Universe Lore

A Mere Cadet.

July Fourth 2013

Redrafted: October 10 2014

1.1 The EAS Armitinian

Cadet Tenin Nicon sighed aloud as he stood alone in one of Kelbrow elevators. The night had been unkind to him, and his body ached with exhaustion. Shifting his shoulders in their sockets, he felt them ache and grunted. Waiting for the elevator to reach its destination. He took a quick glance at a device strapped to his wrist, a metal gauntlet, for the time. The Armed-personal Response Mechanism was a small computer worn like a bracer which serviced as a communicator, a port into the Inter Galactic and Global Internet, and an encyclopedia to the user.

The ARM showed the time: 13:24 EMT (Earth Military Time). Knowing the time was incorrect he looked at the ARM for another few seconds and saw a new time appear: 4:54 FMT (FarHome Metera Time), about five in the morning for the city of Metera on the planet of FarHome; no doubt most of the city's populace would still be in bed, but not Tenin Nicon, he was up and wide-awake despite his tired eyes. Tenin had tried to sleep earlier yet had only managed to acquire a couple of hours of shuteye before the excitement and nervous feeling consumed him.

Today was the day he was shipping to space. It was an unreal feeling. Less then a week ago, he was a senior student in the Nertian Space Academy, one of the most prominent trainers of officers for the Space Navy. Now that preliminary part of his Naval Career was over, and he was off to the next step: service aboard an Earth Alliance Federation ship.

Brushing the thoughts aside, he checked himself over in the elevator in his new, ebony black uniform, making sure nothing was out of place for his first day as an unofficial officer. He had received his uniform only a few days ago, yet it felt like he was born in it. Looking at his shoulder, he brushed some lint off the black fabric. Having lint on his uniform was not a fault of fashion that he cared about personally, but it was a way to pass the time. His shoulder now wiped clean, he turned his attention to the pin latched into his uniform.

The general pin the EAF: a comet made up of a large yellow circle with eight dots each a different color forming the tail end of the comet. It was the same emblem that was in the Earth Alliance Federation's flag— a tribute to their origins, the Solar System. To Tenin, the pin showed a sense of accomplishment, he had made it, he was now an officer —or the closest thing to it.

The other side of the pin was bare, showing his position as an EAF officer: Cadet with no rank. The position of cadet was a paradox in that they had responsibilities like most of the other officers, but they did not have the authority that came with it. Instead they were like proxies of command, an extra set of eyes to watch the crew. They could suggest an action, but they could never officially order anyone to do anything. At least it was a first step of the life of a Space officer. Many of the great captains of the EAF Space Navy had started right where he was, a mere cadet with no rank, but endless possibilities. Tenin hoped this was true of him as well.

Done looking over his uniform, he saw his floor was coming and gulped nervously. As the elevator slowed to a stop, Tenin grabbed his duffle bag and lifted the strap over his shoulder. When the lift stopped and the doors open, an electronic voice informed him of his location: "62nd FLOOR: BOARDING AND ARRIVALS FOR EAF MILITARY PERSONNEL."

Stepping out onto the station floor, Tenin realized the entire floor was almost deserted, causing him to pause. This was not his first time on this floor, but it was the first time he witnessed the station like this. There were no civilians waiting for loved ones to return or military personal awaiting their ships to dock and send shuttles for them. Only the assigned station staff seemed to stand out from the floor's emptiness.

Slowly Nicon walked towards a checking-in station to be allowed into the waiting area. The two men assigned to the task of checking in people, were talking with each other and not paying any heed to the young cadet. Walking up to the station, the two men still did not notice the young man, forcing Tenin cleared his throat to gain their attention. As they turned to find the source of the noise, Tenin was able to see that they were in Space Navy service uniforms, one of a petty officer and a serviceman; making Tenin felt over dressed in his formal uniform.

The two were obviously annoyed. The petty officer walked up to the station while the other grudgingly went over to a scanner and woke it from its sleep. Tenin noted, that their faces lacked any form of excitement as they approached; neither man seemed to like his job, and Tenin's presence indicated the end of their downtime.

"Can I help you?" Asked the petty officer.

"Yes," said Tenin nervously. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out his military issued passport. "I'm here to report aboard a ship."

The man took passport lazily and asked, "What ship?"

"The Armitinian, Uranus Fire-Brand Cruiser."

In the Earth Alliance Federation, ships were given an addition name indicating their type of ship. These names were based on the planets from the Sol system. These categorizations were a form of identifying the size of a space ship and her crew. The largest size being the Jupiter class, often called "Mini Space Stations," they resembled city stations in space. They were so large they had to have their own agriculture production to restock their food supply. After the Jupiters came the Saturn, the Uranus, Neptune, Venuses, Mars, Mercury classes, and the hushed Pluto class. The Armitinian was a Uranus class vessel, a more medium to large vessel. A good position for any newly graduated cadet for his or two first ship; not too large to be lost in the mass of faces for the captain to never see him, and not too small where any and all his mistakes would be noticeable to everyone.

The petty officer took his eyes off the passport and looked at young cadet, "You do realize that the ship is not in port yet?"

"I realize I am little early," sighed Tenin.

"The Armitinian is not due in until 11:45. You're about six hours ahead of her. That's more than a little early."

"I-I know that, Sir," said Tenin embarrassed.

The petty officer looked skeptically at Tenin and exhaled deeply he opened the passport. "So, Cadet Nigh-con."

"It's pronounced "Neh-con," interjected Tenin, "Sir."

"Mm, hm." Grunted the station petty officer. His gaze then returned to the passport, and examined the other details. "Just graduated, huh?" he asked Tenin.

"Yes, Sir. Three days ago, Sir."

The petty officer sighed again, clasped the passport shut, and handed it back to the young cadet. "Well, there's no regulation for being early. Although, you will have a lot of time to waste before the ship will come in."

"I can wait, Sir."

"Right," the man was no longer listening, and shifted seamlessly into his habitual questionnaire. In one breath he asked: "Do you have anything foreign substances that could be a hazard to the ship you are about to board, anything to declare, or anything suspicious that might need to be looked over or scanned?" Tenin shook his head quickly, and the man continued, "All right, give your bag to Serviceman Jek, and he'll scan your belongings and your person."

Tenin nodded, lifted his duffle bag, and moved to the next part of the station. After handing it over to the serviceman, he stepped into a doorway-like scanner; a mechanical arm slowly moved back and forth searching his body for anything illegal. When both Tenin and the bag were cleared, the serviceman placed it at the cadet's feet commenting, "Small bag."

"I don't need much," replied Tenin.

