Go to Prologue
Dawn broke on the gleaming ship. Large curtains had been set up around the launch site while large airconditioners pumped cool air into the enclosure. The top and side curtains would drop when the launch time arrived. Predictions for the tempertures reaching the triple digits by the time the ceremonies would start. With the crew in dress uniforms, all thoughts were to their comfort. It would not look good if any crew or spectators passed out from the heat
The gates would open at ten hundred hours to seat the five thousand invited spectators. Video screens were set up around the compound for anyone who wanted to watch the ceremonies and launch of the first Star Traveler. The crew was scheduled to be in place just before the ceremonies started at twelve hundred hours.
There were vendors set up around the tent with food and drink. The brass made sure the ship members had a buffet set up. The area around the ship was a sea of color. The varied colors of the crew stood out against the gleaming surface of the ship behind them. The base color of all the crew uniforms was dark blue. Only the stripes across the shoulders differed. Red for Command, Light blue for Security, gold for Engineering, green for science, yellow for Medical and purple for the new graduates.
The Marines were in their traditional dress uniforms. Uniforms that had changed little over the years since the Corps came into being. The only difference was the insignia of UWMC. USMC was changed when all wars were banned. Their gleaming white hats and gloves stood out sharply against the dark blue of their dress uniforms. Sabers gleamed in the sunlight.
The speeches started precisely at twelve hundred hours. Applause broke out several times during the speeches. Two hours later the Admiral took the podium.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to introduce the crew of the Star Traveler Andromeda. It would take hours to introduce each one. Their names are all listed in the books you were handed as you walked in. Those names are listed on the plaques that line the walkway into the tent. They will have a permanent home in the museum after the festivities have ended. I will however introduce the department heads. The Andromeda is not only a science ship but also a family ship as you will see as I read the names. I ask that the officers stand as I read their names and remain standing. I also ask that you hold your applause until the end. We will begin with the Command Staff.
Captain of the ship is Captain Kate Jensen.
First Officer is Commander Liam O'Malley.
Chief Science Officer, Lt Commander Anya Jensen.
Chief of Security is Lt Commander Rhea Torino.
Chief of Engineering, is Lt Commander Bella Torino.
Chief Medical Officer is Doctor Alex Kipling
Head Nurse is Lt Maria Montoya.
Principal of our school is Amal Jersa.
Last but certainly not least, a very integral part of the crew. Colonel Kirsten Campbell O'Malley, Commander of the Marine Division.
Lets give the crew of the star traveler Andromeda a round of applause."
The roar of the crowd filled the tent. After several minutes the Admiral was able to continue.
"Captain, would you give your crew their first order."
Kate stepped up to the microphone that was in place for this moment." Thank you Admiral. Alpha crews to your stations. Make ready for launch. Beta and Gamma crews to your assigned duties."
Once again applause filled the tent as the crew snapped to attention and filed up the four ramps that led into the ship. The ramps closed. By closed circuit video, the spectators were able to see and hear the crew as they took their positions.
"Captain on the Bridge" brought the bridge crew to attention.
Kate and Liam took their positions in from of two of the command seats. A third remained empty. Kate touched her wrist communicator. "Captain Jensen to Colonel O'Malley."
"Colonel would you join us on the bridge?"
"On my way Captain."
"Lieutenant begin pre launch check."
"Yes ma'am." The lieutenant replied. "Shields- check, engine- check,...
The elevator behind the Bridge opened and Kacey stepped out. Kate pointed to the seat next to Liam. Kacey moved into place. "That will be your chair whenever you wish to be on the bridge, Colonel."
"Thank you Captain."
"Systems check completed Captain." The Lieutenant stated.
"Start engines." Kate commanded.
The low rumble of the engines could be heard through out the ship. There was a small vibration beneath their feet as the ship came to life. The canopy and walls disappeared giving the ship a pathway to the stars. The crew watched as a bottle of champagne was broken against the hull.
That was their signal. "Lieutenant take her out one quarter impulse." Kate ordered.
"One quarter impulse, aye Captain. The Lieutenant replied. He pushed buttons and levers as the ship smoothly left the launch pad. They could not hear the crowd but they saw flags waving them on their way. At the end of the long ramp, the earth fell away and the ship was air born.
"On half impulse Lieutenant."
"Aye Captain one half impulse." The barely felt the change in speed and soon they were over the ocean.
"Time to take her up Lieutenant. Full impulse."
"Aye Captain taking her up. Everyone hold onto your hats."
The ship rose smoothly and soon they were miles above the earth.
"Now lets see what she can do. Warp four until we reach Venus, Lieutenant.
"Second star on the right and straight on til morning" Kacey stated with a smile.
"Ye always did like Peter Pan Lassie." Liam chided her.
"Still do dad... Commander." She stammered.
"Lassie, there is no rank in families. Unless of course we are speaking about your mother. She is our Commander in Chief." Both women laughed. "Speaking of our Commander in Chief, she wants everyone in the dining hall at eighteen hours. Don't you even be thinking about turning her down."
"Fine but I am getting out of my formals before dinner." Kacey stated.
The view screen in front of them came to life and the Admiral's face filled the screen.
"Very smooth take off Captain."
"Thank you Sir. The Lieutenant is the talent at the helm. We are on route to Venus and should be there by the end of the week."
"Excellent Captain. We will catch up to you in a few days. We will have a mission for you by then. We are monitoring a possible situation on Marcus Prime."
"The planetoid that was inhabited several years ago?"
"That is the one. I do not have a lot of information at this time. I hope to be able to tell you more when you reach Venus." Good Voyage Andromeda."
"Thank you Admiral."
The screen returned to their view of the stars. Far below the Earth was getting smaller by the second and would soon disappear from their view.
For the first hour the only words spoken were duty related. Kate took note of the serious looks of the crew around her. They all seemed nervous.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to be together for a long time. Please relax. I do allow talking on the Bridge for non ship related topics. There is no reason we can not have some fun on this trip as long as the ship is running smoothly." Kate stated and watched as the crew visibly relax.
"Colonel, our children have been going on and on about you giving them music lessons." Anya was the first to break the silence.
"They have asked me. What will have to be decided is which instrument they want to learn. Something that will be easier on the ears than a violin in the hands of a beginner."
"Tis for sure lass. I remember when you started playing. Scared all the cats away and set the dogs to howling." He laughed.
"Excuse me Colonel?" The ensign interrupted. "Do you play any other instruments?"
" Well I play violin fairly decently. I can also play guitar and piano."
"Lass you are being modest. Laddie, she is far past being decent. She could have joined the symphony, but she chose the service instead. How about you ensign?"
"Clarinet and trumpet Commander." The ensign replied.
"What about the rest of you. Any more talent on the bridge?"
"Drums" Bass guitar" "Sax" The crew volunteered.
"Hey, maybe we can put together some sort of band to entertain the folks on board." The ensign stated.
Kate joined the conversation. "I have no problem with that as long as no one neglects their duties. Tomorrow I can put out some sort of request that anyone with musical abilities can sign."
"Captain with your permission, I would like to go to my office. I have scheduling to complete." Kacey asked.
"Permission granted Colonel. See you at dinner." Kate smiled at Kacey's rolled eyes.
To be continued...
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