequent; Kyase’s long nostrils were incredibly narrow and her breathing was much slower than the average Terran’s. But, ultimately she did still need to breathe all the same. Once enough pollen found its way up into Captain Mevo’s nose, her thin, slit-like nostrils flared enormously, and…

“hHAETSH!!"

Kyase doubled over with a harsh sneeze, her officer’s cap slipping slightly. Placing the side of her index finger at the base of her nose, she gave her nostrils a single upward flick to wipe the collected pollen away. She assumed that would be the worst of it, but she could barely take another step toward Athena’s tracking signal before she found herself at the mercy of another “AESCCH'hh!!”

Much to Captain Mevo’s dismay, the tickle in her nose persisted. She recalled a touch of seasonal allergies in her academy days as she firmly rubbed two fingers back and forth under her nostrils. Apparently she’d been in space for so long that she’d very nearly forgotten. Groaning quietly to herself, Kyase lightly flicked the tip of her nose up once more and then shook her head, refusing to allow herself such a pitiful weakness. 

Only a moment later, Kyase was back to rubbing furiously as she trudged through the foliage. Even as her long nose bent and squashed from side to side, the tickle would not abate. Her pale violet skin had taken on a slightly darker shade of purple at her cheeks and around her nostrils, which were now thoroughly blocked.

“You’ll pay for this, Athen ah… ahh...? HAESSCHT!!"

After another bout of distracted nose rubbing, Kyase finally remembered to check her scanner. She nearly jumped out of her skin when she discovered she was right on top of Athena’s signal, and she’d somehow reached the edge of the jungle without even noticing. Taking cover behind a large tree, Captain Mevo peered out into the almost blinding sunlight. The jungle ended abruptly in a perfectly straight line, giving way to a barren desert. Once her eyes adjusted to the light, Kyase could see the wreckage of her ship barely fifty meters away, and she could just make out the silhouette of a person clambering around on top of it. She checked her sidearm and set it to stun, and then she sprinted out of the trees.

Kyase managed to make it to the crashed ship without catching Athena’s attention. Surely the thief would have made some snide remark if she’d noticed. Crouching behind a large piece of debris, Captain Mevo occasionally peeked around at her quarry. Athena seemed to be digging through the wreckage for something, though Kyase couldn’t even begin to guess as to what.

“hhetCHUH!”

Athena sneezed suddenly and nearly fell from the top of the downed ship. Clearly she hadn’t gotten rid of her tracking device yet. Kyase couldn’t help but smirk, but as if on cue, the tickle in her own nose began to grow as well. Sinking down in her hiding place, she desperately clamped her free hand over her nose and mouth. Kyase was all too aware of the fact that she could never hold her sneezes in, but she had to try. She held her breath for as long as she could, but eventually it escaped her and she began to inhale slowly and deeply in preparation for…

"AAATSH'hu!!”

“Whoa!” Athena gasped, nearly falling all over again. “That you, Kyase?”

Captain Mevo knew she’d been had, but she remained too stubborn to let herself sneeze again without putting up a fight. Her thin nostrils flared wide, and she tried to squeeze them shut. Kyase’s broad, soft nose squished between her thumb and forefinger, but it simply wasn’t enough. Athena’s commentary certainly didn’t help.

“Sneeze once for ‘yes,’ twice for ‘no’!”

“ha'KiSHHT-choo!!”

To her own amazement, Kyase almost held that one in. Nevertheless, her face was hot with humiliation as she heard Athena hop down from the wreckage.

“Gesundheit! Glad you made it!”

Once Athena’s footsteps through the sand came into earshot, Kyase lept out from behind the debris and took aim. Athena immediately threw up her hands with a startled squeak.

“Ho okay. Okay! I can see you’re mad-”

“Quiet,” Kyase interrupted, her nostrils flaring both due to rage and the pollen still inside. She could barely utter another word before she suddenly thrust forward with a powerful “AESCCH'hh!!”

“Gesundheit-”

“Quiet! Look at what you’ve wrought, Athena! I was going to recommend the court be lenient, but now I… I… AAESCHHT!!”

“Gesundheit. You got hay fever or something, Kyase?”

“It’s not-!” Captain Mevo snarled before catching herself. She closed her eyes for a second and tried to calm her nerves, though her nostrils were still flaring of their own accord.

“I don’t want to hear another word, Athena. You’re under arrest.”

Athena shrugged, pursing her lips.

