~~~ ~~~~ ~~~
Lieutenant Commander Isenberg and another man, who was wearing a Star Fleet uniform, stepped off the turbolift and onto the bridge. “Captain on the bridge!” barked Marine Sergeant McKendrey.
Isenberg had told him, more than once, that it wasn’t really necessary to do that. It was proper protocol, but still, it got old real fast. “As you were,” he ordered. “Good morning, everyone. Say hello to Ensign Daniel Littleton. He volunteered for this mission, and I told his aunt I’d take him. Or is she your cousin?”
“I believe we’re third cousins, once removed, sir,” the younger man corrected him. One look and it was obvious he belonged to one of Star Fleet’s ruling dynasties. He had the same chiseled jawline and unruly sandy-brown hair. He probably inherited his small nose from his mother.
“I’m glad you know how to keep track of that sort of stuff. I never could figure out my family tree. At any rate, this is Ms. Maida,” he indicated to the lieutenant sitting in the command chair. He waved her back down when she started to vacate the seat. “She is our operations officer, third in command of the ship.” Littleton couldn’t help but notice that she was very attractive; tall, athletic, with platinum hair and bright green eyes. It was her eyes that suggested she was probably from Alpha Centauri. Isenberg continues the introductions, “Ms. Tillman here is another shuttlecraft pilot. Regardless of date-of-rank, I’m going to consider her senior to you.” He’d already checked, and Littleton had one month more time-in-grade than Ensign Tillman.
“Of course, sir,” Littleton agreed, “That’s only fair. I’m only here for a few weeks, at most.” He was introduced to the four enlisted personnel currently on the bridge, and almost immediately forgot their names. It wasn’t that he felt so superior to them that he didn’t need to know their names; rather, he always had a problem remembering names. He so envied his older relatives for their ability to store such data away so easily. He often watched his father greet people he hadn’t seen in years, and not only remembered their names but also their spouse and children’s names as well.
“The chief pilot is Lieutenant jay-gee Maes Roola. You’ll meet him later; can’t miss him, he’s the blue guy with antennae growing out of his head. Your chain of command is Mister Roola, Ms. Maida, then Mister Kinsley, whom you met last night, and finally, me.”
“Yes, sir.” The ensign used a memory trick to file that away.
“The Chief of the Boat is Senior Chief Guzman, whom I expected to be here by now,” he looked over at Maida, but she just shrugged, “and Chief Szczr runs the shuttle deck. I strongly advise you to listen to everything those two try to teach you.”
“Yes, sir, I understand. Szczr, that’s Rigellian, right?”
“No, I believe she told me her last name is Czech,” Isenberg correct him. “Yesterday, Ensign Tillman brought this ship into dock. Think you can take her out when we push off?”
“No, sir,” Littleton blushed. “I’m a good shuttle pilot, sir, but I haven’t sat at the helm of a starship in over a year.”
Isenberg sighed. “Pity. Well, we will just have to change that. Ms. Tillman, do you think you can take us out without scratching the hull?”
“Yes, sir. If not,” Tillman gave him an impish smile, “I took art classes, so I do know how to touch up the paint job.”
The commander was in a good mood, so he let her have a pass on that one. “Has anyone seen the CoB this morning?”
Lieutenant Maida looked up from the report she was reading. “He reported in at oh-five-thirty, but he left the ship just before seven. I expect him back any moment.”
“Very well. Did everyone else make it back on time?”
“No, sir. Two persons are unaccounted for.”
Isenberg rubbed his forehead. And it started out as such a good morning. Before he could ask, Chief Guzman entered the bridge. The commander turned to face him. “Well, good morning, Chief. You look in better spirits than last night.”
Guzman opened his mouth then closed it, obviously engaging brain before tongue. “Last night, sir, I wanted to get drunk. It took every ounce of willpower I have to not order a single shot of whisky. Or the twenty I wanted.” He yawned. “Please note in the record that Petty Officer Hunter and Crewman Reese will not be joining us for this mission. Guajardo and McCormick will be staying on in their place.”
