Richard approached his quarters in officer’s country, the name that was given to an area of the ship that the commissioned officers onboard a ship had their quarters and it was strictly off-limits to any non-commissioned officer unless they were on official duty. That or they had gotten themselves into some kind of trouble. He stepped up to the door and put his finger on the fingerprint reader next to the door and the door opened.
When he stepped into the quarters he looked around. His quarters were nothing more than a hole in the wall for him to lay his head down to sleep, relax, and wash his face, groom, and not much more. The room was tiny by civilian standards but it wasn’t something that Richard wasn’t used to already. He had shared a room that wasn’t much bigger than this with a fellow cadet at the academy. The room had a combined square footage of 90 square feet; 7.5 feet by 12 feet. The room was sparsely furnished and only had a bed, a fold-down wash basin and one small closet to keep some articles of clothing in it. He had been used to having cramped quarters but that didn’t mean he had to like it but he also knew that room onboard ship was at a premium and the equipment that kept them all alive in space took top priority aboard ship; this of course left very little room for anything else and you had to make use of every inch you had left in a very efficient way.
Richard tossed his carry-on bag into a corner of the room and reached for the light switch that was on the wall. When he touched the switch a small overhead light turned on and lit the room up. The room was painted a drab battleship gray and with the light on he determined that there was no room in his place for any sort of luxuries of any kind. There wasn’t even a shower in the room or for that matter, a toilet. Richard assumed that the head was probably down the hall in some kind of communal setup. He kept thinking that the room had to be smaller than on his old ship but that was probably just his imagination. In fact, his old ship had had smaller quarters. He thought that maybe since this was a battlecruiser… but no such luck.
After dropping off of some personal items in his quarters, Richard regarded his white service uniform. The white service uniform consisted of a short-sleeve white button-up shirt that was worn open-collared, white trousers and belt, along with white dress shoes. He also wore the ribbons for the Space Forces Cross, Combat Action Ribbon, Space Service Ribbon, and Space Forces Good Conduct Medal on his shirt just above the shirt’s left breast pocket.
Rachel approached her room that was across the hall from Richard’s quarters. When the door slid open and she got a look inside she frowned. She had been hoping that since she was of higher rank than she was on her old ship that she’d have the privilege of having a slightly bigger room, but that obviously wasn’t the case. She had hated rooms like these; they were small, cramped, and hardly gave you room to have any personal items. She consoled herself with the idea that enlisted men and women, along with noncoms, only had triple bunks in stuffy rooms.
She walked the rest of the way in and touched the light switch. She sat down on the bed and found that it was softer than her old bed on her old ship but that didn’t say much since her old bed was about as uncomfortable as sleeping on rocks. She stood up and looked in the closet; she found the vacsuit that was to be worn when in combat.
Rachel regarded her white service uniform before stepping out of her quarters. The white service uniform for women consisted of a short-sleeve white button-up shirt that was worn open-collared, white skirt that came down to about two inches above the knee and belt, white tights, along with white high-heeled dress shoes. She also wore the Combat Action Ribbon, Space Service Ribbon, and Space Forces Good Conduct Medal on her shirt above the left breast pocket.
Richard stepped out of his quarters and walked down the hall. He had wanted to take a walk around the ship to try and familiarize himself with his new surroundings and to learn where everything was onboard. The most important places onboard ship that he wanted to know about were the bathrooms, the showers, the officer’s mess, and of course the bridge. When he had gotten halfway down the hall he heard someone yell “wait up.” He looked back and saw Rachel running down the hall towards him.
“Hey,” she said as she caught up with him. “What you up to? Where are you going?”
“I figured that since there isn’t much to do right now I thought I’d take a walk around the ship to learn where everything was.” Rachel nodded her head, it was a good idea. Nothing made you look like a fool to your commanding officer worse than not knowing how to get to your post; it tended to make your commanding officer lose faith in your abilities. “You know, things like the officer’s mess, the head, exercise room; that kind of thing.” Rachel nodded her head. “What do you think of your cabin?”