“Okay, but how do you plan to get me back to Alliance space? The only working ship around here with a hyperdrive is-”

“I said that’s enough! We’ll use the wreckage for shelter, and we wait for rescue. No more, no less.”

Athena pursed her lips again and glanced performatively off to the side.

“Well that’s great and all, but we probably only have about ten minutes before that gets here…”

Her arms still raised above her head, Athena pointed to her left with both hands. Kyase couldn’t help but look, and what she saw might have been awe-inspiring if it wasn’t so terrifying. A low-orbit satellite was sweeping across the sky and firing a bright terraforming beam into the ground. Just as Athena suspected, it was heading straight for the crashed ship, and it was approaching surprisingly quickly. Kyase turned back to Athena, keeping her weapon trained on the Terran, but she was clearly wrestling with herself.

“Unlock my ship and I’ll get us into space, then you can arrest me after,” said Athena, her voice unexpectedly serious and genuine. Kyase scrunched up her face and gritted her teeth. She knew she’d already made up her mind, but she wasn’t sure if she’d ever forgive herself for it.

“Fine! Fine! But you’re taking us directly to Alliance Command!”

Athena grinned and nodded, immediately turning to run into the crashed vessel.

“You got it, Captain!”

“If you actually planned all of this in advance, you’re a genius, and I hate you.”

Kyase followed Athena to the Olympia, unable to keep from wrinkling her nose at the ship’s disheveled state. Nevertheless, she immediately jogged to the rear of the ship, connecting her coat’s computer to the restraints on the engines. After entering half a dozen different passkeys, the restraints disengaged and crashed to the ground, and Kyase and Athena both ran into the Olympia’s cargo bay. They stepped onto an elevator at the back of the hold, and both ladies found themselves a bit tickled and distracted as they ascended toward the main deck.

“hettSHUH!”

“AATSCHHT!!”

Athena smiled after she and Kyase sneezed simultaneously.

“Gesund-”

“Quiet.”

Once they reached the top of the lift, Athena and Kyase ran toward the cockpit. Athena threw herself into her chair, and Kyase stood just behind it. As Athena made the last few preparations for takeoff, Kyase quietly closed her eyes and sighed. She knew Athena would find some way to finagle her way out of trouble, she always did.

The Olympia’s main guns fired through the wall ahead, clearing a path for the ship to escape. Before the dust could settle, Athena immediately slammed the throttle forward and sent her ship hurtling out of the wreckage, very nearly flying straight into the terraforming beam. Kyase’s knuckles went white on the back of Athena’s chair as the Terran swerved away at the last second, and then the Olympia gently ascended through Apith-2’s atmosphere and back into space. Once they were safely in orbit, Athena put her hands behind her head and grinned smugly.

“I’m an excellent pilot, I know. You’re welcome.”

Beside her, Kyase was struggling with yet another sneeze. Athena smiled in genuine sympathy, allowing her a moment to finish.

"nhhh.... hahh- ah.. ah? hhah! hAEESCH!!”

“Gesundheit, Kyase.”

Captain Mevo sighed, her eyes still gently shut. She kneaded her long, squishy nose between her thumb and forefinger for a moment before shifting to rub back and forth under her nostrils. Finally, she straightened up and took a deep breath, flaring her nostrils to enjoy the Olympia’s clean air.

“Thank you. Now, you know what to do.”

Athena gave a nod and turned to her navigation console.

“Yes ma’am.”

Kyase watched the ship’s main display as Athena entered a set of hyperspace coordinates, and her face immediately snapped to a scowl.

“Do you think I’m an idiot!? That’s not Alliance Command!”

Athena ignored her, whistling innocently as she activated the hyperdrive. Just as the ship jumped, Kyase threw herself toward the chair and tried to shove Athena out of it. Athena pushed back, and before long they were both wrestling around on the floor, leaving Ollie to watch in dismay. Before she could interrupt on her own, an incoming call notification appeared in the middle of the main viewport.

“Uh, Athena? We’re receiving a call from, um… Well, it’s from the Alliance Star Force…”

-----

That's all for now! I think chapter 3 might be my favorite so far, so if you're having fun, make sure you tune in again next week!

Edited by Blah!?

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NickG1998

I can’t wait for chapter 3 I’m absolutely hooked on this awesome  story keep up the amazing work 

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poiub

Loving it :)

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Usagi

Whoa a new chapter so fast! Nice nice! The sneezes were more sudden in this one, but I still enjoyed for story! Good from you as always!

