Part six of my space opera.
UNSC CAPTAINS LOG – SARAH KEYS CH.6
United Naval Space Corps
“Still can’t believe you finally got your own ship, can you?” John comments sitting next to me on the port shuttle.
“No. It still feels a little surreal.”
“I think you must not only be the youngest captain, but the youngest captain to receive a ship. Now do you know if your father is joining you on this trip?” John brings up my father, whom he had suggested join my first cruise with my first ship to get a feel of what his youngest daughter actually does.
“I dropped him and my sister off at the Naval clearance port. They should be right behind us.”
“HA-HA-HA! And that’s another thing! You never expected for your sister to be crewed on your ship as a civilian now did you! Oh how the fates must hate you!”
I punch John in the shoulder. “Oh, just shut up. It’s not as if I will actually see her on the ship all that much. Once we get aboard if she is assigned too close to me and starts to get annoying I can always have her repositioned to the rear of the ship. Somewhere far away from me where we have very little chance of running into each other.”
“True, but what if she tries to use her relationship with you to her advantage? What would you do then?”
“Hmm… that’s a good question. I think I would just throw her out one of the airlocks at that point.”
“Ha-Ha-Ha! If it comes to that I can put her on brig duty aboard the Night Panther! Since we will be both running the same mission as a pair. Of course, I will get to be the silent partner.”
“Well no shit Sherlock, you captain a Prowler. The whole mission statement for your ship and crew is to get in and get out unseen. That means you have to be the silent one.”
The shuttle finally pulls up in front of the boarding platform for my ship.
“Well Captain Starlock, good sailing to you, and hope to see you out there.”
“Good sailing to you to Captain Keys, and may the stars align in your favor.”
With our farewells said, I step into the boarding platform and make my way onto my ship. Moving from corridor to corridor on my way to the bridge, I am met with straight backed salutes wherever I go.
Finally, I reach the bridge of the ship. As I had noted in my captain’s preferences, this ship was built with a top deck bridge set on top of the ship, instead of a classic bottom bubble bridge.
“CAPTAIN ON DECK!” the crew member next to the door announces as I step onto the deck.
“At ease. Is First lieutenant Raes present?”
“No mam. She is currently facilitating the boarding of the civilian crew, including a special guest.”
“Ok. First things first, bridge officers and crew, this special civilian guest happens to be my father. I expect you to all ignore his presence and continue as we normally would, though if you have a simple civilian type job, feel free to ask him to do it if it is within his skill set. Now we have all run missions together on other ships, so I expect a good team cohesion. Also, I want this broadcasted to all personnel on the ship, if a crew member is on duty and working, they are not to salute their captain while I am captain. I see no reason to interrupt their work just to salute me. Understood?
““YES MAM!”” The entire bridge crew chorused together.
Forty-five minutes later Mia shows up on the bridge with my father in tow.
“Lieutenant Raes, are we all accounted for? I was about to call you and pull away from the dock.”
“Yes Captain. All are accounted for however, I did have trouble with one civilian showing up late and refusing to cooperate. Also, I was able to get the special guest registered while we were waiting on the problem civilian.”
“Good job Lieutenant. Engineering, bring the reactors up to full potential, and start testing all electrical systems. Navigation, pull us away from the docks and plot a course for the Pennillion system for my review.”
I switch on my console and start sifting through the crew reports that where flagged for my review. Out of the corner of my eye I see my father standing, staring at me working. Calling over a few of the crew members I bring up several repair and maintenance issues and quickly dispatch them to accomplish the tasks.
“Mr. Keys, if you would like there is a collapsible seat in the deck plating next to me for you to sit on. Just pull the yellow marked handle on the floor.”
“What? Oh, will do. Thank you, Sarah.”
“Mr. Keys, on the bridge and when I am on duty, I am to be called Captain Keys or just Captain. Please refrain from using first names on the bridge. It goes against standard policy to call officers by their first names while on the bridge.”
“Will there be a problem Mr. Keys?”
