The next day all the senior officers gathered in the conference room. I asked Herine if her medical department was in readiness. She said yes. Two of her nurses were on planet but would report that day so she would be able to perform her duties completely after that time. I said "Fine!" "Hades!" I snapped, "Any problem with engineering?
2 My engineering officer rose. "We've got a few small secondary problems," he began, "one of them being we're missing an escape craft! Apparently on a previous mission one of them was used for something and was so damaged that it had to be left behind! And the former Commander never bothered to replace it for some reason! I have ordered a replacement but in order for it to arrive before you want to depart, there won't be time to paint it. It will have no markings. This is a small violation of regulations! I could probably put some markings on it while its in its bay. But I would not be able to paint it. We simply would not have the capability to do the entire hull. I will have to have your approval before accepting the craft."
3 "By all means you have it!" I answered. "I will not go out short of escape craft with the possibility of having to leave people on a dying ship! Get that craft on board immediately! Anything else?"
4 "I am deeply concerned," the engineer continued, "with reports from other ships of coil failure and cascade. The second colony ship lost fifty per cent of its capability on its last mission because someone on its bridge wasn't paying attention, a coil failed, a cascade started, and they weren't able to stop it until fifty per cent of their coils were disabled! Absolute vigilance must be maintained on the monitoring boards! The deck officer must make sure they're watched constantly. Scout ships are even more vulernable because we're smaller. Sometimes particles from coils can jump acrossed to the far side of the chamber and start knocking out coils on that side! I cannot stress how important vigilance is! These ships are old. They've been in service for over two hundred years! A new colony ship is being built but it takes fifteen hundred years to complete one, a thousand years for a scout ship. And we're having trouble finding the elements necessary to create coils, to build thought ships. I believe some of the trouble that we may be having is that coils have been rebuilt with material salvaged from coils that were destroyed. Other than those small problems, my department is ready."
5 "Good!" I snapped. "Supply officer, are all necessary provisions on board? Do we have enough supplies to be out for three years?"
6 "Yes, sir!" the supply officer answered. "And we have enough capability to generate basic food to sustain us indefinitely. As long as the ship has power we can produce all we need! We'd get a little bit tired of recycled water and basic rations but we could get by. I have found that the previous commander had some illegal rations on board that he allowed the crew to have. I am at a loss as to what to do with them."
7 "Do not be!" I snapped. "Eject them into the sun. That's the best way of desposing with them, and let the entire crew know that anyone caught with contraband will be marooned on the first life sustaining world we touch, rather it's inhabited or not!"
8 "Yes sir!" the supply officer snapped. "That will be dealt with immediately!"
9 "Commander Ata," I snapped, "your report on second shift?"
10 My Second In Command stood up. "All my staff is available," he answered, "though I must report that my pilot has an infection in her left hand. She says it will not interfere with her capabilities. But the doctor says she is concerned rather or not it can be stabilized. It may spread, even become life threatening. The lady is very capable but the doctor advises that she be sent to planet and a replacement acquired. I can only agree. I do not wish to risk a pilot's life when we have time to acquire a replacement. The loss of such a valuable individual to The Olympia would not be acceptable! But I need your approval to carry out my desires."
11 "It is given!" I snapped. "Make sure that it is clearly understood that the officer is being relieved because of concerns for her safety, and not for any other reason. I do not want any other officer that she may serve with in the future believing that she was a problem and was disciplined!"
12 "I concur!" my Second In Command answered. "That is the only problem with my section."
13 "Good!" I continued. "Commander Posi?" I snapped, "Report on the third section?"
14 "All officers ready for duty!" my brother answered. "But we seem to have a problem with pilots. Mine is not on board. She is on emergency leave because of a personal problem. I have received a communique from her that she will report tomorrow and be ready for duty. But because of her absence engineering has not been able to calibrate her connection with the couch, and we might not be able to before we depart if she does not arrive on time. However, records show she is an excellent pilot, has guided the ship through some very hazardous situations brought on by the previous Commander's negligance. I would like to give her an opportunity to report and explain herself before taking any action."
15 "Do we have any auxillery pilots," I asked, "that could take her place if we were forced to leave without her, or, another pilot on board?"
16 "Yes sir!" Commander Posi answered, "We have five emergency pilots among the crew, including myself who could serve if need be, not top grade pilots, but pilots, nonetheless!"