Koji gave Corey Yuni (short for Yunikon), a rather large stuffed unicorn, or yunikōn in the Darastixian language.
There was an issue with Space Fleet's Logistics Department concerning the Explorer Program, so Fleet Admiral Mirah decided the Explorer Program needed their own Logistics Department, headed up by Rear Admiral Robert Orlando Crusoe.
And the officers, their families and crewmen started flocking to the Sooloo, along with some special guests.
Devin French was one of the first to board the Big Bubba. Nobody in line had recognized him, even those whom he had recognized. He saw Kyle's husband, Danny, but he could see that he was busy dealing with his little son. He stowed his grip in a storage compartment and then found a seat to the front of the shuttle and strapped himself in.
Enzan Kage noticed the strange face sitting at the front and walked over to see who it was. As the Assistant Chief Security Officer, he felt it was his duty to know who was on the shuttle. Due to the refit and the upcoming launch of the Shakedown Cruise, it wasn't unusual to see strange faces. He knew who the new crewmembers were, and this boy was not a new crewmember. Enzan did note that the stranger was wearing commander pips on his uniform and approached him accordingly.
"Welcome aboard the Big Bubba, Sir. I'm Lieutenant Enzan." He held out his hand.
Devin noted that the lieutenant was assigned to security. He figured if he explained everything right away, he could avoid whatever long list of questions the lieutenant was ready to ask. He shook Kage's extended hand. "I'm Devin French from the Endurance. I'm coming aboard the Sooloo to observe Commander Robinson and the new astrogation setup."
While Kage hadn't heard Devin French's name specifically, he knew a number of officers from other ships were scheduled to observe the Sooloo's Shakedown Cruise. "It's a pleasure to have you aboard, Sir. Does Commander Robinson know you will be arriving on this shuttle?"
"No, he just knows I will be arriving today. I will communicate with him once we leave Earth's atmosphere."
Devin prepared himself for the shuttle's liftoff. He knew the Bubbas had to work up a head of steam once they got off the ground to give them the momentum they needed for vertical liftoff. He was a bit nervous about being on a strange ship, but it wasn't as if he didn't know anybody there. He felt comfortable working with Kyle.
Once the shuttle was out of the atmosphere and operating at standard speed, Devin texted Kyle that he was on the incoming shuttle. Three minutes later he received a reply. Kyle told him he would be at the shuttle bay to meet Danny and Koji and for him to wait for everyone to disembark. "I have to deal with family," he went on. "John Luke, my assistant, will come aboard Big Bubba and escort you to your quarters. I'll come meet you as soon as we take care of something with Koji."
Everything went routinely and as planned. Devin had considered saying hello to Danny, but he could see his son still had him occupied. He silently praised Danny for his patience.
As the shuttle started unloading passengers, Devin unstrapped himself and stood up. He called out to Danny but could tell he hadn't been heard in the babble of the disembarking passengers.
While the shuttle was emptying, John Luke made his way aboard and spotted Devin standing at the front of the compartment. He came over and introduced himself. Devin knew that John Luke was older than Kyle, but he was surprised by how much bigger he was physically and how much more mature he looked. He liked the big kid right away, just as he had Enzan Kage. He could tell he was going to enjoy his time on the Sooloo.
Kyle and his family had already left the unloading area when Devin and John exited the shuttle. John made sure to introduce Devin along the way. He knew there was no way that Devin would remember everyone he met, but he also knew how important it was that the Sooloo crew members knew who Devin was.
John Luke dropped Devin off at his quarters and told him Kyle would be coming to greet him within a few minutes. Devin unpacked his grip and put the contents away. He also brought a bigger bag which had been checked and would be delivered to his quarters.
A few minutes ended up being a half-hour. When Kyle finally showed, the two astrogators and friends shared hugs and pats on the back.
After finishing their greetings and catching up on things, Kyle gave Devin his schedule for the three days. Devin looked over the detailed sheet and said, "Somebody in your Operations Department is very organized, not to mention artistic. The Sooloo and Endurance logos at the top is a great touch."
