" I see you have chosen your wife, Herine, as your chief medical officer! This is excellent! She is a fine doctor. We have no problem with that, whatsoever! She is a devotee of Rhea, The Mother Of Mothers, And The Protector Of All Children. She is an advocate for the protection of the rights of all primitives. She was a leader in the rebellion against Commander Hyper. I understand that's how you met. You led the force restoring order. A very well handled situation, I might add! May I ask how you came to choose such a volitile lady as your wife?"
2 I smiled. "It was more like she chose me!" I answered. "When The Justices finally declared that the rebels were in their rights, and the Commander's treatment of the subjects was totally unacceptable, and that he was removed from his duties, and forbidden from any others, she came up to me and said 'I'm putting my mark on you! I'd like you to put your mark on me!' I said 'O.k.!' We were blessed with a child within a month, so we decided to make it official. Our two children will be staying here with their grandparents when we go on the mission. I will allow no siblings on the ship."
3 "A good precaution!" The Commander put in. "Now! Second In Command. Ata. He's in his last regeneration, 900 years older than you! Why choose such an old second with such a young crew?"
4 "I need that maturity," I answered. "He is an excellent officer! I can think of none better. He has worked with me before, and has been very good at taking off my rough edges, anchoring me when I need it. His age is no hindrance. He can keep up with the youngest of us, often putting us to shame!"
5 The Commander nodded. "Third In Command, Posi, your brother." The Commander sat down his reading board. "I know this one has had disciplinary problems, three ship commanders have asked him to be transferred. He has done considerably better in your service, but he still gives me worries."
6 "He gives me none," I answer. "In my service he sticks to regulations absolutely. He knows I am his final chance, that if he ever wants to make Commander he has to start towing the mark, and being an officer that follows regulations! I have not had one disciplinary problem with him since I accepted his posting. I believe he should be given the chance. Such an important assignment as this may bring out his better qualities."
7 The Commander Of Assignments nodded. "Now here is a real problem!" he sighed. "Hades, chief engineer. I'm a little wary of putting soemone in charge of a ship that blew up half a colony! He has a very unorthodox style of engineering!"
8 "Yes," I answered, "but if he hadn't blown up half the colony, the entire colony would've been destroyed! That he managed to do it without losing any people I believe shows his quality."
9 "Yes!" The Commander Of Assignments agreed, "But gassing The Commanding Officer so you could take over and issuing orders in his name?"
10 "Everybody knew what was going on," I argued, "they were just being official! The Commander had lost it. He was going to evacuate his own people and leave everybody else to die! I believe the survivors all gave testimony of their gratitude, and the world has been rebuilt. All the fragments that were blown into space have been recovered, and the oceans and atmosphere restored. Might I say who was in charge of that engineering effort?"
11 The Commander nodded. "Well, I can't say," he continued, "I disagree with your choice of Commander Of Security, Airs. Outstanding record for one so young, even younger than you!" The Commander put down his board for a moment. "Commander," he asked, "there are stories that this young man's father is not who he is supposed to be, that you might actually be his father. Now, understand me, I have nothing against a father and son serving together. It often works very well. But for you to have been this man's father you would not have been of age when you were with his mother. I know this might be a private thing, but I would like a truthful answer. Is this man , or is he not your son?"
12 I sat back for a moment and thought very hard. But then I realized The Commander Of Assignments would keep a confidence. "Yes!" I answered, "He is my son! His mother was very neglected by her husband. For a time I was in her charge while my own mother was desperately ill. Sometimes when I needed comforting that comforting went a little bit too far. Both of us regretted it afterwards. When the child came her husband accepted it as his own, I believe fully knowing the truth. And the young man could not have asked for a more nurturing father. And that several brothers and sisters followed after him shows that the husband started paying more attention to his wife!"
13 I fell silent and The Commander too, was silent for several minutes, then remarked, "Does he know?"
14 "It has never been mentioned," I answered, "but I am quite sure he does."
15 The Commander sat back. "I will approve the assignment," he finally concluded, "if you make the facts known to him. But I do not want him serving under this cloud of doubt. Acknowledge to him that you are his father. His mother's husband is dead, isn't he?"
16 "Several years ago, sir," I answered. "Some action removing a corrupt leader that didn't want to be removed. He died in valiant service to The Confederation!"
17 The Commander Of Assignments sat back, stared at me for a few more moments, then lifted a golden key from the desk and held it out to me. "The key to your ship, sir!" he snapped. "Go and take possession of it! Make sure it is ready for space, and proceed on your mission!"
18 I rose, saluted, snapped "Thank you, sir!" and according to tradition quickly departed.