Edited by Usagi

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Blah!?

@poiub @NickG1998 Thanks, glad you're enjoying this! Hopefully you'll like this chapter too!

@Usagi Thanks so much! Yeah, I wanted Athena and Kyase to have fairly different sneezes, so Kyase's have much less of a buildup, plus this chapter was more from her perspective. There'll be plenty of back and forth from them in the future.

Here's chapter 3! Very slight messiness warning for this one, but I don't think it's anything too extreme. Hope you all enjoy!

-----

Chapter 3

Ollie’s face changed to an expression of worry as the call notification continued to flash beside her. By this point Captain Mevo had straddled Athena in the middle of the cockpit floor, but she was struggling to keep her target down.

 

“Ollie, pick up the-!” Athena tried to shout, but Kyase suddenly placed both hands on the side of her face, squishing her cheek. Uselessly waggling her tongue for a second, Athena tried to pry Kyase’s hands off of her with one of her own, while aimlessly swinging the other at her opponent’s face.

 

“You’re going to change our heading for Alpha Centauri this instant!” Kyase hissed, clenching her jaw as she leaned in close. Athena ineffectually pawed at Kyase’s face with her free hand, causing her to back off just enough to escape.

 

“Do you understand!?” Kyase barked again, her nostrils flaring furiously. Seizing the opportunity, Athena extended her middle and index fingers and shoved them right up Kyase’s nose. The Inor froze in place for a moment as she struggled to process what had just happened, and then she gave a brief but earsplitting shriek as she recoiled.

 

“Ollie, answer the call!” shouted Athena, finally managing to push Kyase’s hands off of her face.

 

“No, don’t-!” Kyase tried to protest, but Ollie was beholden only to her captain. The incoming call indicator vanished, and the previously chaotic cockpit was plunged into an awkward silence before the Alliance operator finally spoke up.

 

“Attention vessel, an automated Alliance distress signal has been detected in your sector. As you are the closest operational ship, you are hereby ordered to provide assistance.”

 

Kyase sat bolt upright, Athena’s fingers still invading her nostrils. She coughed and cleared her throat, and she nervously tried to interject.

 

“Alliance Command, this is Captain Kyase Mevo. I’ve already been… Rescued…”

 

The final word stuck to Kyase’s tongue like a bad taste. Athena smirked, barely reacting as Kyase tried to push her face into the floor again.

 

“Understood,” replied the operator. “Is Athena Anara still in your custody?”

 

“Yes. And I’m en route to you right now.”

 

“Your heading does not appear to match the coordinates of any Alliance Command facility.”

 

Athena suddenly stood up, despite Kyase’s attempts to keep her down. She finally whipped her hand away from Kyase’s face to buy herself a few seconds, causing the Alliance officer to tumble over and sneeze a powerful “AAESCHT!!”

 

“Sorry about that, Alliance Command. I’m Annie Smith, owner of this vessel. Don’t you worry, that dastardly Athena Anara is secure in our brig, but we don’t have enough fuel to make it to Alpha Centauri in one jump. We’re just stopping at Kestrel-3 to top up, and then we’ll be on our way as soon as possible.”

 

The Alliance operator paused for a moment, though not long enough to make Athena worry.

 

“Acknowledged. An Alliance Star Force vessel will rendezvous with you at Kestrel-3. Do not dock with the station, maintain a standard orbit until you are contacted.”

 

Athena smiled, a victorious twinkle in her eye.

 

“You got it. Happy to be of service.”

 

Kyase shakily pushed herself up to her feet, leaning against the pilot’s chair for support. Her eyes closed in defeat, she dejectedly rubbed an outstretched finger back and forth under her ticklish nose, unsure if she felt another sneeze coming on or if she was only disoriented.

 

“Indeed,” the Alliance operator continued. “You will defer to Captain Mevo until you’re relieved of your prisoner, then you may go about your business.”

 

Hearing her name, Kyase quickly snapped to a nervous salute.

 

“Is there a reward-?” Athena tried to ask, but the transmission ended with no response. She let out an enormous sigh of relief, and almost immediately she reared up again and gave a strong “hettSHUUH!!” Wrinkling her nose, Athena started to bring her fingers up for a rub, but then she remembered where they’d been. Glancing down at her hand in disgust, she spent far too long staring at the pale blue sticky substance that coated her middle and index fingers. Athena tried to wipe her hand on Kyase’s uniform, but the officer slapped her wrist away.