“Small, cramped. You know the drill.” Richard chuckled mirthlessly. “Wish it was just even a slight bit bigger, I’m not asking for much; just a couple of more square feet. Am I going get it? No, so I’ll just deal with it.” They both knew that he was kidding on the square. The two continued to walk down the hall and as they passed someone in the hall the person stood at attention and saluted them and the two returned a quick salute in response.
“Say,” Richard put her hand on Richard’s shoulder. “Weren’t you the XO on your old ship? I remember you saying something about that when we first met on the planet.”
“Yeah,” Richard paused, considering the question. “That I was, why?”
“Were you the kind of XO everyone hated?”
Richard had to laugh at that question. The XO was traditionally the one officer that everyone hated onboard ship. The XO was usually the one officer that handed out discipline and other various orders on behalf of the captain.
Richard himself had heard many XOs were hated so badly that the crews of those ships had played many a prank on the XO but the XO never did find out who had done it so the whole crew had a discipline mark put on their records until the guilty party was found. Usually the guilty party was “convinced” into coming forth and taking the blame. Usually the guilty party had the shit kicked out of them by the rest of the crew and of course, the XO tended to look the other way. The XO usually figured that sooner or later the guilty party would come forth and take blame for the incident and then the discipline mark on the rest of the crew was removed from their records. Thankfully, Richard never had been on those particular ships thus he had a discipline record that was for the most part as clean as an officer could get.
“No, I wasn’t hated when I was the XO; I tried to be as fair as I could when I handed out orders and the crew was thankful for that.” Richard paused. “Though there was one incident onboard involving an illegal still that I put an end to, unfortunately I wasn’t very well liked after that by the people involved but it had to be done and those that were responsible were drummed out of the service. But for the most part, I was well liked, in fact I think that’s why the ship ran as well as it did. Nobody feared for their careers and thus was able to be able to work alongside each other in relative harmony. The crew worked like a well-oiled machine and there were far fewer incidents than I’ve ever seen onboard a ship.” He turned to Rachel. “Treat your crew with respect and they’ll treat you with respect.”
Rachel smiled. “I’m hoping that our new XO has the same idea you have. I had a particularly bad XO on my last ship, a real bitch if you ask me.” Rachel paused in thought. “I still remember that one day; the whole crew had to clean the cargo hold because some smartass decided to play a prank on the XO. Needless to say, we took care of things later on.”
“What did you do?”
“We had a blanket party and sent the smartass to the infirmary with a pretty damn good concussion, the guy couldn’t see straight for a week.” Richard winced; he had been part of various blanket parties in the past and remembered sending a couple of crew members to the infirmary for various kinds of blunt contusions. “Yeah, the idiot really learned his lesson.” People tended to learn their lesson after having their heads bashed into the bulkhead a couple times or being beaten with bars of soap stuffed into socks. Usually they all lead to stories about how they had “tripped” or “fallen down the stairs.”
Just as the two turned the corner the two saw a sign for the officer’s head. The two of them walked into the room and found out that the two sides were split right down the middle of the room. A set of showers and bathroom stalls were on both sides of the wall that only extended halfway to the ceiling.
Richard looked about and watched as people walked in and out of the head in nothing but a towel around themselves and they were going about their business as if nothing was wrong. They were even walking up and down the halls in nothing but a towel. They didn’t say or do anything; they just walked swiftly along doing what they needed to do without saying so much as a word to one another.
Rachel walked out of the room and into the hallway and Richard followed her. Richard was the one to speak up first. “Well, that was… different. On my other ship there was a small locker room of sorts, it was small, but it was big enough for about five people.”
“Yeah,” Rachel shook her head and looked to Richard. “You can say that again. Talk about getting to know your fellow officers in new and interesting ways.” If Richard had anything in his mouth from drinking, Rachel would’ve been covered with it for he would’ve spit it out; thankfully he didn’t. Instead he looked at her practically with his jaw on the floor. “What? Don’t want to get to know me that way? I was always under the impression that most guys wanted to get to know a girl that way.”
Richard’s face turned red and he developed a small coughing fit, he didn’t know what to say. “Um… uh…” he stammered. “I didn’t say that.”
