I always wanted to see the planets – Episode 21

There’s no swashbuckling for the captain

I turned, and saw what appeared to be a relatively unkempt man standing behind me.

Jerome Kennedy. Astro physicist.  A man who was mocked rather than revered for his theories on space, and in particular, space travel.

And those theories were, to put it mildly, interesting.

It was probably why the Admiral conscripted him for this voyage into the unknown.

“I though that was only in the imagination of television script writers.”

“Possibly, but we just witnessed something that none of us can rationally explain.  One minute they were there, the next, poof.”

“That’s why you are along for the ride, to find explanations for the unexplainable.  I look forward to your report.”  Then, turning back to the navigator, “are we still in touch with the original alien vessel?”

“Just, and still heading towards Uranus.”

“Then let’s get after it, maximum speed when possible.”

I left the newly promoted number one in charge and went into the captains day room.  I was still getting used to the idea of actually bring captain, because the aura of previous inhabitant of this room was still there.  And it felt like he was in the room watching everything I did.

I shook my head, as if that would cast off the jitters I felt, and sat down behind the imposing desk, one thathad been made over a hundred years before, and from a vessel with the same name. 

I still didn’t have a lot to put in any report to the Admiral, but had a lot to think about.

I brought up the navigation screen and looked at the suggested path from where we were to Uranus, and the time it would take.

There was a buzzing sound, and a face appeared on my screen.  It was the Captain’s personal assistant for want of a better name, Louise Chalmers, an ex Lieutenant Colonel from the military, but not by much.  She had retired into this position, and, I suspect, another was for the military to keep up to date on the Captain’s decisions.

“Come in.”

The door opened, she came in, and it closed behind her.  There was no open door policy on this ship.

“Sir.”

“What can I do for you?”

“I’m not sure if you are aware, but I am here to serve whomever the current Captain is, and since Captain V is not here, that would be you in his stead.”

I had read that she was his choice for P A, and that it was a personal matter, as usually Captains didn’t have such staff members.

“I thought you were on board to serve only the previous captain “

“Not so.  If you read standing order 207615, you will realise my position was ratified as general crew member, serving the ship rather than an individual.  My job is to make your job easier.”

While she was speaking, I fetched the standing orders, and the one she referred, and a quick scan proved such to be the case.

“In what way?”

“Paperwork, the vane of any officers existence I’m told, and to organise all activities of a non urgent nature, like bring the daily reports to you.”

I knew that captain had to be appraised of everything that happened on board, just not every day.

“I take it you have the reports?”

“I have, and unfortunately, as per regulations, I have to make sure you have received them.  Your predecessor wanted me to summarise.  I can do the same for you.”

There would be no escaping it.  “Please.”

© Charles Heath 2021

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