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Guest Commander Hamblin

A brief interlude.

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Guest Commander Hamblin

[rp]

"So, what did she say?" The calm voice of Fleet Commander Karl "Blades" Savage helped ease me into the informality of this late-night drink we were sharing in the Galcom lounge. I relaxed back in my chair, the old wooden legs creaking from the strain of my weight, and sighed.

"She said she wanted me to leave her alone, and never speak to her again." I said, just managing to keep the bitterness out of my voice.

Blades nodded, and took another sip from his drink, a strange mixture of Empirian Ale and Brandy which I'd noticed he'd taken a liking to recently.

For a moment, my mind flashed back to that day so many years ago, an old girlfriend of mine decided to just leave me. She gave no reason, she simply got up, and moved out, with hardly a word said between us the entire time.

Since the GCV Galatea had been scrapped, and Galcom had decided to commission another one rather than recover my old vessel, I'd been sitting around waiting for the ceremony to commence. This new Galatea was going to head up the new Galatea Exploration Wing which Blades had put me in command of, and this was what had been taking up most of my on-duty time in the time that had passed since the Jupiter incident.

Off duty, I'd been sitting in my quarters, catching up on a few old aquaintances, re-living old memories, and, just recently, feeling utterly lonely. Without my ship through which I could channel my lonliness into something useful, I felt like I had very little purpose left.

I drifted through my work like it wasn't even there, and Blades said that my performance had suffered as a result. Which was why he offered me this drink, to see if there was anything he could do to help.

I leaned back forward again, and stared blankly into the tall, half full glass of Orange Juice I had ordered from the bar. I'd been nursing this one drink for the last half hour, while explaining all the depressing stories from my life that I could be bothered to remember, with Blades just sitting there and listening patiently the whole way through as though.

"We need a councellor." I finally said, after having remained in silence for a few moments.

Blades nodded. "You got that right." He said, taking another sip of his drink.

The doors leading into the lounge slid open, and Lieutenant Commander Mulgrey stepped in, back as erect as though she were at a Cadet review. Her hair was kept a little shorter than the last time I had seen her, but she still had that same curl which I still found so enchanting.

She noticed that we were at the table, and came walking up to us, standing at attention.

"Sir, preliminary report for the Galatea Exploration Wing is completed and awaiting your approval."

I stood up, and nodded. "At ease, Commander, have a seat." She relaxed a bit, widening her stance a little, before sitting down to my left at the small, circular table.

Blades finished off his drink, and stood up. "Well James, it's getting late, I've got to run. If you need to talk further, you know where my office is." He flashed a brief smile at me, and I nodded in return. He was a good friend, I noticed, not just my commanding officer.

He walked quickly out of the lounge, and aside from a few Petty Officers over at another table, and the bartender, Kate and I were all alone.

I smiled at her, unsure of what to say. Since the destruction of the Galatea, we hadn't really spoken much outside of the work environment.

I rapped my knuckles on the table absentmindidly, while she just sat there waiting for me to say something. I glanced at her, smiled again, then made it look like I'd seen something rather interesting on a nearby bulkhead while I tried desperately to think of something to make conversation with.

"Uh, so Kate, how are things going for you?" I asked, finally turning back to face her with, what I hope was, an air of some confidance. At the least, I wanted to show that I was sure of myself.

She smiled back, showing no signs that she'd detected my nervousness. "Great, actually. I spoke with my mother on Earth yesterday. I hope to go back home to Indiana next shore leave."

I chuckled. "Well, maybe I can arrange that for you, eh?" I said. Well, maybe I can arrange that for you? What's that supposed to mean? It's not even funny!

She smiled, and laughed, which caught me slightly off guard. "Well, I've had my eye on a shuttlecraft down in the cargo bay for some time now. Maybe you could convince Blades to give it to me free of charge." She smiled again, flashing her perfectly white teeth for a brief moment. A look of surprise flickered across my face, and I sat back, startled. She'd made a joke. Not only that, but she'd laughed at my joke. I wasn't sure how to respond to that.

The quiet music in the lounge changed almost imperceptibly to Barber's Adagio for Strings. It was so soft that on a normal day in the lounge, it would be impossible to make out.

