Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Imperial Destiny Page 15

                Unpacking took little time, and their quarters was tidy and slightly better decorated than it had been when they arrived.  Prallan stared at a picture Lily had set up on her desk.  It showed both of them in their dress uniforms, standing before a brazier, with Admiral Wintan standing behind it.  Undoubtedly, this was their wedding picture.  Prallan’s memory of that day was still not fully recovered, but he did remember laughing with Lily in a bar.
                “I have to report to Chief Wurstol.” Lily said, having changed from her travel-wrinkled uniform to a clean one.
                “That might be difficult, as she doesn’t know she is Chief of Engineering yet.”  Prallan said, pulling his shirt over his head.  “I have scheduled a meeting for the whole command staff in ten minutes, and the decision will be made final there.”
                “So our interim Chief is who exactly?”
                “Wurstol.  I’ll admit, I just made it final as she seemed to be doing a good job.  At any rate, she will be busy, so you may as well just report to engineering instead of to her specifically.  She should be back down there soon, it won’t be a long meeting.”  Prallan pulled a clean shirt on, and put on his uniform coat.
                “I’d like to make a good impression on her.  Couldn’t you just reschedule the meeting?”  She straightened the collar on his coat.
                “I could, but then you would get a reputation for being the First Officer’s wife who always gets her way.”  He stole a quick kiss.
                “So, I never get my way?” Lily pouted playfully.  “The whole reason I got you drunk an married you was for power, and I won’t even have any of that?”
                “Darling, you know you have all the power over me any woman could want.” He kissed her forehead.  “But the Imperial Navy has rules about that sort of thing.  I can’t abuse my power, even if my wife really wants me to.”
                “Fine…..I’ll just report to engineering, then.”  She smiled, and walked quickly to the door.
                “Lily.”  She stopped at the door.  “I’m very happy to have you here with me.  You are the smartest, funniest, best humored, and most beautiful woman I have ever met.”
                “Trying to sweet talk me out of my lust for power?” She grinned. “It won’t work”
                “No…..its just….” Prallan sighed.  “I was worried this would be an overly complicated mess, and that I had really screwed up and made a drunk mistake that would ruin both our careers….”
                “The beginning of this conversation was better than that second part,” she said, crossing her arms.  “Better finish strong, or have an angry wife.”
                “I’m not worried anymore.  This is right, this feels right, and I know we are going to be happy for a very long time…..I love you, Lily.”

                She was in his arms in a second, with a kiss that nearly knocked him to the ground.  “I really wish you didn’t have a meeting in a few minutes, but I guess rescheduling a meeting so your wife can ravish you for saying lovely things would be against the Imperial Navy’s rules.”