"That schedule and the format was put together by Shasho Boyer, who is eleven-years-old and who has a future in Operations. He is one amazing kid."
"From what I've seen and heard, having families on board the Sooloo has been a big plus for you guys. That is not the opinion of a lot of people at HQ as well as on some of the ships."
Kyle grimaced and said, "I have two words for them—fuck 'em."
After they shared a laugh, Kyle told Devin he knew his way around a starship and was on his own. "Just stay off the bridge until you're scheduled in. It's going to be crowded and busy in there. I think you have all you need. And we are doing supper tonight."
After Kyle left, Devin received a message from Shasho Boyer in Operations. It was the schedule Kyle had handed him, complete with the logos. There was also a note explaining that Commander Robinson wished for Commander French to receive a hard copy before receiving his digital schedule. Devin carefully placed the beautiful hard copy into his work folder. It would make a nice souvenir of his visit to the Sooloo. He would be sure that his cousin, Denver, would see it; after all, Denver got his Explorer start on the Sooloo.
Devin was about to walk the decks of the busy ship to get a feel for what everyone was doing. It wouldn't be much longer before the Endurance would be doing its shakedown, and every little trick that he could learn would help make their job easier. Just as he stepped toward the door, the buzzer sounded.
He hadn't turned the viewscreen on, so he opened the door to see who it was. "Lucius?" he yelped in surprise. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm here as Chief Operations Officer of the Endurance to observe the how this ship's Operations handles their shakedown," Lucius replied with mock seriousness. "I can see already that they don't deem it necessary to have the door camera and viewscreen activated. May I inquire as to your position on his ship?"
Devin stared at his crewmate and new friend in disbelief. Then he stepped toward Lucius and wrapped his arms around him. "I am here as the newly appointed boyfriend of the Chief of Operations of the Endurance and am not responsible for the video capabilities of my quarters."
He planted a quick kiss on Lucius's lips and all but dragged him into the cabin. "I am responsible for filling the other half of a bed big enough for two and wonder if you would like to take on the task."
"I believe that would be within my capabilities," Lucius grinned. "That is providing that there is a promise of extreme sensual pleasures when I perform those duties."
The two teens had taken their little charade as far as they could and broke out in laughter. After exchanging a longer kiss, Devin asked Lucius why he hadn't said anything about being assigned to be an observer on the Sooloo.
"Actually, I asked for the assignment. Eric didn't approve it until last night. I figured it was so close to us coming to the Sooloo, I'd surprise you."
"Well, surprise me you did, and thanks a jillion. I'm really happy you're here."
If Devin thought about it, he was happier than he had ever felt in his life since meeting Lucius. It was like the boy standing in front of him sucked out all of his loneliness.
"I really wanted to be here with you. That way I could learn some new stuff and be with my best friend."
"Are we just best friends, or are we something more?" Devin asked.
"What do you mean, something more?" Lucius asked. And then the lightbulb went on. "Oh, are you, you know, asking me to, maybe, or saying you want us to be, you know…"
"Yes, didn't you catch that I called myself the newly appointed boyfriend of the Chief of Operations of the Endurance? Now, I'm asking you to be my boyfriend. I know we haven't known each other long, but…"
"STOP! STOP! STOP!"
Devin stared at Lucius with panic in his eyes, wondering if he was about to be turned down.
"I don't care how long we've known each other. I believe in the possibility of love at first sight, I mean… I knew the minute you made your lunch bet that you were the one, which made me want to get on the Endurance even more, which means my answer is, yes, yes, yes, I WANT TO BE YOUR BOYFRIEND!"
He flopped onto Devin's bed and Devin quickly joined him. The long kiss that followed was without a doubt the best kiss they had shared. They were both painfully erect, the feeling being amplified by the fact they had duties to perform.
"Then, I guess it's official," Devin stated as they reluctantly ended the kiss.
"It won't be official until I wipe those tears off your face."