“Okay,” Isenberg said, slowly. “Care to elaborate?”
Guzman shook his head. “Later, sir, in private. ” He yawned again. “I need some coffee, and I need a shower. I’m not sure which one I need first. Maybe I’ll drink my coffee in the shower. I’ll see you in an hour or so, sir.”
“No rush, Chief,” Isenberg told him, “We don’t leave port for another five hours.”
After the doors closed behind the CoB, Maida said, “What’s eating him?”
The commander sighed. “No idea, Ursula, but I don’t want any scuttlebutt about it.” Maida nodded curtly. They both looked around the bridge to make sure everyone got the message, loud and clear.
Stephanie Tillman busied herself with the pre-launch checklist. She knew something happened yesterday, but she didn’t know what exactly. Right in the middle of the chief walking her through docking the Magnum
, his wife Cathy and her lawyer called from a court house. At the time, it was kind of funny: the judge demanded Guzman talk to him ‘right now’. The chief asked if the judge had ever taught anyone to drive; the judge said he had twin teenage boys. Guzman then told the judge, ‘Sir, I am attempting to teach this young lady how to dock this twenty-five hundred ton, half-billion credit starship to a five-trillion credit star base. Can whatever this is about please wait ten minutes?’
When the CoB came back from his office, something had obviously upset him. She’d never seen him mad before, and she sure didn’t want that fury aimed at her. The next time she saw the chief, it was at dinner. He was still in a foul mood at first, but after talking privately with Chief O’Hara and Commander Sahani, he seemed to lighten up back to his normal happy self. She noticed he left early with both of them, and wondered which woman the chief spent the night with. She wasn’t sure which one would make her angrier. She forced the thought out of her head; it wasn’t her place to judge him.
Isenberg called up to the shuttle deck and asked for someone to escort Littleton to his new duty station. Chief Szczr herself came down. She was short, just shy of five foot tall, with dark brown hair pulled back into a bun. Her hazel eyes seemed to be smiling as usual; when they didn’t, look out. The way she filled out her uniform made her look like she was pushing her weight maximum. Nurse Campbell assured him that Amy-Lynn Szczr was well within regs, just that nature was “too nice” to her.
Szczr and Littleton exited out one door just as Marine Gunnery Sergeant Linda Hawthorn entered through the other. “Good morning, Skipper,” she handed Isenberg a data PADD. She looked as McKendrey, “Sergeant, have you ever heard the old saying, ‘No good deed goes unpunished?’ Gunny Fields was hurt last night and can’t go on the mission. We need you to take his place, if you think you’re up to the task. Grab your gear and report to the Gendarme
, on the double.”
Isenberg looked at the transfer request on the PADD. “I don’t know about this. A buck sergeant in a gunny slot, that’s some big shoes to fill.”
“He’s got big feet, Skipper.” The commander shrugged and initialed the request. Who was he to question the Gunny?
Lieutenant Maida turned to the junior Marine. “The Gendarme
is pulling out in half an hour. Want me to call them so you have time to pack?”
McKendrey smiled at her. “I’m a Marine, Ma’am; I’m always packed.” Of course you are, Isenberg thought. “By your leave, sir.” He saluted, and the commander returned it.
Gunny Thorns retrieved the PADD and said, “Let me fill you in on the way,” as she ushered McKendrey out. Isenberg also left, saying he was going to walk the ship. Five minutes later, Ensign Tillman excused herself for a head call; Lieutenant Maida thought the young lady looked like she was going to burst into tears any second.
left the star base right on schedule, with Sergeant McKendrey onboard. Fifteen minutes later, Star Base Control called and asked that the Magnum to expedite preparations and depart as soon as they were ready. Forty minutes after that, the Magnum
undocked, with a re-composed Ensign Tillman at the helm and Senior Chief Guzman at her side. All seemed right with the universe.
~~~ ~~~~ ~~~