"Well," chuckled the one called Jek, "you'll fit in better than most."

"I hope so," said Tenin quietly, picking up his bag. With a brief nod and "thank you" Tenin headed towards the waiting area for arrivals.

The two station employees watched Tenin walk away and laughed to each other. "He'll last about two mouths," Jek whispered. "I give him a week," said the petty officer.

After passing through the check-in and the baggage check, Tenin took a seat in one of the many plastic-waiting chairs. As soon as he settled in the seat, the realization hit him: he had six hours before the ship was to arrive in port. Six hours, he thought to himself. Looking around, he noticed nothing was open, including the food kiosks making the chance of a hot breakfast slim to none until later in the morning.

The next couple of hours Tenin spent on his ARM, browsing the IGGI. He started by browsing the news and recent hot-topics but ended playing one of the free games on it. After about two hours, Tenin shut down all of the programs and he opened an email he had been working on since the night he graduated. It was addressed to Adam Terrian, Tenin's father. Slowly he began to reread it to himself:

Hi Dad, I am writing this letter to tell you that I graduated. I wished you could come to the ceremony yesterday— Tenin corrected the letter and changed "yesterday" to, "—few days ago."

That was where the letter stopped short; Tenin did not know what else he could say to his father. It had been over eight years he had last spoken to the man. He remembered it was just before he enlisted in the Space Academy, and his father was furious for leaving to train as Space Navy Cadet. Ever since that argument, he had sent few emails to his father, hoping for some reply that he was thinking of his son. But there were no returns to his messages, and Tenin was beginning to give up hope of hearing from his father.

He felt stupid to even trying get his father come to his graduation; he knew he would never come in a million years. And yet he sent that email hoping for some reaction from him. But there was nothing.

Looking over his letter again, he shook his head, would he even read this one? He moved his finger over the button to delete the message but was unable to press it. He could not delete the email for some reason; instead he moved his finger over the save/store button and pressed it. Better to have it and not need it, he reasoned.

Suddenly there came a soft plop of an object falling in front of Tenin's feet. It was a small book, a rare sight in final years of the Thirtieth century. Books themselves were considered a luxury item since it cost almost nothing to post a novel or book online and sell it in a computerized version. Books since then became more of a luxury item, and in a way, collectible.

To any other person, they might have looked at the book strangely at first unable to recognize what it was or its purpose. But thanks to his father, Tenin had had many different experiences with books before, and the object looked as normal to him as the stars did.

Looking around quickly, Tenin sighted another person walking away from him. It was a woman, tall and slim in a navy blue suit with short bright purple inked hair, and tucked under her arm were several other books just like the one that lay on the floor in front of Tenin. The book must be hers, he realized.

"Excuse me," Tenin exclaimed snatching up the book and chasing after her, "Ma'am, you dropped this." The lady stopped, and turned to see the cadet holding out a book. "Here you are Ma'am," Tenin said again presenting the book towards her.

"Sir," the woman said curtly.

"I'm sorry?" Tenin said confused.

"I'm sure you are aware that in the Space Navy, you address an superior officer as 'Sir' whether they are man or a woman." She pointed to her uniform, "And that includes Space Marine Officers."

Tenin froze as he realized the woman's clothing was not a suit but a uniform: the navy blue uniform of a Space Marine.

"Oh!" He exclaimed dropping the book in order to salute the officer. "I'm sorry, Sir!"

The marine grimaced as she saw her book lay split open on it's pages. Tenin soon looked down as well, and saw his carelessness. As the captain bent down to pick the book up, Tenin whimpered, "I'm sorry again, Sir."

"It's fine," she replied tightly, flipping through the pages to see if any of them were creased or damaged. She gruffed, "And you can stop saluting. You only need to address me as 'Sir,' you don't have to give me honors."

"Aye aye Sir," Tenin chimed lowering his hand. "I hope I didn't damage your book."

"It's fine," she repeated, still flipping through the pages.

As the Marine Captain checked over her book, Tenin felt he needed to say something else to try and ease the tension between them. "What book is that?" He inquired.

"Heart of Darkness," the captain said quickly.

"I've read that." He commented before adding jokingly, "I never thought I would see a Marine with a book like that."

The captain's eyes glared up from the book to Tenin again, "So all Space Marines are stupid is that it?"

"No, I didn't mean it like that, Sir!" He tried to argue.

"Then why did you say it like that?"

"I don't know, Sir…" he stammered.

Again she grimaced. "What's your name Cadet?"

"Nicon, Sir," he said instinctively saluting again, "Tenin Nicon to board the EAS Armitinian."

"Lower your hand Nicon," she nearly growled, "It seemed you have a lot to learn about the different varieties of people the Space Navy recruits to serve its ships." The captain turned halfway and added, "I'm Captain Fiona Murkus, in command of the 403 Space Marine detachment assigned to serve aboard the Armitinian as well." She added coldly, "You better shape up you behavior the next time we meet."

"Aye aye Sir," Tenin gulped.

"As you were," she said plainly and walked off to a different part of the station.

Tenin watched the captain leave for a moment before he returned to his seat, feeling his gut tighten in anger at himself. Why did he assume that Murkus was a civilian in a blue suit on one of the military levels of this station? He had seen a Space Marine dress uniform before, and it infuriated him that he could not recognize one! He shook his head; already there was an officer aboard his first ship already having a low opinion of Tenin. Not what he needed on his first ship, and with his family's background.

"Hey! Tenin!" Came a cheerful voice to his side. Slowly Tenin looked to smile as saw it was a fellow cadet.

"Morning Donny," said Tenin. He got from his seat and meeting the young man halfway, held his hand out to shake. The cadet was a few inches taller than Tenin, despite them being the same age of eighteen; he had dirty blonde hair and bright green eyes.

"I half expected you here. Couldn't sleep huh?" Tenin shook his head. Donny smiled easily. "Me neither. I was too excited!" His smile grew broader, "After all, we're heading into space!"

Tenin smiled back. Donovan Brink was not only a classmate of but also Tenin's best friend in the academy. Although Donny would swear the two of them met at the Academy, Tenin actually remembered meeting Donny in a off-chance tip to a movie theatre a year before. Even with the small amount of familiarity between them, the two of them became quick friends, and remained so throughout the eight years at Nertian. One could image their excitement when they both were ordered to report aboard the same ship: the Armitinian.

"Yeah," smiled Tenin. Looking over his friend's shoulder, he saw a large group of people that seemed to be watching Donny. He recognized many of them as the rest of the Brinks. "Isn't that your family?"

