Arere Thompson hesitated as he stepped near the looming ship. He had received the call to duty for a year's assignment aboard the Earth Union Ship Ursa Major just shy of three weeks ago. The summons would mean a year floating precariously through space through a supposedly trustworthy hunk of metal. The ship stood proud and gleaming on the dock, ready for her next voyage. Hunk of metal, indeed. His boots clanked softly on the ramp leading in as he walked into his home for the next year.
Supposedly, the captain of the ship had landed on Earth to take a new crew up for peace keeping missions. At least, that was what the rumor was around the clinic. Arere was no greenhorn: he read up on the ruthless Captain Crunch. Shivers went down his spine. Supposedly, she only hired the best of the best and demanded nothing but perfection from the best. Legends of how she's taken the ship through dangerous territories in the name of the Earth Union spread like wildfire as the Academy. Most boys fantasized taming the wild Captain whereas most girls aspire to only try to be as brave as she was. Yes, Captain Crunch was a celebrity among the young recruits. Not for Arere though. Space travel wasn't his idea of serving his home. But here he was.
He looked around to see others with families board the ship. Children of all ages as well as spouses chattered amicably upon entering the spacious vessel. Cold as she was rumored to be, it seemed that the Captain had some sort of soft side if she allowed families to board to make her crew more comfortable. He picked up with his black medical bag and his suitcase; that was all he needed. No frills are needed on a supposedly quick tour. After all, all he needed was his uniform, some clothes for warm or cool weather, and a few knick knacks from home.
The cool air of the ship greeted him as he entered. The hallways were a soft grey with a carpeted floor that led through the residential area. He fished out a scrap of paper from his pocket and stared at the number for his suite. Arere continued down to the end of the hall and rode the elevator up to the sixth deck. Finally, he stopped a few doors down with the label of 619. There was a handy intercom with his name right by it set on the wall next to the entrance, he noted. The door hissed and slid open to reveal a maroon themed sitting room.
Granted, not as grand as any captain's quarters but it was more than enough for him. He looked around at the sparsely decorated room. In the bedroom, from what he could see, there was a double bed with crisp, clean sheets already waiting for him with mahogany looking bedside tables. He walked over to inspect it more closely. Right next to the bed was the door to adjoining lavatory. It was small but seemed like it would serve its purpose. He returned to the common area. It was furnished a few chairs and couch. He dropped his medical bag on the floor and sat down on the cushioned sofa. It would need to be home for just this journey. Then it would be back to the free clinic that he worked at. The ionized air filled his lungs as he soaked in the moment. He would be the sole doctor on ship. A ship of who knows how many. He sat up and heaved a sigh, hoping that this would be a quick year.
"Doctor Thompson to bridge." chirped a voice from his communicator.
Arere shook his head from the daze and headed towards the bridge of the ship. Why would he be summoned to the bridge? The tall, dark-haired man made his way through the comely hallways of the residential area and up the elevator, nerves growing in his stomach with each floor that passed him. The doors hissed open to a new set of hallways that were pristine and sterile white. He passed by a few officers and made his way towards the bride. When the doors slid open, he was greeted by the most interesting sight.
There stood a man a bit shorter than he was with chestnut brown hair and bright blue eyes. Dimples formed at the corners of the man's mouth as he smiled and reached out to Arere. "Greetings. You must be Doctor Thompson. I'm Commander Michael Chai, Captain Crunch's first mate." Arere only silently nodded as he shook Commander Chai's hand. "Allow me to get you acquainted with the bridge. As members of it have been known to go down on expeditions and will probably end up in your sick bay quite often." He turned and moved ahead of Arere. The doctor could only stare as Commander Chai's purple tentacles slithered across the floor. The commander turned back. "Are you coming, Doctor?" The doctor shook his head and followed his commander.
They approached a man with sandy blonde hair and blue eyes. The definition of muscle could be seen beneath the maroon fitted uniform shirt. "What's broken now, Commander?" he asked nonchalantly, not looking up from his console. When the Commander didn't respond, he looked up to repeat his question. Puzzlement crossed his features instead. "And who is this?" He grinned and leaned on his console.
"This is our Chief Engineer Lee R. Jenkins. Jenkins, this is our new Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Arere Thompson. Jenkins is why this ship is still in the skies. Isn’t that right, Jenkins?" the Commander joked.
"Yup, and I'll keep her flying until my bones become dust, Commander." Jenkins replied heartily. He turned to Arere and slapped a bear-like hand on Arere's back. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Doc!" He stared unabashedly at Arere's features. "Boy, you ain't no real sort of human, are you?" the engineer mused.
Before Arere had a chance to answer, Michael pulled him away. The view of the port appeared before him with two people sat at an enormous switchboard at the front. "And here, we have Helmsmen Sheri and John Latimer. They are the best helmsmen in the entire universe." A bushy haired woman shyly waved back at him and an equally bushy haired man gave a short wave before returning to their boards. "They're very serious about their tasks. So don't feel offended if they ignore you in favor of the viewing screen."
“You can kiss my ass, Commander.” John replied offhandedly. His brown eyes were still focused on the board in front of him. “And we’re ready for departure in an hour. Clear skies make for great sailing.” he reported.
A clank caused Sheri to jump out of her seat. The panel overhead clanked again and again until it burst open and fell to the floor. Arere jumped when the metal made contact with the floor. A blonde woman unfurled herself from the ceiling, hanging casually upside down.
"Jenkins, I found the wiring problem. The controls should work better now." the woman reported. She stared at Arere. "Who's this?"
The Commander cleared his throat. "Captain Crunch, meet our new Chief Medical Officer: Dr. Arere Thompson."
