They say that protocol trumps everything in the military, that respect for the command structure and everyone in it is a soldier’s primary non-combat responsibility.
This simple little fact was what Micki Brandon kept telling herself over and over as she stared at the older man sitting behind the desk. She stood ram-rod straight, waiting for the order to relax, while the minutes continued to tick past.
What does he want this time? She thought. Is there something else he wants to lord over me? Or is there a fresh round of insults coming?
How someone with the disposition of a porcupine made command of any starship proved worthy of debate between Micki and her friends. While they glowed over the Captain and his teaching style, she had only negative stories to share. To her is seemed almost as if the man went out of his way to make her miserable.
“Micki you disappoint me,” he said finally.
Make sure to look at the prescribed six inches over his head, she thought.
“I’m sorry, sir.”
“I don’t get you,” Captain Alric Patton said as he rubbed the bridge of his thin nose. “I don’t get you. Command has eyes on you commanding a ship and you act like it’s the plague.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” she said, “but as you know, I’m serving my required two years. I don’t, at this time, wish to make Fleet my career.”
Patton closed his eyes and sighed. “You have no idea what you’re possible of.”
“You could be one of the best starship captain’s I’ve ever seen,” Patton said. “Yet you ignore your talents. Let me tell you one thing, Micki: you’d make a piss poor civilian.”
And just what did that mean, Micki thought. Just because I’m good at something doesn’t mean I want to do it for a career!
“I’m not going to force you to be something you don’t wish to be, Micki. However, if you ask me, you’re making a big mistake; one that could come back to haunt you.”
“I understand, sir.”
“Just think about it, Cadet.” He turned his chair around to look out the view port. “Dismissed.”
Micki spun on a heel and crossed the room before entering the corridor beyond. Several engineering cadets walked past, each of them looking at her like she was a pariah for having been summoned to the Captain’s quarters, before they continued on their way.
I can’t believe this, she thought. Thanks for nothing, Captain.
Maybe they were staring at her because she was the highest ranked command track cadet on the ship. Or perhaps they wanted to know why someone like her got reamed by the Old Man. She stood there and watched the group walk down the corridor and then around the corner.
I don’t care what everyone thinks, she thought. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I command one of these beasts.
She ran a hand through her long, brown hair and then sighed. Why did they even have a required two year stint in the Navy anyway? No one had attacked Barksdale in nearly a century, but the government refused to back down off the required conscription.