Donny looked over his shoulder and smiled sheepishly, "Yeah they've come by to see me off." He turned to Tenin adding, "And you as well."

"Me?" asked Tenin surprised.

"Yep!" said Donny, putting his arm behind Tenin's back and pushing him towards the Brink gathering, "After all you are like family."

Tenin bit back a frown; the Brinks had been like a surrogate family to him after his own had practically disowned him. But while Tenin was eternally grateful, he always felt like a stranger in their company, like he was a loafer taking advantage of their hospitality without any means of repaying the Brinks.

Tenin pulled his friend's arm from his back, "Go on ahead, Donny." Before his friend could protest, "I'll be right behind you," he promised, "But I bet they want to see you far more then me."

The Brinks huddled around Donny while Tenin remained stood at the periphery, watching Donny with a big smile. He always had been a little envious of Donny. The Brinks were a large and reasonably successful family. Donny's grandfather was a captain in the Space Navy and a war hero from the Bleak War before he recently passed away. But of he were still alive, Tenin was sure that he would be proud of his grandson.

Then there was Donny's father and uncles who had founded and still controlled a large ship building company based in Farhome's orbit, focusing on building ships of war for the EAF. Although the Brinks had recently entered into the shipbuilding field, they had now become one of the more prominent war ship builders.

Tenin on the other hand had no direct family other then his father and his grandfather whom he had never met. His mother died a year before he entered into the academy and she never mentioned additional family on her side. He had no brothers and sisters, and least that he knew of. Since the alienation of his father, Adam Terrian had taken another wife, and they at least thirteen children, the last he heard. But Tenin never met any of them.

Suddenly a voice at Tenin's side made him almost jump, "So Tenin, Donny told me you are on the same ship as him. Is that right?"

Tenin turned to see Donny's father, Arkian Brink, standing right beside him, smiling cheerfully at the cadet. "Yes Sir." Nodded Tenin.

"Please," laughed the man at Tenin's formal tone, "I keep telling you to call me Ark. I'm not an officer like my father."

"I keep forgetting, Sir," said Tenin apologetically.

Ark Brink sighed aloud as he looked over Tenin again and compared him to the first time he had laid eyes on the young man. When Donny had brought his classmate over one holiday from school unannounced, Ark did not trust the puny little boy that was Tenin Nicon. He seemed very nervous around people and never said anything unless asked. But as the family saw the boy more and more their hearts warmed up to the youngman.

"Are you excited for your first day as a cadet on a ship?" Asked Ark.

Tenin nodded slowly, "I think so, Sir…"

"Nervous?" Tenin nodded again. Ark laughed, clasping his hand on the young man's shoulder. "Well don't worry about it; my father often said the first day as a cadet was the most nerve racking of his career." He then looked down into the cadet eyes and smiled, "After today it will get better."

"I hope so…" sighed Tenin pessimistically, but tried to force an ironic smile. I already pissed off a Marine Captain, how could it get any worse?

Ark then leaned in close and commented, "Take care of our boy now, Tenin. I know you have been for the past couple of years, but just for a few more until he finds his way; he's not as independent as you are."

Tenin looked at Ark and saw honest concern for his son. While proud of his son, he was also scared for Donny. Military service was never a risk free profession, and Ark knew his son to be a bit mischievous and daring whenever he could get away with it. That's what he liked about Tenin: he was far more cautious then his son could ever be and would be there to stop Donny from doing anything too reckless.

Tenin nodded, "I-I will Sir." He turned his head to a sound of pattering feet running towards him. Before he could finish turning someone was embracing him in a tight hug.

"Tenny!" said the playful light voice. Tenin would have smiled if his mouth was not forced open and had lost not all of the air in his lungs.

"Carla, that's enough," ordered Ark.

Carla Brink loosened her hug and stepped back to give Tenin room to breathe. While eight years younger then her brother and Tenin, she had the same color eyes as her brother and father. "Tell me you will look after my brother, will you?" She asked not knowing her father had already asked Tenin. The cadet gave a quick nod; not willing to explain that he already promised Ark and feeling it was simpler just to agree with her. "Good," she said punching her fist into her palm, "if not, I'm going to beat the crap out of you."

"Carla," said Donny, mimicking their father. "You've got to stop picking on Tenin."

"Donny, you are imagining things, I was just teasing him," said Carla innocently, "Right Tenin?"

Tenin gasped in surprise and looked between the three of them before answering, "I guess so." He saw the unconvinced look in Donny's face and decided to change the subject. "I see you're wearing your Nertian uniform?" Tenin asked Carla, pointing her dull gray uniform jacket.

"Yep!" Carla nodded proudly, "Just got it yesterday."

"You'll get sick of it by the first day," Donny teased.

"When do classes start for you?" Tenin asked.

"Tomorrow."

Donny laughed, "Nertian doesn't wait, huh Tenin?"

"I guess not," Tenin shrugged. "'Either you have it—"

"—Or you don't." Carla finished, quoting Nertian's harsh motto.

"I better go check in on Grandpa Sam and make sure he hasn't done something stupid." She then kissed Donny on the cheek, causing him to grimace. "Take care of yourself Donny," she said. She looked at the other cadet and added politely, "And you too Tenin."

When Carla vanished into the little family gathering, Ark turned to his son and said with tears sparking in his eyes, "Donovan… you make us proud, Son."

Donny smiled, "Thanks dad." Tenin saw that they were having a tender moment, and decided to leave the family to themselves.

Slowly he walked away from the Brink farewell party he returned where he left his bag with Donny's right next to it. Sitting back down on the bench, he turned again to the Brink gathering, and a pitiful grin appeared on his lips.

"Are you waiting to board the Armitinian as well?"

Tenin turned to see a familiar fellow cadet standing to his side with her bag of dunnage. She was a slender and fit young girl who had a very pretty face with bright blue eyes and almost postcard-looking blonde hair tied in a military bun at the base of her skull.

Tenin's mind became a blank, and he stammered out, "Uh, yeah it is." Quickly he stood up and held his hand out to greet her, "I'm Tenin Nicon… pleased to meet you." He said as if he was meeting her for the first time.

"Olivia Vertia." She replied with a smile, "But we have already met before, Tenin. We had Piloting classes together."

"Oh yeah…" smiled Tenin embarrassed.

Olivia laughed lightly, "It is ok, I don't blame you for forgetting. I barely remember anyone from that class as well."

But you remember me? thought Tenin full of hope.

"Is this where we are meetin' Liv?" Came another voice. Tenin looked over Olivia's shoulder and saw another cadet heading towards the pair of them. She too wore her formal uniform, midnight black with white buttons.

