Transferring onboard the Hermus was one of the most normal experiences Prallan had since the battle. The rush to get everything ready for this deployment, and then the surprise wedding, made the mundane activity of checking his and Lily’s baggage with the clerk, signing off one a dozen forms, submitting to a physical at the hands of a strange doctor, and getting into the cramped shuttle seem peaceful. The only shame of the whole matter was that, as a crewman, his wife would be taking a different shuttle with the rest of the crew compliment. She said she had a couple friends left among the surviving crew, and no doubt there would be some interesting stories swapped.
On his way up to the Hermus, he got a great view of the ship, orbiting the planet alongside a remnant of the defense fleet that had remained behind. She was far more elegant than the Jinar, and also far newer. The Hermus had been completed only seven weeks ago, and was bustling with the latest advancements, which of course merely meant everything would break as soon as they were a few weeks into the mission. She had the same snub nose as most vessels, but instead of the boxy stern, her lines spread out into sleek wings. On the back of those wings were a pair of missile launchers, rare weapons for Imperial ships to carry. Most Imperial ships used Burst Cannons that fired large explosive shells. Some newer vessels used experimental railguns instead, but the power demands for the electromagnets made carrying explosives to propel the shells easier. As they turned to dock, Prallan caught sight of the engines. Four small blue lights lined the back of the ship, seated in large metal housings. Hermus had a photon thrust drive, which was more efficient and less temperamental than traditional fusion force drives. Had the Jinar had these engines, they might have gone undamaged from the destroyer’s weapons, and certainly a cut coolant line wouldn’t have rendered them inoperable so fast.
A small thunk and hiss signified they had docked. The door at the rear of the shuttle opened, and it was at that time the Prallan noticed the three other officers onboard. They all hurried out, not wanting to get in the way of their new first officer. Little did they know a few weeks before, he had been an ensign, and at least two of the three would have been senior to him. He stood, and left the shuttle. After exiting the airlock, he straightened his uniform, and noticed a fourth ensign with his eyes to the floor, holding a salute that had probably started when the airlock opened.
“Yes, Ensign?” Prallan said, breaking the spell that held the other officer in that uncomfortable position. The Ensign stood straight, revealing himself to be several inches taller than Prallan, with broad shoulders and a very pale complexion.
“Sir, the Captain’s compliments, and he would like to see you on the bridge as soon as possible.” It was a polite courtesy to refer to any officer in command of a ship the honorific of Captain, even if they had not achieved that rank.
“Very well, Ensign, lead the way to the bridge.”