 

“Hey! They’re your boogers!” Athena protested. Kyase tried to keep her composure, but as usual her nostrils started to flare in frustration.

 

“And you stuck your hand there by yourself.”

 

“I was trying to poke you in the eyes!”

 

“Forgive me if that doesn’t make me feel any better! And I can only assume we’re not going to Kestrel-3, are we?”

 

Athena blew a raspberry as she turned and walked out of the cockpit. Kyase stomped along after her, not sure where she was going but refusing to let the Terran out of her sight.

 

“I meant what I said about not having enough fuel to get to Alpha Centauri, but yeah, no. We’re not going to Kestrel-3.”

 

Kyase sighed, pinching the high bridge of her nose.

 

“Well, where are we going? Unless of course it’s beneath you to tell me.”

 

Athena smiled almost apologetically as she stepped into the washroom and began to rinse off her hands.

 

“Just a little stop at Lucent Station. Need to refuel, plus I’ve gotta do something about this,” Athena explained, tapping the left side of her nose. Kyase frowned, and her frustration only intensified when she suddenly bobbed forward with a powerful “hhAEESCH!!”

 

“Gesundheit,” said Athena in an unexpectedly soft voice. Kyase forced one eye open to glare at her as she slowly but firmly rubbed a finger under her tickly nose, clearly still working out Apith-2’s pollen. Athena held up her hands defensively and stepped around to the side.

 

“Here, how about you take a shower? I know my word as a space pirate probably doesn’t mean anything to you, but then you can just walk right into that room across the hall, and I promise I won’t bother you. There’s a nice bed, and you can just relax. I’ll let you off at Lucent, or whatever you want to do. Okay?”

 

Kyase folded her arms and kept up a blank expression. She almost seemed calm, but after spending only a couple hours together, Athena could already tell the tight lips and enormous nostrils meant she was furious. Putting up her hands again, Athena shook her head penitently and backed away.

 

“Alright, uh… I’m gonna go, and you can do what you like. I still won’t go in that room, though, so if you wanna be alone, you can just… You know… Slide on over… Or suhh… hh… hih! Eh-excuse me… I-hhtSHUH! hh! ehttCHUUH!”

 

Once she was alone, Kyase contorted in rage, lifting one foot off the floor and running her hands up the sides of her now-disheveled black hair. She opened her mouth to scream, but the knowledge that Athena would likely hear kept her silent. Eventually she began to furiously undress, throwing her uniform into a heap in the corner, and then she sat on the floor in the shower for what felt like hours.

 

Water trickled down the slope of Kyase’s nose and dripped from her broad, flat septum, occasionally tickling her soft skin enough to warrant a sniff and a scrub with the side of her hand. Well, it was either the shower or she’d finally allowed herself to shed a few tears. Truthfully she wasn’t entirely certain. Otherwise, the shower was actually quite comfortable. Kyase tossed back her head and allowed the water to cascade over her face, and after a moment she stood and finally washed herself properly.

 

Kyase waited almost a full minute after shutting off the water before peering out into the washroom to make sure Athena wasn’t lurking about. She dried herself off and pulled on the base layer of her uniform, tucking her cap and jacket under her arm as she cautiously approached the door. Another cautious peek, and then Kyase very nearly leapt across the corridor in a single bound. Once she was inside the guest quarters, she let her head fall back against the door with a heavy sigh.

 

A box of tissues sat atop the pillow of the bed, along with something Kyase didn’t recognize. She placed her cap and folded jacket on the bedside table before sitting down, and then she immediately but begrudgingly grabbed a tissue. Wet hair always seemed to go hand in hand with a few sniffles for her, so she eagerly blew her nose before turning her attention to the other item Athena had left.

 

‘Esca Extra Fancy Dark Chocolate.’

 

Kyase frowned and wrinkled her nose as she turned the little package back and forth in her hand. She cautiously peeled back the wrapper, and a faint, unfamiliar fragrance immediately made her nostrils flare in anticipation. Closing her eyes, Kyase shook her head and began to lower the chocolate away from her face, but before she could set it down, her stomach growled. Her eyes snapped open and her face flushed a dark purple in embarrassment, even with no one around to see her. Staring fearfully at the door, Kyase took a slow, nervous bite of the chocolate bar.