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Imperial Destiny Page 14

                His quarters was indeed much larger than the room he shared with three other Ensigns on the Jinar.  The quarters was designed for a married officer, as well, which meant a sizable bed, a closet with two sections, and two desks, each with its own data terminal.  The entire room was currently decorated in varying shades of military gray.  No doubt Lily would add her touch to everything.  Prallan himself had no decorative sense.  His quarters on the Jinar were decorated much like these currently were.  His luggage had been brought aboard, and set on the bed, and a InfoTab was sitting on top of the luggage.  A glance at it told him that it was the personnel report he had asked for.  Noble or not, Lieutenant Itran was efficient.
                Prallan laid down on the bed, and began tabbing through the information on the report.  The Hermus had a maximum crew compliment of eighty-five, but was currently undermanned.  The Jinar’s surviving crew had helped some, but they had seventy-six crew members.  Judging by the manifest, they really needed engineers, they were missing six different specialists in that department.  The other missing personnel were two security mates and a pilot.  They would have to make due for the time being with only two pilots, which would make bridge shifts interesting.  It was hard to precisely fly a starship for eight hours at a time, let alone twelve or with limited rest.
                Officers were another problem.  The Hermus had six departments: Armory, Security, Engineering, Navigation, Operations, and Medical.  In total, they had seven officers: Commander Rickler, himself, Lieutenant Itran, and four Ensigns.  Rickler and Prallan could not, according to tradition, serve as Department Heads, as Prallan was in charge of the Department Heads, and Rickler outranked him.  Itran’s specialization was Command, so he could not effectively lead any department.  The Ensigns all would lead a department.  Ensign Orfil was one of their two pilots, and would head up Navigation.  Ensign Rutgol was an ordnance expert, and would be the Armory Chief.  Ensign Runntin was technically a Sensor Specialist, but she would make a decent Chief of Operations.  That just left Ensign Hutsop, who was ill suited to do much.  He had very low marks on all of his evaluations, with little or no ability to command others….probably a career Ensign.  He had specialized in xeno-biology, so Prallan lumped him in with the Medical staff as Medical Chief.  Doctors were usually self-sufficient anyway, and wouldn’t need much of a head of department.  Engineering and Security would be without officer-level leaders.  Engineering had a Chief Specialist….Vera Wurstol…she would make a decent Chief Engineer.  Security comprised of only three of the five security personnel they should have.  The decision was very easy, as one outranked the other two slightly. Petty Officer Second Class Erfold would be their Chief of Security. 
                Prallan had just finished sorting out the command issues when the door opened.  Lily walked into the room, dragging her large suitcase.  ”Waiting on me to get here to unpack you?”  She asked.
                Prallan stood, and retrieved her other suitcase from the hallway, setting it on the bed.  “No, just assigning Department Heads and sorting out other assignments.  Unpacking would have been more fun.”  Awkwardly, he leaned in and kissed her.   It was strange being married to almost a complete stranger, but they made the best of it. 
                “How was the captain?”  She opened her suitcase, began unpacking her uniforms, hanging them in one of the closets.
                “I’m not sure what to think of him.  He was meditating to the flame when I reported to him, I didn’t think anyone actually did that anymore.”
                “There are cults in the Tirol system that still meditate on the nature of the flaming spirit.  Then again, their sun changes color throughout the solar year, so it isn’t surprising that they would be interested in such things.”  Prallan just stared at his wife with a smile on his lips.  “What?  So I enjoy reading about far off places, you realize we’re on a starship that will jump forty-two trillion miles over the course of a second?  We could be at Tirol like that.” She snapped her fingers.
                “You will always be smarter and more well-read than I ever could be.” Prallan said, unzipping his own suitcase.  “Your Chief of Engineering is a photonic resonance specialist, so you should have no trouble getting along with her.”
                “All they want to talk about is shields and particle weapons, and how if the Empire used particle weapons, the research would benefit our shield generator research as well.”  She made a digusted face.  “None of them are interested in beautiful sunsets.”

                “When this tour is over, and we both have some leave, I’ll take you to Tirol, and we will send the pictures to the Chief, maybe you can convert her.”  Lily laughed at that, and it made Prallan feel a lot better about everything that happened over the last few days.  If he could make this woman….his wife…laugh, then maybe they would be okay.

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Imperial Destiny Page 13

The bridge was laid out differently than the Jinar's.  Jinar's had been crowded with a variety of stations, but this smaller ship had no need for so many.  There was only one station for each of the major functions of the ship, sometimes combining several into one.  The sensor officer doubled as a weapons officer.  It took Prallan several minutes of looking around before he noticed the whole bridge was standing at attention, waiting for him to say something.

"At ease," he said, and the sound of seven bridge crew returning to duty at the same instant made him keenly aware of the kind of respect they had for him.  He stepped down into the lower level of the bridge, where the helm, sensor officer's station, and the command chair sat.  Unlike the Jinar, there was only the Captain's chair, no chair for the first or second officer, but it was unlikely they would frequently spend long periods on the bridge together.  Standing before the chair now was a young lieutenant, younger even than Prallan.  His ice blue eyes glimmered with youthful exuberance, and he offered his hand to Prallan.

"Lieutenant Itran, sir.  I will be your second officer."  Prallan took his hand.  The boy had a firm grip, and an immaculate uniform.  Had Prallan not replaced his whole wardrobe, this young Lieutenant would be showing him up by the clean lines of his clothing.  The quality of the cloth and brasswork was extremely high, as well, and must have been very expensive.