"Then I'd better get yours to seal the deal."
After they finished dabbing each other's faces, Lucius checked the time. "Hey, I want to meet the dudes in Operations. I hear they're pretty damn good."
"Yes, they are. I've seen the results, but I hear they have a new Chief of Operations, too." Devin especially wanted to meet Shasho.
"Kash Rivers? He was in my classes, and he is the best I've seen."
Steve Boyer was busy at his desk when they entered the Operations office. Steve greeted the pair, knowing they were observers and that the shorter one was Devin French, cousin of his friend Denver. Devin had heard a lot about Steve's incredible organization and competence from Denver. What he had not heard was that the shaggy-haired Assistant Operations Chief wore glasses, something one didn't see very often.
As they got to know each other, Devin showed Steve the digital copy of his schedule on his communicator. "This is really first class," he said.
"Yeah, it's totally awesome," Lucius agreed. "I got one, too."
"I heard one of the kids created this."
"Yep, my son in fact, and thanks for the compliment. He's not here right now, but I'll pass it on."
"I'd sure like to meet him during our stay here," Devin said.
"I'm sure that can be arranged," Steve grinned.
Devin and Kyle had been sitting at a table in the Officers' Mess, talking. Devin had the biggest smile on his face, so Kyle asked, "What? have you met one of the new crew members that you like?"
"Well, as you know, Frank Worsley had accepted the promotion to Captain of the SS Stephen William Hawking," Devin began, "as such Captain Garcia was interviewing possible replacements. Cadet Lucius Hayes was one of the candidates, but he appeared lost, so I offered to help him."
"I… I… I hope so, Sir," the cadet nervously responded. "I'm supposed to interview with Captain Garcia, but all the person told me was that it was at Space Fleet Headquarters. I'm glad I came early, but as big as this building is…"
"Relax, Cadet," Devin ordered as he proceeded to give detailed directions. "What position are you interviewing for?"
"I'm willing to serve wherever Captain Garcia thinks is best, but I have been told that this interview might be for the First Officer."
"Well, Cadet, if you get the position, I am Commander Devin French, the Chief Astrogator aboard the SS Endurance."
"I appreciate the assistance, Sir," responded the Cadet. "I am Cadet Lucius Hayes. Listen, if you aren't too busy, when I am done with this interview, can I treat you to lunch as my way of saying 'thank you'?"
Devin smiled, "I have no current plans, but you don't need to thank me."
"Then, can I buy you lunch because I'd like to get to know you better?" Lucius offered. "I mean, if I am going to be the First Officer, I should get to know my officers, right?"
"I'll make you a deal," Devin smiled, "if you get the position, you can buy me lunch. If you're not the new XO, but are on the Endurance, we eat lunch together, but pay for our own."
"That sounds like a plan, Sir, I think I'm going to like you."
"I thought to myself, I certainly hope so, I think you are cute," Devin continued.
"So…" Kyle couldn't believe Devin stopped there. "You're as bad as those writers who like leaving cliffhangers, did he get the position?"
Devin chuckled, "Not as the XO, Captain Garcia promoted Commander Zapphire, but Luscious Lucius DID get the Chief of Operations position made vacant by that promotion."
"So, you each bought your own lunch?" Kyle inquired.
"Nah," Devin grinned, "I bought both of our lunches as a way to congratulate him. Besides, I think he is worth a whole lot more than the price of a lunch. He DID treat me to dessert... if you know what I mean." Devin wiggled his eyebrows.
Kyle chuckled, "I'm guessing you two hit it off."
"Like how…" Devin's grin got bigger. "He won't be getting his own quarters, he agreed to share mine."
Kyle commented, "I'd like to meet him, sometime before we leave Earth to continue our mission." Devin grinned. Kyle stood up, apologized for having to leave, "I have a staff meeting in twenty minutes, but I will see you at the Observers' Conference shortly after.
Dave sat at the head of the table. In addition to the entire Senior Staff of the Sooloo, on the video monitors were the Captains and First Officers of the other ships in the Task Force.