“Fine then. No there will not be a problem Captain Keys.” When father calls me captain I can hear the challenge in his voice, almost as if it is painful for him to call me captain.
Father looks down to the floor where I gestured, trying to figure out how to pull the collapsible seat from the floor. After watching him struggle with it for a minute, I reach down, press the yellow line, then twist and pull the handle that popped up.
“Captain! We are out of Terrans gravity well and have a FTL course plotted for your review!”
Nodding towards the navigation officer delivering the report, I sit in the commanders seat and pull up the plotted course. After making a few minor corrections to optimize the ships travel utilizing the intense gravity pull of a collapsing star, I submit the finalized navigation chart.
“Navigation, set course for final corrected course. Plan to drop out of slip space after 30 minuets to check drive integrity, then continue at full power.”
““YES MAM!”” The entire navigation crew responds with enthusiasm.
“Attention all crew! Prepare for slip-space travel in T minus sixty seconds!” An announcement is broadcast over the PA system alerting the unsuspecting sailors of slip-space travel.
“Can somebody please fetch Mr. Keys a bucket? I don’t want him to soil the new floors.” A few seconds later a bucket is set in front of my father.
“Uhm… whats this for?”
Ignoring his lack of proper address I respond over my shoulder. “You’ll see in a few seconds.”
At that moment the ship lets out a loud groan as space starts to distort off the bow of the ship, ringed in a fuzzy white band. With a sudden lurch, the engines are pushed to full throttle and the ship lurches through the ring, and into the distorted space. A sudden wave of intense nausea washes over the crew as the ship pushes its way through the fold in space into another dimensional plane.
Behind me I hear the sudden wretching sounds of a stomach being emptied.
“All crews perform inter slip space checks and submit reports promptly.”
Every sailor on the ship suddenly lurch to action performing the requested checks of the ship, checking for any flaw that might have shown up on the ships first in service slip space jump.
“Captain, I need you to look over the incident report on the civilian that was late. Due to her unwillingness to cooperate, an incident had to be filed against her and it requires your review.” Mia snuck up behind me to deliver the news I really didn’t want to hear.
Resting my face in my palms I respond to Mia. “Can’t you do it Mia?”
“Unfortunately you have to perform these duties to uphold the respect from the rest of the crew.”
I look down at the digital incident report on my screen. “Ok. Call her to the secondary officers briefing room. I’ll meet her there.”
“Yes mam.” Mia hurries off to summon the civilian requiring discipline.
“Mr. Keys, you follow me. We can stop by the sick bay to get some anti nausea medication for you. But since your supposed to be shadowing me, you need to be present to see how day to day shipboard operations go.” Rising from my seat I make my way towards the bridge exit. My father sluggishly follows, but has to hurry to catch up. Taking several stair cases down, we descend to a floor above the marines quarters.
Stepping through a doorway marked with a big red cross on a white background, I take in the scene greeting me.
The sickbay ward has forty beds lined up along the walls, with more portable units folded against the walls. Already three quarters of the beds are occupied with patients. A large majority of them are civilian contractors who couldn’t handle the intensity of a slip-space jump.
Nurses both male and female are dressed in identical blue scrubs with the words COMBAT NURSE spelled across their backs, and are running to and fore between the patients and other nurses. In the middle of the fray is a small woman who looks almost like a young child, dressed in a nurse cosplay costume, bouncing from one side of the room to the other.
“Dr. Freya! I need two doses of anti nausea medication stat!” I yell into the chaos hoping she hears me.
“You betcha! Two doses of magic sickie pills coming right up!” Dr. Freya replies with a bubbly voice as she bounces her way over to the pharmacy. After grabbing two packets of pills she bounces over towards me and drops the requested medication into my hand.
“Thank you Doctor! And don’t forget to submit your after slip report when your sick bay clears out!”
