Sunday, 26 July 2015

Intruders: Blog the Book 1.2

Tabitha Enns (swimmer Ellie Simmonds) cropped
If you missed the start of Intruders, Flight of the Kestrel book 1 last week, here is the link.

Chapter 1 Scene 2

Principal Hernandez called Tabitha back to her office when the Kestrel’s Captain arrived to collect her.  Captain Joseph Darrow seemed friendly enough, with dark curly hair and warm brown eyes. He seemed very thin compared to Alphan men, she had to remind herself that most human men would be of a similar build. His rank was marked by the yellow armband on his green uniform and Tabitha made a mental note to brush up her knowledge of the rank colours.  He smiled as she saluted then shook her hand.

‘Nice to meet you, Trainee Enns.  Principal Hernandez says you have some questions?’

‘Yes sir, I wanted to know what my duties will be, and where we'll be going.’

‘Don’t worry; we simply need an extra pair of hands.  We’ll work to your strengths, and give you some training as well. As to where we're going, we patrol a designated sector of the galaxy and ferry some light cargo, but we're on call, so it could be anywhere. Here’s your personal container.  I’m afraid you can’t bring any more than that.’

‘Go and pack, quick as you can,’ the Principal said.

To Tabitha’s great relief, what she had put aside fitted easily into the container, so she was back in the Principal’s office quickly.  She had said her goodbyes while she was waiting for the Captain.  Her classmates were shocked but jealous - most of them were at the Academy because they were "weird" by Alphan standards too.  Captain Darrow was in a hurry, though he moved slowly in the higher gravity of Alpha. She caught a glimpse of a back brace under his jacket. He ushered her into a ground vehicle and they left immediately. 

‘Our helmsman was promoted to another ship and Personnel were unable to find us a replacement.’  Darrow briefed her as they travelled to the spaceport.  ‘This damned Boki situation has everyone tied up on the border.  They sent us on patrol with one crewman short, and then Lieutenant Balitoth fell ill.  He’s being treated here on Alpha, but if we get a call-out we can’t cope two crew down, so that’s why you’re here.  You won’t be expected to cover his duties, the crew are all multi-skilled.  But we need an extra pair of hands.  Do you know about the Fast-Response Fleet?’

‘Only what I managed to look up, sir.  You have a crew of eleven normally, don’t you?' She took a deep breath. 'Sir, are any of them aliens?’

‘Are you against that?’ he said sharply.

‘No, no.  I don’t agree with Alphan isolationist policies.  It’s just that I’ve never met one.  I wouldn’t want to cause offence.’

He laughed.  ‘No need to worry, Ensign Reuel is gentle.  He’s the only non-human on board, now Lieutenant Balitoth’s in the hospital.  I expect all the men to be patient and accommodating.  I understand you’ve been told you have to share quarters.  You’ll be in with Lieutenant Andrew Chambers, our helmsman.  Any questions, he’ll see you right.’

Tabitha suppressed a gasp.  Sharing with a man! She hadn’t expected that.  She hadn’t thought about it at all.  Too late now.

[Next week: Tabitha on the Kestrel]

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