The music, coupled with the fact that Kate and I were getting along quite well, seemed to give me a bit more confidence. Without exactly wanting to, I blurted out "Are you free tonight?"

Instantly, I started trying to cover what I'd said. "Or, I mean, maybe, some other night?" I stammered, trying to find some way to save face. "Or not at all, if you don't want to, I mean, you don't have to if you don't want to, or, um..."

I stopped, so as to not embarrass myself any further. Kate was wide eyed, obviously not having expected that to happen. "Well, I'm flattered, uh, sir, but..."

She was interrupted by the sound of the doors opening at the lounge, as another patron entered.

When I looked back to her seat, she had already gotten up to leave.

[/rp]

Just thought I'd do this since I was bored, and tired... smile.gif

Nothing serious, of course, and don't mention the time frame between this and the Jupiter Incident (Joy Ride) in anything more than general terms, since I don't want to ruin whatever it is Blades has in store for us. smile.gif

------------------

Commander James Hamblin

GCV - Galatea, Orion Starstation (CENTRIS)

Wing Leader, Galatea Exploration Wing

www.orion-hq.fsnet.co.uk

[This message has been edited by Commander Hamblin (edited 09-21-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Commander Hamblin (edited 09-21-2000).]

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Guest Commander Hamblin

Note: This is set later during the same evening, after I left the Orion Lounge.

[rp]

From the Bridge of the Galatea, I watched the bright, twinkling stars in the depths of space, and sighed.

Captains Personal Log, Stardate 08.07.3000. I never once, in my wildest dreams, imagined pain so acute and powerful as this. Maybe I'm just getting old, and my body is starting to slow down after many years of hard work, and endless stress. I don't honestly know. All I do know is, it won't go away.

I finished my tour in the Polaris system, and the Galatea is on her way back to Orion HQ in the Jupiter region for repairs. And yet, I feel no satisfaction in this. I feel nothing but a strange sensation of pain which I cannot atribute the cause for, nor the reason why it persists so evidently in my mind.

Lieutenant Commander Tiretis has informed me that...

I abruptly ended the log entry as I heard the large double doors leading into the Psi Deck open, and Commander Mulgrey entered.

I sighed, and said "Computer, freeze program." The scene froze completely, with the exception of myself and Mulgrey.

Mulgrey stepped up, and saluted. "Sir."

I nodded, and curtly saluted back. "At ease."

Mulgrey stood at ease. For some reason, Mulgrey had become something of an assistant to me since the Galatea's destruction. She had no reason to be here, and could easily be transferred to any other ship in the fleet, yet she chose to remain here, sorting through files when her talents could be put to better use. It was a waste of a perfectly good officer, and I was ready to insist to Blades that she be transferred to another ship.

Mulgrey handed me a sheet of paper, upon which there was a report printed out on the status of select officers in the fleet. It was a manifest for the new command crew of the Galatea, assembled by Mulgrey at my request, and awaiting Blades' approval.

However, there was something different about it. The first officer was supposed to be listed as Lieutenant Commander Michael Richardson, a Strategic Ops officer newly transferred from Prime fleet. He had previously served about GCV Goliath, which had been on a six month tour of duty near the Insurgent base in Sygan. The reason I chose him was because his knowledge of covert operations, as well as his knowledge of important facilities, outposts and supply depots in the space the Galatea Exploration Wing would be patrolling would be extremely valuable.

Instead, Commander Mulgrey was listed as First Officer.

My mind instantly split up into three groups, each one arguing over what should be done next. The first one was delighted that Mulgrey had wanted to be posted aboard the new Galatea. Not only was she an excellent officer in her own right, I didn't want to loose track of her amongst the millions of Galcom officers serving in the various fleets.

The second, however, was adamantly opposed to the idea. Not only was it unsafe for a Captain to have some sort of infatuation with the officers under his or her command, but it was a breach of orders. He had asked for Commander Richardson, and she hadn't followed that order. In addition, her area of expertise was more in smaller scale tactical operations, weapons, marines, and the like. This was a good quality to have in a Captain, but in this unique assignment that the Galatea Exploration Wing presented, having two what seemed like Captains on board might just end up presenting a conflict that I wanted to avoid.