Rachel laughed as she put her hand on his shoulder. “I saw you undressing me with your eyes at the diner on the planet.” If Richard’s face could turn anymore red, it would have. He’d tried to be as discrete as possible when he was checking her out and even when he knew he was staring at her he thought she wasn’t looking at him. “I’m joking Richard.” She then composed herself and looked at him. “I was just trying to make the situation less awkward.”
Richard looked away and winced. “If you were trying to do that, you failed big time.” He looked back to her. “And just how did you know I was, as you say, undressing you with my eyes?”
“You couldn’t have made it any more obvious, your eyes were glued to me the moment I took off this,” she tugged at her uniform jacket, “coat jacket. Jeez Richard, when was the last time you had a girlfriend?”
Richard shrugged his shoulders. He couldn’t remember the last time he had a girlfriend, being in the military made for having a relationship a difficult and often unfeasible thing to have in one’s life. Never knowing where you were going to be posted, when your ticket would be punched, etc. It was often easier to not have a relationship for maintaining one (even with FTL communications) was very difficult and often wrought with emotional issues.
Rachel noticed him shrug his shoulders. The last time she had any semblance of a relationship was back before she entered the academy. Ever since entering the academy and being assigned to the computer science research and development teams she had been entirely too busy for any kind of relationship.
“I was just trying to lighten the mood.” Rachel stepped forward and put her arm around his back and pulled him closer to her. Richard looked to her as she smiled. “Come on; let’s go check out officer’s mess and see what they are serving for lunch.” With that the two of them walked farther down the hall.
While Richard was walking down the hall with Rachel’s arm around him and his around her, he was thinking about what was happening. Rachel was confident about herself and knew what she was doing. Richard on the other hand knew he was definitely off his game and he needed to work on it. He thought that he had confidence aplenty but Rachel had found a way to get at him that he was not at all expecting. Confidence was key for the game, next was spittin’ game.
Was she really interested in him? She was definitely flirting with him, that he was damn sure about. But was she was really, truly, interested in him; he couldn’t tell if she was just messing with him or was truly interested in him. Usually he could tell if a woman was interested in him by the way that she looked at him and acted around him but he found that she was harder to read than most. Harmless flirting was one thing, actually being interested in someone was totally different. He had a lot of women flirt with him but more often than not they were just playing with him in some social setting such as a bar or restaurant with no real interest.
But far be it from him to not follow her. She had invited him to have lunch with her but again, that had been something that he had happen to him many times in the past but nothing came of it so he figured it was just simply that; lunch with Rachel.
Once in the officer’s mess the two found that the service line wasn’t at all long. Richard figured that it was on the tail end of lunch time and most of the officers that had wanted something to eat had either gotten their food already, they were already eating, or they were done and gone from the officer’s mess. Richard looked out and looked around the room and found that the room was empty save for a few officers that were looking at datapads; he figured that they were having a working lunch. Richard shook his head; he had a feeling that he’d have many of those in the near future just like he had when he was an XO.
Richard felt a tug on his shoulder and when he looked to where it came from he had noticed that the line had already advanced a foot ahead and the people in back of him were looking annoyed. He looked surprised and then too advanced in the line like everyone else in front of him. When he finally got up to the place where he could grab a plate he got a good look at what they were serving; mashed potatoes and Salisbury steak.
Richard couldn’t help but to laugh on the inside. If there was one thing that the cooks onboard a ship knew how to make in very large quantities it was Salisbury steak. He remembered back when he was on his old ship that the cooks served that almost three times a week. His fellow officers often joked that the freezers were primarily stocked with that stuff and everything else simply had a small cramped corner in the back of the freezer that barely saw the light of day.
Richard got up to where it was being served and held out his plate. The man behind the serving counter dropped a serving of mashed potatoes and when it hit the plate it fell with a plop. Same thing with the meat and some kind of vegetable. Next came the gravy and the guy serving it didn’t seem to mind where that gravy went, as long as there was gravy on that plate.
Richard stepped forward and took a cup from the tray of them and went to the drink station. He pressed his cup forward to get some Coke but all that came out of the spigot was clear carbonated water. He shook his head and poured the water into the overflow tray and settled with iced tea. When he pressed the switch forward the machine spit and gurgled and then finally gave up its contents and filled his cup with iced tea. He sniffed the cup and took a sip of the stuff; at least it looked and tasted like iced tea. They really could be doing better here, Richard thought as he walked away shaking his head.
