Monday, February 23, 2009

A Short Hop, Part III

(Continued from Part 1 and Part 2)

It was at that point, if you happened to be sitting EVA, that it all began to go well and truly pear-shaped. There are voices one expects to hear on the Bridge during Stardrive work -- mostly the Pilot, followed, at a respectful distance and volume, by terse acknowledgments, updates and the occasional alarum from the workin' crew: Navs, 'Drive Control, Realspace Drive. You do not want to hear from E & PP, as things wrong in their domain are usually along the lines of sewer lines experiencing unexpected reversal* or unplanned depressurization; you never want the Power Room gang speaking up, since their next line is likely to be, "lights out!" and you don't want to hear from my lot, either, considering we'll probably be telling you the controls or the 'Drive or the electric realspace drives are on the blink. But most of all, most of all, you do not want to hear from Upstairs. City Hall: Command staff.

Most of the time, they stay out our hair and we stay out of theirs. Dr. Schmidt's up there all the time, of course, and the Chief Pilot gets invited up for dinner 'pon occasion, but it's all admin, "interfacing" with the Starship Company and schmoozing with passengers. Scary stuff. But tradition is tradition: whenever we jump, whoever's in the hot seat stands his or her watch in the Bridge proper. Just our luck, this little leap was smack in the middle of the 8-to-12 trick. Yes, sailors, that ossifer, though we abbreviate it 3/O. Let us all recite together that most irritating yet needful traditional responsibility of the Third Mate: Safety Officer. On a starship, it's almost a sinecure: there are so many Safety tasks to be done and a whole section of E&PP to do them; but the young gentlemen do tend to take it seriously.

Click! Lazy EVA was still on a speaker not a headset, so I could practically hear the brass in the rarely-flipped switch, "EVA, Lt. Luna** here. Am I hearing you have a solo crewman on the hull, with a defective radio?"

As EVA began to stammer, Pilot (and Boy-Scout-to-the-rescue) Russ Hanks spoke up, "And we're coming up on three minutes 'til jump, with a serious stability issue, sir."

EVA: "Um, yessir, Greggo's suit got downchecked at the last minute and Steve's out with a twisted ankle; it was supposed to be a quick job."

3/O: "EVA, you will see me after the jump. Russ, what are our contingencies if we miss this window?"

"Navs?" Russ asked, "It'd be another day, right?"

"Call it twenty-three hours. And a harder vector change on the other side."

EVA, unfortunately enough: "Where's Em?"

* Per C. Jay: "I opened up the washroom door and there was the most disgusting fountain I had ever seen." Ew.

** Honest, it really is his name and he has already heard all the jokes, okay? Off-duty Gerry's as nice a guy as you'll meet. For an officer.

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