"This is the first 'official' meeting of our Task Force. The Sooloo will be departing shortly on her Shakedown Cruise. I know each of you have representatives here on the Sooloo acting as observers. What mistakes made here can be used to learn how to do things right. I do not expect this to go flawlessly, but as long as problems become learning experiences, I'm good with that."
The rest of the room concurred with Dave's assessment. Corey Adams had been invited to observe and had been taking notes since the discussion had continued to each operational detail of the shakedown.
Ninety minutes later, Dave turned the meeting over to Hal.
"I don't have much to say other than I hope you all use this as a learning experience. IF we're going to make mistakes, now is the time for them. That way we'll be more 'in-tune' with the new systems when we depart for the next leg of our mission."
"You each have schedules of what we will be testing during the three days. I can't stress this enough; if you have questions, ask them. Don't 'think' you know what was meant. That alone will eliminate 90% of potential problems. Jordan and I will be visiting each department prior to our launch at 0600. Get to work, but make sure to get some rest also. Dismissed."
Devin and Lucius entered the conference room at 1845, fifteen minutes early. Making ten minutes early the equivalent of being on time was something Devin had learned from Kyle. And speaking of early, Kyle entered the room a minute after the Endurance officers.
"Hey, Devin. Nice to see you're on time," complimented Kyle.
"Like I've told you, I've learned a lot from you." Devin turned toward Lucius. "Remember when you said you'd like to meet Lucius sometime, well, this is my boyfriend, Lucius," he said with obvious pride. Damn, it felt good saying that, Devin thought.
"Lucius, this is Kyle Robinson, the best Chief Astrogator in the Fleet, and I'm not just talking about the Explorer Fleet. This guy saved my career and changed my life around. I couldn't ask for a better friend." Devin checked Lucius, "At least a better friend who is not my boyfriend," Devin concluded.
"It's a pleasure meeting you, Lucius," Kyle said as the two exchanged a handshake. "You couldn't have made a better choice for a boyfriend."
Devin loved hearing the praise from the boy he once hated. He still couldn't believe how his life had turned around since that day Captain Garcia asked Kyle Robinson to help investigate the horrid astrogation error he had made. His former enemy could have ruined him—instead he took the time to help him and teach him. Devin wasn't exaggerating when he praised Kyle to the stars.
The introduction ended when Corey Adams arrived with his escort, Ensign Jinzo Kohl. Corey and Kyle exchanged fist bumps and Kyle made introductions.
At one time, Corey would have thought of Jinzo as a babysitter, but now that he was a Cadet in Space Fleet, if only for a few days, he realized that Jinzo was important to his being a part of the Sooloo instead of just a lost kid. Corey took a place at the conference table between Jinzo and Devin.
The room began to fill quickly with those assigned to the meeting, including Jordan Rivers, the ship's first officer, who arrived nine minutes before meeting time. Kyle checked his urge to give Jordan a hard time for being a minute late; it didn't feel like the appropriate time to indulge in teasing, no matter how good spirited it was.
The meeting covered everyone's schedule for the three days, especially during the launch of the Shakedown Cruise. Jordan started the meeting, "Sorry I was a minute late, but other ship's business took priority." Kyle smirked at him and Jordan smiled. "My name is Commander Jordan Rivers, now if you will all introduce yourselves, going around the table, starting with Commander Robinson." After everyone made their introductions, Jordan continued. He then went into the agenda, reminding everyone about space limitations and the importance of sticking to their schedules. "Fortunately, all of you, with one exception, are in Operations and will be reporting on all areas of Operations," Jordan told them. "The one who is in Astrogation has a crewmate who is in Operations."
Crewmate and boyfriend, that is, Kyle chuckled to himself.
