Voyagers: SS Robert Heinlein

Chapter 13-Food for Thought

Devin watched the support crew members take their seats in the meeting room that had been created on the holodeck. The medical staff and the culinary staff made up the bulk of the support staff.
Nick Unser, the ship’s barber, was a solo operator. While he usually did not wear a uniform, he was a warrant officer, meaning he did have assigned duties in an emergency situation.
All of the ship’s doctors were regular officers, as was the head nurse. The other nurses and the medical technicians were warrant officers. The ship’s counselor was Lieutenant Roger Sheen.
The dentist’s office consisted of Doctor Adam Fischer, who was a lieutenant commander, Detlef Schmidt (dental assistant), and LeCroy Hawkins (dental hygienist).  Detlef and LeCroy were both ensigns.
The culinary staff were all civilians, including head chef Ian McFlynn. Devin knew that the culinary staff of the regular Space Fleet ships were all commissioned officers. He wondered if the subject of making the Explorer Program culinary staff officers ever came up at Headquarters. Knowing how slowly the Space Fleet bureaucracy moved he doubted it. He couldn’t recall it ever coming up as an issue on his previous ship. The staff on the Heinlein was mostly concerned with getting to know their kitchen facilities and the ship’s meal protocols. He didn’t think this issue was all that important in the Explorer Program.
Devin explained the day’s schedule. He told the staff they would be on their own schedules. “Your schedules could be interrupted a couple of times by drills,” he told them. “We have gone through the drill procedures the last couple of days, but this time the drills will happen at random times. I think you’ve all been well prepared to handle it.”
The support staff felt they were prepared and they were eager to show off what they had learned. The drills went smoothly, and to top off the morning, the culinary staff cooked and served an outstanding lunch. Ian knew his staff had put everything they had into preparing and serving the lunch. Ian and Che Sitsitsky, the sous chef, were proud of how their team performed. They were certain that no kitchen staff in Space Fleet or the Explorer program could top them.
“Well, maybe the Sooloo,” Ian conceded. “But that’s a big maybe.” Ian and Che had both come over to the Heinlein from the Sooloo. The way the medical staff as well as the Space Fleet personnel on board attacked their lunches was all the two needed to know about how good the lunch was.
“And it wasn’t even a full menu,” Che said. Because there were so few crew members on board the staff had to restrict the choices, but that didn’t mean they had to restrict the quality of what they served.
The headquarters kitchen staff had laid out a table with juices, hot chocolate, and pastries for the early arrivals for the meeting. They were appreciated by the always hungry boys.
Kyle opened the meeting on time. He did not take rollcall; that would be done by the department heads when they each met with their staff. He ran the meeting with a lighter touch than Devin did, but he stayed on topic and made his expectations clear. At 0918 Kyle dismissed the crew to their departmental meeting locations.
“I guess Captain Doofus thinks by trying to get a chuckle or smile or something during a meeting people would think he’s a cool captain,” Don said to Everett as they headed to their Science Department meeting which would be in the science wing of the headquarters building. “All that happens is that it makes it easier for everybody to see him for the piece of crap captain he is.”
Most of the crew enjoyed the light touch, however. It helped the meeting move faster. While Devin was good at running a tight, on topic, meeting, his presentation didn’t have the personal feel that Kyle’s had.
Once everyone had cleared out of the meeting room, Kyle found himself standing with Danny and Ronnie. “Don’t you guys have meetings to lead?” Kyle asked his husband and his brother.
“I just wanted to compliment you on a great job of running this meeting,” Ronnie said. “You and Devin certainly do have different techniques, but you both run good meetings.”
“I told my pilots a shuttle bus would pick us up at the loading zone a half-hour after the meeting ended. ‘Ace’ was put in charge of contacting the shuttle,” Danny said.
“Why the half hour? Why not just have the shuttle waiting?” Kyle asked.
“Two reasons. There’s time for a potty break and to grab any leftovers.”
Kyle planted a quick kiss on Danny’s cheek. “Sounds like a good reason to me.”
“I better get my staff,” Ronnie said. “Commodore Barber will be talking about star drive maintenance while in warp. It should be old hat but it’s good to review the subtleties of reading the dials and finding anomalies. He has a simulator for everyone to take turns on. Anyway, see you guys at dinner.” Ronnie turned and took off for the engineering lab where his meeting would be held.
