United Earth Military Authority Head Quarters, Texas, America.
14th April 2151. Three hours after Hernandez accepted her posting.
Commander Hernandez had not yet set foot on the Enterprise, but she was already beginning to regret volunteering for the post. There was no single cause for this, but rather a number of things.
First, and the one she had predicted, was the nature of the changes made to the ship. Having taken the job she'd been given full details of the modifications that had turned a warship into an exploration vessel. As a gunnery officer of some distinction she was appalled by the removal of any of the weaponry. On an intellectual level she could see that the changes were not as bad as she had feared, but it still didn't sit right with her. Enterprise seemed....she struggled to think of the right word...emasculated.
She had been going through the schematics carefully, checking for possible weapon blind spots, when she had been summoned by Admiral Kelley to a hastily convened meeting back at HQ. Here General Kaplasky had informed several high ranking officers, plus a few lower ranks with a specific need to know, of the sabotage and assassination attempt. Feeling sick to her stomach, Hernandez realized that her posting had just got a whole lot trickier.
Well, there's no point complaining
, she thought to herself, just a few hours ago you I was worried that boredom would be a big problem on the mission. Looks like that may no longer be a problem.
After the briefing, General Kaplasky had approached her. She was interested in why a promising young officer would volunteer for such a posting. Several times she asked Hernandez if she wanted to reconsider. Hernandez got the impression that the General regarded anything to do with UESPA as a poison chalice, and wanted to protect her. After thanking the General for her concern, she explained that she had made a commitment, and was unwilling to back down.
The General had digested this silently for a moment, then muttered simply "So be it."
There was silence for a while, Kaplasky apparently lost in thought, and Hernandez unwilling to interrupt a superior officer. It was becoming slightly awkward when Kaplasky suddenly seemed to come back to life.
"Well, I suppose I'd better introduce you to the young man I've selected to be the chief helm officer. Although, I think you may have worked together before."
Kaplasky was right. Hernadez had served with Travis Mayweather on-board the Sun Tzu, a Neptune class Frigate. A lean, good looking young man of African American descent, Mayweather hailed from the Martian Colony. He was, Hernandez recalled, an excellent pilot with a superb grasp of spacial dynamics. He was also cocky to the point of arrogance.
The last time she'd seen him, he'd just made full lieutenant. So it was surprising to see him with the insignia of an ensign. After Kaplasky had moved on, and they'd made some small talk of the 'hi, good to see you again, what have you been doing?' variety, she asked him about this.
"Got into a fight." he said unrepentantly. "Ran into a bunch of squids whilst on shore leave last week". 'Squids' was the military's unflattering nickname for UESPA personnel. "I told 'em what I thought of them, there was a fight, I ended up in the slammer."
Hernandez was confused. "Had they insulted you, or UEMA, or..."
"So you just saw a group of UESPA's, insulted them because....?"
"Because I don't like 'em much."
"Because you don't like them much, right." She began to have doubts about his suitability for this mission. "And then they started the fight, and you..."
He interrupted. "No, Ma'am. After I started tellin' them what I thought of them, they tried to leave. But I stopped 'em."
Hernandez glanced after Kaplasky, who was now deep in conversation with the head of Internal Security. "How many were there? she asked wearily.
"About five, six."
"So let's get this straight. You picked a fight with at least five UESPA's, simply because you don't like them much?"
"You realize that that is a court martial offence?" she said.
"Yes ma'am. But the General," he jerked his head towards Kaplasky, "said she would drop all charges if I accept a demotion and posting aboard the Enterprise. Seems like the best offer I'm going to get. So here I am."
Hernandez's shoulders slumped. Things were not getting easier. "You do realize, Ensign, that the Enterprise is under the command of UESPA? That the majority of her crew are from that service, and that you will be in their company for months at a time? You do know that, don't you?"
Mayweather cracked his knuckles, and grinned broadly. There was a worryingly enthusiastic look in his eyes. "Oh yeah. I know."