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Zach was heading for conference room 7, data pad in hand, and not really paying attention. Most of the officers and adminstrators were holding mini-meetings in whatever rooms were available because of the latest security reorganizations. The few who weren't in or on their way to meetings were either off-world or in hiding.

(The enlisted men and the hired help often repeated the old myth that Q-Ball would hide you in the darker corners of his lab for either 300 credits or a bottle of Chateau D'Orleans 2067. Zach knew this wasn't true...Q-Ball had raised his prices substantially in the past few years, and it cost a minimum of a thousand credits or its equivilant value in trade. A price that might well be wasted money if Walsh really wanted to find you, as the Commander had the uncanny ability to know exactly where in the base you might be "busy" and the authority to send a secretary with extra paperwork orders to that exact spot at a moment's notice.)

As this was the latest political nonsense, and thus only to be decided by the higher ups, the rest of the Series 5 had managed to make themselves scarce. Niko was somewhere cataloging the latest artifact haul from Selest-9. Doc was reprogramming the sewer maintenance AI from scratch (an assignment that had something to do with last week's computer glitch that had caused a clown suit to be overlaid on Senator Wheiner's image during his Project Earthborn speech.) And Goose was...

Zach stopped, and walked back past the lounge door he had just passed. He blinked. He sent a mental command to his bionic eye to reset.

Then he walked up to where Ranger Shane Gooseman sat busily knitting something.

"Hey Zach," Goose said, his fingers never slowing. "Did you escape, or are you looking for a hiding place?"

Zach raised the pad. "I'm on my way to Negata's talk about security check scheduling. It'll probably start late."

"I'd heard he'd found a bottle of D'Orleans 2030. Think Q-Ball will share in exchange for the glowy snake thing Niko called a Chelatian Sonic Headband?"

"Worth a try." Zach tried his best Captain glare. Goose ignored it, expertly clicking the needles and looking innocent as a shiny cloth piled up at his feet. He mentally counted to twenty. And then sighed. "All right, I give. Knitting?"

"It's a bet with Doc," Goose answered, flipping a new ball closer and knitting it into the work. "You remember that blaster-proof material we were supposed to get, the stuff that was supposed to be used in the new experimental body armor?"

"The stuff that we opened that turned out to be very fine thread instead of the finished cloth? Yes. Hard to forget that shade of angry purple Commander Walsh's face turned when he found out."

"Doc bet me 90 credits and the new Terraphile Moonsounds album that I couldn't knit a uniform out of it."

"Do I want to know how that conversation came up? I didn't even know that you knew how to knit!"

"I learned how this morning. And it came up because Ranger Sleeson bet 30 credits that she could crochet a doily out of it in an hour. Doc's trying to make his money back."

"I see." Zach was about to leave, and then the first part of Goose's sentence registered. "You learned how to knit THIS MORNING?"

"Yep." Goose bound off whatever he was doing, and started casting on again. "I'm surprised we never learned this at Wolf Den. It could have come in handy in the field. You know how hard it is to repair a uniform when it gets torn on a hostile world."

Zach covered his face with his hand. "Are you going to tell me HOW you learned how to knit so fast?"

"Ranger Sleeson loaned me her Tri-D collection of Miss Maybelline Marple's Knitting Hour. The old girl's a pretty good teacher. A little slow, though. I had to put it on fast advance to get through it all. I only have a week to win the bet, after all."

"Riiight." Zach wondered if the coffee this morning had been spiked. If it hadn't, it probably wouldn't hurt to do it now. Captain Ellison undoubtedly had his flask on him today...

Goose held up his work and looked at it critically. "I like the material, but I dunno. How do you think I'd look in black?"