Richard looked about and saw Rachel sitting at a table near the back of the mess hall in a secluded corner. He figured that if they were going to talk about something, which he did want to talk with her about something, he wanted some semblance of privacy while doing so.
When he sat down Richard looked down at his plate and was sort of disgusted that the gravy got all over his vegetables and none on his potatoes. He reached for his fork and spoon and tried to scrape as much of the gravy off the vegetables and onto the potatoes but it ended up being a futile effort so he simply went to eating the food just as it was.
“Salisbury steak, huh?” Richard nodded his head. Rachel laughed as she took a bit of the brown colored food and put it into her mouth. Richard watched her chew the stuff and her nose turned up a bit. “God, this stuff tastes like warmed up leftovers from yesterday. Can’t they ever make this stuff fresh?” Rachel stuck her tongue out slightly out of disgust.
Richard took a bite of the stuff as well and he too noticed what she was talking about. He then took a bite of the mashed potatoes and sighed. “At least the mashed potatoes aren’t bad, tastes like they put some effort into it. Heck, I taste garlic and butter in it.” He looked to her plate. “At least you got gravy on your potatoes, I got it all dumped on my vegetables.”
Rachel laughed as she looked at his plate. There were his vegetables shoved off to the side drenched in the brown gravy. “Cooks, can you blame them? Probably the most menial and thankless job one can have onboard a ship. Nobody thanks them when they do a good job but always complains when they mess up. Go figure they act this way sometimes.”
Richard shook his head as he took a bite of the vegetables, chewed some of it and then quickly swallowed. “Damn, this is awful.” Rachel noticed his reaction and told a bite of her serving of the stuff and she too had the same reaction. “I never thought you could mess up steamed broccoli.”
Rachel laughed. “Well, you could turn it into a mushy mess like this, or incidentally, put gravy all over it.” Richard nodded his head as he pushed the broccoli over to the side and was determined to eat the rest of his lunch. As the two were eating they continued to grouse about the food.
Rachel was about to stand up from her chair at the table when Richard gently took hold of her hand and motioned for her to stay. “Rachel, I’d like to talk with you about something.” Rachel looked to him wondering what he wanted to talk with her about.
Richard looked at her hand and turned it over in his. He looked up and thought about how he would ask her what exactly was going on between the two of them. He couldn’t help thinking about what she thought about him. What did she want? Was she interested in him? He was dying to know. Well, here goes nothing. What do I have to lose? My pride? Remember, confidence dude!
“Rachel,” he took hold of her hand and held it firmly in his hand but not enough to hurt her. “Where are you going with this? You’re the first person I’ve not been able to read easily, it’s like you’re deliberately making it difficult for me to read you. Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that I can read people, it’d probably have made it easier for me.” Richard paused, considering his next words. “Don’t get me wrong, I know that you’re flirting with me and all but I’ve had many times when a woman flirted with me, had lunch or dinner with me, and nothing came of it. So spill it girl, what do you want?”
So he wants to know huh, Rachel thought as she leaned forward and lightly kissed Richard on his lips. “What does that make you think?” She sat back in her chair with her hand still in Richard’s. Meanwhile Richard put his free hand up to his lips and touched them slightly. “What do you think now?”
Richard squeezed her hand ever so slightly and smiled. “Do you want to get together later today? That is, if nothing else comes up?” She nodded her head and smiled. “Alright, we’ll go to the officer’s club later. Does that sound good?” Rachel simply smiled.
Richard let go of Rachel’s hand and the both of them stood up and walked out of the mess hall. The both of them figured that cooks and cleanup crew would be able to take care of the plates on the table.
As the two of them walked down the hall towards an elevator, Richard paused and stopped. “Rachel?” he asked. She looked at him. “Let’s promise something; right here, right now.” Rachel nodded her head, she was sure that she knew what he was going to say. “When we are officially on duty at our duty stations, keep any contact professional.”
He was right; she had been thinking the same thing. They needed to keep their relationship, whatever it would become, under the radar so that no one would suspect anything. “Of course,” Rachel took hold of his hand as the two began walking again towards the elevator. “If we’re going to make this relationship work we’re going to have to keep it low; don’t let anyone know what’s going on between the two of us especially our commanding officers.” Richard nodded his head as the two continued to walk down the hall.
