Midshipman Henry Gallant In Space
Three weeks had passed since he reported aboard. Gallant was still working diligently to complete all his studies for re-qual, in addition to keeping up a training program to become ship's duty officer, as well as to meet his obligations as a division officer. He was grateful when Chief Howard, more than once, saved an important message from going astray.
Late that night, Gallant tried to study in the midshipmen's common room. The limited space was occupied, so he reluctantly made his way to the wardroom. It was acceptable for officers to spread out their daily work needs there when meals were not being served. He flopped into a chair and put his feet up on the adjacent one.
His Eagle qualification exam was in the morning at 0600. He hoped to finish some practice questions before turning in. Balancing his study tablet in his lap, he worked through a practice series. Then, he activated the tablets flight simulator and practiced recovery maneuvers for a few accident scenarios.
Lt. Mather wandered into the wardroom, nodded to Gallant and punched in his authorization code on the galley panel for some late night food.
The auto-server popped up and displayed a tray of synthetic snack bars along with a few pieces of real fruit and a small portion of nuts. Mather picked at the nuts and fruit, leaving the synthetics for last.
During deep space travel there was always plenty of space to store synthetic food ingredients that could be turned into edible materials. The trouble was that human nature yearned for the real thing as much as possible. In general, real food was stockpiled for the fleet at various space stations. But here in Jupiter orbit, the cost of transporting bulk food materials so far from Earth was prohibitive.
Gallant's stomach growled, but snacks were not a midshipman privilege. He would have liked some exam advice too. But he knew better than to ask.
Mather sat for several minutes absent-mindedly tapping the edge of the table. Finally, he got up and left without offering Gallant either.
He was about to call it a night when the XO came in and stopped him. He scolded, "Where are your personnel fitness reports? They're late. I want them first thing in the morning."
Before Gallant could respond, the XO went bounding off to deal with another of his endless litany of problems.
“All part of the job,” Gallant said to himself and got on with the task.
He popped several stim-pills for an energy boost and began working on fitness reports for his division’s personnel. Mostly he relied on Chief Howard's draft notes, but he made sure he spent enough time on evaluating and ranking each individual in his division to feel comfortable with the final grades he gave them. After a couple of hours, he was still only half done.
He thought that if he decided to put the files away and hit the sack, he would be able to get a few hours of sleep before his re-qual exam.
On the other hand, the XO hadn't looked like he was going to be very accommodating. So Gallant worked through the night to finish the personnel records. He put them in the XO's cyber in-basket just before the morning watch changed.
Then he sat on his bunk bed and downed synthetic stim-coffee.
At 0545, a virtual computer display popped up over his head and blared, “Attention Midshipman Gallant, you have fifteen minutes to complete your morning ablutions and dress. Report to Squadron 111 hangar to take your requalification exam including flight test.”
The usual morning mad dash began.
Before long, Gallant was in the squadron hangar completing his flight test under Barrington’s critical eye.
Afterward, Gallant passed Chief Howard in the corridor.
Howard gave him a questioning look.
Gallant puffed his chest out with pride and returned a thumbs-up.
Genre – Science Fiction
Rating – G
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Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.