Fluidity In Space: Chapter Two

As the group descended towards the counselor, I practically ran into the hallway. I lept into action and stood defiantly in front of the counselor. My declaration of “crew, get back to your stations immediately” was met with comments about how my “kind” were just as bad as the “splicer-babies”. The situation was much worse than I had first thought, and at the rate that it was escalating, I was sure it would quickly get completely out of hand. Thinking fast, I ordered “Counselor, follow me to the command station.” As the arguments began about why I would be taking “one of those things” up to the command deck, I let out a sigh of relief as my plan had worked. They were more concerned about my announcement than about our actions.

As soon as the counselor and I got into the lift, I gave a command to the computer to emergency close the elevator door and proceed to the command deck. In a swift motion, we were now safe from our would-be attackers. It’s disturbing that these people were our colleagues, and, we thought, our friends. As we arrived at the command deck, I was in for another surprise. As we walked towards the front of the deck, it became clear that the entire command station was completely empty. No one was here to guide the ship, as everyone had left their post to join in the riot downstairs. It was clear that this was no longer merely a situation of disrespect for my position, it was tantamount to downright mutiny.

I quickly ordered the computer to set the systems to high alert and to lock all doors on the senior staff wing of the upper deck. Then I called down to the holding cells. “All security personnel report to the senior staff wing. All of the officers in that area are to be taken to the holding cells for inciting a brawl.” I had debated adding the word “mutiny” to the end of my order but thought better of it. It’s better not to use heated language, as that could make the situation worse. As the counselor and I reached the central command station on the bridge, I called down to the rear of the upper deck. I knew that it was necessary to contact the junior staff, as we still had a ship that needed to be properly looked after. I ordered the highest-ranking among the junior officers to report to the command deck and ordered the rest of the junior officers to report to the senior staff wing. They’d likely remain there for a while. The exact length would have to be determined once things calm down, and I had the time to properly assess the situation.

I looked over at Maria, who looked like she had been hit by a bus. “How are you doing, Counselor?”, I asked. “You don’t have to report back to work. Head back to your quarters. Doctor Coleman will be able to take over for you.” She looked at me and seemed to calm down a bit. “I could say the same for you. You’ve been through the same thing, and you look just as stressed as I’m sure I look right now.”

I sighed and shrugged my shoulders. “I really wish I could, but that’s not an option right now. My authority has been challenged, and I really have to let the rest of the crew know that everything is to continue as usual.” She looked me straight in the eye and responded, “There’s nothing usual about this. It’s been over a century since this kind of behavior has occurred on this ship, at least violence on this level. No one on the ship today has ever experienced this kind of behavior.”

“I know, and that’s exactly why I have to continue to assert my authority. Things could easily escalate from here, and that’s the last thing that anyone needs. It’s hard enough living in the same cramped conditions for your entire life. I have to try to calm the situation down. It’s not like we can go to port for a holiday.”

“I know, and that’s why I should stay on duty too. If we want to show that it’s business as usual, we have to conduct our business as usual. I can handle it, Captain.” I looked her in the eyes, which were now burning with a conviction that I haven’t seen since she was going through the process to get her doctorate. “I know you can, Counselor. There was never even any doubt about that.” I sighed, involuntarily, and continued, “all right, we both need to report to our stations, then. If anything happens, be sure to contact me immediately.”

“I will, Captain. Thank you.” And with that, she headed back down to the medical bay, and I headed down to the senior officer’s wing to make sure that everything had been handled, and that the junior officers were settling in alright in their new positions. I also hoped tensions weren’t rising. After I dealt with that, I knew I had to head down to the cells, and confront the senior staff. I didn’t look forward to that meeting at all. So much for the uneventful start to my captainship.

As I was walking down to the senior officer’s wing, Tiffany Accado, the principal for the secondary school, confronted me. She was an elderly woman, with piercing blue eyes. Her skin was pale and unusually smooth for her age. However, it’s quite apparent that she’s been quite worried lately, as she had more visible wrinkles than usual, especially under her eyes. I, myself, began to worry about what she could be concerned about. Troublingly, my worst fears were soon realized.

“Is it true that all of the crew is now in the brig?” I was more than a little surprised that news had already spread outside of the ship’s crew. It was my job to make sure that everyone on the ship, people of the crew and civilian alike, stayed safe, and content. However, as of today, it appears I haven’t done a great job accomplishing that. “Only the senior officers have been sent to the brig. A fight broke out on the deck of the senior staff wing, and the junior staff officers are now handling things. There’s nothing to worry about. Once they have a chance to cool down, things will go back to business as usual.” She looked unsure, but responded, “That’s good. Everyone’s worried that the ship’s crew is falling apart.”

I was worried how much of the ship’s three hundred thousand-plus passengers were included in her assessment of “everyone”, but didn’t relay my worries. “It’s really nothing to be concerned about. There are always tensions during the transition of power on this ship. I’ve seen my fair share of it when I was a junior officer, and my mother told me stories of it, even during her time as captain. Things always calm down after everyone gets used to the new order of things.” Ms. Accado visibly relaxed, and responded, “good to hear. I’ll let everyone know that there’s nothing to worry about.” I didn’t like the idea of gossip, but since it already started and would no doubt get out of hand if not dealt with, I decided that I could use her help. “Thanks, Ms. Accado, I appreciate it.” She looked me in the eyes and gave me one of those kinds of smiles that only kind, elderly, women could properly deliver. “No problem, Captain. You’ve been doing a great job so far. Your mother would be so proud of you.”

I smiled back, doing my best to return her smile, although I still had several decades before I had enough life experience to do the smile justice. “Thanks, I really appreciate it.” I really did. She had been my fourth form instructor when I was young and had always been one of my favorite teachers. Her opinion still meant a lot to me. I just hoped that I could instill that level of confidence in the crew. It was true that every new appointment of captain led to some level of anxiety. However, nothing had ever reached the level of dissent that had occurred this afternoon. At least, nothing like that had happened in recent memory.

Ms. Accado and I parted ways, just as I had reached the senior officer’s wing. I really hoped that I could get through to the senior staff and that this situation really would be just a temporary one. The last thing I wanted to do was to extend the lockup of the senior staff, many with whom I had worked for several years. That train of thought had to be temporarily derailed, however, as I had to deal with the junior staff right now. The senior staff would have to wait.

I summed up all of the courage I had and made sure that I put on an aura of authority. I tried my best to portray the image of a person in power without appearing too stand-offish. It is a feat that I had always attempted, but it’s a tight-rope act that’s hard to pull off. I thought I was doing a good job at it, but it appears that the senior staff had seen through my act. I pushed my doubts aside and reminded myself that it had been years of hard work and dedication that had gotten me in this position. Thinking that I was just acting like I was in charge wouldn’t help anyone. I am in charge, and I earned this position. I deserve my recent promotion, and it was high time I made sure that not only the crew understood that, but that I do as well.

Any lingering doubts had to be pushed to the back of my mind, as it was now time to gauge the level of confidence the rest of the crew had in my leadership, firsthand. I walked through the doors leading to the senior staff wing, hoping that the junior officers weren’t as hostile as their superiors.

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