In addition, I wasn't sure if spending six months on a ship with her would be wise. It might compromise my ability to make command decisions, something that, in enemy territory, could prove to be fatal.

The third just wanted to go to bed with her. While the other two battled for supremacy in my mind, the third simply went ahead and said "James, you miss this opportunity and you'll end up kicking yourself for the rest of your life."

Without thinking, I blurted out "Seems fine to me. I'll give it to Blades tommorow."

She nodded, and turned to walk out. The third portion of my mind looked smugly at the other two, then returned to it's previous position in my groinal area.

Before Kate left, she turned around. A sly smile on her face, she said "Oh, and sir, I was wondering, who is Lieutenant Commander Tiretis?"

I instantly felt embarrassed, as the look on her showed that she had probably already heard about Tiretis before.

My cheeks flashed red, but thankfully, the doors closed before she could notice them.

[/rp]

[This message has been edited by Commander Hamblin (edited 09-21-2000).]

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Guest Commander Hamblin

[rp]

That night, I lay silently in my quarters, aware that I had a long day tommorow.

"Computer, set alarm for oh six hundred hours." I whispered, almost asleep.

The monotonous, feminine voice of the computer responded with a bleep, and "Alarm set. Good night."

I smiled. Galcom Engineers knew what the little touches were that people liked. Of course, it was possible to switch them off, but having them on gave me the impression that the Computer was actually a real person, rather than a collection of circuits and subroutines.

Right now, that was something that I could really do with.

Suddenly, the internal comm system bleeped, and the voice of Commander Greg Miller came in clearly over the wall mounted comm speaker in my quarters. "Miller to Hamblin." He said crisply.

I sighed, and slowly managed to drag myself out of bed and to the speaker. I pressed the button beside it to recieve the transmission. "Hamblin here, Greg, why the hell are you calling me so late?"

"Come on James, that's not the way to speak to a superior officer." Greg chuckled, before becoming serious. "Blades is calling a meeting to discuss the initial status of the GEW once the new Galatea has been commissioned."

I sighed again, and imagined what it'd be like. Desperately trying to keep myself awake in Blades' office, while him and Greg went over endless statistics and the problems that I'd face once the GEW became operational.

"Can't it bloody wait until the morning?" I complained, not bothering to keep my tone from bordering on insubordination.

Greg chuckled again. "James, are you getting tired in your old age?"

"Unfortunately, yes." I said, rubbing my eyes and trying to make sure my vision wasn't blurred.

"Well, just think back to the days when you were just an Ensign." Greg said, probably hoping to sound reassuring. "Getting up in the middle of the night for a surprise inspection, making sure you didn't have any time to prepare. Same principle here."

I was about to protest, when Greg seemed to sense it, and quickly added "This is an order, James. Get here in ten minutes. Miller out."

The comm channel shut off, and so I deactivated the comm panel.

***

Trudging into Blades' office with a cup of coffee in my hand, I stood at attention, and saluted.

Blades frowned at seeing the coffee. "James, put the coffee away, we've got buisness to attend to."

My face dropped, and I tried to make sure that my back didn't suddenly become hunched. "Sir, you're waking me up at eleven hundred hours, and you're asking me to put the coffee away?"

Blades perceptibly stiffened. "James, I'm asking you to put the coffee away. Don't make me order you."

There were times when I was so glad that Blades had been chosen as Orion Fleet Commander over me. The workload was twice as large as a regular Commander. Added to the fact that he had to take orders directly from the Supreme Commander himself, and, as I well knew, there were times when you just wanted to punch that guy in the face for being such an arrogant *******, even if you knew that nine times out of ten, he was right.

Blades was also a good friend, and we got on fairly well.

However, there were also times when I really wished that Blades could lighten up a little. Like right now. These were the times when I wished I had worked towards becoming Fleet Commander myself.

I sighed, and walked back out of his office.

***

Ten minutes later, and I came back in, the cup of coffee having been partially drunk by me, and then thrown away in a refuse dump to be recycled.

