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?"
"You met Lieutenant Itran?"
"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."
"Go get settled in. Welcome aboard, Lieutenant."
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