Ah, there’s nothing quite like the smell of a brand-new starship!
I have been fortunate enough to have been part of the first flights of three of the Federation’s ships: Enterprise, Pioneer, and Explorer, and early flights of every other ship in the fleet.
Endeavour, though, I was occupied. Tied up. Up to my armpits in vipers. Pick your metaphor.
So I missed out. But you won’t!
Okay, three bits of housekeeping. First, you want to skip the wait? There’s a button for that, or click on any image, and you can buy the book (ebook, paperback, or audiobook). Second, and speaking of the audiobook, the chapter is at the bottom of the post for you to listen to. Third, Adam’s cover is in the final week of the contest, so go vote for it (and there’s another button for that!).
“XO,” Kiri repeated.
Still, no answer.
“Commander Sanzari,” she said finally, and her XO turned.
“Sorry, Captain,” Sanzari said. “Still getting used to the position.”
Kiri smiled, figuring that some flexibility would be appropriate. “Not to worry, Candice. We’re both new to our jobs.”
The bridge of the Endeavour was similar to the Enterprise in shape and layout. There were a few minor differences between them. Instead of two command chairs, there were three; the third was there as overflow seating, presumably for a visiting Admiral, while Kiri sat in the center and Candice to her left. The triple-seat console in the front of the bridge had been reduced to one, for a helmsman. The engineer now had a dedicated station against the rear bulkhead, opposite the station for the tactical officer. The Astrogator’s position had been removed from the bridge entirely.
“What’s our readiness?”
“All personnel have reported in, as well as most of the dependents. We still have a number of slots being filled by construction and engineering people from Njord, but their role is mostly going to be familiarization training of the regular crew.”
“Who put that together?”
“The Commodore and I collaborated on it, ma’am.”
“Exactly what I would have done. Small boats?”
“Our squadron is still deployed aboard Njord and will be until we pass the first round of acceptance trials. Our Direwolves aren’t ready yet in any case, so we’d only have our Wolves in any case. We have the woman that the Admiral recruited, LJ Burg, overseeing the bay and making preparations. We’ll be ready.”
“Did she enlist?”
Candice shook her head. ”Not yet. She’s officially carried as a civilian consultant, with the assimilated rank of Lieutenant. That will work for now, but once we’re on active duty and patrolling it may be a little bit interesting. That and her cats.”
“We’ll deal with it when we get there. She may change her mind. Supplies?”
“Full on He3 and reaction mass for the annie. Consumables are adequate for two weeks’ deployment with full crew. We have a full resupply scheduled for halfway through the trials. Environmental and hydroponics are fully stocked and in production.” The environmental systems utilized biologicals to supplement the mechanical systems. As a side-effect, the algae also produced power to run the mechanical side of the department.
“Sounds like you’re on top of things. Nicely done, XO.”
“Thank you, ma’am. It’s been challenging, but I’ve had good role models.”
“Castor,” Kiri said next.
“Captain,” said a disembodied tenor voice. Castor was one of the two Beta-class AI’s that the Endeavour carried; his counterpart was named ‘Pollux’.
“All of my systems are running at optimal performance levels, given the continuing construction projects.”
Neither AI was quite capable enough to handle all the requirements of the Endeavour, unlike Minna on the Enterprise. Castor’s ‘sphere of influence’ included the sensors, the internal operational systems, and the defensive screens. Pollux was tasked with supporting engineering, including all the drives, the offensive weaponry, the shuttlebay, and conducting military analyses on the sensor inputs. There was some overlap, and either AI could operate all of the ship systems at a reduced efficiency if required due to damage to the other AI.
“Captain, I’m good.” All AI’s eventually developed personalities based on their names and their assigned tasks. Castor, who largely interacted with the scientific staff, tended to be formal in his speech. Pollux reported to the engineering and military side, and had adopted much looser and informal speech patterns.
“How are the divisions shaping up, XO?”
“They’re raw, but willing. Medical is best organized, as Dr. Joe also stole his head Nurse, Brian Rozmus, and he had the medical center on Enterprise is running like clockwork. When they moved to Endeavour, they had a plan ready to roll.”
“Which is one reason I asked for Dr. Joe.”
“Engineering started slowly but is coming along nicely. Lieutenant Stewart’s getting extra support from Dellin; there was a minor issue with some of the power couplings from the annie, and the warp drive is touchy, but that’s actually to their benefit.”
“Well, they’re getting great practice on dealing with genuine problems while in as nearly a controlled environment as possible.”
“Dawn – sorry, Lieutenant Zihal –“
“Not a problem. I know that the Admiral and Alley want us to be as informal as we can when it’s not detrimental to discipline. I think that discussions like this, XO to Captain, qualify.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Sanzari and Kiri grinned at each other.
“Anyways, she’s experienced as well, and she’s having a field day setting everything up exactly how she wants it. I know that she’s looking forward to getting back into the black and exploring, but she’s excited about being able to establish her own division. Let’s see. That just leaves Tactical.” Sanzari’s face turned pensive. “I have to admit that I’ve been more critical of Raynie than any of the others, at least to myself, but at least I know why.”
“Because it was your Division on Enterprise.”
It was a statement, not a question, and Candice nodded.
“I know what she should be doing, and I just want to tell her how to do it, but I’ve stopped myself so far. It’s tough, though, watching her make the same mistakes I made learning the job.”
Kiri nodded. “Like I’m stepping on my instinct to tell you what to do. I get it.”
“Am I doing that badly?”
“No, not at all, and I’ll bet Raynie isn’t either. It’s just experience talking, right?”
“Right,” agreed Sanzari. “She’s doing well enough, hasn’t made any major errors, nothing that’s going to be more than inconveniences.”
“That’s pretty good. I know you trained her well on Enterprise, which is why I wanted her for the position, and one reason I wanted you.”
“You trained her not as a subordinate but as an equal. You taught her what you knew and how to do what you did. As far as I could tell, you didn’t hold anything back.”
“I didn’t. Well, I don’t think I did. Not intentionally.”
“No. There are things you didn’t teach her because there wasn’t any cause to teach her, the situation never arose. You can’t help that, but now in your role as XO you’ll still be able to guide her.”
“I hadn’t thought of it quite that way,” Sanzari said. “So how do I deal with it? How do you deal with it?”
“Like I said, you can guide her, like I’m guiding you. We’re all learning how to do things. But this isn’t about professional development, XO,” Kiri said. “It’s a readiness check.”
“Aye, ma’am. Short version is, we’re as ready to start the tests as we’ll ever be.”
“Then – what was the phrase?”
Kiri’s forehead wrinkled as she thought. “Alley told me about the FicChan, no, television show, that inspired the Admiral. One of the characters had a catchphrase I particularly liked.”
“I haven’t paid much attention to them,” admitted Sanzari. “It seemed silly.”
“Over the past few months I’ve learned that, silly or not, those shows really influenced the Admiral. And since she’s in charge of this, it impacts us, and our crew. That’s something Alley taught me, to look beyond the borders of my job, because anything that affects the crew is part of my job. Where was I?”
“Right. Oh, yes. Number One, make it so.”