 

It was unlike anything Kyase had ever tasted before. It was almost difficult to bite into, but it quickly began to melt in the heat of her mouth. Bitter and a little sweet all at the same time, it was divine. Before she knew it, Kyase had closed her eyes and rested her free hand on her cheek. She very nearly let out a content moan before stopping herself, glancing back at the door, and finally swallowing.

 

Kyase felt a strange, fluttery tickle in the farthest reaches of her nose. It gradually filtered down toward her nostrils, prompting her to give them a casual rub with her index finger. Kyase tried to ignore the irritation and take another bite, but her thin nostrils shot wide open, and…

 

“AASCHHT!!”

 

After sneezing into a cupped hand, Kyase shook her head and rubbed under her nose again, slower and more thoroughly this time. Thinking nothing of it, she took another bite of the chocolate. She savored it for as long as she could, but shortly after swallowing…

 

“eh? ESSCHuh!!"

 

While Kyase was a bit concerned about her sudden sneezing, if she was being completely honest, all she wanted to do was eat her chocolate. She cycled through taking a bite, sneezing, and flicking her eyes toward the door again and again until the chocolate bar was depleted.

 

“hh! hhAETSCH! hh-hAAESCH!! hh... hahh… hhhhhhh!!! hAA-ATSCHHuh!!”

 

Athena meant it when she said she’d give Kyase her privacy, but she hadn’t expected her guest to be such a loud sneezer. She jumped a little when Kyase let out a big one just as she was passing by the guest quarters, and she couldn’t help but chuckle. Once the Olympia was given clearance by Lucent Station, Athena stretched her arms and sat down at the controls to guide her ship in manually.

 

“Docking bay ninety four,” said Ollie, gesturing casually to the station through the viewscreen. Athena nodded, tilting the control yoke to keep the ship on course.

 

“Ninety four. You get an appointment with Sheeg?”

 

“He can see you as soon as we’ve docked. He also said ‘you better pay upfront this time.’”

 

Athena chuckled nervously.

 

“Oh Sheeg, you card. Ha. ha? hh! aahtCHUH!! Ugh… Fine. Get us fuelled up as soon as we’re connected too. I don’t think we’ll be in any hurry to get out of here, but… Well… Nevermind.”

 

“You got it, Athena.”

 

The Olympia shuddered gently as it connected with the docking port. Once Athena ensured everything was in order, she hopped out of her chair, rubbing her hands together excitedly. She slowed to a stop as she approached the guest quarters, bringing up a hand to knock, but she ultimately decided to leave Kyase alone like she promised. Before she could continue on her way, however…

 

“hh! hih! hettSHHieew!”

 

Athena cupped both hands over her nose as she sneezed, and when she opened her eyes, she found herself face to face with Kyase. The Inor was giving her a stern, half-lidded stare with her lips pulled tight in a serious frown.

 

“Bless you,” Kyase said flatly. Athena nodded slowly.

 

“Th-thanks… Hi, Kyase.”

 

“Hello. I take it we’ve arrived.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“I’m going with you.”

 

Athena relaxed ever so slightly, lowering her hands away.

 

“You want to?”

 

Kyase closed her eyes and flared her nostrils with a sigh.

 

“I’m not letting you out of my sight.”

 

“Then by all means, come along. But! Um… We should probably find you some other clothes. There’s some folks here who won’t be impressed with the, uh… Uniform.”

 

Kyase resumed her unimpressed scowl.

 

“You don’t say.”

 

After a moment of scrounging, Athena managed to find a suitable outfit for her companion. Kyase wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of borrowing clothes from an interstellar criminal, but she understood that discretion was the better part of valor. Both Athena and Kyase dressed themselves in leather jackets, jeans and combat boots of varying colors, though the latter was further dismayed by the faded ‘I heart NY’ shirt. Athena insisted, and Kyase was tired of arguing.

 

“Do you entrust everything to back-alley doctors?” Kyase scoffed, hands in her pockets as she walked beside Athena. The Terran shrugged.

 

“Sure, let me just hop over to the nearest Alliance colony so they can charge me half a million credits to stick a pair of tweezers up my nose. Besides, Sheeg is ex Ovat Imperial Guard, he knows what he’s doing.”

 

Athena pushed through a silk curtain hanging over an open doorway, leading Kyase into a small medical clinic. The officer immediately surveyed the room, taking in as much detail as she could. It probably wouldn’t pass Alliance sterilization checks, but it was much cleaner than she expected.

