The next episode of my latest sci-fi work in progress.
If you're not familiar with Brent and the others, this is sci-fi comedy with elements of Star Trek, Douglas Adams, and more. The first book has been 99 cents/ 99 pence for quite a while now, and there's a link after the snippet below.
The Kreltonian Skull
Lieutenant Commander Dex straightened his tunic then pressed the call button beside the door of the Executive Office. It opened immediately, and Commander Xander called out to him: “Enter.”
Squaring his shoulders, Dex stepped inside. “Good afternoon, Commander. You are well, I trust?”
Seated behind the desk, Xander glanced up from her screen. “Take a seat, Lieutenant Commander. I’ll be right with you.”
“Right. Thanks.” Dex sat carefully, although his legs had chosen this moment to become uncoordinated, and when he crossed them, he inadvertently kicked the desk. “Sorry. I…sorry.”
Xander turned her gaze on him. “Is everything all right?”
Dex nodded enthusiastically. “Yes, yes. More than all right. Fine. Perfect, even. Very good at any rate. Excellent.”
“Okay then.” Xander’s fingers darted across her keyboard.
Dex leaned forward. “Are you writing that down? Have we started already? I didn’t realize. Sorry. It’s been a while since my last evaluation. General Norph didn’t really go in for them.”
“Oh?” Xander stopped typing and frowned as if perplexed. “Then how did he monitor the performance of his officers and crew.”
“Well, discipline was never an issue under his command. If you didn’t do exactly what you were told, he shot you in the head. It wasn’t a subtle system, I grant you, but it was quicker than filling out the regulation questionnaire.” Dex grinned nervously. “I’m kidding, obviously. The questionnaire was fine. Great. Definitely an improvement on the bolt-gun-to-the-temple method. I was just making a joke.”
“Really? I see.” Xander resumed her typing, her expression impossible to interpret. Dex was about to interrupt when she hit the return key with a flourish and turned to him, a professional smile on her lips. “So, Lieutenant Commander, how do you think things are going?”
I’m screwed, Dex thought, but he forced a serious expression. “Well, there have been a lot of changes, clearly, and since The Skull’s refit we’ve had a few teething troubles, which I admit, took a little longer to iron out than anticipated. But all things considered, and taking all factors into account, with a typical margin of error, and allowing for…for…”
“Seasonal variation?” Xander offered. “The prevailing weather conditions?”
“Pardon? I don’t see the relevance.”
Xander’s smile widened. “You’re not the only one who can make a joke, Lieutenant Commander.”
“Ah.” Dex let out a burst of nervous laughter. “Yes, very good, Commander. But I was just going to say that, in my opinion, everything is going…fine.”
“Yep. Fine. That just about sums it all up. Not perfect, perhaps, but certainly not bad. And now that we have the lavatories working again on level two, I’d say that all the ship’s systems are performing within normal parameters.”
“Yes. But here, I think, we see a clue as to the problem.”
Dex jutted his chin. “Problem? That’s what I was trying to explain. There are no problems, not in engineering. We have a green panel. In fact, we’re even ahead on our schedule of scraping out the grease filters in the galley. Not a job we look forward to by any means, but my crews have seized the opportunity to get stuck in. Literally in one unfortunate case, but we soon got him out, and he was right as rain after a hot sand shower. Plus, there was no damage done to the grease ducts, so all was well.”
“I’m not so sure about that. I’ve heard reports of tunic buttons turning up in the ice squid burgers, and know I know the reason why.”
Dex froze. “Is that another joke?” he asked hopefully. “Because if not, I’ll have the matter investigated.”
“I think you’d better.” Xander sat back and sighed. “Dex, I hope you don’t mind me being less formal, but for what I have to say, it might go easier if I use your name rather than your rank.”
“Not at all, Xander. Go ahead.”
“Actually, I do mind, so you’ll refer to me as Commander at all times. But here’s the thing. You are our Chief Engineer, and I have to say, as far as I can see, you’re a damned good one.”
Dex beamed. “Oh. Thank you. I appreciate that.”
Xander held up her hand to stop him going further. “But here’s the thing, Dex. The head of any section on a ship of this size needs to delegate, to organize, to take a step back and maintain an overall view. And they can’t do that if they’re haring all over the place fixing toilets and changing lightbulbs.”
“That lightbulb was a one-off. Captain Stanch asked for it to be done in case we needed to go to battle stations. I know the red light isn’t regulation in the fleet anymore, but it’s a tradition on The Skull, and I was on the bridge anyway so–”
“So you should have sent for a subordinate.”
Dex opened his mouth to protest, but she didn’t give him the chance.
Thanks for Reading 🙂
This episode will be included in my monthly anthology as an ebook along with this month's blog posts. The anthologies will only be available to my patrons on patreon where, for a few dollars a month, you can have instant access to all the ebooks as soon as I compile them. Also, the support of patrons will help me to keep writing and providing content for you all. Learn more when you head on over to patreon and check it out
Become a Patron!
Comments on the story and questions are very welcome.
Meet Brent Bolster
The book below can all be read for free in Kindle Unlimited, or if you have Amazon Prime and own a Kindle device, you can borrow them for free, one book at a time, via the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.
Some of my books are made available for free or discounted on Amazon from time to time. To make sure you don't miss this fan-pricing, join my readers' group via the form below:
Join me on a Journey into Books
With my readers' group, The Awkward Squad