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 is called Dial G for Gravity, and there's a link after the snippet below.
Chapter 2 continued
The Kreltonian Skull
Dex opened his mouth to protest, but she didn’t give him the chance. “Apart from anything else, Dex, it demeans the rank you hold if you’re constantly jumping up ladders or pulling access panels off the walls.”
“Does it though? With the greatest of respect, Commander, in engineering we tend to respect those of us who still get our hands dirty.” Despite his best intentions, Dex found himself glancing at Xander’s cybonic hands. “No offence intended.”
Xander tilted her head on one side. “None taken. But, Dex, we can’t have different rules for different sections of the crew. You don’t see Lieutenant Turm leaving the nav console while she hops outside to realign the sensors, do you?”
“No, because I had some of my staff do that for her.”
“Dex! That’s a job for the navigation officers. It’s their responsibility.”
“I know, but I have crews outside all the time, so while they’re out there, they do a few extra jobs. You know, in the spirit of cooperation and mutual wossname.”
Xander laid her hands flat on her desk as though preventing it from floating away, and when she spoke, her voice was slow, her tone level. “Lieutenant Commander, as you know, I spent a large part of my childhood on Gloabon. It wasn’t always a happy experience, but I got through it, and once I’d found a home in the Andelian fleet, I excelled. I adapted easily to the demands of the Kreitians when the Coalition was formed, but even so, there were some who said that my time on Gloabon had left me with a persistent tendency to become obsessed by minor details.”
“No,” Dex said, somehow managing to stretch the syllable into an obvious exaggeration, but Xander didn’t seem to notice.
“Yes, they called me a control freak, and to be honest, I believed them.” She laughed bitterly. “Of course, I left my critics in the dust when my attention to detail was recognized as efficiency and critical thinking. But I can honestly say, Dex, you have made me realize that I’m not a control freak at all.”
“And that’s a good thing, right?”
“Yes and no.” Xander’s patient smile was back. “Dex, I understand your loyalty to this ship. I respect it. But as Chief Engineer, you cannot micromanage every aspect of its operations. It’s not possible, at least, it’s not sustainable, and in the end, it’s bad for you and bad for the ship.”
“Bad for…” Dex sat up straight, the scales on his cheeks pulled tight. “Commander, if I don’t keep an eye my crews–”
“The work will still get done,” Xander stated. “I have evaluated all the personnel in engineering, and they’re competent. You’ve trained them well, you’ve set high standards, and you’ve fostered a spirit of diligence that would be the envy of any fleet. They’re good Andelians, Dex, but you need to let them run with the ball now and then.”
Dex nodded thoughtfully, conflicting emotions running through his mind. Finally, he said, “I understand. I think so, anyway. And you’re right. Maybe I should take an hour off. Or half an hour. Ten minutes maybe.”
“Oh, I think we can do better than that.” Xander returned her attention to her screen. “I have in front of me, a set of orders instructing you to take shore leave for one week at the next planet we reach.”
“A week? But, Commander–”
“And I’m sending your orders now.” She hit a key then fixed him with a look. “You weren’t about to question the direct orders of a superior officer, were you?”
Dex’s shoulders slumped. “No, Commander. Of course not.”
“Very good. You can return to your regular duties for the moment. I’ll complete the rest of your evaluation after you’ve had a chance to enjoy yourself away from the ship for a while. Fair enough?”
“Yes. Thank you, Commander.” Dex stood slowly, his gaze downcast. “I’ll look forward to it. I suppose.”
“Oh, and you’d better take Lieutenant Commander Zeb with you. He’s due for a break, and although strictly speaking, he doesn’t really need one, he’s a serving officer on the ship, and while I’m the first officer, he’ll damned well behave like one.”
Dex brightened a little. “Understood. I’ll make sure he understands.” He began to turn away, then he hesitated. “Commander, you said I’d take leave at the next planet, but according to our itinerary today, our next stop is Drammadon Four, and since that’s only a space station, I guess I won’t be leaving for quite a while.”
“No, our plans have changed. We received new orders this morning, but the Captain hasn’t cleared them for general release yet.”
“Oh. So, where are we headed?”
Xander chuckled under her breath. “You’ll like this, Dex. Our next stop is Earth. We leave within the hour.”
Thanks for Reading 🙂
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