Blades nodded, and motioned towards one of three chairs in front of his desk. Greg was sitting in the one to my left, Commander David Foss was sitting in the one on the middle, and Blades was indicating that I sit in the one on my right.

I promptly straightened my uniform tunic, and placed myself in the chair, letting out a brief sigh which betrayed my tiredness.

Blades wasted no time. "Now, James, I'm sure Greg has told you why you're here. I wanted to do this now, because I knew you'd be very busy tommorow. Besides, I wanted to make sure you would come unprepared for this."

I nodded, barely able to keep my attention from drifting.

Not noticing my intense tiredness, Blades continued. "I thought we'd nip this problem in the bud, since I know it's going to be a problem once the GEW becomes operational."

"What problem?" I asked, my curiosity over-riding my tiredness for the moment.

"Recruitment." Blades responded. "For the GEW to work, one fleet will have to donate two ships, and the other will have to donate three, for six months at a time, correct?"

I nodded. "Yes. It's all there in the charter. Where do I come into this?"

Blades smiled. "I want you to pick who will be in the GEW. Knowing you, you'll only accept those who you know will be right for the job. Besides, this is your wing. I'd rather let you pick who's in it, rather than me picking for you."

I rubbed my eyes, my tiredness again over-riding my senses. "But why didn't you want me prepared for this? Wouldn't I choose better if I were prepared?"

Blades smiled again, obviously having been expecting this. "Well, it's a test. To see if you can see who is right and who is wrong for the GEW without having to spend hours searching through back records, seeing if they conform to your needs. It'll prove to me that you're the right one for the job."

I sighed, and this time made no effort to hide my tiredness, or my frustration. "That doesn't make any sense. In my current state, I'm more likely to choose badly."

Blades stood up. "Well, if you wish, I'll choose another person, and you can go back to being a regular Commander."

My face dropped again, and for what seemed like the millionth time that night, I sighed with exhaustion. This is not going to be easy...

[/rp]

Blades, can you see the hidden message I've put in here? smile.gif

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Guest Commander Hamblin

Blades, never mind, I've discussed the whole thing with Greg. smile.gif

[rp]

I emerged from Blades' office, my head swirling with names and faces. I was wondering what the time was, so I asked the computer.

"Zero two thirty hours station time" It replied.

The voice seemed very distant, and very soft. I was too tired to register anything but what was ahead of me, and dimly I wandered around the station until I eventually found my quarters, somehow.

I stepped in, and collapsed on my bed.

***

"Sir? Sir, it's oh six hundred. Sir? Are you awake?"

Why was my toilet talking to me? And why did it sound like Kate Mulgrey?

I stood over the toilet, unzipping my trousers. And, for some reason, my body was holding back. I definitely needed to go, that was for sure, but some long term habit that had become instinct, was making sure that nothing happened.

I looked around. All I seemed to be registering was the pain in my bladder, and the nagging voice coming from my toilet.

Suddenly, I was being shook hard, and I found myself in my bed, my vision extremely blurred, my left arm over the side, still in my uniform, not having even bothered to pull the covers over me, and with a sour taste in my mouth.

I looked up, and could just make out the form of Lieutenant Commander Mulgrey, fully dressed, and waiting.

"Sir, it's oh six hundred." She repeated. I noticed that her hand was on my shoulder. It felt warm, comfortable, and almost sent me back to sleep again.

She took her hand off, however, allowing me to roll over onto my back, shut my eyes, and groan. "Oh God...I feel like a pair of elephants have just pee'd in my mouth, and danced on my head."

Kate looked a little surprised by my comment. "Well, uh, I never thought I'd have to go through the day with that image in my head, but it appears you proved me wrong, Sir." She smiled, something of a habit I had noticed she had picked up. A favourable habit, nonetheless.

Suddenly, I shot up out of bed, pushed past Kate, and ran into the nearby bathroom. The pain in my bladder had become almost unbearable, and was begging to be relieved.

"Uh, I'll just wait outside then, sir?" Kate said.

I was a little distracted, so I shouted back "Well, just sit down on the couch, make yourself comfortable, then when I'm dressed we can have a cup of coffee in the mess hall or something, ok?"

