Today was thankfully slow again. When I got up Saahna had already left. After cleaning up I checked on the bridge. Do’rex was there, as usual, running through a bunch of simulations. Everything seemed to be fine so I headed back out.
Back in the lounge I saw that the gunnery suite was closed. Thinking that Saahna was inside, I overrode it and opened the door.
Varan looked up at me in surprise and a bit of embarrassment. “Oh! Hello, Captain.”
“Sorry,” I said. “I was looking for Saahna.”
He looked at me. “You could have knocked first.” I just lowered my gaze and looked at him.
There was an awkward silence. Finally, I spoke. “So… I didn’t expect to find you in here. What’s up?”
He flushed slightly. “I’m working on my Gunnery certification. I was just running through a training scenario.”
“Really?” I said, surprised. I hadn’t known.
He sighed and shrugged. “I just want to be more than a Steward.” He paused and flushed again. “Not that I don’t like what I’m doing, Captain! And I’m taking care of everyone upstairs. But…” He paused. “But… I would like to be a bit more on the ship. Eventually. Someday.”
I thought. I had started as a Steward myself and now I was commanding my own ship. I couldn’t begrudge Varan for wanting the same thing.”
“So…” I said, finally. “After my job?”
He hesitated, then sighed. “No, not really. But… with you being Captain now it is an open position. Or could be. I just… I just want to do something more, understand?”
I hesitated, then nodded. “Yeah, I guess I get it. I started where you are, after all.” I stopped and thought. “Keep practicing. If you need help, let Saahna know; I’m sure she can give you some pointers if she has time. We all need to be multi-trained anyway. And… I’ll see what I can do about getting you some help.”
He seemed surprisingly relieved. “Thank you, Captain.”
“Hey, I don’t want any pissed-off crew members. I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thanks,” he said. He gestured back to the console. “Do you mind if I finish this? Right now those kids are down for their nap, but as soon as they wake up I’m sure they’ll be wanting me again.”
I waved. “Sure, go ahead.” I backed out and closed the hatch.
I headed back towards Engineering. When I got to the hatch to the Cargo Bay I saw the “Low Gravity” light on beside it. I checked to make sure everything was secure then opened the hatch.
Entering, there was a brief moment of disorientation as I transitioned almost instantly from full to near-zero gravity, made worse by the eddies where the grav plates in the cargo bay briefly fought with those in the crew lounge. The eddies ended when the hatch closed behind me.
I saw that the cargo containers had been rearranged again. Now the maze was three-dimensional. I heard voices from somewhere in the bay and set out to find them.
I kicked up and towards the top of a nearby stack. The bay itself is about 7 meters high and the stack was three containers, so about 4 1/2 meters.
The gravity wasn’t quite zero and I hadn’t kicked off quite hard enough, so I had to grab the edge of the container and pull myself up. I looked over. There was another container stack across an open passage. I could probably jump to it, but would have to be careful not to hit the roof.
I launched myself horizontally. I came in a bit low, but was able to brace myself and grab the edge. I pulled myself up again.
The voices, I could now tell there were two of them, were coming from one row over. I saw an opening though the stack and jumped towards it, ducking to enter the low gap.
Now I could hear the voices clearly. “If you turn these containers sideways you would be able to make a larger tunnel,” said the first. I was surprised; it was Dr. Korvusar.
“Can’t risk the cargo,” came the second. It was Saahna. “Yes, they’re supposedly packed to allow for zero-g, but not to be stood on end in low gravity.”
“Then kill the gravity the rest of the way.”
“Not a good idea,” I said, as I slid through the opening. “You’ll get bleed-over from the grav plates in Engineering and the Crew Lounge. That’ll pull everything to the sides.”
If Dr. Korvusar was surprised at my arrival she gave no indication of it. “You don’t have wall plates?”
I shook my head. “We depend on the inertial dampers. And those are ship-wide. Never had a reason to separate them out by compartment.”
She thought for a moment, then nodded. “Yes, I suppose you have very little reason to move ordinance around.”
“We do have some missiles,” said Saahna. “But we only carry what we can store in the turret. We aren’t looking for a prolonged fight, just enough to get away.”
“Actually we aren’t looking for a fight at all,” I said. I gestured around, changing the subject. “So, is this the new obstacle course?”
Saahna nodded. “Yes, I’ve been getting Dr. Korvusar’s help.”
“I worked with training on the Needle, Captain,” she said by way of explanation. “I offered my services to Lieutenant Denan here and she accepted.”
“Um… thanks?” I said.
She shook her head. “I’m staying on your ship, Captain. The better your crew is trained, the safer I will feel.”
I shrugged dismissively. “I can’t remember the last time we had any actual trouble. I guess it’s good for us to stay ready, but I really don’t think we have anything to worry about.”
Dr. Korvusar shook her head. “I hope you are right, Captain. But, as I have said, things are changing and I do not know where the changes will end.”
I frowned at that. “We’ll be fine.”
“Believe it or not, I hope you are right and I am wrong. I really do.”
I frowned again, but Saahna spoke up before I could say anything. “We should be ready later today, Derek. Any chance we could set up some kind of contest or tournament tomorrow? You know, get the entire crew involved? Even invite the passengers if they want. Something to break up Jump week?”
I thought briefly. “Sure. Why not. I’ll let Varan know and let him talk to the passengers. And I’ll let Jami and Amada know. Assuming I can find them.”
She laughed. “They’re back in Engineering. But don’t expect Amada to join in; she didn’t do very well in zero-g.”
I frowned. “How bad?”
She laughed. “Don’t worry. I cleaned it up. Or at least pointed one of the maintenance bots at it.”
“Might want to keep one on standby if we get passengers involved tomorrow. They’re used to gravity all the time and I don’t know if any of them have Zero-G training.”
Technically I never had Zero-G training either, but when you’ve lived on a starship for over 25 years you pick it up out of necessity. Saahna and Do’rex both had actual training, so I knew I’d lose to both of them. I could probably out-maneuver Varan. I didn’t know how much Jami knew, but it was probably more than me.
And I figured that at least one of the passengers, even if they had no training or experience, would take to Zero-G like a K’kree to kale.
I left Saahna and Dr. Korvusar to their planning and made my way back to the lounge. Varan was there, having finished his training session, and I told him to spread around the plans for tomorrow.
I finished my circuit of the ship and everything seemed to be fine. That’s the bad part about Jumpspace. You’re there for a week and you’re stuck with whatever is on your ship. For that week the Grayswandir or whatever ship you are on is the entire universe. Perhaps literally; for as much as we use Jumpspace we still don’t know that much about it.
Some people say there are things in Jumpspace. I’ve never seen anything there myself. There may not be anything in Jumpspace outside of the ship we were in. It’s… weird that something our entire civilization depends on is so unknown.
I shook my head. I was getting too deep and existential. Time for a beer.