Tabitha has now settled in on board the Kestrel, and calls home and writes in her journal. If you want to read from the beginning go here.
Intruders chapter 2 scene 3
At the end of the day, Tabitha was allowed to call home. Chambers showed her how to log on to the external communications system from the console in the cabin and pick up the designated channel. Then he left her to it. She waited for the call to be answered and one of her parents to appear on the screen. It was her mother, who immediately burst into tears.
‘Oh Tab,’ she said, ‘How could you?’
Tabitha was used to her mother’s tricks. She was determined not to be swayed.
‘It was too good an opportunity to miss, Mum. Don’t cry. Principal Hernandez wouldn’t have let me come if it wasn’t safe. Anyway, I’ll probably be back in a week or two.’
‘You said you wouldn’t go into space.’
Tabitha gritted her teeth. ‘No, you asked me not to go into space. I never agreed. No, Mum, don’t. We can’t talk about this now.’
‘What about aliens? Will you have to meet aliens?’ whispered her mother, shuddering.
‘There’s an Altairian on board,’ she said, deliberately brightly. ‘He’s really nice.’
Her mother became angry. ‘You just remember where you’re from, and what they did to us.’
‘Mum, I don’t want to argue with you. I’m here and I can’t come home. I want you to be proud of me.’ She had a sudden idea. ‘This is my chance to experience life on a serving space ship. Maybe I’ll find out I don’t like it.’
Her mother brightened. ‘Well, just you behave yourself. I hope you make some nice human friends.’
‘Yes, Mum.’ She decided it would be unwise to mention there were no other girls on board.
‘Give my love to Dad.’
The screen went blank and she closed the connection. Thank goodness that's over, she thought. I think I'll just send messages from now on. She switched the screen to write up what she had learned that day. Later she wrote in her journal.
Well, I'm here. There was a bit of a hiccup getting used to the lower gravity, but it's been treated and I'm OK now. Still a bit unsteady on my feet - yet another chance to mess up. I just have to remember to take it slowly, which is hard when you're nervous.
The crew are all men, which is a bit daunting, and the engineer doesn't approve of taking me on, but everyone's been kind. Andrew Chambers has taken me under his wing and gives me advice, and Commander Holland, though he gave me an interrogation about my studies, has been good about my work. I'm learning so much - it makes such a difference to see things in real life.
I've met my first alien, Shom Reuel, he's Altairian and really nice. It was such a help, as I was so nervous. He said working on the Kestrel is just like school - just my luck! You see, there's not much to do in between missions. It doesn't take many people to run the ship, so the ones on duty do maintenance or study. Everyone is working for promotion, qualifications, or just a field of interest. I hadn't expected that!
Something else I didn't expect was to find one of the crew coming on to me - Stubbs. At least, I think he is, it's hard to tell. The boys back home didn't behave like that. It's hard to know whether he's just being friendly or something more, but I could really do without it right now.
[Next week: a Priority One call]
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