“You betcha!” Dr Freya tilts her head, winks and sticks her tung out at me, all while smiling. Her happy attitude is infectious, and makes everyone she meets smile. One of the reasons I overlook her improper uniform and improper address of officers. Her ability to make even a wounded Marine smile makes it all worth covering for her.
Leaving the sick bay, I lead my father to the secondary officers briefing room. Opening the door and walking into the room, I grab a info tablet off the table right inside the door and pull up the civilians record. Quickly scanning through the documents I summarize what the incident was about.
“Ms. Anita Keys. Age 19 years of age. Role, auxiliary general labor. Time in service, five hours. Time in current deployment, four hours. You caused a commotion during the boarding of the ship, causing our departure to be late. It says here that your reasoning for being late was that there was a limited edition makeup sale happening in the retail area of the spaceport. To quote what you said, ‘Starlight Blush was on sale and you would just die if you passed up the chance.’ Is that correct?” The entire time I don’t look up from the info tablet, and continue pacing around the room.
“Well yeah, it was a super rare limited edition that was made for the launching of a new cruise liner. Wait… your voice sounds familiar? Sarah?”
“Are you aware that not being present before the ship is scheduled to depart is considered dereliction of duty?” I continue deadpan.
“You are Sarah!”
“Considering that you are still a civilian contractor, you are not abandoning your service duty. However there is still a stiff penalty for contractors who break the rules.”
“I thought the captain was supposed to talk to me? Have you seen the captain yet? I hope he is a tall strong dream of a man!”
I scrunch my face at her last remark.
“Your not listening to me are you?”
“Why? Should I be?”
“Ms. Keys, as the captain of this vessel I hear by revoke two weeks of pay, and assign you to latrine duty for the following three weeks! As for you blatant disrespect towards the captain… your mess hall privileges have been revoked and five more weeks of latrine duty will be assigned!”
“What?” It appears that Anita still does not understand what is going on.
“Please tell me you are just screwing around? Have you payed attention to anything this past week at all?”
“Wait.. YOU’RE THE CAPTAIN!?!?” Finally what I have been telling Anita hits her like a ton of bricks.
“I am also prescribing a complete psychiatric evaluation to be done by the shipboard councilor. Heres some anti nausea medication incase your stomach feels upset from the slip-space jump.” Reaching into my pocket, I hand the packets of medication to my father and sister. My father immediately rips open the package and swallows the medicine, washing it down with the glass of water on the table.
“Why are you having me evaluated?”
“Just because I need to know if I have a complete moron on my ship. If I do, you will be confined to your quarters for the rest of the journey. For now you are to report to marine commander Arzneth for your disciplinary action.”
“Well that’s not nice!”
“You brought it on yourself with your blatant ignorance of proper protocol. Any further complaints about the matter will bring about more disciplinary action. I will see about getting you assigned to a different ship if that is what you fancy, we have another ship shadowing us on this journey, though the work is twice as demanding aboard.”
With that I turn to the door and leave the room.
“Mr. Keys!” My father jumps to attention at my authoritative voice.
“Break to the mess hall and get yourself something to eat, then report to the analytics department. I need you to pick up and sort the reports gathered there. Then come see me when you are done.”
“Oh and Mr. Keys? Good work on following proper title protocols. You’re a fast learner.”
With those parting words I step through a doorway branching off the hall and let the door close behind us. The room I stepped into is a maze of computers and monitors. The only source of light is the gentle blue glow from the monitors filling the room. In the middle of the room is a large three-dimensional holograph projector, projecting a current map of the star system we are in currently.
“Ah captain! Glad you could make it! Welcome to the imaging department!” A cute brunet says cheerfully from behind a set of monitors.
“I try to make a point to visit all of my teams.”
“As you probably already know I am third lieutenant Barthel. Im the chief radar analyst!” The radar analyst steps out from behind the monitors and I get a good look at who I am talking to. Despite wearing a standard issue naval deck uniform, she still has the air of someone who spends much of their time locked up in their room. Most likely due to her wearing a uniform that was two sizes too large for her medium sized frame.