"What is your specialty, Lieutenant?" Prallan asked.  Every officer who graduated from the Academy had at least one specialization, representing thousands of hours of study and practice to master.  Prallan's own was armaments, which warranted him the gunnery officer's post on the Jinar.

"Command, sir, I am rated E-17 for command of tactical vessels, shuttlecraft, Type A and B droppods, and several classes of escorts and frigates."  The response confirmed Prallan's suspicions.  Itran was not a genius young officer, completing his Academy training at a young age, but a noble-born son of wealthy parents who bought his way into the navy.  No doubt he would be a Captain in a few years.  Most of them ended up patrolling forgotten systems, where only a few pirates caused problems.  When a war broke out, their numbers were reduced swiftly, as few were good commanders, and less had any useful skills in an emergency.

"Promoted to Lieutenant within the last two weeks I imagine?  Or else our roles would be reversed."  Prallan said.  There was no harm in pointing out the fact, and it might do the young noble some good to realize how similar the two of them were in the eyes of the Navy.  "My own specialty is Armaments.  I would appreciate a report on all other officers onboard, as well as Chiefs of Departments.  I would like to meet as many of the same in a formal meeting to discuss shipboard operations within the next day."

"Aye, sir, I will have that report waiting for you in your quarters by the time you are finished with the Captain."

"Where is the Captain?"

"His conference room, sir."  Itran nodded to the door off to the left of the bridge, and Prallan walked to it.  He hit the signal button, and the door opened.

The room was dimly lit, with only a pair of red candles lit on the conference table.  A shadowy figure was sitting before them, and spoke with a soft voice.  "Close the door."

Prallan closed the door, and saluted.  "Lieutenant Prallan Tigrole, reporting for duty, sir."  He set the infotab that held his orders on the table.  "My orders to report aboard and take position as first officer, sir."

"We are going to be working very closely for the next year, Prallan, I'd prefer if you'd keep the sir stuff to a minimum when we are not in front of any crewmen."  The dark figure stood.  "Lights."  The ambient light of the room slowly came up, revealing a middle-aged man, wearing civilian dress.  His dark hair was unkempt, but his short beard was trimmed to perfection.  "Commander Thomlin Rickler, but please call me Tom.  I get enough Sir and Captain out there, I don't need it in here, too."  He picked up the infotab, and scrolled through the data.  "I understand you've been recommended, along with the rest of the surviving crew of the Jinar, for the Medal of Excellence in the Line of Duty.  Not a bad first award for a young officer.  I understand your wife was on the Jinar as well?"

"Yes si.....Tom.  You could say that is how we met."

"I've heard worse stories.  A married couple on my ship, both of whom have earned the MELD.  That is a rarity, I think.  I trust your wife is getting things settled in?"

"She is coming aboard with the crewmen shuttle, so she hasn't come aboard quite yet.  I am hoping to see my cabin before she has a chance to do what she wants with it."

"Married a couple days and she is already running your life?  Well, that is probably for the best.  Worry about your duties, let her worry about the decorations.  I trust you realize how much trust the Admiral is placing in you, making a green officer like yourself a First Officer?"

"Yes, sir."

"You met Lieutenant Itran?"

"Yes, sir."

"What do you think of him?"  The Commander  had put down the infotab, and watched Prallan carefully.

"I don't have a strong opinion of him, yet.  I barely know him."  Prallan lied.  The Academy drilled the difference between those that bought their way into the Navy and those that earned their commissions through hard work and study.

"Even though his family bought him the orange pip you earned in battle?"  The point rankled Prallan a bit.  It was true, that he risked his life and only by chance was promoted, whereas Itran had been given his rank.

"I'll reserve my judgement until I see him handle himself in his duties, sir."

"Hmph, I had thought someone just out of the Academy would have a stronger opinion, but I am glad you do not.  You two will have to work well together.  Just remember, if I am removed from command for any reason, he is your First Officer.  You will have to trust him just as much as I will trust you."

"Yes, sir."

"Go get settled in.  Welcome aboard, Lieutenant."

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