Olivia turned and smiled at her, "It seems so, Cali."

"Good," Cali sighed putting her bag with others and began to stretch her back as if she was just getting out of bed. She was about the same height as Olivia with a wider complexion than her friend, and raven black hair with two triangles of pink inked bangs that curved down from her scalp to eyebrows like two fangs.

It was not uncommon to see such a sight; hair dyeing had progressed into a form called "inking." Similar to tattooing, a person would inject a certain ink chemical into a hairline to get a color effect within his or her hair.

As her back creaked waking up her joints, she looked at Tenin curiously, "Are you from Nertian too?"

"Uh—yes," Tenin replied quickly, "Tenin Nicon," he added holding out his hand to her.

"Calista Diavivar," she said taking his hand neutrally, "Most people call me Cali, or California."

"Are you from Earth?" Asked Tenin interested. Before he had moved to the academy in FarHome, he had lived on Earth.

"No, I am not," she said the annoyance sneaking into the tone of her voice. "But I have always wanted to live there, and people teased me about it by calling me California."

"Then why do you have people call you California?" He asked.

"Because I got used to it," she said flatly, "the name doesn't bother me, just the question: 'Are you from California?' gets annoying every time I have to introduce myself."

Tenin nodded slowly, "Then where are you from?"

"Gertia. My family is from the San Esteban colonies there. What about you? You don't seem like you are from this planet."

Tenin avoided her gaze, "I-I'm a planet hopper…"

Cali frowned not satisfied with the answer. "From where?"

Tenin sighed. He really did not like revealing his past, but it seemed like he had no choice. Seeing the black haired girl fold her arms and wait for an answer, he suspected she would have a response one way or another. It didn't help that Olivia was looking at him curiously as well, forcing him to give an answer. "I was born on Earth and then moved here when I enlisted into Nertian."

"Where on Earth?" Cali asked.

Tenin scratched his head, "All over. Paris, London, Moscow, Tokyo, Rio Grande—"

"What did you do?" Asked Olivia intrigued.

Tenin shook his head, "It's hard to explain, but my family traveled around the world on business…"

"It sounds like a big change from Earth to FarHome," said Cali. She seemed doubtful at his story.

"I know," laughed Tenin sheepishly, "But it was my choice to join Nertian."

Cali's gaze did not change, but she seemed tired of this questioning and dropped the subject. Stretching the rest of her back, she tapped Olivia's shoulder and suggested, "Hey Liv, you hungry? I saw one of the stands open, and I think they might be making breakfast."

"Sure," said Olivia happily. She turned and smiled at Tenin, "Can you watch our dunnage for us?"

"Yeah," Cali echoed flatly, "Can you do that?"

Tenin stammered for a second before he answered meekly, "Sure."

"Thanks," smiled Olivia. And together she and Cali walked towards a small bar inside the waiting area. When the two were gone from ear shot, he fell back into the seats and placed his fingers on his forehead while shaking his head embarrassed at himself. He must have looked like a complete fool in front of her.

"Stupid," he whispered.

"I see you've been busy," came Donny's playful voice. Barely looking up, Tenin saw Donny seat himself beside him in the row of plastic benches. "So these belong to the other cadets joining us?" He asked, pointing the additional bags. Donny nudged Tenin in the side and smiled mischievously, "I saw one was Olivia, I bet you are excited."

Tenin groaned. He regretted telling Donny about his crush on Olivia. Ever since he did, Donny always seemed to tease him about it. "I doubt it's going to go anywhere," put forth Tenin weakly.

"Well, you have a better chance for it working out with her on the same ship than in another part of the galaxy."

Tenin shrugged, "I guess…"

Donny patted him on the shoulder, "Better get the charm back on, they're coming."

Tenin looked up and saw the two fellow cadets returning to the little gathering. Olivia was carrying two plastic cups with a paper bag wedged between her cup and her fingers. Cali had a single cup with a similar bag, folded half way down with a golden pastry sticking out of it showing a bite mark in it. Breakfast.

While handing Tenin one of the two cups, Olivia said, "Here this is for you, for watching our stuff."

Tenin was completely surprise by the gift. "T-thanks," he said taking the cup. Slowly he sipped the contents and held back a grimace. He forced a smile after another sip, "I like coffee." Olivia smiled, making the lie worth it while also reinforcing Tenin's hope.

Tenin glanced at Donny who had a giant grin of his face. Tenin didn't need to ask what was on his mind: Lair.

"Jeez," said Cali looking around the waiting area, "This place is filling up fast."

Tenin looked around the waiting area and saw she was right. The Brink family had moved on several other families had taken their place. Each family was either following the Brink's example and saying goodbye or waiting in hopeful expectation to greet their loved ones, returned from posts across the galaxy.

"ATTENTION," came a controller's voice, "THE EAS ARMITINIAN IS ARRIVING AHEAD OF SCHEDULE. ALL CREW AND PERSONNEL BE READY TO BOARD EARLY."

Tenin and Donny exchanged a look: it was happening. Their ship was in, and soon they would be in space.

With the announcement, the four cadets grabbed their belongings and made their way towards the large reinforced windows to watch for their incoming ship. All four cadets turned, shifting their gazes to either of the poles to watch for the ship.

With the discovery of space travel, there came many unforeseen dangers. In freak accident, the Jump Drive Module of a small Mercury ship, the EAS Thunderbolt, had failed causing the ship to crash into the planet Yurz at Light Speed Mark-2 enough force that would match an asteroid three times the size of the planet. It was unrecorded how much of an impact the ship carved in the planet's curst, however with a hit like that, the planet itself began to rip itself apart instantaneously. The was the only know case of a planetary collision, and ever since, the ships of the EAF have entered and exited through the two different poles of a planet: the northern pole for entries and the southern pole for departures.

As Tenin looked up, he saw several little gray figures in the northern space. They were not the ship he would soon board—they were far too small— most likely they were trading vessels heading to a different FarHome station or off to the Brink Foundry. Perhaps a bunch of metal for the hull of a ship or a cluster of electronics for a planet, he could only guess. Either way they would not be apart of Tenin's current placement.

Then without warning, she arrived. In a cloud of crimson blue that slowly dissipated, revealing the gray armored ship that it surrounded.

The EAS Armitinian, a Uranus Fire-Brand Cruiser. She was a giant compared to the other ships, and all attention would be focused on her. To Tenin, she was a thing of beauty. Her bow was narrowed into a flat tip and glistened in the sun's light painting the bow plow of the ship better if it was another color. Behind the plow, the longer and less armored part of her hull could be seen, with two long breaks in the hull followed by a third break, shorter then it's two compatriots thanks to two large shuttle bay doors forward right behind the bow.

