|Actor Leonardo de Caprio|
Intruders chapter 13 scenes 1 & 2
Once the Kestrel had taken off, Darrow called Holland to his office.
‘I’ll read the detailed reports later,’ Darrow said, ‘but what are your overall impressions as to how the crew dealt with the situation on Pallas?’
‘Very good overall, Captain. Everyone played their part, even though conditions in the mine were difficult. Enns did better than expected. Lieutenant-Commander Hoy said she was useful, obedient and didn’t complain.’
‘We must make sure she gets some real training,’ Darrow raised his hand to stop Holland’s protest. ‘I know there hasn’t been time, but I want you to see to it that the schedule you drew up gets implemented right away. I don’t want Principal Hernandez complaining that we misled her. It strikes me that work experience would be beneficial for all the trainees and we can prove that. We want to create a good impression. Now, I’m contacting Personnel and telling them I’m taking Kestrel off-duty until we get crew replacements.’
Holland whistled. ‘They’re not going to like that. They need all the ships out on patrol.’
‘That’s what I’m counting on. They sent us out with one short, which is against regulations. Then we lost Balitoth, now Robinson. I’m putting my foot down.’
'Good luck.' Holland left.
However, when Darrow tried to put his foot down he discovered he was out-manoeuvred.
‘Captain Darrow, I was just about to transmit your new orders,’ said the administrator he got through to. ‘You are to proceed to T’Lon Space Station immediately.’
‘Now wait a minute,’ said Darrow. ‘I’ve got an injured MO as well as two other crew missing. I’m not going anywhere but base.’
‘Captain, T’Lon is no further from your present position than Earth is, in fact you may get there sooner.’
‘I have two casualties on board, who need medical attention.’
‘The medical facilities on T’Lon are excellent, and the Falcon is there too, waiting for Captain Holland. His orders will be sent today. He is to report as soon as you arrive.’
‘What?! He’s not due to leave the Kestrel for another nine days. I presume you have a new First Officer lined up for me?’
The administrator shifted uncomfortably in his seat. ‘Not as yet, Captain. One thing at a time.’
'Then can you inform me when new crew will be available and we can be operational?'
There was an awkward pause. 'We're working on it.'
‘Then I must inform you the Kestrel is off duty as of now, and will not be leaving T’Lon until she has a full crew complement.’
‘Duly noted Captain. Out.’
Darrow was frustrated. He couldn’t even give the crew leave because there was nowhere to go that didn’t involve arranging passage on other ships, and no guarantee they could get back quickly for duty when new crew were finally assigned. He ordered the course change and called Holland back to his office to break the news.
* * *
When Ryan awoke, several hours later, his clothes were clean and folded, and there was a cereal bar and a drink on his bedside cabinet. He discovered that normal routine had been re-established and to his surprise the Kestrel was en route to T'Lon and not Earth.
When he had eaten, showered and dressed, he went to sick bay, where he found Robinson sleeping and the whole place clean and tidy. His head was still in a whirl from the events at the mine and he struggled to process it all. Had he imagined it? To add to his confusion, he realised with a shock there was now no Medical Officer on duty. Did that mean he was the acting Medical Officer? Or was Robinson going to run things from his bed? Just then the Captain arrived.
‘Ah, good, you’re awake. I see Ensign Stubbs has finished. He asked permission to clean up while you were sleeping. You’ll have to check he put things in the right place. How are you feeling?’
‘A bit confused right now sir. It was tough down in the mine, and I didn’t know about the Doctor’s accident. Is he still MO?’
‘He’ll probably think he is,’ Darrow smiled, ‘but he can’t do much from his bed. Can you cope for now? It won’t be long - we’re going to drop off the casualties then we’ll wait for new crew.’
‘Yes, sir. I’m sure I can manage.’
‘Good man. You'll need to treat the Doctor with the regenerator too. Ask him what's needed.’ He paused for a second. ‘While I’m here, can you give me some pain relief?’
‘What’s the problem Captain?’
‘Oh, it’s nothing serious, I’m sure.’
Ryan took a deep breath. ‘I think that’s for me to say Captain. You did just ask me to take charge, so I think I should examine you.’
Ryan saw the captain’s hesitation, but after a moment he gave in with good grace. After all, even an Acting Medical Officer had the authority to order a Captain off duty in the right circumstances. When done, Ryan was buoyed by his first success as temporary MO.
[Next week: Darrow sends his findings to his boss and gets an unexpected reply.]
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