“Can I ask you something?” Richard looked to her and she nodded her head. “When? When did you find that you were attracted to me? Don’t get me wrong, I’m attracted to you but what was it about me attracted me to you?”
“Remember last night?” Richard nodded as he looked forward down the hallway. “When we were at the diner having dinner last night on the planet was when I first felt that attraction to you. I don’t exactly recall what you did or said but it just… happened.” She shrugged her shoulders. “We talked quite a bit last night. Maybe it was the fact that we have so much in common. It’s like we just clicked, I don’t know what else to say.”
Richard remembered that night vividly. It was true; the two of them had hit it off quite well. They talked about growing up, going to school, going to academy and their recent accomplishments that they had achieved when they were in the Space Forces and getting promoted through the ranks. They must have stayed there way past when the kitchen closed and were practically thrown out of the diner when it had closed for the night. The two of them didn’t even remember how long they were there but by the time they got back to the base it was almost 0100 standard hours and they had to be awake at 0700.
Richard nodded his head. “I have to agree,” he smiled as he let go of her hand and put his arm around her waist and pulled her closer to himself and kissed her on her forehead. “We really did hit it off nicely last night. I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun just sitting and talking with someone and recalling old memories and laughing about it all. It was quite an evening and one that I’ll definitely remember, especially the part where we were practically thrown out of the diner when they closed.” Rachel chuckled quietly. “The owner practically tossed us out. I remember getting on base at around 0120 and wondering when the heck I’d find time to sleep knowing that I had to be awake at 0700.”
“Yep,” Rachel paused as she put her arm around him, “we got back to base pretty late last night.” It was then that the two of them had approached the elevator.
“Rachel,” Richard paused as he let go of her. “I’d suggest that you and I go up to the bridge separately, that way we don’t raise any suspicions.”
She paused and smiled as she entered the elevator. “See you on the bridge.” The door of the elevator closed and Richard stood by as he waited for another elevator car to come. Finally one came and he stepped onboard and pressed the button to go to the bridge. He felt slight jolt and the elevator started to move. When the door opened on the bridge level Richard found himself looking into the security foyer behind the bridge.
He looked forward and found himself staring down the barrel of a 9mm triple-barrel, linkless feed autocannon. He had stared down the barrel of one of these guns many times in the past; he knew exactly what a weapon such as that could do to an armored human, let alone an unarmored one. He knew this because he had seen a test trial in a video where the human was replaced with an armored dummy 10 feet down the test range. He knew that they weren’t going to fire at him but that didn’t at all take away the shiver that ran down his spine. Looking at a weapon like that even if it wasn’t meant for you would make anyone sweat.
Beyond the cannon and flanking the armored door to the bridge were two marines in full combat armor with their rifles against their shoulders. To the left of the door sat another armored marine that sat behind the controls of the autocannon. Richard approached the marine that was manning the cannon and presented his identification card. The marine scrutinized the card, then his face, then took the card and slid it through the card reader at his station. The computer beeped once and details about his post appeared on the screen. The marine nodded his head and pressed the button to open the door to the bridge.
As soon as the door opened Richard walked onto the bridge and looked about. Richard approached the officer of the deck and he immediately stood at attention and saluted him. All around him he noticed people hard at work typing and looking at their stations. He walked along the upper deck of the bridge and noticed that the officer of the deck had been following him. “This way to the CIC, sir.” Richard nodded his head and followed him to a set of stairs that led down to a lower part of the bridge that was about four steps lower than the left on which he entered the bridge on.
Once down in the CIC he looked about and found seven people standing beside a set of terminals. Behind them was a very large LCD display that appeared to be mirroring what was on the individual terminal displays. He looked to his left and there was another screen that was equally as large and even more tactical information was being displayed on it. It seemed like every wall in the CIC had some kind of large LCD screen hanging on it showing some kind of tactical data.