He had learned all of her stats in the past few days, anything he could get his hands on. She was 1572 meters long, and 535 meters wide. Her bow plow was heavier then most of her size, nearly a meter thick of solid titanium. She had fourteen heavy Ironclad guns, six torpedo tubs, and four Orbit to Surface missile launchers. At wartime complement she boasted up to 350 personnel, with eight officers under the captain; in peacetime the number was reduced to 275 with two less officers.

She was about five years old, making her one of the newest ships in the EAF fleet and one of the best to learn from. She would have the latest upgrades, the latest armor, and the latest weapons.

Tenin and Donny shared another glance and smiled excitedly. They knew they were very lucky to get this post, especially in peace times. And yet, in the year 2982, even if the entire four empires of the Milky Way Galaxy were at war, Tenin knew she would be a lucky break even for him.

Slowly the ship began to descend from the top of the plant's space and turned sluggishly as it approached the same plain as the station. The Armitinian began to slow as it approached the Kelbrow Station, and when it reached about 2000 yards away from the station the glow from the engine slow faded away and another set of thrusters appeared from behind heavy metal panels on the bow of the ship making her completely stop.

"A flawless entry," complemented Donny.

"Yeah," agreed Cali. "The captain clearly knows what he is doing."

"Does anyone know anything about the captain?" Asked Tenin, turning his gaze from the ship and looking at the three other cadets. All three of them shook their heads, making Tenin feel a little better about himself that he was not the only one who could not get any info about his captain. Over the past couple of days, none of them had researched Captain Makota Yuuto Isamuto. Any information would be useful to know, even his record could help the cadets understand the man and what he would expect from his subordinates.

Now it was too late. Soon they would find themselves in the captain's mercy and all of their questions and fears would either be answered or replaced with new ones.

The very moment the ship came to a halt, another announcement came over the station's intercom, "ATTENTION! ALL CREW AND PERSONNEL FOR THE URANUS FIRE-BRAND CLASS, ARMITINIAN, PREPARE FOR SHUTTLE BOARDING."

After hearing the announcement, Tenin opened his bag making sure he did not forget anything. After going through everything in his mind, he gave a content nod. Picking up the bag, he began to follow the other three cadets already heading for the shuttle docks.

"Hey Tenin," Donny whispered looking at his friend, "It looks like we have a Kev coming with us," he said pointing to the back of a bright purple haired Marine who was ahead of them.

Tenin nodded glumly; they had already run into each other.

Donny jeered, "Five creds say he's a tough son of a bitch."

"She," Tenin corrected. "That's Captain Fiona Murkus. She's to take over the Marines in the Armitinian."

"You know her?" He marveled.

"I know of her," he fibbed, "And I wouldn't forget to address her as 'Sir.' She hates if you call her 'Ma'am'."

"Good to know. But I guess I'm out five credits." Donny smiled. After a sigh, he thought of a way to get his money back, "double or nothing, Tenin?

"On what?" Tenin asked, not planning to collect from Donny in the first place, knowing he was trying to clear his slate by making a more likely bet that he would win and say, "Now we're even."

"On whom we are going up against," Donny smiled.

"We're at peace with all three of our neighbors, Donny. It's not like we're going on a ship heading into war."

"C'mon," Donny said nudging him in the side, trying to get him to play along, "Five creds say it's the Mann we're fighting."

"We've been at peace with the Empire of Mann for nearly ten years Donny," Tenin said plainly, "I doubt they want to lose again."

"Maybe that's why they'll fight," Donny argued, "They want back what they lost."

Tenin shook his head doubtfully, but Donny was not convinced. "Hey, Olivia! Cali!" Both of the cadets turned. "I'm taking bets on who were out to fight against. I have five on the Empire."

"I'll take that bet," Cali smiled, suddenly invested. "It's more likely than a war with the PAC will ever be."

"I don't know," Olivia teased, "They are known to do anything for money. After all they are a commerce alliance."

"True," Donny allowed, "C'mon Tenin who's your money on? The Trylan's?"

"My money's no where," Tenin said shaking his head, "As far as I know, the next fight could be against pirates or smugglers for all I care." He shrugged, "Hell, I would bet on a Fasgin rebellion before war."

"So that's you bet?" Donny asked playfully.

"I never said I would—"

"C'mon," Moaned Donny, "Cali and Olivia made bets, now it's just you."

Tenin wanted to snarl at Donny. He had brought Olivia's name into this, and now Tenin felt compelled to join in this little game. He looked up and saw Olivia watching him, again forcing him to action.

Tenin sighed, "Put me down for pirates."

"And we have a bet!" Donny cheered, squeezing his arm around Tenin playfully. "Don't worry, Tenin. Your money is good with me."

As the four cadets neared the loading bay, Tenin took another look at the ship, now it was surrounded by a swarm of shuttles, odd-looking service ships and supply ships, getting the Armitinian ready for its next tour of duty.

After the four cadets arrived to the Shuttle docks, they were followed by about fifty other servicemen and women, no doubt also bound for the ship. For about a half hour the group of people stood waiting, and finally the shuttles floated out of the Armitinian's doors and turned to approach the station's docks.

From the ship, three Cutters came to the station, and as they pulled to the side, a heavy looking robotic arm reached out and grabbed the Cutter tightly in talon-like beams that extended around the Cutter and held it in place. After the small ship was secured in the machine's metal claws, the sealed bridge to the cutter's door extended to the shuttle. This was followed by the sounds of the doors torquing themselves onto the shuttle, making the bridge sealed.

For a few minutes, there was no movement from either the cutter or the group on the station. Then the doors to the bridge opened and a group of service people walked out of it. Tenin noticed an officer from the crowd heading towards the crowd of people waiting to get on the cutter. He wore his service uniform unlike the cadets who wore their ceremonial black and whites. The man's rank could be seen on his left shoulder half-moon. It was the rank of plain Lieutenant, probably one of in the middle of the seniority list.

After Tenin regarded the rank of the man, he noticed the man behind the rank. He was a pencil of a man about two meters tall but what had in height, he lacked in weight. Tenin guessed that he weighed less then 70 kg, and it made the man look sickly in his uniform. He was pale, almost white, and had dark black hair an inch in length that seemed to match the dark blackness of space. Tenin then looked at his eyes and found that they lacked the excitement that the cadet was feeling. Clearly this was just another day for him, and little it seemed would break him from his routine.

Stopping in front of the four cadets, he saluted and said evenly, "I am Lt. Bertran, Third Officer. I am here to pick up four cadets. Are you them?"

