"I expect everyone at their stations in thirty minutes. We will be jumping ten minutes after that." Prallan said to the gathered department heads. "We will then traverse the Spica system, reaching jump point TL-114. We are uncertain where it leads, but our best estimate is in the Phoenix constellation, most likely Vega or Mercon. Questions?"
Ensign Orfil raised a hand. "Sir, I'm concerned about pilot rotation. As I'm sure you know, we only have two pilots, myself and Crewman Barlin. I would like to cross-train two additional crewmen to take four hour bridge shifts. This will give us four pilots, but not take anyone from all of their duties. Petty Officer Erfold has offered both of the other two security personnel as potential pilots. Their training profiles indicate they would be decent pilots."
"Very well. Any other business?" Nobody else said anything. "Very well, dismissed." The department heads stood and left the conference room, all except Chief Wurstol, who remained seated. "Is there something you needed to speak to me about, Chief?"
"I was wondering if you had given any thought to a permanent Chief of Engineering?"
"I have. You have the most seniority, is there any reason you think you would not be appropriate for the position? According to the logs you have done an excellent job in your time as interim Chief. I see no reason not to make it permanent."
"The only concern I have sir, is of your wife. I am not certain of your command style, but I am not the sort of person to be intimidated or coerced just because one of my subordinates is involved with a superior officer."
"I don't expect any special treatment for my wife. She is a competent engineer, and can stand on her own merits. She would kill me if I ever asked for special treatment for her. If that is your only concern?"
"Yes, sir. I will report to engineering. I have a handful of new crewmen, including your wife, to get settled in."
The Hermus moved gracefully away from the remaining elements of the defense fleet. It picked up speed much faster than the Jinar ever could, reaching the jump point swiftly. The bridge was a bustle of activity. The Hermus had only made one jump previously, with its navigation computer tied into the fleet's. Now Orfil was feeding calculations into the computer, his hands moving quickly over the station's terminal. Captain Rickler stood in front of the command chair, with Itran beside him. Prallan stood near the Sensor and Weapon station, watching Rutgol manage the lockdown of the launchers and guns before the jump.
Out the front viewport was empty space. The jump point was an anomaly that could only be differentiated from normal space by advanced sensors. The screen in front of Rutgol showed it as a swirling blue vortex. The Hermus approached the jump point, aligning with the center of that vortex.
"All hands, brace for jump." The mechanical voice of the computer calmly said throughout the ship. Prallan grabbed a nearby brace bar. Every ship jumped a little differently. The Jinar had jarred its crew through every jump. A ship as small as the Hermus should have been subject to many of the eddies of the jump point that larger vessels could ignore, but she smoothly soared through the jump. In an instant, the stars shifted, and a binary pair of suns replaced the single one. The Hermus changed course, heading towards the opposite edge of the system.
"Traversing to Tl-114. No other ships in system."
The crew was operating efficiently, and the Hermus was performing as well as she could. Prallan was well pleased with both, and hoped that the rest of the year continued in the same way.
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