He looked about at the people standing and noticed that one of them was a CPO and the rest were ratings. All seven people stood at attention and saluted him as Richard returned their salutes. Richard and the CPO stood there and analyzed each other’s fruit salad of medals and ribbons. The CPO had many of the same ribbons on his chest that Richard himself had, although he wore a Purple Heart as well. Other things were being assessed as well. Richard could easily tell what the CPO was thinking about him. Immaculately clean uniform, pressed regulation style. That had to be one point off in the chief’s mind. A lieutenant commander’s gold oak leaf collar insignia, three points off. What did this high-falutin’ officer know? A Space Forces Cross ribbon earned Richard a raised eyebrow and about five points in his favor. The other ribbons were ones that just about everyone had, including the chief.
The CPO came forward and shook hands with Richard. “Welcome to the CIC commander,” he turned around and introduced the other people that were standing in the CIC with him to Richard. Richard scanned his crew as he looked at each and every one of them. Two were women and other four were men.
Richard spoke up, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m Lieutenant Commander Richard Smith, your new commander of the CIC. I expect each and every one of you to perform your duties as faithfully as possible just like I expect of my own self.” His crew nodded their heads, probably recalling other officers telling them about the same thing. Richard knew it, he had heard it himself. He kept on though, “I expect to get to know each of you better over the next coming weeks. For now, as you were.” His crew turned about and sat back down at their stations.
The CPO came forward. “Commander,” Richard nodded his head. The CPO pointed to a crewman on the far left station. “Michael over there isn’t exactly the friendliest person I’ve ever met. He gets his job done but he does have a bit of an anger issue. He’s easy to get riled up and can be quite defensive at times.” Richard nodded his head as the CPO pointed to a crewman that was sitting at the center station. “Lindsey over there, good at her job but I’ve had to more than once throw the book at her. She’s been late for her duties and has more than on a couple of occasions stumbled into the CIC with hangovers. Don’t know how since we have a strictly enforced drink ration onboard. My thinking is she’s getting her fix from somewhere else onboard but I can’t prove it. I don’t know where it is and have no idea where to even begin looking and if I don’t know where it is, they’re very good at hiding it. I know this ship from top to bottom.”
Richard nodded his head. It wasn’t unheard of to have an illegal still or brewery onboard. Hell, his old ship had one and he was the one that found it. He had it shut down in a hurry and everyone that was involved had been court marshaled and drummed out of the service for dereliction of duties. It had been the one thing that Richard had happen on his ship as being the XO.
“I see,” Richard turned and looked at his crew and then back at the CPO. “I’ll be on the lookout; I have a knack for finding illegal stills. I was the XO on my old ship and I shut one down. The one incident easily turned me into the most hated man onboard.”
“Well,” the CPO shrugged his shoulder. “Comes with the territory of being the XO, the XO isn’t a person who’s generally well liked. Commander Ashland, the XO of this boat, seems to be an exception to that rule.” The CPO paused. “Would you like me to continue with the names?” Richard nodded his head. The CPO turned and pointed to a woman on the far right station. “Lisa Sutter over there, she’s a fine crewman; bit of an ass kisser if you ask me but otherwise a fine member of the crew. She definitely knows what she’s doing and more often than not she’s doing something before you even tell her to do it. She’s highly efficient and if there was one person here that I’d classify as a ‘go-to person,’ she’d be it. If you ask her to do something she’s on top of it, like white on rice. I’ve never seen a person who has been that dedicated to their duties as that woman is.”
“If she’s that good, why is she here and not in Officer Candidate School?” The CPO shrugged his shoulders, a perfectly Gallic gesture. “I may recommend her for the next class at OCS. Class is already in session so I can’t send her there just yet, at least for a couple of weeks. But seriously, if she’s really as good as you say she is; sitting here in front of a station like this and not having her own commission is a waste of her talents. Lord knows we need more good officers especially since when the ACF broke off. We lost a lot of good officers that day and finding good talent is harder than you think. Last time I checked OCS graduations were down nearly sixty percent, not a lot of people are able to cut the mustard. A lot of people just aren’t cut out for OCS.”
The CPO nodded his head. “Yeah, I know that. My last commander was, shall we say, arrested for being an ACF sympathizer.”