"Yes Sir!" replied Donny saluting the Lt. back. He smiled and tried to make conversation, "That was a flawless entry, if I may say so, Sir."

But Bertran didn't seem to hear him. Instead he pulled out a clipboard with a roster on it, "State your names for confirmation," he ordered robotically.

"Yes Sir," Donny answered. "Donovan Brink."

"Specializations?" Asked Bertran. Specializations were certain part of space life that cadets could focus on.

"PAG," replied Donny.

"Say their names cadet, not their acronyms." Bertran ordered. In the Space Navy cadets were allowed at least three different specializations, and their first initial identified them.

"Sir, Piloting, Armed Combat, and Gunnery!"

"Very well," said Bertran checking off his list, "go on into the cutter." Donny saluted, then picked up his gear and moved out of the line. Bertran continued in the same tone. "Name?"

"Calista Diavivar, Sir!"

"Specializations?"

"Piloting, Navigation, and Gunnery, Sir!"

"Very well," he said signaling her to follow Donny after a salute. And the cycle repeated, "Name?"

"Olivia Vertia."

"Specializations?"

"Piloting, Intelligence, and Repair, Sir!

Again he repeated the same orders, and Olivia followed Donny and Cali. That left Tenin, and in a sudden shift he felt very alone, making his stomach tie into a knot. Tenin almost jumped out of his skin when Bertran repeated, "Name?"

"Tenin, Sir." He said almost scared, "Tenin Nicon."

Bertran broke his routine and looked up and the cadet searchingly. He had a look on his face if to ask: "You're him?" He then returned to his list, "Very well. Specialization?"

"Piloting, Navigation, and Gunnery, Sir," said Tenin.

"I see," he said unable to hide a slight tone of being unimpressed. "Well, join the others." He then casually saluted the cadet. "Welcome to the Armitinian cadet." That was odd, why would he salute to Tenin and not the others?

"Thank you Sir," Tenin saluted back. Then the Lieutenant left the cadet alone to attend to what was next on his list, "Is there a Captain Murcus here?" Bertran asked aloud. Tenin flinched at that name, picked up his bag, and ran after the three other cadets as they walked into the bridge to the cutter, wanting to be nowhere near the Marine Captain at present.

The shuttle bay of the EAS Armitinian was larger then Tenin anticipated. It seemed almost too small for all of the cutters and jetties and the supplies that were to be unloaded from the shuttles. As soon as the shuttle landed on the ship, Tenin breathed a sigh of relief. Well aware of the fact that he was simply flying from a smaller ship onto another, he still found the trip on the cutter nerve racking for some reason.

He knew it was silly because a Space Officer would have to take many trips in shuttles in their time aboard a ship, but he always feared traveling on one rather than on a larger ship. As the three cutters docked into the shuttle, the shuttle bay doors closed behind them, and air pressure and gravity was added to the room, making it safe to unload. A few seconds after the air pressure had filled the loading bay, a swarm of workers and unloading machines appeared from opening doors to relieve the cutters of their supplies.

After a short wait in the cutter, all of the personnel that were transported disembarked. When he reached the floor of the unloading bay, Tenin sighed, releasing all of his tension in his stomach and his mind, it seemed. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw an officer waving on arm over his head to gain the attention of the cadets.

Even from affair, Tenin noticed it was a lieutenant by the bright, half-full moon that was pinned below his left shoulder of his plain service uniform. He then shouted, "Cadets over here!" Tenin briefly glanced at Donny, who met his gaze and winked at Tenin. They had made it.

The lieutenant who met them was a laid back man, who seemed not at all like Bertran. He was short, pudgy, and his service uniform seemed to be completely disorganized, which was almost impossible to do to the Space Navy's uniforms, but somehow the lieutenant had managed to do it.

When all four cadets saluted the lieutenant, the officer introduced himself in a proud manner, "I am Lt. Michael Ducton." He chuckled lightly. "But everyone calls me Ducks. That includes cadets. Got it?"

"Yes Sir!" All four replied together.

"Now," Ducks smiled, "let me show you all where you are going to be sleeping while aboard the Armi."

"Shouldn't we help the unloading here, Sir?" Asked Tenin looking around the rest of the Shuttle bay.

The lieutenant looked at the cadet, "I have a rule: never help in a job you don't have to do. There is no need to get in their way. Cadet?"

"Nicon. Tenin Nicon."

"Ah," he grunted thoughtfully. Tenin perplexedly glanced at Donny, and his friend only shrugged as well. But the lieutenant seemed oblivious to the fact that he had said anything and ordered, "Follow me."

At a nearby elevator, Ducks explained his plan for the cadets, "We'll take this to the top of the storage floors. There we will be able to get on a personal elevator and avoid the rush of crew."

After the two trips on the elevators, the cadets arrived to a pair of living quarters, males to the right and women to the left. With a brief glance towards each other, the four cadets split ways into their lodgings. The cadet quarters were smaller than Tenin expected; it was as if the quarters were once personal quarters made even smaller. The two walls on either side of the entrance were packed with a stack of four bunk beds with two pairs of half lockers in between each stack of beds with about five feet in between the edge of the bed to the other bed on the opposite wall. A cramped room.

"Here, Gentlemen," said Ducks as if he was a realtor, "Is were you will be calling home while on board this ship."

After looking at the cramped room, Tenin noticed the room was not empty—over half the bunks had bodies in them, either peaking out of there bunks sizing up the new cadets or too busy in there own world to notice.

"This is going to be your locker," said Ducks opening a locker. Tenin and Donny looked into the locker; it was about four by four, a small locker for one person. "Cadets have to share a locker," explained Ducks as both cadets turned to the lieutenant. "Get used to it, this ain't a resort." He pointed down the row of beds, "You can pick where you sleep if you want, but just make sure you mark it down so we know which one to kick if you missed your watch."

"How come there are extra beds?" Donny asked.

Tenin sighed to himself, knowing that was a stupid question for his friend to ask. Nearly every cadet in the EAF would know the reason why they were blessed or extremely lucky to be in any ship heading out into space.

"'Cause we're not up to wartime strength," Ducks shrugged apparently not thinking it not as obvious as Tenin did. "If we were, we would have every bed in here filled with fresh cadets eager to prove themselves."

"And officers who don't slack off, Lieutenant Duction," came a voice from the hallway.

"Sir no Sir!" Ducks chortled. With the bulk of his figure no longer blocking the door, all the other cadets could see the other figure, a higher-ranking officer, behind Ducks. He wore a waning gibbous moon that indicated his rank as a lieutenant commander. Stepping into the room, one of the other cadets noticed the officer and snapped to attention simultaneously announcing: "Officer on deck!"

