Chapter 5

Late the next day I was on the bridge when I noticed the men around me had taken a great interest in something. I turned to see a very voluptuous female officer approaching. She came to attention, saluted, and snapped "Pilot Aphrodidi reporting sir. I understand that you requested I speak with you personally."
2 I turned to one of the deck officers and said "You have the bridge!" and motioned the pilot to follow me. We went in to the conference room and I shut the door. "Relax, pilot!" I insisted. "You keep standing as stiff as that you'll snap something! I'm not going to bite you! I simply want an explanation of why you did not report with the rest of your crew, why I should not send you planetside and replace you."
3 "It is a deeply personal problem," the Navigator continued, "and rather embarrassing, sir! I would prefer to simply say that I was occupied and could not report, that I regret that deeply, and I will try to make sure that it never happens again!"
4 I sighed. "Sit!" I insisted. The Navigator sat down and I sat opposite her. "The last thing I like to do," I explained, "is to violate an officer's privacy, but I believe in this situation I need a bit more information to determine if your absence was justified. I guarantee you, anything that is said to me will be kept in the greatest confidence!"
5 The woman stared at the table top for some moments, then answered, "I have a husband and two children. Well, at least I had a husband. He claimed to be Olympian, to have ancestry from at least four races. His superiors have just discovered that his claims were fraudulent. He has ancestry from only two races, and cannot claim to be an Olympian. He has been dismissed from his duties and sent to another station that is not occupied by pure Olympians. I have just concluded an exhausting legal battle to have my children recognized as Olympians, even though their father did not have the required ancestry, that mine were sufficient for them to maintain their status and remain on this world. I have been successful. Even if something happens to me my children will be considered marryable, and will not be expelled. I ask that you keep your word, sir, and not discuss this matter with anyone else, not even your wife. I have asked that the situation be kept out of the news, and Command has agreed to it."
6 I leaned back and sighed again. "My apologies, pilot! I can now see why you are so disturbed that you misbuttoned your blouse."
7 The pilot looked down and immediately began to adjust her uniform, muttering "Sorry, sir! I will admit, sir, I'm a little upset right now. But I will be ready to take my duties when my first shift arrives. I just need to calm down a little bit. The usual way of calming down hasn't seemed to help."
8 I rose. "Come!" I snapped. We went back out onto the bridge. "Ship!" I snapped, "Have Commander Posi report to the bridge."
9 A few minutes later my brother arrived. It was obvious he had been woken and was not quite functional yet. "Yes sir?" he snapped.
10 "Your Navigator has arrived," I announced. "See her to her quarters and make sure she has gotten her proper rest so that she will be ready to report for her duties. I intend to depart on the beginning of your cycle so I want her well rested."
11 The Navigator and my brother looked at each other and I knew that both of them perfectly understood my meaning! They both smiled and my brother answered "Yes, sir! I will carry out my duties, sir!" and they quickly departed.
12 The officers on the bridge all grinned. "You find something funny, mister?" I asked one of them.
13 "No, sir!" the man answered, "It's just that performing some duties, sir, are far more pleasant than performing others!"
14 I returned his smile. "That is a truth," I answered, "that cannot be denied! Carry on your duties!"
15 "Yes sir!" the officer snapped.
16 I returned to mine thinking how fortunate it was that my brother was unattached! I was quite sure that very shortly there would be extra quarters available, though I really wasn't interested in acquiring any more crew.
17 At the beginning of the third shift I was still on the bridge. As soon as everybody was in their places I asked, "Navigator, is our course plotted and locked in to the pilot's couch?"
18 "Yes sir!" the Navigator answered. "We are fourteen days from the edge of the galaxy and twenty days from our first stop to check on a colony. We have three such stops before we go out into uncharted territory."
19 "Pilot!" I snapped, "Take the couch! Prepare yourself and when you are ready let me know!"
20 The pilot laid down and adjusted her screens. "Systems all responsive!" she announced. "Ready to move on your command, Commander!"
21 "Take us out!" I ordered.
22 That we were moving was imperceivable, but we were rapidly heading out of the solar system on a course that would allow us to go to full thrust as soon as possible. Only our monitors told us how fast we were moving! When I was assured that everything was satisfactory I gave command to my brother and went to bed. We were underway!

Page 8

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