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The early morning sun broke through the fog revealing a brilliant blue sky. Already warm, the breeze coming off the ocean helped keep the temperature comfortable. Florida in March was the crossroads between the cooler temps of Winter and the scorching heat of Summer. The perfectly manicured lawns and gardens surrounded the steel and glass edifice that was known as the United World Space Agency. (UWSA) Where all space travel was planned and executed. Large flags fluttered in the breeze from all four corners of the vast grounds. Also housed in the edifice was the Joint Chiefs. Eighteen Admirals and Generals made up the Joint chiefs. All branches of the services were represented. The building housed over a thousand rooms both above and below ground
In one of the upper conference room the heads of the different sections of the crew were seated. Captain Kate Jensen, Lt Commander Anya Jensen, Chief Science Officer, Colonel Kacey O'Malley UWMC, Lt.Commander Bella Torino, Chief Engineer, Lt Commander Rhea Torino, Chief of Security, Dr Alex Kipling Chief of staff for the sick bay and hospital, Lieutenant Maria Montoya, head nurse, and Principal and head teacher Amal Jersa. Seated at the head of the table and conducting the briefing were Admiral Tacher and General Millhouse. One chair remained empty during the introductions.
Admiral Tacher stood. "Ladies and Gentlemen, lets start this briefing. I could spend hours telling you about the ship you will be traveling in, but I will not. You can all read about it on your computers. This mission is scheduled to last at least three years. This is not just an explorer ship, but also a family ship. Between crew and family members the total population will be close to one thousand persons. As here on Earth, the ship will have a governing body made up of every one sitting around this table. There is one other person that needs to be introduced to most of you. Captain, I know you are wondering about who your First Officer is. I will now bring him in.
The Admiral walked to the door and opened it to admit a tall dark hair man with laughing blue eyes. A proud smile lit up his face. Kate and Kacey both jumped to their feet.
"Liam?" "Dad?" They said together.
"Well from the looks on both of your faces this is a surprise. I hope tis pleasant surprise."
"Commander, if you will take that seat next to Captain Jensen we can continue."
"Certainly Admiral." He went to his assigned seat and waited for his daughters to sit. One raised eyebrow later they returned to their seats.
"Captain, Colonel, I am certain you have many questions, but let me finish and I am sure many questions will be answered."
"But Admiral I..." A hand on her arm stopped her.
"Katie me lass, please let the man finish. I have a lunch date with your mother that I am not wanting to be late for." Liam said with a slight brogue.
"My apologies Admiral, please continue."
"When we first conceived this plan years ago, we looked for the best designers and engineers we could find. Commander O'Malley has been in on the plan since the very beginning. He knows ever inch of this ship, what she can do. He is the first choice of the Joint Chiefs."
"You will get no arguments there Admiral" Kacey said with obvious pride.
"Captain you are in complete charge of filling the rest of your crew. Get me their names and I will have the orders cut. My only requirement is that you chose twenty graduates from the Space Academy."
The General who up until now had been silent spoke up. "The same goes for you Colonel. You will hand pick the Marines that will be under your command. Your only stipulation is that you bring in enough Marines and pilots to man the Stingers that will be on board."
"I understand General." Kacey replied.
"I have a list to start you off but the decision is ultimately yours. That will be on your computer shortly."
"Speaking of the Stingers, General, are they absolutely necessary?"
"Yes Captain they are. You will be traveling into an area of space that has never been traveled by man before. We have no idea of what lies outside the Kuiper Belt. You will not be able to call for back up in trouble arises. The Stingers are capable of keeping pace with the ship so there will not be a time where you would have to slow down to wait for them. The ships will remain."
Once again the Admiral stood. "We are looking for a launch date of July 4th, the four hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. You have three months to get your crews together. The crews will be on board the ship two weeks before launch to learn everything they can about the ship and their duties on it. Any questions?" Both Kate and Kacey's hands rose.
"I know what this question will be Admiral."
"So do I Commander. With both of you having equal ranks, you want to know who is actually in command. The command breakdown will be this. While the ship is in the air, you, Captain will be the ultimate commander. But when the ship lands, Colonel, you will be in command. This includes everyone on the ship. In the event of any trouble, which you will not be able to escape in a confined space, a tribunal will be set up. Captain, you and the Colonel will sit on the Tribunal. Commander O' Malley it will be up to you to pick the third person. In the event any of the member is unable to for what ever reason to sit on the Tribunal, you will pick an alternative."
"I have just the right type of person in mind Admiral. A civilian so that no one can claim the deck was stacked against them."
"That sounds like a reasonable plan. Commander. Are there any other questions?" No hands were raised. "Then I recommend you all spend some time going over the information that is on your computers. We will have another meeting in two weeks to go over your progress. Dismissed.
Everyone stood until the brass left the room then most filed out behind them. Liam stood and opened his arms to his family.
"Why didn't you say anything Dad?" Kacey asked.
"And be spoiling me surprise Beside I had me orders to not say anything. I have not gotten this far by disobeying orders. The looks on all your faces was well worth the surprise."
"You do know how long this mission will last. What about Mom?"
"Of course I know darling. That is why you three will be joining us for lunch. Now lets be getting a move on. I do not want her in a temper if we are late."
He held open the door as the three filed out.
"Just think of all the looks I will be getting with four beautiful women on me arms. Now if this restaurant serves a fine Irish Whiskey the day will just about be perfect." He laughed as the door closed silently behind them.
To be continued...
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