"Our Operations team will have a complete report from each team on what transpired over the three days along with what worked and what didn't," Jordan went on. "They will save it to memory keys and pass one out to each of you before you leave the Sooloo." He looked in Corey's direction. "You will be receiving one, too, Cadet Adams, that will have any classified information redacted. Consider it a great reference for your report to Commander Hanson. Yes, I know all about that," Jordan grinned. "If you need anything else to help, feel free to ask Ensign Jinzo, Commander Robinson or me."
After the meeting, Jinzo took Corey back to Kyle and Danny's Quarters. "Be sure to get some sleep," Jinzo warned, "we have watch in Engineering from 0400 to 0545, then you are expected to be on the Bridge for the remainder of the watch, so you are there during the launch."
"I don't know if I can sleep, I am too excited," Corey admitted.
Jinzo nodded, "I can understand that about humans, but at least try."
Corey went into Koji's room, which he was borrowing during this cruise, stripped down, then sat in the saddle of Yuni. He placed his arms around Yuni's neck and kissed his stuffed unicorn on its cheek. "I love you, Yuni."
Hugging the big stuffed animal did the trick and Corey was out fast.
Kyle and Danny returned to their quarters not long after Corey did. Kyle looked at Danny and stated, "I'm going to check on Corey and see what he thought about his first day." Danny just smiled and nodded.
Kyle tapped on the door to Koji's room but received no response. He opened the door and quietly called out, "Corey, are you in here?" Still no response, so Kyle looked in. "Danny, you have to see this," Kyle spoke just above a whisper so Danny could hear him without him disturbing Corey.
"The smile on his face says it all, does it not?" Danny chuckled.
Corey came out of his temporary room, dressed in his cadet uniform. Kyle commented, "You look sharp for an early morning. How did you sleep?"
Corey smiled, "Surprisingly well, I fell asleep in Yuni's saddle."
"I know you did," Kyle admitted, "I went to see how your first day was and saw you. I even took a pic." Kyle showed Corey the pic of him.
Corey's face went white, "Don't let my mom see that, she'll embarrass me with it."
"I won't" Kyle chuckled, "but at least you can't see anything. I do know a certain boy who would get delighted over seeing how much you love Yuni."
"Fine," Corey agreed, "you can show Koji, and I want a copy of it, but no one else."
"What time is your watch? Danny and I are going for breakfast."
"Jinzo should be here any minute. My watch starts in Engineering at four… um… four…"
"0400?" Kyle asked.
"Yeah, that's it," Corey confirmed. "I'll get military time down eventually."
"I know you will. I will see you when you start your watch on the bridge."
Corey directed his next question to Danny, "Will you be there?"
"Nope," Danny replied. "I will be down in the fighter hangar. At some point, whoever has the Conn will inform us to launch our fighters to be sure they launch efficiently."
The door chime buzzed at 0340. When Corey opened the door, Jinzo stated, "We must go, Cadet. Nine minutes early is one minute late."
"Is that why Commander Rivers claimed to have been late in the conference, even though he was early?" Corey inquired. "It makes sense, now."
Kyle nodded, "You may hear that phrase a lot while you are aboard."
Hal and Jordan entered the Sciences Department and, after looking around found Randy Kohl and Ronald Abernathy.
"So, Lt. Abernathy, what do you think of the Sooloo so far?" Hal asked.
Ronald was startled as he didn't hear the pair enter. "Oh! Captain, Commander. You startled me."
Hal and Jordan chuckled and Hal replied, "Christian told me that sometimes you get really 'into' your work. That's not a bad thing. I asked what you think of the Sooloo's Sciences Department."
"It's amazing, Sir. Commander Kohl was just showing me the various disciplines here. I had no idea you had so many."
"Well, I take it you'll be happy here. Carry on."
Hal and Jordan then left, heading to their next destination, Engineering.
Corey and Jinzo arrived in Engineering, and Connor greeted them, "Thank you for being on time, gentlemen. You will be working with Ensigns Marlin-Douglass and Kohl, today."
Corey looked at Jinzo, "I thought you were Ensign Kohl."
"I am, but my opsolas are Ensign Tomo Kohl and Ensign Juro Kohl. They created me, with Opsola Tomo doing most of the work."