All of the other cadets followed the one's example and stopped whatever they were doing and stood into a line and came to attention with Tenin and Donny as well following suit. When all cadets were standing still, the man walked into the room and revealed himself fully to Tenin. He was nearly two feet taller then Ducks and had a serious face that would make Bertran look like he had emotions. He had dark brown skin with silk, short black hair and thick eyebrows that seemed to be two additional mustaches like the one under his nose.

Seeing the two new faces, he stopped in front of them and looked at them with his dark brown eyes, "I expect you two are settling in alright?"

"Yes, Sir." Answered Donny for the two of them.

"Very good," he said flatly; his analytical gaze looking at Donovan, sizing up the cadet. With what seemed like a nod of approval, the officer's eyes turned to Tenin, who flinched slightly. He turned quickly turned giving Tenin no hint as to what he thought of the cadet. "I am Lieutenant Commander Draz Barbozza, First Lieutenant and presently in command of the ship while the Captain is away. Understand?"

"Yes, Sir!" Both Donny and Tenin replied.

Draz nodded, "You have any questions?"

"Where is the captain," Tenin asked.

"He's been called to report to the admiral," then Barbozza faced Tenin and looked into his eyes. "And you should know, asking about what the captain is the first doing this the first thing a spy would ask."

"I was only curious, Sir" Tenin protested weakly, wanting to look down to the floor although unable to take his eyes of off Barbozza's. Being called a spy was one of his worst fears.

"Curiosity caused the cat to be locked into an airlock and jettisoned into space. The same thing we do to spies and cadets with loose mouths. Is that clear?"

"Yes Sir." Replied Tenin quickly.

"Good. And you better watch yourself cadet," the lieutenant commander added leaning in to look into Tenin's eyes. "I have my eye on you…"

Taking a step towards the door, Barbozza's tone shifted to one less serious, "New cadets report outside of the cadet's lounge in fifteen minutes." He turned to the room and looked at the two he was implying. "If you are curious as to what will happen to you if you are late," he gestured back to the other cadets still stand at attention, "just ask them." Draz then flashed a brief smile, but it was only for a second before he turned completely and left the room.

When the lieutenant commander, left the room, the cadets and sole lieutenant stood still at attention for another minute, just in case he returned; then as if the entire room exhaled, all the people stepped out of attention and returned to there business. Ducks turned to the two cadets, "That's Draz. A bit harsh and serious, but he's a fair officer, unless you cross him."

"Did he mean what he said sir?" Asked Tenin stepping forward.

Ducks smiled wryly, "Ask your fellow cadets. They'd know more than me." He nodded, "Right. I'll see you two around." He gave a casual salute leaving the cadets to themselves.

Now the two were on their own, left in their new home. Turning to their locker, the two cadets exchanged look and smiled excitedly. "Well Tenin," sighed Donny, "Let's get this started."

"SO" came a loud, shrill voice, "You two are the fresh meat?" Tenin looked up and saw a cadet looking them over. He had a thin, pasty face with big and long teeth with which his lips could not contain. A ferret.

"Yes," said Donny acting friendly for the two of them. Tenin on the other hand guarded feeling towards the cadet. "Fresh meat" was not a term for someone likely to be friendly to them.

"Well," said the other cadet, "Welcome to the Armi…" Tenin noticed his voice was not friendly; instead it seemed to be full of malice and arrogance. Tenin wondered if Donny had heard it too.

"I'm Donovan Brink," said Tenin's friend holding his hand out to shake the other cadet's.

"Brink?" said the cadet surprised. He then half turned to the rest of the room and said, "We have royalty on the ship!" Donny, realizing the cadet was not going to take his hand pulled it back as if the other cadet was covered in a plague.

"Hehe," the cadet rasped. It sounded like a mad clown's laugh, disturbing Tenin to his soul. "It'll make the trip all the more interesting."

"And who are you?" Demanded Tenin.

The cadet looked at Tenin and was unimpressed. "Jonathan Bex. What about you?"

"Tenin Nicon," replied Tenin having an odd sense of pride.

Bex looked at Tenin, this time with a surprise. "Reeeally? Well, I look forward to seeing what the others think of you."

"What is that supposed to mean?" growled Donny.

"Oh, just idle chatter…" Bex smiled. "But let's just say, he's painted himself as a bad apple, and before we even set off into space."

"What?" Asked Donny stepping forward again threateningly. "What the hell do you mean by that?"

Was that because of Murcus? Tenin thought suddenly.

"Donny," Tenin had grabbed his friend's shoulder and pulled his back and away from the cadet, "Leave it. We have to unpack and meet Draz. Remember?"

Donny looked at him and saw the cross look disappear from his eyes. He sighed, "Right."

"You two make quite the couple…" Bex added and quickly retreated to his bed for safety after prodding the bull one last time.

Leaving the little weasel be, Donny and Tenin changed quickly into their service uniforms. When their dunnage was stowed, they left their new quarters and headed towards the Cadet's Lounge. Peering inside the Cadet's Lounge, Tenin noticed it was hardy any bigger then the sleeping area even without the beds—a few tables and twice as many chairs, hardly what one would call a "lounge."

Waiting for the officer, Olivia and Cali joined the other two, to pass the time before the officer arrived.

True to his word, Draz had arrived fifteen minutes later. Again all of the cadets snapped to attention, until Barbozza said "At ease."

"Welcome to the Armitinian. A couple of things you should know before you go about your business. First off, do your jobs right and on time. We all have to play a part here and everyone pulls their own weight. Second, the captain is a man who respects his ship's name like a daughter. Do anything to damage the name of the ship or its personnel, and there will be hell to pay. Understood?"

"Yes Sir!" All four cadets answered.

"Good," said Draz, and pulled a clipboard out form under his arm, "That's your orientation, and now your duties. Olivia Vertia."

She stepped forward, "Sir?"

"I understand you know repairs?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Well, unfortunately I'm assigning you to work with the wire jockeys."

"Wire jockeys, Sir?" Asked Olivia unsure what he meant. The wire jockeys were crew members that had to check each and every wire and replace them if necessary. A boring and demanding job.

"Yes. I would watch your back when working with them. They have more sexual assault charges against their personnel then any one in the ship. The last man I had down their added three to their counts. I had to place you there for now since they are the only one who could use the extra help." He then lowered his clipboard and became even more serious, "They are already on punishment, so if they so much as look at you wrong, I want you to come to me, and I will put them straight. Understand?"