“Ouch,” Richard winced. People who expressed any sympathy for the ACF quickly found themselves in some really deep trouble. Most were arrested and it didn’t matter who you were; military or civilian. If you expressed any kind of sympathy for them, you were detained and held without charge. Richard had heard of incidents like that happening and more often than not those people were never heard from again; they just “disappeared” without a trace. Plus, anyone who went so far as to investigate those “disappearances” also found themselves detained and held without charge. The witch hunts on the colonies and on Earth were still happening, even six months after the ACF broke off. He remembered the billboards, “Trust no one, an ACF spy could be your neighbor!” and “ACF sympathizers can be anyone, even your own family!” or simply, “Be on the lookout!”
“Did I replace him?” Richard asked.
The CPO nodded his head. “Yes sir, you did. But please sir, I don’t like to talk to about it.”
Richard thought about what he had said. The CPO doesn’t trust me and I don’t blame him one bit. I’m new, he doesn’t know me, and for all he knows I’m going to turn him in if he looks at me the wrong way. That was no way to way to run a military, paranoia tended to only breed more paranoia. If everyone was too busy looking over everyone’s shoulders, how could any work get done? How could you trust anyone? The simple answer was that you couldn’t.
“Anyways,” Richard turned to his CPO. “We’ll talk later and you can introduce me to the rest of my crew. For now, I’m going to go rest up before we get underway. My duty shift doesn’t even officially start for another twenty-four hours; I just felt that it’d be a good idea to introduce myself to you.”
The CPO nodded his head. “Of course sir, and thank you sir.”
Richard looked over to where Rachel was standing. Her section was a bit farther forward on the bridge than the CIC was but it was still in the lower part of the bridge just like the CIC was. The bridge was separated into two lower decks that consisted of engineering, operations, and the CIC. The other section consisted of communications, and helm and astrogation. When he had looked he saw her walking towards him. Richard turned towards the stairs leading up to the upper deck of the bridge and as he walked up the stairs he was joined by her.
“How did your introduction go?” Rachel asked as she walked along side of Richard all while trying to make it not look like they were some kind of couple. The two of them were determined to keep that part a secret. It might ultimately prove futile, but the effort had to be made.
“It went as well as it could’ve gone.” Richard walked a bit forward, farther from the CIC and where his CPO couldn’t hear him. “I have a jumpy CPO, a drunk for a gunnery repeater, and an ass kisser for a sensor station operator. The ass kisser is a damn fine crewman, she knows what she’s doing but with her talents she shouldn’t be here; she should be in OCS. I plan on personally sponsoring her to OCS.”
“Sounds like you have your hands full I take it.” Richard nodded his head. “What do you mean by jumpy?”
“Well, from what I’ve been able to read from him he liked his old CO and I replaced his old CO. It turns out that his old CO was arrested for being an ACF sympathizer.”
Rachel hissed. “Ouch,” she looked at him. “And I’m going to assume that he doesn’t trust you one damn bit.”
“Nope, he doesn’t trust me as far as he can throw me and to be honest,” Richard shrugged his shoulders and looked at Rachel as the door to the bridge opened, “I don’t blame him. If you had your CO arrested like that I’d not trust anyone either. He probably thinks I’m going to turn him in or something.”
“Turn who in?” the captain asked as Richard rounded the corner.
Richard nearly choked as they both stood at attention and saluted their captain with the utmost in precision.
“Like I asked,” the captain put her hands on her hips, “turn who in?”
Richard shook his head. “No one sir, I just have a jumpy CPO.”
The captain looked at him. “Ah yes, CPO James Montgomery.” She shook her head. “He’ll come around,” she nodded her head slowly, “just give him time. He had a rather bad incident happen a week ago with his CO. I’d be jumpy if I were him too. But don’t worry, he isn’t an ACF sympathizer; I can vouch for that. I’ve known him for years, he’s definitely loyal to our cause.” Richard nodded his head. “But anyways, don’t let me stop you from enjoying the last day you have before official duty starts. Rest up and relax; that’s an order.”
“Yes ma’am!” the both of them saluted before leaving the captain’s presence. As the two walked off the captain couldn’t help but to laugh to herself as she recounted her days of being a lieutenant. They’ll lighten up, they always do. They both probably had some hardass as an XO early in their careers.