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New Mission

by on June 2, 2015

Jolene, captain of the starship Blooming Onion, was not happy with her crew. She would’ve liked to pick them herself. Especially on a big mission, flying through a wormhole into another universe, she wanted people she could rely on. But, her superiors had thought otherwise. She might’ve protested, but then, she was the only sentient shade of auburn to command a starship, and Jolene liked the feel of the big chair. So, reluctantly, she went along. Jolene still wasn’t happy, though.

Her tactical officer was a space otter who didn’t say much. Stamper wouldn’t even make small talk during the morning briefings; he just reported on weapons readiness and potential security threats and then shut up. Jolene suspected that there was something going on between him and her communications officer, another otter, who called herself Maria. For being members of the same species, they didn’t seem that friendly.  Then there was her first officer, a small Martian rock  named Florian, who was claimed to be sentient but hadn’t really done anything much to prove it.  She had an assortment of random redshirts filling out the crew, and an absurdly cheerful medical robot installed in the sickbay. Finally, there was Mr. Spivey, science officer. There was something about Spivey that gave Jolene the creeps. He kept lurking in corridors to no purpose, and he never appeared to sleep. Also, he seemed inordinately pale, as if he hadn’t seen sunlight for a good long time.

On the bright side, Jolene knew exactly what her mission was. Fly through the wormhole, look around, do a bit of exploring, fly back. Easy as pie. She had no intentions of starting an inter-dimensional space war, or getting caught in some sort of time warp. Fly in, explore, fly out. She kept repeating the words to herself as the Blooming Onion glided towards the wormhole.

An ensign, Billy somebody, currently had the navigation controls. “Take us in, Mister, ah, Billy,” Jolene said.

“Aye, aye, ma’am!” said Billy. The eager ensign pressed a few buttons, and the starship lurched forward into the wormhole.

It was surprisingly anticlimactic. Space blurred, and then it didn’t. When the viewscreen sorted itself out again, Jolene looked at stars she’d never seen before.  “Well…” she said, feeling that it was a moment to say something dramatic, “We’re here.”

A short pause followed. Jolene was about to say something about humanity and the Thrill of Discovery when Mr. Spivey piped up. “Captain, a word. In private.”

Jolene sighed, and ordered Florian to take the bridge. The rock did nothing. She was beginning to doubt its sentience. Mr. Spivey followed her into her ready room.  “What, Mr. Spivey?” she said, once her door had closed.

“I have new orders.”

“We’ve got orders,” Jolene said, confused. “Fly in, explore, fly-”

“Well, they’ve changed.” Without further ceremony, he produced a sealed envelope. Jolene gasped. Paper, actual paper was rare enough that it meant serious business. Carefully she opened the envelope and drew out the single sheet. The orders were crisp and clear. They would only be exploring one little moon. There was an artifact on it her superiors wanted. They were to fly to the moon, retrieve the artifact, fly back. It was close enough to her original mission as to be comforting.

“Why didn’t they tell me before we set out?” Jolene asked. It struck her as needlessly inefficient, and she didn’t approve.

“Security,” Mr. Spivey said. “You have the moon’s coordinates. This should not be a problem.”

Jolene had the oddest feeling that Spivey fancied himself in command of this mission. Well, he wasn’t. “Very well, Mr. Spivey,” she said crisply. “That will be all.”

He left, glowering. Jolene sighed. Her first ever starship assignment had been a neat tourist run to Mars. Fly in, orbit while the people shopped, fly out. She missed those days.

  1. Nice set-up. I’m most interested in Florian at this point. I don’t trust him whipping out new orders like that.

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