“If you are the chief of your department, then who was that sitting in your seat on the bridge when we departed?”
“Oh that’s Lisa! She’s one of the newest to the team. Since I was busy down here getting the radar units and scanners tuned, I sent her up to sit in my place instead!” Now I see what kind of person Third Lieutenant Barthel is.
“What’s your first name Lieutenant Barthel?”
“Dianna, Dianna Barthel.”
“You can call me Sarah. Now do you mind telling me exactly why you prefer to hang out down here instead of in your seat on the bridge?” Suddenly Diannas face lights up.
“Well I’m glad you asked Captain! I find that the instrumentation in the console on the bridge is just not quite up to the task to handle what I need to do! So instead of having that seat empty, I send one of my personnel up to the bridge to keep the seat from being noticeably empty, and I have that crew member keep a radio on them at all times so I can hear what is going on upstairs.”
I look Dianna in the eyes with a straight expression. After a few seconds of staring her expression doesn’t diminish. Suddenly I smile at her.
“Thank you for being so honest with me! Now that you have brought up the issue with your command console, what can we do to bring it up to speed?”
“Wait… Your going to actually do something about the command console? I was told to never question the design of the bridge and to just grin and bear it?” Dianna looks at me with a confused look on her face.
“Well that’s not how I run my ships. As we have never worked together before let me explain how this all works. If all my lead crew members have all the tools that they need on the bridge, the better job that they do. I feel that its my duty as a captain to provide my crew with the tools that they need at their disposal. And with this ship being a fairly new ship, it is not all that difficult to ge the changes made.” Dianna’s expression brightens as she starts to bounce up and down.
“You really mean it? You can fix the bridge to my liking?”
I smile at the excited radar analyst. “Just write down everything you need. Im thinking about having the bridge reorganized to make a newer modern layout, the old layout is just not efficient enough for modern combat. I find that the electronic warfare specialists and part of the weapons crew are too hard to access with them behind me.”
“This is going to be awesome! Can I get a holo-counsel installed?”
“Well that’s what I was thinking, also getting another seat installed for another crew member. Remember that this ship is a new construct. Whoever designed the main deck obviously got lazy and threw the textbook counsel design at it, meaning we have plenty of room to expand.”
“AWESOME!” Dianna jumps into the air and does a little spin.
“I think you’re getting a little over excited here. A little bridge remodel is nothing to get that over excited for… you may want to save your celebrations for once we arrive at home base on Reach. Don’t tell any of the rest of the crew or the media, but we are picking up a shipment on Jericho of enhancements and upgrades, only because Terra didn’t have what we needed in orbit because of the various treaties.”
“Thank you, captain!” I smile at the happy radar analyst.
“Just keep doing what you do best!” I quip over my shoulder as I leave the room.
Making my way back to the bridge, I take a seat at my desk in the captains office and start combing through the first reports that are pouring in from the ships first service slip space jump. After about five minuets I am interrupted by a sharp knocking at the door.
“Come in!” I look up from my desk to see my father standing in the doorway with an armload of binders.
“Captain Keys! I have the paperwork you requested! Collected and sorted, all of the minor departments inter jump reports!”
“Mr. Keys, you are aware that mess time is at least thirty minuets for active duty officers? Yet here you are in twenty-five minuets with the documents I requested. Either I have been selecting the wrong people for my crew, or you didn’t take the full allowed meal time now did you?” The look of guilt on his face tells me the truth.
“Thank you, Mr. Keys, but just remember that next time, you don’t need to skip meals to bring me reports like these.”
“Captain, I still ate. I put in the request for the documents to be prepared before eating. Then I picked them up and sorted them on my way here.” I look up at my father, standing just inside the door.
“Good job. Come have a seat, and I’ll show you what needs to be done next. And while we are doing this, you can take a more relaxed tone and call me Sarah. But out on the bridge or in front of other officers please refer to me by title. Now do you want me to call you by your first name? Father? Or do you want me to call you papa?” I say with a chuckle.