 

“Hey, Sheeg! It’s Athen… Ahh… aah… ahtCHUH!”

 

The instant Athena sneezed, a large, crimson slug-like creature burst through the door at the back of the room, bellowing out a series of grunts and groans. Kyase’s Standard Ovat was a bit rusty, but she understood his reprimands well enough.

 

“Yeah, I know,” Athena sighed, rubbing a finger under her nose in defeat. “Ollie told you what happened, though. Can we just… Just… hh! hehtSHUUH!!”

 

Sheeg grumbled, prompting Kyase to fold her arms.

 

“She said she’s not letting me out of her sight,” Athena choked, delicately massaging the sides of her nose. Sheeg rolled his eyestalks, but he ultimately ushered both ladies into the back room.

 

Once inside, Athena sat in the chair in the center while Kyase stood silently in the corner. Without much fanfare, a pseudopod extended from the side of Sheeg’s body and selected a small set of tweezers from a tray on the counter. Kyase’s brow furrowed as she watched. The Ovat hardly seemed to be paying attention as he reached into Athena’s nostril and grabbed the tracking device. The Terran chuckled nervously as the tweezers began to slowly, carefully recede from her nose.

 

“Whew, this isn’t so BAAAA’HAD!”

 

Kyase jumped as Sheeg suddenly pulled the capsule out of Athena’s nostril with a swift tug. Athena doubled over in the chair, covering her nose with both hands and breathing heavily. Staring nervously at the Ovat physician, Kyase had no choice but to obey when he beckoned her over. He held out the pair of tweezers and Kyase brought up a hand without thinking. Before she could realize what was happening, Sheeg simply dropped the tracking device into her palm, along with a few tangled nose hairs. Kyase took a second to process, and then she jumped back with a silent scream, flailing both hands in disgust.

 

Despite her earlier insistence on keeping a close eye on Athena, Kyase fled back to the waiting room. She paced around in a circle to take her mind off of what had just happened, and Athena came to join her after settling up with Sheeg. The Terran was in surprisingly dim spirits, shoulders hunched as she delicately rubbed a finger under her nose.

 

“You couldn’t have done that yourself?” Kyase asked, straightening herself up and trying to regain her composure. Athena sighed, looking down at her feet as she shuffled out of the clinic.

 

“I guess. I just didn’t know if it was gonna explode or something.”

 

She gave a loud snort, earning a frown from her companion.

 

“Don’t do that,” Kyase scolded, wrinkling her own nose. Athena groaned, starting to rub her nose more vigorously.

 

“But I can’t help it! I’m glad I got that thing out, but it’s… Ihh-it’s… hh! hhhtCHUUH! Ugh, itchy nose!”

 

“Bless you,” Kyase mumbled, briefly glancing at Athena before avoiding eye contact. “So… What do we do now?”

 

“I dunno. Wanna get some dinner? Or... Breakfast? I don’t even know what time it is.”

 

The station rumbled, bringing both Athena and Kyase to a stop. A few shakes and shudders weren’t uncommon, but they knew something was wrong. Athena slowly brought her hand up to her ear and touched the lobe with two fingers as she continued to scan the environment.

 

“Ollie? How we doing on fuel?” she asked in a hushed voice.

 

“Forty percent,” Ollie replied. “About half an hour till we’re full.”

 

“That can get us to another station. Maybe we better-”

 

A metal panel suddenly burst out of the floor a few meters ahead, punched out of the way by a clenched fist that protruded from the open space. Athena and Kyase backed away as an imposing figure gracefully maneuvered its way out of the hole in the ground. Their features were indeterminate: a helmet and visor covered most of their head and face. At this distance, all Athena and Kyase could make out were dim neon green lights running up and down the figure’s metallic body.

 

“Another friend of yours?” asked Kyase. She reflexively reached for her hip, quickly remembering she no longer had a weapon. Athena swallowed nervously, slowly shaking her head.

 

“Afraid not.”

 

-----

 

And that's all for now! I hope this one didn't get too weird, but honestly my philosophy for this story has been trying not to worry about that so much or let myself get hung up on it, so I've just kinda embraced the weirdness, and there'll be plenty more to come.

 

Unfortunately I have slowed a bit in writing the future chapters, which is why I waited a bit longer to post this one, but I do still have one more fully written after this, plus another about halfway done and ideas for a few more. I really hope I can keep this one going, at least through what I've thought of so far. Just a heads up.

 

Thanks for reading!

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