Outward Bound
Chapter 9

Copyright© 2020 by UtIdArWa

Standing in the doorway, the room looked like a disaster had struck. Access panels were open. Workers and technicians were involved in various mysterious jobs. There was a babble of voices, each seeming to be louder than the others.

A loud voice, not yelling, but carrying over the chatter of various repairmen and technicians. “Attention on deck Captain on the bridge.”

All conversation stopped, while most everyone stood up in at least a semblance of attention. Some, particularly those with their heads in enclosed cabinetry and spaces, could be heard muttering obscenities and banging their heads as they worked their way out.

Agnes Seward, in all her finery and symbols of office, stood at the entrance of the bridge. When order was finally restored, she raised her voice, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I present Captain Henry Sullivan and his executive officer, April Sullivan.”

There was a polite smattering of applause and a few welcome aboard’s.

April and I were standing next to Grandmother Seward. I was dressed in my working uniform. Blue coveralls with gold eagles on my collar points. My name embroidered on my left breast. Above that were my flight wings with the two combat stars. April was dressed like me with silver oak clusters on her collar. Her wings included a single star. Under her wings, was the close combat badge. She was awarded that when she was marooned on an asteroid with a platoon of marines. She had fought beside them when they were attacked by a pirate crew trying to finish them off. There had been only four survivors, none of them pirates.

I had always, from the first time I saw her, been overwhelmed by April. She is a strikingly beautiful woman with classical NorInd facial structure.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” I started, “I expect to get acquainted with all of you over the next couple of weeks. As we go along, you will learn that I can be a reasonable person. However, I am not your friend. All I ask of you is an honest effort. If you try, really try, to do a good job you’ll have nothing to worry about. If needed, I will stand by your side. But if you do goof up. Don’t make excuses don’t pass the blame. Expect punishment, but be assured that the punishment will be fair.”

But if you mess with me, be aware, I’m not a nice guy. I’m that arrogant, egotistical, sadistic, spawn of satan that will haunt your nightmares for the rest of you and your grand children’s lives. I’ll make your life miserable. And in the case of the genuine assholes, and I know that you’re listening, I know where the nearest airlock is and how it operates. Challenge my Exec or me, and you’ll be breathing vacuum before the next watch.”

I turned to Agnes, who was standing in the doorway. I smiled and nodded, and she smiled back, turned, and left.

Turning back to the bridge. “I will be available to the bridge crew at any time on or off watch. If I’m not around, go to the Exec or the Officer of the Day. Now I know that you are busy, and there is a lot of work that needs to be done. But we have time on our side. Be careful, be safe, and do the job right. If you need help, ask. If you see a crewmate struggling help. If you see something that is unsafe or needs to be done, do it. Or tell someone that knows how to fix it. Now let me get out of your way so that you can get back to work.”

I turned to April, who was standing next to a door to the side of the room. “Are they ready?”

“Yes, they are Captain, Ready and waiting, in your ready room.” saying that she turned and opened the door. Stepping inside, she looked over her shoulder and whispered, “Showtime.” I rolled my eyes and stepped into my ready room.

As we came into the room, April called out, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Captain.” Everyone stood and looked at me.

I smiled at everyone and took my place at the head of the table. As I sat down, I started, “Please be seated. Good morning folks. As I’m sure, you already know. My name is Henry Sullivan. Just to make sure we are all on the same sheet of music, I am the Captain of this ship. I can be your friend, your protector, your confidant. I can also be your worst nightmare. If you do your job and are honest with me, I’ll return the courtesy. But if you think I’m an easy touch, some know-nothing land-lubber, I will make your life a living hell. Now that having been said, let me introduce my Executive Officer.” I half-turned to April, “This is April Sullivan, my strong right arm. Don’t make the mistake of thinking she is a pushover. Mess with her, and she will eat you up and spit out the bones.”

I looked around the table, making sure to catch each of their eyes. “I’ve called you folks here to let you know that I have decided that you will be my command staff. If anybody has a problem with that, let me know now. There will be nothing held against you.” I paused for a moment and looked at each of them again. Nothing was said.

I smiled, “Ok, I’ll take that as an acceptance of the job. Now each of you knows the other, but I don’t. I know your names, and you know mine. We will get to know each other over the weeks months and years ahead.”

“I am going to give each of you authority over selected operations onboard. Now I know that the civil side of the ship falls on the Mother’s Council and Grandmother Seward. But the operational side falls on me. And by extension onto you, What I’m asking you to do in the next week is to make a wish list. A list of all the tools, toys, and troops you want. For now, I want a Christmas wish list. Money and availability are not considerations.”

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