“Are we going to drop in on the meetings?” Danny asked.
“I’m almost two days behind on my emails,” Kyle replied. “I know most of them can survive without me for the next half hour or so. Then I’ll check on Logan and Mituti first since they are my most inexperienced chiefs.”
The two walked out of the meeting room together and down the main corridor until Danny broke off at the elevator banks and summoned an elevator. Kyle headed for the office area where he had his temporary office. He sat at his computer and logged on to read his messages. The third one that came up was the minutes of the Space Fleet Food Service Committee his father had sent. Kyle knew that his father hadn’t taken the minutes; a civilian secretary had probably done so. But fleet protocol required that the final version of the minutes be sent by the meeting chair.
Knowing he had more important things to read, Kyle was tempted to skip the minutes again, but decided to give them a quick scan and get it over with. Much to his surprise the minutes for the last item discussed were marked URGENT-READ CAREFULLY! In red font.
That shouldn’t be there, he thought. Urgent messages should be in red font and all capitals on the email subject line. Somebody screwed up.
With the message changing from routine minutes to an urgent communication, Kyle’s concentration level rose considerably. After reading the urgent message, he knew he had screwed up by not taking the minutes as seriously as he should have when he first saw the email. The proposal being discussed had to do with the Explorer Program culinary staff being changed from civilians working for Space Fleet, to regular officers and crews with all of the rights and responsibilities of a full member of the crew.
The proposal was very hush hush, with only the committee members and Explorer ship captains in on it—at least until the captains talked to their head chefs. But first, Kyle had to discuss the proposal with his father. Why didn’t dad bring this up last night at home? Kyle wondered. Then he remembered that his dad’s philosophy was not to bring fleet issues, like this one, home for discussion because doing so would give Kyle an unfair advantage.
Kyle knew what he had to do, and he set right to work doing it. He shut down his computer and headed for his father’s office.
Kyle was glad that his dad was in his office and available. Because of his screwup, every second counted, and he had no desire to fall farther behind waiting to talk to his dad.
“What can I help you with?” Greg asked. Kyle plopped into one of the chairs in front of Greg’s desk and Greg saw the morose look on his son’s face. “What are you so glum about?” he asked.
“I think I might have screwed up bigtime,” Kyle replied.
“Tell me about it and I’ll decide what kind of screwup you did, if any.”
Kyle told him about not reading the email with the Space Fleet Food Services Committee minutes thinking he had more important things to attend to and he could come back to it later. “Well, later was just a few minutes ago and I saw the red URGENT alert. The message said the captains needed to talk to you about the cook’s status issue and so here I am way over a day late.”
“The first thing I have to say is you’re not the last captain to contact me. I’m still waiting on four of your peers. I admit to being surprised at the slow response.”
“That’s the thing dad, the subject line of the email wasn’t marked urgent.” Kyle knew he wasn’t supposed to address is father familiarly when discussing official business with him, but he was so flustered he had lost his concentration.
Greg could see the frustration on his son’s face and decided to let the slip slide this time. “Hang on a sec,” he said as he turned his chair to his computer desk and brought up his emails. “Hmmm, this is not good, not good at all,” he murmured. He turned toward Kyle. “Five of the captains who responded contacted me as a reply to the email. The subject lines of the emails are not flagged URGENT. This explains the slow response, since not a lot of captains are excited about reading business meeting minutes. This means that the recording secretary screwed up by not flagging the emails.”
Kyle breathed a sigh of relief on learning that he wasn’t a fuckup after all. “Well, now that we got that straightened out, why do you think this is a good idea?”
Greg quickly explained the benefits the civilian food service staff would receive by becoming regular officers or crewmen. “Overall, this will be a huge improvement for the staff. This proposal wasn’t snatched out of thin air—some of the chefs and other members of the food service staff have inquired about becoming regular commissioned crew members, especially after learning the food service staff on Space Fleet ships were crewmembers.”
“Aren’t there some negatives?”
“There are, but not many. The positives far outweigh the negatives. It’s a good idea to know what the possible negatives are as well as the answers to questions that will be asked because of misconceptions.” Greg then went through the negatives as well as the common misconceptions. “As you can see, there’s not much there. Have you talked to Chef McFlynn yet?”
