The Hermus slowly lifted itself off the planetoid. Prallan could feel the difference as the artificial gravity of the ship took hold of him instead of the planetoid.
"Twenty seconds until we've escaped the gravity well, sir." Wurstol said. "Status?"
"Engine One is stable, ma'am." Lily said, running her scanner along the engine.
"Engine Two is stable as well, Chief." Jenkol said. "Power transfer rates are all in the green."
"How is our fuel consumption?" Prallan asked.
"Twenty percent less than projected. Fifteen percent less than specs indicate for our engine profile."
The engines changed pitch again as they broke from the gravity well. "We have left orbit, sir. Everything appears green."
"Very good, Chief. As you were." Prallan left engineering to head to the bridge.
Prallan walked onto the bridge, finding Lieutenant Itran in command. "Sir, the Captain is wanting to see you in the conference room."
"Thank you, Lieutenant. Everything good up here?"
"Golden, sir. The new engine seems to be working well."
Prallan headed to the briefing room, where Rickler was sitting in the darkness, meditating like he had been when Prallan had first come aboard. "Sit, Lieutenant."
"Yes, sir." Prallan sat at the large conference table. "You wanted to see me, sir?"
"A first officer has a unique position in this Navy that I think you have begun to appreciate." He snuffed the candles and turned the lights up in the room. "You are an insulator between the crew and the Captain. You handle issues that do not warrant the Captain's attention, and allow the Captain to make decisions that someone who knows the crew on a more personal level could not. It is the Captains duty to remain aloof and mysterious to his crew, so they fear and respect him, and follow his orders without question. It is the First Officer's duty to maintain morale and the chain of command."
"Yes, sir." Prallan said. He had suspected much of what the Captain was saying, having discovered many of these unwritten duties during his brief tenure in the role.
"I don't want you to tell me the details about what went on over the last few days. I know something happened between you and your wife, which I have removed the records of. I have elected to award the six engineering crew members who worked on the Inducers the Silver Technicians Badge, including your wife. Be wary, Prallan, she is more decorated than you."
"Sir, I think...."
"Follow orders, XO. That is all."
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