Per Ardua Ad Astra
Chapter 21: Scout or Frigate?

Copyright© 2013 by normist

Arriving back at our Holloman base, I realized that the working day was over and that it was approaching dinner time. I, therefore, dropped Kate off at the Non-Commissioned Officers' Mess before returning to the Officers' Mess. Entering, I saw that George Morrison had decided to visit us.

"Hi, George. To what do we owe to this visit of yours?"

"I've got a present for you," he said, "and I thought that I'd deliver it personally."

"So what is it?"

"It's a surprise, and you can wait until after dinner." he said and grinned at me.

We then went into dinner and the conversation became more general. After dinner, he led me and a small crowd out of the mess. We went across the road and across the runway to the smaller hangar. There we were greeted by the sight of our new exploratory craft.

"I see why you couldn't give it to me in the Mess," I said to George, "How on earth did you manage to build it so quickly?"

"Enthusiasm and overtime," he replied.

We went around the bow to the starboard side. Halfway down the side, a door to the craft lay open with stairs built into its inside, just like small corporate jet aircraft have. We climbed into the hull and turned right towards the bow. We entered the bridge and I saw that there were three positions in the front sunken section. I raised my eyebrows in query at George.

"It was thought that when you're exploring planets you might want to use two bow lookouts looking directly at the view," he said.

"This bridge looks as big as the bridge on Voyager. How did you do it?"

"We put the ready rooms behind the bridge instead of along each side. We've only put in four shuttles and quarters for thirty-two crew. That number results in some doubling up although we haven't had to introduce any hot bunking."

"Hot bunking?" asked Steve, "I don't think I heard that term before."

"Yes. It means the sharing of bunks where two or more users are on different shifts and, therefore, don't need to sleep at the same time. Now let's have a look at the laboratories. We have equipped most of them. We've been in touch with your science group. They've been most helpful in suggesting equipment that is either smaller or better than the corresponding equipment in Voyager. Now let's go up to the drive and mess deck."

We climbed to deck two, where George explained that the chairs in the mess were a compromise between upright dining chairs and more relaxing armchairs for lounging. I tried one and agreed that he had probably made the right choice. The tables were adjustable in height to make them suitable for both uses, dining, and lounging. Behind the galley, we entered the drive room. It led to the engineering store and workshops.

Going forward again we climbed to the quarters deck. George led us into the Captain's cabin. It seemed empty at first. The cabin walls, like the rest of the craft, were finished in sky blue while the deck had a grass green finish in some soft material. George then demonstrated the hidden features of the cabin. He pulled a bunk out the from the wall, followed by several chairs, a desk complete with a computer screen, a pull-out keyboard, and a mouse pad arrangement. He showed us the built in wardrobe and the communications panel.

Opening another door, he said, "This is the head for this cabin. Most cabins have their own head, although a few have to share. To supplement the communications, we have produced these," said George producing a gizmo which I recognized as being more than similar to the communication badges worn by the characters in 'Star Trek'. "I'm continually being reminded how right Roddenberry was with his effects."

"I can't see our Medical Officer using a salt cellar, though, as a diagnostic device," I replied.

I'd overlooked the fact that Doctor June MacTavish was one of our tour party.

"You'd be surprised, Admiral, Sir, at what we use at times," she said. "Have you not heard of placebos? Salt cellars as diagnostic devices could also be classed as placebos."

George then led us into the central core of deck three. "This is your domain, doctor. It's small, but very well equipped, and as you've seen, you don't have to go far to make house calls. Well, that concludes the tour. What do you think of her, Admiral?"

"It seems to be just what we want for a quick look at any star system. How much more remains to be done on her?"

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