“I just learned about this less than an hour ago.”
“Good point. I guess I slipped up on that one,” Greg grinned.
“Have any of the captains talked to their head chefs about this?”
“Everyone who’s contacted me has, which is almost everybody.”
“What did the chefs say?”
“That, I’m keeping under wraps until everyone has been interviewed. But even though they’ve supposedly been told not to chat about this with the peers, somebody, somewhere will probably spill the beans.”
“Yeah, those chefs love to talk,” Kyle said, “although it’s usually about food. Well, I’m going to catch a shuttle bus to the space port and meet Ian when he arrives.”
“And I’m going to get hold of the captains who haven’t responded, and then look for the secretary and remind her about the importance of properly marking URGENT messages.”
“So, what do I do now?”
“You meet today with Ian McFlynn and discuss the proposal. Tell him that since you’ve discussed it with him, he will receive a memo with all the pertinent information to discuss with his staff. And then he should have them vote on the proposal by 1600 hours on Monday.”
“That’s not much time,” Kyle said.
“That’s plenty of time. We don’t want this to be an endless debate. He’s on board the Heinlein right now, correct?”
“The food service crew should be landing sometime between 14 and 15 hundred.”
“Meet with him then.”
“That will work. Then he could meet with his staff the next day and have his vote completed by the Monday deadline.” Kyle rose from his seat. “Thanks for the help and understanding. I thought I’d really screwed up.”
“Well, this time you didn’t,” Greg grinned.
“What do you mean this time?”
“There isn’t a captain alive who hasn’t screwed up something in his or her career. That said, what did you learn from all this?
“To not assume that an email from an administrator is something not very important and can be put off until later. Open it and read it as soon as possible.”
Greg rose from his chair, walked over the young captain, and ruffled his hair. “Good job, son, you read the situation perfectly,” he said quietly. “And for the record, this conclusion to our conversation never happened.”
“Whatever you say, dad,” Kyle grinned. He turned and walked out of the office.
Logan had given his charges a fifteen-minute break after the main meeting. Don Nixon checked his messages and saw he had one from his dad. He grinned when he read it. It appears Captain Doofus may have fucked up again. I need to find a way to talk to our chef before the loser figures out what he should have done. Dad is all but certain baby Kyle hasn’t told our chef about the proposal to change his life. Don checked the day’s itinerary and saw that the support staff was scheduled to leave the Heinlein on the Copernicus at 1530. I gotta find a way to be there when that shuttle lands. His fertile mind went to work on finding a way do so.
As Donald Nixon sat down for lunch, he reread the message he had just received from his mentor, who he sometimes called his dad. The admiral made it sound like captain dumbass may have fucked up big time. It appeared that the shit for brains was supposed to have had a chat with Head Chef McFlynn and had somehow neglected to do so. He couldn’t help but grin when he saw what “dad’ was proposing.
“It looks like you have some interesting reading,” Everett said. Tommy Harper and Javier Diaz, who both served in the science department, were also sitting at their table.
“It’s something that might help us some, but I’m gonna have to act fast,” Don said.
“What kind of thing is it?” Tommy asked.
Don wished that Tommy had sat somewhere else. There wasn’t much he could do when Tommy, the young assistant science chief, decided to sit in one of the empty seats. He was one of what Don called the “baby” chiefs Kyle had appointed. He didn’t mind Javier sitting at the table—he was nothing more than another crewman. Who knows, he could be willing to join my group when he learns what we plan to do and why.
“It’s a message from an officer I know in Space Fleet. He wants me to do him a favor.” Don was hit by a sudden thought. Maybe I can convince the young brat to do me a favor. Who knows, that might save his assistant chief’s job after I take over.
“Cool. Where do you know him from?”
“Got to know him when he was doing an inspection at the Academy. He was on the Education Committee,” Don lied.
“Who is he?”
Damn, he’s a nosy bastard, Don thought. The immature little ensign doesn’t know it, but he’s wrecking his chance at promotion when the real captain of the Heinlein takes over. Him and junior Chief Logan are examples of what happens when you have guys who haven’t hit puberty yet getting the important jobs, just like the sorry excuse for a captain. Tommy was 10 and Logan was 12. “I’ve sworn not to give his name. There’s some serious shit going on.”
