Friday, June 23, 2006
In this section, RJ discovers that a trio of people he's encountered several times before have joined the crew of the starship Further, and the first officer gives him a bit of a surprise.
The next ship’s morning, rested and refreshed, I bathed, ate a quick meal of oatmeal and buna in my kitchen, and then dressed in a simple black coverall shipsuit and slip-on shoes. My quarters, like those of the rest of the command crew and most of the department heads, were on the same level as the bridge, and while I was sure I’d have been alerted if the ship had run into any problems while I slept, as captain I felt obliged to check in as a matter of course.
Stepping out into the now brightly lit corridor beyond my door, I was immediately brought up short by the unlikely trio standing just beyond. It was a woman dressed in the uniform of a Napoleonic-era British officer in Nelson’s Navy; a man dressed in a red velour tunic, black trousers that flared below the knee, and high black boots, with a gold star embroidered on the breast; and another man wearing a styled mid-20C-era dark blue sailor’s uniform, with a white “Dixie cup” hat and a red kerchief around his neck.
“O Captain,” the woman in the Napoleonic uniform said in passable English, standing to attention, snapping off a crisp salute. “Midshipman Euphagenia d’Angelique Bibblecombe-Aldwinkle, reporting for duty. May I present Lieutenant Commander Rex Starr”—she indicated the redshirt—“and Chief Warrant Officer Donald Duke”—she pointed with her chin to the sailor suit.
“Donald Duck?” I said.
“Duke, sir,” the sailor suit said. “Donald Duke.”
“Ah, of course. And, Starr, was it?”
The redshirt stood to attention, chin held high. “Yessir.”
“I think you might have the wrong starship, friend.”
“Nevermind.” I surveyed the trio. When I’d first seen them outside the diamond house, they’d been a superheroine and a pair of zoot-suiters, and later on Cronos they’d been Scarlett O’Hara and the blue & gray brothers. The Anachronists had clearly found a new mode to explore. “So you’re part of the Further’s crew, I take it?”
“Oh, yes sir,” the midshipwoman said, positively gushing. “When we heard that you were taking command, we couldn’t resist.”
“We’ve taken on new personas and everything,” the redshirt added, proudly. “Do you like them?”
“They’re.. they’re just splendid. Glad to have you onboard.” I paused, considering. “Um, if you don’t mind me asking, what positions have you taken in the crew, come to that?”
“I’m in astrometrics,” the sailor suit said, “and Rex and Gina—”
“Euphagenia d’Angelique Bibblecombe-Aldwinkle!” the midshipwoman said hastily, interrupting.
“Right, sorry. Rex and Euphagenia d’Angelique Bibblecombe-Aldwinkle are helping out in industrial fabrication.”
“Any post is fine with us,” the redshirt said. “We couldn’t pass up the chance to experience what it must have been like for the ancient explorers of your time.”
“And you all have adopted ranks, I see.”
“Oh, naturally,” the midshipwoman said, shoulders back. “It wouldn’t have been an authentic primitive experience without them.”
“Quite right,” I said, nodding sagely. “Well…” I waved my hands in absent motions. “Erm, carry on the good work?”
The three beamed. They stood to crisp attention and snapped off salutes, then turned on their heels and marched off down the corridor.
I continued on towards the bridge, exchanging nods and pleasantries with every manner of biological, synthetic, and mix of the two along the way. But before I reached the entrance to the bridge, I heard a voice calling my name.
“Captain Stone, do you have a brief percentage of the day to spare?”
I turned, and saw First Zel i’Cirea standing in an open doorway, dimly lit rooms beyond. Her dark blue hair was pulled back into a tight knot at the back of her head, the sapphire-colored eyepatch over her left eye in stark contrast to her alabaster skin.
“Certainly,” I said, a bit warily, and walked over. “What can I do for you?”
“I have something to show you.” She stepped to one side, and motioned to the rooms beyond the door. Her manner was unusually solicitous, and I couldn’t help but be suspicious.
“Is there something wrong, first?”
“No, nothing like that,” she said, a faint smile on her lips that didn’t reach her eye. “I just wanted to get your opinion on something.”
I shrugged. “I’m in no particular hurry.”
As I stepped into the room, it took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the gloom beyond. There was someone standing in the far corner in the shadows, a low couch, and a pair of chairs.
“Do come in,” Zel said, as the door closed behind me. “Captain Stone, I believe you’ll recognize my guest?”
The figure stepped out of the shadows. As the light fell across his features, he stood revealed as an old man, in his late seventies if not older, hair white and thin against dark skin, shoulders slumped and knees slightly bent.
It was me. Or rather, the me I’d been, just a few days before.
Yes, I'll admit it. It's a cheap shot at historical recreationists. But, to be fair, it's just one of several cheap shots at historical recreatonists in the book. Does that make it any better?
My next working day is Tuesday, so expect a new chapter then, god willing and the creek don't rise.