Disclaimer: 'The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers' is copyrighted by Hearst Entertainment, Inc.
This is a work of fanfiction and I make no profit of it.
This was inspired by a sketch by the German comedian Loriot.
By sand cake I mean the German recipe for "Sandkuchen", it is much dryer (without any cream) than the US version by the same name.
His skin was itching from the dust, and he wondered how much more of it he would be able to take before he turned into a sand lizard, mud turtle or whatever it was that Goose morphed into when they were trapped in a desert storm on Tortuna. Fortunately, he wasn't going to find out. How much dust it would take, that is, though finding out how his comrade arranged his (or others') molecules wasn't high on his list of priorities either.
Zachary and he had been combing the sewer system for alligators that had allegedly escaped from negligent pet owner's care the whole day and he felt desperate for a warm bath. The planet was much too cool for alligators -- or Galaxy Rangers like him.
He took off his boots, exchanged his uniform for a bathrobe and headed for the bathroom. The door creaked relentlessly and he thought that it sounded very similar to a dying duck.
"Wally! How are you? It's a little chilly on Epitaos, isn't it? Nothing like a hot bath to warm one's old bones."
To Doc's shock, the bathroom was not empty.
"The very same. Now is something wrong? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"You're sitting in my bathtub!"
"The warm water in my room doesn't work. Hey, this is a frontier world. We help each other out. I thought you wouldn't mind."
"You're sitting in my bathtub, taking my bath while I'm turning into a mud turtle on ice and you think I don't mind?!?"
"No one said you couldn't join me."
"Don't be shy. I don't bite and the water's still warm."
"This is a private room."
"Don't act as though you've never been to the swimming-pool. You earth-born lot always think that we colonists bake in mud, but you're damn impractical when it comes to taking off your own dirt. Need your own bathroom. Hah! My five brothers and me only had a tub in the kitchen, and we had a lot of fun like that. We don't perish if we're faced with some mud."
"Now wait a moment. I've certainly faced down more mud than you did. I've practically bathed in mud that one time we had to escort those settlers on Irisha and got into the rain season and Zachary rationed the dry soap.
And this is still my tub and you're still sitting in it!"
"That reminds me of the time Burro and I were digging for gold on that Vesh'a outpost near the empty zone, Grr'kt'tt-rrr or something. They're very possessive about their soap. Wouldn't let me borrow one tiny morsel. In the end, I had to make my own soap from ash and oil. Kind of improvised, but even Niko liked it. How is she, by the way?"
Doc could not believe he was having this conversation.
"Niko and Goose are on Quela. They're trying to establish contact with the natives. They're all living in the seas, that makes it kind of difficult. And you've just used up the last of the lavender soap! My lavender soap!"
"So Niko and Goose are trying to talk to some jellyfish and squids. And what are you doing here on Epitaos?"
A look at the boiler brought Doc an even more shocking discovery.
"And you've used up all the warm water! It will take at least an hour to heat it up again!"
"Of course I've used the warm water. There's no sense in taking a cool bath. Now are you coming or not?"
Doc felt as though he was stuck in a bad operating system without a reset button. He considered asking Zachary whether he could use his bathroom. Hey, that was what superiors were there for, to help you with your troubles. Engrained as his Martian upbringing was, the Captain probably hadn't used up one fourth of the water supply, to save it for the next great draught. Unlike Goose, who always managed to consume all the hot water in less than a minute. Probably the remnants of some Supertrooper competiveness.
"You didn't bring a plastic duck, did you? Dagobert is feeling kind of lonely here," Roy interrupted this train of thought.
Doc glanced at the yellow plastic bird that was floating among the heaps of foam. For a moment he considered in earnest asking Zachary for asylum. He might be just perplexed enough by the request to grant it. But then he discarded the thought. The only one among them who would have a chance of pulling off such a breach of formal behavior with their Captain was Niko, and she probably wouldn't even consider trying.
"All right, Roy. This is my tub and you're not going to keep me from taking a bath in it!"
Determined, Doc hung his bathrobe on the hook on the door and slid into the tub, bravely suppressing a flinch when his skin made contact with the hot water.
Actually, the tub was kind of spacey. Doc had enough room to stretch his legs without coming into too close contact with Roy.
Doc started scrubbing himself with an unused washcloth. He had been to the sauna before, he reminded himself, this was not really different. He started to relax in the warm water. His mud turtle genes were suppressed once more. Blissful quiet enveloped him.
"So how did you become a Galaxy Ranger, Wally?"
"What? That I'm bathing with you doesn't mean that I have to talk to you. I never talk while bathing."
"What a shame. My five brothers and I would plan everything in the bathtub: how to catch the neighbor's cat and tie tin cans to its tail, how to get the girls to notice us, where to stake our claims when we grow up. Do you have any brothers or sisters, Wally?"
"I'm an only child, thank you."
"No wonder you have such trouble bathing."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You never learned to share things."
"Hey, I'm a team player, while you used up all the hot water in my bathroom."
"Boy, you know how to hold grudge."
"I just want to bathe in peace!"
Tense silence ensued.
Doc closed his eyes, determined to relax again. The warm water was rejuvenating his tired muscles. He tried to ignore the squeaking from the direction of Roy and Dagobert.
"Do you believe there are really alligators on this world? And do you believe they could creep up here through the drain?"
Doc shrunk from his reverie.
"Are you crazy? We're on the third floor."
"And alligators love warm water."
"If anything comes up through that drain, I'm certain we can handle it."
For Doc the discussion was closed.
For Roy it was not.
"Are you sure?"
Doc decided to give up on both tranquility and a meaningful conversation.
He picked up the yellow duck from the water and studied it.
"So how did you and Dagobert meet, Roy?"
"Now that's a long story…"
Doc was saved from having to listen to it by a harsh knock on the door. He wondered whether he should just ignore it. The knock repeated itself impatiently.
"Doc, are you in there?" he heard the familiar no-nonsense, get-on-with-business, shoot-those-criminals voice of his superior.
"All right, I'm coming," Doc cried. The water was starting to cool anyway.
Doc put on his bathrobe and opened the door.
Zachary looked like a well-baked and powdered sand cake.
"Sorry to disturb you, Doc, but someone called that they had seen an alligator, and when I checked it out, I got into a sandstorm. To top it all, the water in my room doesn't work. Could I use your bathroom?"