“I see,” Tommy nodded.
“I need to be excused from the meeting to help him out. I need to leave now, and since you’re the Assistant Science Chief, you should be able to excuse me.”
“As much as I’d like to be part of your spy story, I can’t excuse you without knowing who this officer is.” Tommy knew he had the power to excuse somebody from a meeting, but he didn’t feel comfortable doing it without knowing what it was all about. “Logan should be here soon, and you can talk to him about it.”
“No, offense, little boy, but you obviously don’t have the balls you need to do your job.” Don popped up from his seat. “Tell the little pipsqueak Science Chief what a wuss you are and that I’m on an important secret mission and should be back before the meeting is over.” Don left in a huff hoping that going on a ‘secret mission’ will show how important he was.
“What’s his problem?” Tommy asked Everett.
“He doesn’t have a problem. He really has some important secret work to do,” Everett replied.
“Okay, if he says so, I guess he does. But he didn’t have to call Logan and me names. That’s got nothing to do with secret missions.”
“He’s really stressed by all of this. He doesn’t want to be put on report, but he has to do this secret stuff even though he knows it might get him into trouble.”
“Do you know what the big secret is all about?”
“Nope. I just know it’s real.” Everett didn’t like lying to his supervisor, but he knew it was necessary if their plan to bring Kyle down was going to work.
“Well, I’ll let Logan know why Don isn’t at our meeting and let him worry about it.”
Everett left the cafeteria and headed for the meeting room. He knew that as much as Don despised the youth of the Science Department chiefs, he also liked it because he felt they could be easily intimidated.
With a couple of exceptions, the senior admirals all had their offices in the A Wing of the HQ building. Greg Robinson, the Admiral in command of the Explorer Program, was one of the exceptions; his office was in the D Wing.
Donald Nixon’s plan was to use the conference room assigned to his mentor, Admiral Harley Benson. Donald had a key card for the room and the proper passcodes to access the computer and the apps he might need to use. He knew that he had to inform his “dad” he planned to use the room and to immediately change that plan if ordered to do so. He messaged Harley of his intention to use the room and within a minute received a reply that simply said, “OK”.  Don grinned—it meant he could set his plan into motion.
He jumped through a few hoops and was soon able to send a message to Ian McFlynn, the Heinlein’s head chef. “I need to do a face-to-face video chat with you ASAP,” was all it said.
After three minutes passed Don started to get impatient. He was starting to write a more urgent message when he received a reply from Ian.
“About what?” the reply said.
“I’ll tell you face-to-face. Trust me, it’s very important.”
Ian’s trust level when it came to Donald Nixon was zero, but curiosity overcame discretion, and he sent a message back saying he would be free at 1415. “Whatever it is better be quick. I have to be on the shuttle by 1530. And if this is a crock of bullshit I’ll be gone in a second.”
“This won’t be bullshit, Ian. I think you’re going to be happy you talked to me.”
“Whatever. As far as I’m concerned anything that’s not about food is bullshit.” Ian then logged off before Don could react.
Ian wasn’t a senior officer since he wasn’t commissioned. But he had a lot of the same perks senior officers had, and that included a communicator with visual communication capabilities. He sat in his office in the kitchen waiting for Don to log on. At 1414 Donald Nixon’s visage appeared on Ian’s monitor.
Don dispensed with the niceties and went straight to the purpose of his contact. “Has Captain Robinson talked to you lately?” He decided to keep things professional since he would have to be working with the head chef after he took command of the ship.
“I talked to him yesterday about Monday’s menu. Why, are you interested in learning what the visiting captains are going to be served for lunch?” Ian responded. He was referring to the captains of the three starships that would be entering Earth orbit on Monday.
“I’m calling on serious business. Our good captain was supposed to contact you about what went down at the Food Service Committee meeting. I take it he didn’t do that.”
“No, he didn’t, which is no biggie. I couldn’t care less who can or can’t eat in the hoity toity Galaxy Bistro, although I wouldn’t mind cooking there some day.”
“This was something to be kept secret until after the captains discussed it with their head chefs. Have you thought of the idea of the Explorer food service staff becoming warrant officers instead of civilians?”
