Intruders chapter 12 scene 3
Tabitha was desperate to know what the captain’s mayday call was all about. As soon as Chambers returned to their cabin, she bombarded him with questions.
‘Did you find out what happened to the captain?’
‘Well, he’s safe now, but I don’t know what actually happened,’ he said. ‘It’s all very secretive. Lieutenant-Commander Hoy came back alone, and Ensign Reuel went back to the mine. Then the Captain returned and rushed straight off again to meet with Mr Jones, the Base Administrator.’
‘Did you ask Lieutenant-Commander Hoy or Ensign Reuel about it?’
‘I tried. When he came back and relieved me, the Lieutenant-Commander just said “No problem, the Captain is fine.”’ Chambers climbed up to his bunk and lay down. ‘I haven’t seen Ensign Reuel yet.’
‘Maybe I’ll ask him.’
Chambers looked over the edge of his bunk. ‘You can’t do that! You weren’t supposed to be on the bridge, and any command talk not aimed at you, you’re supposed to ignore. If you start asking about, you’ll get yourself and me into trouble.’
‘But you put it in the duty log, didn’t you? What went in afterwards?’
‘I haven’t looked, it’s nothing to do with me.’
‘Surely you want to know?’
He shook his head and lay down again.
Tabitha felt a glow of satisfaction. Although she had only been shifting rocks, she had, at least, been useful, and Lieutenant-Commander Hoy had praised her. She reflected ruefully that the last thing she envisaged when serving in space was to end up shifting rocks underground. Still, she now had experience of low gravity, and before any of her classmates.
Commander Holland came to the cabin and Tabitha jumped to attention.
‘As you were, Lieutenant.’ Chambers lay down again. ‘At ease Trainee, how did you get on?’
‘It was good, sir, once I got the hang of it. I even got used to the gravity.’
‘Good. Now, we need a report. Document everything you did on this mission. The trick is to get the level of detail right - somewhere between “down mine, shifted rocks” and a description of every rock. It’s a skill to be learned, like any other. I expect you’re used to writing reports for school. They can have a copy too, once I’ve approved it. There’s a template on the computer to give you an outline.’ He turned to Chambers. ‘And you’re not to help her - I want to see her first attempt. Carry on.’
When Holland left, Chambers stood up.
‘I’ll leave you to it. I’ve got to prepare for take-off.’ He left.
Tabitha paced up and down while she thought about the report. Should I include my impressions of the crew? How the Captain likes things by the book, but Commander Holland tries to cut people some slack. How Hoy talked all the time underground. She shook her head. Probably not, but I might put it in my own journal. There’s more than rules and procedures you can learn by watching people. Should I include what I heard about the mysterious goings-on over the missing razor quartz? Probably not - that can go in my journal too, along with the Captain’s absence from the mine rescue. What was he doing? He didn’t stay on the ship, so where did he go? No, ‘document everything you did’ the Commander had said. Now, what did I do first?
[Next week: Tabitha’s journal]
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