"Sure, no problem." Kate said.

I stuck my head out of the bathroom, but Kate had already left my bedroom. I cursed, realising I had just pee'd on my hand whilst trying to see if Kate was still there.

I cursed again, realising I'd just pee'd all over my bathroom as well, and quickly aimed it back to the toilet. By then, though, my bladder had already been drained, and I cursed again for having just messed up my bathroom.

I quickly flushed the loo and thoroughly washed my hands before calling maintenance to come and clean up my bathroom, hoping I could get out of there before I'd have to explain just what exactly they were cleaning up.

***

I stepped out of my bedroom wearing my spare uniform, and saw Kate sitting on my couch to my right, just under the large window looking out at the stars, a cup of coffee in her hand. She was using my "Every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain" mug, and hadn't yet noticed me.

She noticed the saying on the mug, and smiled when she saw it. The sides of my mouth began to creep up as well, and I couldn't help it.

"Nice mug you have here." She said, without looking up. I was caught by surprise for a moment, but then realised that it wouldn't be impossible for her to have noticed me coming out of the bedroom at the angle she was facing.

"I thought so too. I found it by accident in a stall at Gazer1, and thought I'd buy it. The prices were really extraordinate at the time, but I couldn't resist a mug which describes me so well."

She chuckled, and stood up. "Well Sir, if you ever visit my quarters, I'll be sure to have a "I've never been wrong, but I'm sure I'll get it right sooner or later" mug waiting for you."

I chuckled back, the laughter helping to wake me up somewhat, then quietly suppressing a yawn, which helped make me a little more sleepy again. "Speaking of which, I really could use a cup of coffee right now. You up for another cup down in the Mess Hall?"

Kate smiled at me, this time showing off her snow white teeth. "Sure, I'd love to."

***

I spent that morning with Kate in the Mess Hall, where we got to know each other a little better. She had one sister back on Earth, and a father who was in Galcom, and served aboard GCV Stargazer. Her mother was a mathematician. It was these traits which allowed her to flourish in Galcom, and what made her a valued officer.

After that, we had gone over some reports and work on the GEW, before heading to my temporary office given to me by Blades to carry on the work.

[/rp]

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Guest Commander Hamblin

[rp]

I stood silently, with my hands clasped behind my back, at the window looking out of my office at the stars. The two closest ones were this system's binary stars, Alpha and Proxima Centauri. They shone brilliantly in the night, reminding me of Sol. The slow rotation of the station meant that I could only view them every twelve and a half minutes, and only for two minutes each time. I wanted to savour the view before having to wait the next twelve and a half minutes to see them.

I briefly wondered what it must have been like for the Empirians, to have grown up under two suns instead of one. The Empirians, I knew, took great pride in their home system, and their binary stars. A long time ago, I would have found such a thing exhilerating. Now, I simply found it amusing, as one would find a child's toy amusing in it's simplicity, and yet it's ability to keep the child occupied for many hours on end.

The GCV Nightrider, an Empirian cruiser, had docked with the station to resupply before shipping out to Polaris. Seeing those Empirians all dressed up in full Galcom uniform, the uniform that I had become so accustomed to seeing only on human staff, gave me a bit of a shock. It reminded me that, although my ego might tell me otherwise, humans were not the only beings in this galaxy. We were just the loudest.

Kate had another large set of paperwork for me this morning, and it had taken us hours to get through all of it. Most of it was to do with the new personnel we were recruiting, and the requisition of parts and supplies for specific needs on each ship. By the time we were finished sorting through it all, it was nearly three thirty, and we were both starving. So, I let her go early, and I ordered in a Pizza for myself at the office, having, literally, no more work until the following morning.

Now, I was simply standing here, staring out the window, and letting my thoughts carry me.

I was interrupted from my reverie by the dull bleep of the entry chime. I turned around, and said "Come in."

The doors slid open, and Kate stepped in. As soon as the internal sensors in my office detected her presence, a Russian opera which I had found filed in the database as "Unknown Russian Opera #1" began playing. I had never heard the piece of music in my life, and it was obviously so old that, somehow, over the centuries, the name had been lost and forgotten.