“Not much. I doubt it’s going to happen, and I doubt it’s going to affect me much. Can I ask how it is some assistant dude in the science department knows so much about Explorer culinary service? In fact, how is it he has access to video calls from H-Q?”
Don ignored the questions and went on. “Well, it was on the agenda of the committee meeting, and our good captain was supposed to talk to you about it and get your vote on the issue—like, yesterday. Which should make you wonder if he’s going to vote for it behind your back.”
Don took a deep breath to keep him from screaming at the idiot who was in charge of his food. “So, it will mean you will have to do certain duties the rest of the crew does, like take stations for emergencies.”
“We have to do that anyway. It’s up to us to shut down the kitchen if needed, especially the ovens. Big deal. It doesn't seem to hurt the big guys in Space Fleet food service any—they have those same duties.”
“You will have to use the Explorer menu, instead of having your own individual menus. No more special Heinlein menu. It’s standard stuff, including replicator food.”
“That isn’t going to happen. And I’m going to ask you again, how do you know all this shit?”
“I know someone who knows what the fuck is going on,” Don replied.
“And the room you’re sitting in belongs to that someone?”
“It’s none of your business so quit asking. This is a very special and very secret activity.”
“Whatever. And I’ll quit asking by doing this.” Ian then logged off leaving Don looking at a blank screen yet again. ‘I’m becoming pretty good at this logging off on that asshole,’ he thought.
What an asshole,’ Don thought. ‘If I’d been appointed captain of this ship as was supposed to happen, he’d be lucky to have a job boiling water. And that’s exactly what the situation will be after I take over.”
When Don returned to the science meeting, they were discussing what still needed to be done in the science section of the Heinlein. He ignored the glare he got from Logan and sat next to Everett and Clark Carter, who were discussing how they would be melding their specialties when exploring a new planet. Everett was a geologist, Clark was a planetary scientist, and Don was a meteorologist. Don found himself getting interested in the discussion in spite of himself.
Kyle stood at the big picture window of the Space Fleet Terminal watching the Copernicus taxiing up to the building. He had messaged Ian that he wanted to meet with him after he disembarked. Ian immediately acknowledged the message. The two exchanged fist bumps, although they had known each other long enough that they had to fight the urge to exchange hugs. But for proprieties’ sake they skipped that greeting.
“What’s up, good captain?” Ian asked.
“Since when did I become ‘good captain?’”
“Since Donald Nixon appointed you.”
“Hmm. Lieutenant Nixon does not care for me much, in case you haven’t noticed,” Kyle said.
“I don’t think he meant it in a kindly way.”
“When did you talk to him?”
“A little over an hour ago. I assume this meeting has to do with the one he said we were supposed to have but you decided not to have so you could screw me over.”
Kyle felt his anger rising. Don Nixon was slowly becoming a bigger and bigger pain in the ass. “There are conference rooms upstairs. I have one reserved and I strongly suggest we talk there.”
“As long as I don’t miss dinner, I’m good,” Ian grinned.
“Oh, I know you’d love to enjoy a dinner prepared by somebody other than you.”
“Hey, a good dinner is a good dinner.”
“This shouldn’t take more than ten or fifteen minutes.”
“Unless it does.”
“Well, it will take a lot more if we don’t hustle upstairs,” Kyle pointed out.
Kyle and Ian hustled up the stairs and into the conference room. The room had a table and eight chairs: three on each side and one at each end. There were four conference rooms along with the terminal’s offices on the second floor. They sat in chairs directly across from each other.
“Is this the time I get to find out what’s going on?” Ian asked.
Kyle nodded.
“Good. Is this about the mysterious meeting of the food service committee?”
Kyle nodded again.
“Good. It means the mystery gets solved. I’ll tell you, I couldn’t get away with keeping the ingredients of the food I prepare this mysterious.”
“You have my complete and total apologies,” Kyle said sincerely. “Admiral Robinson…”
“…a-k-a your father…”
“Yeah, that guy. Anyway, he sent me the minutes of the meeting and two mistakes were made. One of them was mine. Thinking it wasn’t a priority and setting it aside to read when I had more time.”
“And the other mistake?”
“That was by the secretary who sent the email out with an “URGENT” stamp, meaning it should be read immediately. But she forgot to place a big red URGENT in the subject line.”