The Captain curled up and jumped down from the ceiling. She stood as tall as the Commander and her green eyes bore into Arere. "Dr. Thompson, welcome aboard my ship. I trust that you've familiarized yourself with our hospital wing?"
"U-uh-um...I just signed on board, Captain." Arere stuttered.
She wiped her hands on a cloth. Grease smudges dotted her face and arms. "I see. Well, I hope you've settled soon. You might be busy. We'll be departing soon, if you haven’t heard." Her boots clacked as she began to walk away. “Commander, call together Dros and Charles. Get Jenkins to put together away packs for the three of us.”
Arere noticed that the Commander didn’t seem to know what she was talking about "Captain?" Michael called out to her.
"Communications received a distress message on the planet Thymay. What sort of ambassadors would we be if we didn't respond to each and every help signal?" She grinned and continued to walk away without another word.
The cephladine sighed.
"Is something wrong, Commander?" asked Arere.
"Well, doctor, when we receive messages, it's usually to settle disputes or rescue missions." he replied.
"But aren’t those are good things?"
"You would think so. I'd suggest you get to the hospital wing and prepare the inoculations for our away team. You remember the way back, don't you?" With that, he left before Arere had a chance to answer.
After standing for a few more moments in the bridge, Arere's face reddened and he, too, exited.
The metallic doors slid open with a hiss and the familiar sight of medical instruments relieved Arere. Finally, there was something that bore some semblance of sanity. He sat down in the chair nearby his main console and sighed. Captains and Commanders that say two words before wandering off; engineers that look like they would kill you just as soon as they would possibly bed you…no wonder the last doctor jumped ship.
"Doctor, you won't be able to prepare inoculations that way." chimed a voice.
Arere's shot up from his seat to find a pale, curvy woman standing near him. Her blue eyes were filled with concern. Long, lavender hair had been woven into a tight bun that sat neatly on the back of her head.
"You must be Dr. Thompson." Her pink lips curved into a smile. "I'm Lila Foaler, head and sole nurse aboard this ship." She giggled. Arere openly stared at her as he slowly stood up and slid on his teal lab coat. "Is there something wrong, doctor?" she asked.
"Are you Andromedan?" he asked. He had never met one before and seeing such a legendary creature in close proximity made him nervous.
"Yes, I am. The first Andromedan to be aboard the Science Corps of the United States." she replied cheerfully. "Do you need assistance in preparing the inoculations for the away team?"
He shook himself out of his stupor. "Er...no...I'll do that. Have you the reports of the planet?"
"Yes, the standard immunization should be enough." Lila replied. She tailed after Arere as he moved about to load the immunizer. He could feel her eyes watching his every move. "You're very swift in your movements." she noted. "And good looking. And tall."
"Should I say thank you?" Arere chuckled nervously. His hands moved to connect various vials together in the chamber to load the immunizer.
"Oh you should." She rested her elbows on the counter and rested her chin in her hands. He stared back at her only to be met with open innocence. The hiss of the chamber alerted him of the completion of the concoction.
"Doctor, are your meds ready yet?" called out a voice. Arere gratefully took the immunizer and followed the sound of the Captain's voice. "Ah, Lila are you flirting with our new doctor already? Not very angelic of you." the blonde teased. She turned to Arere expentantly. "Doc, the meds?"
"Right." He held up the immunizer to the inside of her forearm and pressed down. "Is it just you going?"
"As a captain, I shouldn't be down there. But I am. Coming along with me would be Charles and Dros." the captain informed. She rubbed her arm where the immunizer had made the injection.
"Captain, there was no actual noticeable breaking of the skin." Arere noted.
"Er...force of habit." Crunch replied. Quickly, she changed the subject "Where's my team?"
The doors whooshed open to reveal three figures. "Captain, when you summon us, it would be nice to let us know where we're meeting you." chuckled a voice. Arere instantly tensed up. "Ah, doc, you're here too." Jenkins entered with all sorts of devices in his arms. "It would be easier if you stayed in one place, Captain. Then again, if I were you, I'd love to parade that sweet arse around ship too."
Arere gaped at Jenkins.
"Only if you want to spend plenty of time in the brig, Jenkins. Or even better, grounded. What have you got for me?" the Captain replied casually.
" It looks like a basic mission so your basic away belt would be fine." He handed over two devices to the captain. "PAD and gun's been calibrated. I already prepared Dros and Charles."
"Mr. Charles?" called out Arere. A tall, silent man with short dark hair stepped forward and held out his forearm. Arere wordlessly held the immunizer against his forearm. After the soft hiss, Charles wordlessly rolled down his sleeve and picked up the PAD resting on the counter.
Lila sidled up next to him. "Mr. Charles..." she drawled. His pale face immediately took on a decidedly pink touch. "You should let me tend to you when you return..." She looked between him and Arere. "You two could pass as brothers!" Charles wrenched his arm away from Lila's grasp. "Where's Dros?"
"He's on his way." Charles replied quietly.
The doors hissed open and a roar filled the air. Arere's eyes widened at the creature standing in the doorway. "And THAT is how to properly greet a Dracon room, Thes. You got that?" The looming, crimson scaled creature made his way over. "Hahaha, I hope I didn't scare you!"
"No, Dros, the deafening roar was exactly what I wanted to hear before landing on a planet I don't recognize." Crunch quipped. The 7 foot tall reptilian walked over and smiled broadly. "Doctor, this is our ammunition officer, Xelai Dros."
"Hiya!" Dros beamed. He held out his arm towards Arere. The doctor only pressed the immunizer against the offered forearm. "Wow, you really get right to the point, don't you? Get it? Point?" He began laughing loudly. "Aw, come here! You look so tense!" He reached down and enveloped Arere in a bone crushing hug. "There there! We're all friends here!"
"He's...kind of friendly, if you haven't noticed." Lila giggled.