"Yes Sir," replied Olivia, "Thank you Sir." Tenin smiled to himself, thinking of the possible ways Draz could "put them straight". He noticed Olivia had a look of anxiety on her face, making his smiled fade.

Draz sighed and returned to his clipboard, "Well, it will only be temporary until I assign another cadet there who's been at his job too long and needs to learn some other task. Anyway, your shift will be about four hours. Report to me then and I will show you where to go." Olivia nodded and returned back to her original spot in the line. He then moved his eyes down the clipboard and said, "Calista Diavivar."

"Sir." She said firmly stepping forward.

"You will be on the bridge to start. Report to Lieutenant Ducton a few minutes before your watch and he will tell you what to do." Cali nodded her head and fell back into the line.

"Donovan Brink."

"Sir?"

"You will be assigned to Lt. Burtran as bridge watch, and under Lt Thertian in the third gundeck. Your shift," he paused and looked at his watch on his ARM, "is about to end. So there is little point to head to the second gun deck right now. So make friends or do whatever you want until 2000." He looked up and asked, "Got it?"

Donny nodded, "Yes Sir."

"And finally," the lieutenant commander's eyes shifted to Tenin. "Tenin Nicon."

Tenin stepped forward, "Sir?"

"I'm assigning you to Lt. Zuuks of the first gun deck," he almost smiled, "I'm sure he will be able to put you to work." He looked at his ARM again, "I suggest you get going, your watch starts in fifteen minutes, and Lt. Zuuks does not like to be kept waiting."

"Aye, Sir." Said Tenin he then forced the question: "where is Lt Zuuks?"

"Inside the shuttle bay, unloading what supplies there are." Again he checked the time. "Fourteen minutes. You better go." Tenin gulped, it took at least twenty minutes to get to the cadet's quarters when they walked there, if he ran he might make it in time.

"Y-yes Sir," Tenin quickly turned and briskly walked out of the lounge to report to Lt. Zuuks.

"That was hardly fair, Sir." Donny protested on Tenin's behalf.

"Maybe it was," Barbozza shrugged. "But he must have had plenty of help to get this posting," Barbozza looked down at his clip board, "And I will not have any of Fifth Fleet's tactics used without punishment on this ship. You understand?"

"Yes sir." But it wasn't his doing, Donny added ruefully.

Lieutenant Quinn Zuuks stood still, watching the crew on the shuttle bay unloading the cargo brought aboard, as the Lieutenant in charge of unloading supplies. It took a lot of potatoes, and other rations to feed about two hundred service people. It was a boring job, but someone had to do it.

Taking it all in, the lieutenant sighed. The wonder of the entire process had disappeared completely for him. The number of times he had seen the action dulled any sort of bewilderment of how much food and water a ship could go through in a single patrol.

Quinn Zuuks was 33 years old and a native of FarHome. His skin was a chocolate brown, with slightly darker brown eyes that seemed to be very calm even amongst this controlled chaos of the shuttle bay. He took a quick glance at his ARM. 12:13. Thirteen minutes since the watch had started, and already he felt that the men were making very good progress.

"S-Sir!" Panted a voice to the Lieutenant's side, "Cadet Tenin Nicon, r-reporting for duty Sir…"

Zuuks turned slowly and looked impassively at the cadet. The young man was panting heavily, and his service uniform was disheveled; all the signs he had rushed to get here. When he was done looking over the cadet, he turned back, "Cadet Nicon. You are late."

"I know Sir," panted the cadet, "But you see, I-I was—"

"I do not care what caused you to be late," said Zuuks, "The fact is you are late. And on your first day as well." He then looked at the cadet coldly, "Make sure it does not happen again."

"Yes, Sir!" Gulped Tenin.

"Very well," sighed the lieutenant, content with having scared the new cadet. It was not important that Tenin had arrived on time to the loading, in fact it had been helpful. All of the experienced hands were busy at work doing their jobs that they knew. A novice was only bound to slow things down. But now that they had their system working, Zuuks could add Tenin to an odd job and get him out of the way.

"So, Mr. Nicon. What are your specializations?" Asked Zuuks. Not really caring for small talk, but stalling as his mind pondering over what he could have the cadet do.

"PAG, Sir."

"Oh?" Zuuks grunted surprised at the cadet's credentials. He had Tenin pegged as a NIP, or something similarly more supporting, not on the front lines of a ship.

"Do you have a problem with it, Sir?" Asked Tenin meekly.

"No." Zuuks turned his head away, "It would be hard for me to judge, myself being a PAG as well. But you certainly could have done better with you classes…"

"You saw my test scores?" Asked Tenin lowering his head. They were low, a little less then average, and he was ashamed at that fact.

Zuuks nodded, "It is almost protocol to look at an incoming cadet's scores. It helps everyone understand who is joining his or her ship. Everyone does it, even the officers; therefore everyone knows your scores." He shook his head, "An average of 74 is not a good start for any cadet."

"I know Sir," Tenin said staring at the ground. Then his head shot up as he said, "B-but clearly someone saw something in me. I mean I did get assigned with this ship." He shrugged, "I got lucky…"

"Are you sure it was just luck?" Asked Zuuks half to himself.

"Sir?"

"A cadet with average scores get assigned to a ship, in spite of peacetimes and other cadets with better scores. Do you not find that odd?"

"I guess I got really lucky," Tenin shrugged again; unsure what Zuuks was implying.

"Mm, hm…" grunted Zuuks, not convinced. "Well, I do not approve of favoritism. Of any kind. This is a ship for battle, not some ego trip like in Fifth Fleet."

"Fifth Fleet, Sir?"

"I suppose you haven't heard of it. I know I hadn't when I was a cadet." He sighed, "Well I'm sure you will find out in time. We all did at some point." He then turned his face and looked deep into Tenin's eyes. "Prove you can do your work without complaining we well get along. Do I make that clear?"

"Crystal, Sir." Said Tenin.

"Good," Replied Zuuks, a job suddenly came to his mind. "Cadet Nicon, I want you to take the soap refills and go around the ship refilling all the soap dispensers. It should take you most of your watch and it should help you become more familiar with the ship." He gave a small grin, "A perfect job for a new cadet; do you agree?"

"Yes, Sir." Agreed Tenin, but he doubted it. "What about the women's bathrooms Sir?"

"I am not sure if you know this, Nicon, but women can be reasonable people too. So find a way to make it work. Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir. Aye, aye." Saluted Tenin. He turned and headed for the supply creates to look for the soap refills.

Zuuks watched the cadet walk away and mumbled to himself, "I'm gonna have my hands full with that one…"