“And that was why you didn’t contact me right away like you were supposed to,” Ian surmised.
“Yep. But still, I should have read the email as soon as I could, which I didn’t do.”
“So, it wasn’t because of a big plan by you to not let the staff have a vote on the topic we are going to discuss. And yes, I know what that is, so let’s get on with it.”
Kyle then told Ian about the proposal to have the food service staff become warrant officers instead of civilian support staff. He went over the advantages (salary, benefits, retirement play, and a guaranteed job with Space Fleet after aging out of the Explorer program to name a few). He also went over the disadvantages (rank becoming part of the picture, it was more difficult to resign, having to earn leave time to name a few).
“Well, my first comment would be that I think of the staff of the Heinlein as being the culinary staff not the food service staff. As you know we do cook up some culinary delights, much of it better than what Space Fleet serves,” Ian commented.
“You guys do more than cook, you also wait tables, making your staff the food service staff,” Kyle pointed out.
“Hey, being waiters and servers is an important part of the job. You’d be amazed by how the comments made to a waiter who had a role in preparing the soup and lunch help us to make the food even better. That makes us the culinary staff. And the crew busing their own dishes makes the waiter end of it simpler, as will having members of the support crew load the dishwasher and toss out the trash. That is something we’ll be working on next week. But, enough of me telling shit you already know.  I have a huge question on the topic.”
“Ask away.”
“The good Lieutenant Nixon says that when the Explorer ship culinary staff is commissioned, we will really become food service since we’ll no longer be able to create our own menus.”
“That’s something I’ll have to ask about. What I have to say is that if that ends up being true, then I’d guess you’d vote against the proposal,” Kyle said.
“Hell, yes, I will. Why do you need a highly trained culinary staff if we just prepare food for a standard menu? We’ll just be cooks, which I guess is what a lot of Space Fleet ships have—cooks using the standard menu or serving replicator crap.”
“What I know about that is the Explorer Program is actually becoming a model for what a starship staff can do in the kitchen,” Kyle told Ian. “Even in the short time the Explorer Program has been in existence, five ships have gotten totally away from the standard menu and gone to creating their own menus.”
“That is so cool. But the bad news is that we still don’t have enough good chefs in the Explorer program and five ships are using just the standard menu along with replicated food. Let me tell you, when you get your food out of a replicator that fried chicken on your plate will be like eating diodes instead of fried chicken—whatever diodes taste like.”
“Not as good as the real stuff, from what I’ve tasted of replicated food,” Kyle said.
“Hmm, I wonder if there’s a way I can feed the good Lieutenant Nixon a steady diet of replicated food,” Ian smirked.
They finished the meeting with Kyle telling Ian to get a vote on the matter from his staff and give him the results the next day before leaving the ship. “I’ll have the answer to your question by tomorrow morning,” Kyle promised.
Don was in a gloomy mood when he set his tray down on the table where Everett sat. “What’s got you looking so pissy?” Everett asked.
“The first thing is Executive Chef Ian McFlynn,” Don replied. “I don’t care how good his meals are supposed to be, he’s a stupid piece of shit. He doesn’t know what keeping things serious is about, let alone keeping things secret.”
“I take it you’re gonna fire him when the Heinlein is ours.”
“As much as I’d like to fire his ass, the idiot knows how to run a good kitchen. I think he’s too stupid to make trouble. We just keep him happy and cooking and it will be okay.”
“And the second thing?”
“We need more members of our little group. I mean I want it to stay little, but not this little. And speaking of our little group, where are Mark and Wade?”
“Coming this way with their trays.”
Don looked to his left and grinned when he saw his two co-conspirators bringing their dinners over to the table. Mark Winters and Wade Green took the two empty seats and got set to eat. Mark was assigned to engineering and Wade was his prize recruit from Security and Tactical.
After everyone exchanged greetings Wade said, “We’ve got some good news.” Instead of saying what the news was, however, he took a bite out of his chicken leg.
“We could use some good news,” Don said. “Give it to us.”
“We think we found a couple more guys for our group. They want to know more about it, at least about how Regulation 29 in the Explorer fleet manual applies to this. They don’t want to end up in the brig.”