The piece of music was actually quite lovely to begin with. A woman is simply singing, and you could easily imagine her as just standing on stage, her strong, almost melodic voice seeming to penetrate deep into your soul from the moment you begin hearing it. Towards the end, however, her voice is replaced with much deeper, darker music, this time a man singing, that slowly rises to a crescendo, and eventually finishes a second after he reaches what must be the loudest his voice can get while still retaining it's deepness.

Kate looked up, and a look of confusion flickered across her face. "Music?" She said, the corner of her mouth nudging upwards into half a smile.

I was about to respond when the music suddenly became the powerful, deep voice of the man. We stood there in silence while his voice rose, to be suddenly cut off as soon as he reached his maximum. The music ended abruptly.

I settled down in my chair, and glanced up at her. "Just thought I might give you a bit of fanfare the next time you came into my office."

She chuckled, and settled down into a chair on the other side of my desk. "And why is that?"

"I thought I'd give myself some warning extra warning. You should really learn to knock, those entry chimes just aren't loud enough."

She chuckled again, the smile on her face having gotten wider. "I actually prefer jazz myself."

I smiled at her, raising my eyebrows in surprise. "You like jazz? I love jazz! When I get a chance to listen to it, that is."

She leaned forward, her arms on the desk and her eyes lighting up with enthusiasm. "Have you heard the new music by Vlak'Rishnor?"

I frowned, confused. "Vla...what?"

"He's a Vesperon." She explained. "Vesperons have a beautiful affinity music, Jazz especially. He's become a real hit on Earth and Mars."

I leaned back on my chair, nodding in understanding. "Hmm. I'll have to listen to him when I get the chance."

She smiled again, this time showing me another glimpse of those seemingly perfect teeth of hers. "You should. I've got quite a few of his in my private collection."

I nodded, and smiled back at her, something I was beginning to get used to. She was quite a cheery person, despite her often stony visage that she projected if you met her in a corridor. I had even begun fancying that she kept her smile just for when she was talking to me.

After a few moments of silence, during which I seemed to have been staring down at my desk, I looked up, and said "So, did you come here for a reason, or was it just to talk to me about jazz musicians you're fond of?"

She got up, and walked around my desk to the window that I had been standing at a few moments ago. She stood there with her hands clasped behind her back, in the exact same manner I had done a few moments ago. Without taking her eyes off the stars, she said "Well, James, with all the work we've had recently, I have had hardly any time to get to know you. I mean, yeah, we have these discussions every now and again, and during the time you were in the Infirmiry I came to visit you every now and again."

She turned and looked down at me, her eyes shining with the light from the Alpha and Proxima Centauri. "I'd like to know if that offer of dinner is still available."

I raised my eyebrows in surprise. "Uh...sure...um...did you have anywhere specific in mind?"

She sat herself on my desk, her eyes lighting up again with enthusiasm. "Oh yeah, there's this lovely little restaurant that just opened down on the promenade."

My eyes lit up, instantly knowing the one she meant. "Oh yeah, I've seen it. It looks really nice. A little expensive though, don't you think?"

She smiled. "Well, we can share the cost, can't we? Besides, I was hoping I wouldn't have to try it out on my own."

I stood up, and nodded. "Well then, it's a date." I smiled at her, and she got up as well.

"Well, I'll see you there at around...eight?"

"Eight will be fine."

"Great. See you there then."

"Bye honey."

She turned, and walked out.

I sat down, feeling quite pleased with myself. I had a date with Kate Mulgrey. I did a quick swivel in my chair. Things were going quite well for me now.

Wait a second...what did I just say? I thought, a frown suddenly coming to my face. Did I really say what I thought I just said?

As if in answer to my thoughts, the doors to my office slid open, and Kate stepped back in again, the confusion on her face plainly evident. "Honey?" She asked.

"Uh...I mean...um...you know...uh...it was...a...slip of the tongue...um...honest mistake..."

She just rolled her eyes, turned, and walked back out again.

[/rp]

[This message has been edited by Commander Hamblin (edited 09-24-2000).]

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