I always wanted to see the planets – Episode 22

It’s the most non captain job to be done

I hadn’t realised that the ship was, on the one hand, virtually a city, with all the standard infrastructure like hospitals, schools, and a pseudo police force.

And, on the other hand, almost like a hotel, running quarters for the single staff, a restaurant for everyone to eat, and recreational facilities to provide entertainment outside of work.

It was, perhaps on of the reasons why the ship was so large, and its crew so diverse.

And in the way diversity is sometimes a curse or land, so it can be on board the ship, with the usual disagreements between people. I was sure the human resource division took all that diversity into consideration when they chose the crew, but there was always going to be the odd situation.

Which is why I had to attend to the first, and probably not the last, ‘situation’ between two crew members. It seemed strange to me that they hadn’t sent a judge type figure to sort those out, but left it to the captain.

Not to mention the running of a very large cafeterias, a sort of night club, sports venues and so many other items

And like every other city, there was always going to be an element that caused trouble.

A chamber had been set aside where the ship’s security team was located, for either mediation or adjudication.

The matter at hand should have been dealt with long before it reached me, but Masters, head of security, believed a tone had to be set as it was very early in the voyage and simple problems could fester into bigger problems.

This was where the previous captain’s experience was needed.

But, he was not available, and it was in my hands.

In normal circumstances the two crew members involved should have sorted their differences out themselves. The fact that a fight had started over seating arrangements in the restaurant was bad enough, but the fact both were willing to continue it outside, sealed their fate.

Now each sat either side of the table with a glowering Masters sitting between them. He read out the charge sheet.

Neither looked contrite.

I looked at Fred Danvers, storeman, a burley man whom his employment record said was a hard worker, a good man in a crisis, but prone to getting into fights over trivial matters. This was exactly that, trivial.

I switched my look of consternation to the other man, Bryson O’Connell, a red headed Irishman, who worked in the Laboratory, a man specially along to aid in the research of alien life, if we found any.

His employment sheet showed no prelidiction to fighting or even exchanging a cross word with anyone.

An ideal foil for Danvers, then.

I glared at one then the other. “Can either of you give me one good reason why you should not spend the next week in the brig?”

Masters eyebrows went up, registering surprise, but he didn’t comment.

Danvers said, “That’s a bit harsh for an argument over a seat?”

I looked at O’Connell.

“I should have just walked away,” he said.

I shrugged. “Three days in the brig for the both of you. You’ll have time to write down why it shouldn’t be extended for the rest of the week.” To Masters, “put the word out if people want to waste my time over trivial matters, it’ll be a week minimum in the brig where they can figure out what their priorities are. We’re out here to do a job, not get caught up on petty misdemeanours. Make a note in their records, a second infraction and they’re off the ship.”

I stood, just in time to hear the message, “Captain to the bridge.”

I also noticed, coming out of the chamber, that the ship had slowed, or stopped. I hoped it was not a problem with the propulsion unit.

© Charles Heath 2021

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