“How about the newbies get together with the four of us when we’re on board the ship tomorrow and I’ll tell them what I told you guys. If we work this right, we’re in—and we WILL be making this work if we don’t want the little boy captain to get us all killed.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Kyle, Danny, and Ronnie were sitting in the sunroom talking about the upcoming day.
“Tomorrow looks like another busy day,” Danny said.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Kyle grinned. “The senior officers all have a copy of the Space Fleet punch list and of my punch list. There really isn’t a lot to fix, which is good.”
“Good, then everybody currently in the crew should get time to finish unpacking and moving into their quarters.”
“Exactly. Either way, a lot of our time will be spent with our recreation directors talking about what the plans are for the recreation, with a lot of it centering on what the holodeck will have to offer.”
“Have you seen what they have planned?” Ronnie asked.
“Yep. Steve has been keeping me updated.”
Gilbert Kirby was the recreation director and Jim Maxwell was his assistant. They were assigned to the Operations Department as operations techs. One of their jobs was organizing the ship’s recreation program and programming the holodeck for recreation use. Steve Boyer, as Operations Chief, had the final word. He and Kyle were impressed with what Gilbert and Jim were coming up with. Granted, few of their ideas were original since all of the Space Fleet and Explorer Program ships had recreation programs. But they managed to come up with a few original ideas.
Another part of the recreation directors’ job description was putting together a rec schedule. That was where a lot of their time and energy would go. They would have assistance from other operations techs when they needed it.
“I’ll have a couple of good old captain’s duties,” Kyle said. “Devin and I will be interviewing Brad for the third officer position.”
“It sounds like him getting the job is a given,” Ronnie said.
“You know I can’t comment on that,” Kyle said as he grinned and vigorously nodded his head. “And I also have to make sure Ian gets the food service voting completed. That has to be reported to Admiral Robinson by 1700.”
“Admiral Robinson?” Danny asked.
“Yeah, Admiral Robinson. You know that dude in the living room playing Galaxy Conquest with Koji, Duskin, and the twins.” Because there would be no school the next day either at the Academy or on the Heinlein, Mark and Matthew, the 9-year-old twin brothers of the Science Chief, would be spending the night with Koji and Duskin.
“Ohhh, you mean dad,” Ronnie grinned.
“Yeah, that guy.”
“What do you guys have planned?” Kyle asked.
“From what I’ve seen of the punch list, engineering has a lot of little adjustments to make. No surprise there. New engines with a new design are going to need fine tuning for a while. Then I’ll turn my quarters into my new home.”
“The pilots and I will be testing out a lot of the rec programs,” Danny grinned. “They’ll be moving in as well. And I’ll be taking care of the captains quarters to keep my hubby happy. Koji and Duskin have everything they’re taking with them on board and will move into their room on Monday.”
The older boys watched a space adventure program before turning in at 2130. They would have to be up early, as usual. The four younger boys would be staying up later and sleeping later. Alicia and Greg set up cots in the pool house so the boys could play without worrying about keeping their noise way down.
Kyle sat at his desk and checked his messages before joining Danny in bed. He had three messages and the third one sent shivers down his spine.
That message was sent by Commodore Name Unknown. Kyle knew it was trouble before reading a word of it. He had no doubt that Commodore N.U. was the officer who harassed him at the start of the month. It was addressed to Faux Captain Robinson.
 “It has come to my attention that you have been derelict in your duties,” it read. “You have not sent the vote of your food service staff to the Food Service committee or to the committee administrative aide. It should have been received by 2000 today, a deadline that awarded you extra time to do your job properly.
“You are hereby being notified that since the vote had not been sent by the deadline you have been put on report. If it is not received by 0900 tomorrow, you will be placed on suspension.
“Please note, a majority of the committee members have instructed me to inform you that your father will NOT be able to prevent your suspension. The message has been blind copied to the committee members, Senior Admiralty, and Commodore Hal Tietokone.
“Sent in faithful service to Space Fleet by THE COMMODORE.”
Kyle wasn’t sure what to make of the message. Part of him was worried the mysterious Commodore was making a serious threat and part of him thought the message was bullshit. He decided he would show it to Danny before falling asleep and take care of reporting it to the committee chairman in the morning.
Next: Time to Breathe
By Douglas DD
Assisted by Zarek Dragon