Intruders Chapter 14 scenes 2 & 3
By the time the Kestrel was approaching T’Lon space station, Commodore Michel had found solutions to the crew shortage, though not optimal ones, Darrow thought. Nathaniel Parks was appointed as First Officer and Dr Matthew Ky, a doctor from the T’Lon space station, placed as MO, but no additional crew was available. So Balitoth would return, cutting short his recuperation period, and Tabitha would stay on. The Commodore himself had called Tabitha's Principal at the training school. Parks and Balitoth would rendezvous with the Kestrel at T’Lon. Despite Darrow's objections, the Kestrel was indeed going on this mission.
Darrow briefed his senior officers and then summoned Tabitha.
‘Stand easy, Trainee. We've been assigned a new mission. I still need a crewman, but I don’t want a passenger. If you’re willing to work, Commodore Michel has arranged with Principal Hernandez for you to stay on with us.’
‘Really, sir? Oh thank you sir!’ Tabitha started forward, and Darrow felt sure she was going to hug him, but she recovered herself just in time and saluted instead. Thankfully.
* * *
The captain gave Tabitha permission to call her parents and asked her to reassure them that she was and would remain all right. She used the screen in her cabin, after authorisation. There were the usual delays in connection to allow for the relays, but this time she was lucky enough to catch her father, so the conversation went much easier.
‘Hi Dad, how’s Mum?’
‘She’s calmed down, don’t worry.’ He smiled. ‘How are you?’
‘I’m great, I’ve been on a mission already!’ She laughed at his look of surprise. ‘We went to help with a mine rescue on an asteroid. We were in one quarter gravity and underground!’
‘What? I thought you were going into space!’
‘I am, but this is a Fast-Response ship - we’re like the emergency services. We never know what’s next.’
‘Do you realise you’re saying ‘we’ already?’
She drew back. ‘No, am I? I’m still settling in really. Anyway, we’ve got a new mission now and it might be a long one. Did Principal Hernandez call?’
‘Not just your Principal, the Commodore’s aide called too. Seems it’s an emergency,’ he paused. ‘This is more than you expected, Tab. Are you sure? You can get off at the space station, and they’ll send you home. They can’t make you stay, and there’s no shame in coming home if you don’t feel up to it.’
‘No Dad. When I heard about the new mission, I was sure they’d send me home, and I was so disappointed. The fact that they want me is wonderful. I’m so glad you said I could stay.’
‘Didn’t think we could say anything else really. I know it’s what you want. Well, you take care, and keep in touch.’
‘I will. Love you. Try to break it to Mum gently will you?’
[Next week: Tabitha arrives at T’Lon space station]
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