Pop. Then the sound of air inflating something before another small pop.
Rinse and repeat.
It was all one Ensign Mictrin had heard for the last ten minutes as he piloted the shuttle Speedbird towards not only the destination for his cargo and single passenger, but his own new assignment and the new reassigned mothership for this particular shuttle.
“Much further Ensign?” the passenger asked from the rear compartment and he could now make out the sound of electronica music. Every time Lieutenant Blake Pisani had removed her earbuds the music genre was completely different. And some of them Grent Mictrin knew you’d need hours, if not days or a lifetime to be able to switch between.
“Another five minutes ma’am,” he replied.
To his shock he was met with the sound of silence from behind him. Actual silence. No more bubble-gum bubbles popping, no more music bleeding past the earbud seals, no more humming along with music.
Before he could turn to investigate the co-pilot’s seat was suddenly occupied by his only passenger who quickly took to tapping away at screens. Screens which he had carefully made sure couldn’t access helm control after having been briefed by the dockmaster at their departure point.
“Don’t let her fly a shuttle. She thinks she’s some hotshot pilot but by all that is holy, she can barely fly a shuttle in a straight line.”
“Ah, there she is,” she announced as she brought up something on a screen and seemed satisfied with the result. “Ensign, this is going to be the start of just another adventure. Savour the next five minutes, it’s all work once we land.”
Like it wasn’t work flying with you for twelve hours, he thought to himself, gave her a respectful grin that said ‘Yes ma’am’ and then continued with the trip. This is going to be the longest five minutes of my career.
Throwing herself into her office chair, Blake ordered the computer to kill the music and then take the call that was the obvious cause of the alerts the desktop terminal was nagging her about. She had barely stopped the chair’s rotation when the Reliant’s crest had disappeared and been replaced with those of an old friend.
“Jacob! Darling! Wow, it’s been awhile. What can I do you for?” she asked of the older man whose office looked to be looking out over the ocean somewhere nice and tropical, the first sun just touching the horizon while the second would be at mid-afternoon back on Earth.
“Got a new assignment for you. I know, I know, we just got you that CMO spot on Reliant, but this one has a story to it,” the man said as he sat back in his chair and lifted a cup in both hands.
“Can I get a drink, or is the benevolent Captain Jacob Bennings going to suggest I get a medicinal drink?” With a clarification for the former drink choice and a pause to replicate a cup of tea, she was back. Minutes went by as two people separated by decades of life and experience caught up on the few months worth of living since their last conversation.
“Anyway Blake, back to the reason for my call. I’ve got a CMO spot on a Norway class ship, Asger, that I need to fill. I hate to do this to you Blake, but I really need you for it because I know you’re a no-nonsense operator.”
She sipped at her tea and thought for a moment. “Office politics?”
“Big time. I’ve got one admiral insisting I put an officer who will watch the CO like a hawk and report any and all indiscretions. I’ve got another who’s clearly trying to rehabilitate the CO, wanting someone who will guide and help out. And I’ve got a Captain over at Operations insisting I provide a recommendation before the end of the week or they’ll draw from a hat.”
Blake chuckled at that, sipped at her cup and then set it down. “And you oh Captain Bennings?”
“I never should have accepted a promotion that took me away from surgery. Management is not my style. Blake, never make my mistake, you hear me young lady?” He waited for her nod in the affirmative. “I frankly don’t care. I want to keep both of these pigeons happy so I figured I’ll get the best damn frontier doctor I personally know. I know you’ll help out where you can and keep the crew safe by pulling whatever levers of power you feel are needed.”
“I…thank you?” she asked, then waited for Jacob to nod and smile. “You just want someone loud to barge in so no one asks you for bullshit like this again.” Again Jacob nodded, slightly sheepishly. “Yah yah, I’ll do it, but on one condition.”
“No, I’m not sharing the recipes with you Blake.”
“Just the brownie recipe.”
“What about two bottles of Dornian Blue?”
“For you Blake, I’ll make it three.”
“Deal. Now, tell me about this CO everyone’s so interested in?”
The shuttle safely down inside Asger’s shuttlebay, Blake was to her feet and with a pat to Mictrin’s shoulder, offered the man a smile. “Nice flying Ensign, very nice.”
“Thank you ma’am,” the man said and she could pick up the exasperation in his voice.
She worked around the stacked cargo in the back of the shuttle, collected her backpack and travel case, grabbed the leather jacket she had procured only recently and threw it over a single shoulder just as the ramp started to open. She passed the time until it was down by checking the security seals on her personal cargo and turned to find a shuttlebay that looked like it resembled her apartment during her residency then a proper flight deck.
“Sickbay had better be a damn sight better than this,” she said to herself.
A rather exasperated looking deckhand, who looked like his ego and sense of self had recently had strips taken out of it, approached and came to attention like he’d just been reminded of what that should look like. “Lieutenant Pisani ma’am, welcome aboard the Asger.”
“Pleasures all mine,” she paused to look for his rank pips, “Petty Officer.” She stepped down the ramp and stopped just as she stepped onto the deck proper. “Two things Petty Officer. All the red crates go to my quarters, everything else Ensign Mictrin has the orders for. Secondly, don’t call me ma’am. It’s Doctor Pisani.”
“Yes ma…Doctor Pisani.”
“Good. Now, where can I find the XO?”