"So, does opsola mean creator?"
"No," Jinzo smiled, "opsola means father, or dad. My opsolas treat me as though I am their son and not as though I am just a creation. They were so proud when I took the ensign exam and scored a perfect score."
"You obviously respect them," Corey said admiringly. "I wonder what my dad would say if I started calling him Opsola. What is your word for 'mother'?"
"Dask," Jinzo replied. "And if your opsola or dask question it, tell them that they are highly respectful Darastixian terms for parents whom you love."
"That being the case, I think they will love the new names."
Jinzo found Tomo and Juro working, "Cadet Corey Adams and Ensign Jinzo Kohl reporting for duty."
"Jinzo, you are the same rank as us, you needn't be so formal," Tomo chuckled. "And while we are working, remember, you are an equal."
"Yes, Opsola… er, I mean Tomo," Jinzo responded. "May I present Cadet Corey Adams?"
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Corey," Juro held out his hand. "You will notice, we are not big on certain formalities, except on the Bridge. And even there, not always. I am Juro and this is Tomo."
"Shouldn't I stay formal so I get used to it for if I get into the Academy?"
"Don't sweat the small stuff," Tomo suggested. "When, not if, you get into the Academy, I am sure it will come natural to you."
"Do you know for sure I will get in?" Corey was hopeful.
"Only because I have heard how Kyle Robinson talks about how hard you are working to get in. He has faith in you, and so do we. It was part of how he convinced the higher ups to let you do this Cruise."
Corey smiled, "And I will continue to put my best effort in toward getting in the Academy. I can't let Kyle down."
"You put your best effort in, and you won't let Kyle down. More importantly, you won't let yourself down," Jinzo urged.
"So, what are we working on?" Corey inquired.
"We are prepping the engines to start," Tomo informed him. "Right now, the liquid datolite is mixing with oxygen. When this light turns green, you may push the button to start the engines."
"Really!?!?" Corey was excited. As if being on the Sooloo wasn't enough, now he was being given the opportunity to start the engines of the massive ship.
Jordan and Hal walked into Engineering. While Hal went to chat with Connor, Jordan walked over to the boys. "Cadet Adams, what are you doing?"
"Sir, Ensign Tomo Kohl told me to watch this control panel and when the light turns green, I am to start the engines," Corey stated formally.
Jordan chuckled, "Relax Corey. It's almost time for you to push the button. Hasn't anyone told you, we aren't too formal aboard the ship."
"They have, but you sounded formal, so I thought I should. And are you sure? I mean, the mix says it's only at 69%."
"And it will stabilize around 70%. Anything above 75% is a bit rich."
Corey watched just a few seconds longer when the light turned green at 70%. He grinned as he pushed the button and the engines started humming. "Good job," Jordan declared.
Corey looked at Jordan, "All I did was push a button."
"But you followed orders you were given. That is very important, and I believe you will make a fine officer when the time comes." Jordan patted him on the back before leaving Corey.
Corey thought, I am definitely NOT going to let myself down. I will get into the Academy.
"Connor, it sounds like the engines are ready," Jordan declared.
Hal nodded, "I concur. Keep up the good work, and make sure Cadet Adams is on the Bridge on time."
Hal and Jordan left to finish their tour. Their next stop, Medical.
Kash called a meeting with all the Operations Personnel, except Jinzo, who was escorting Cadet Adams. "Greetings, everyone; as many of you already know, I am Lieutenant Commander Kash Rivers. Most of you worked in this department when my cousin, our current XO, Jordan, ran the department. Now, I am not my cousin, so I may do things differently, but at the same time, I want to emulate him as much as I can."
Noah raised his hand. When Kash nodded to him, he asked, "Sir, Jordan kept things rather informal and allowed us to call him by his first name. Will you be doing that?"
"As I have heard many times aboard this ship, there is a time and place to be formal. When it is just us, if you want to call me Kash, you may."
"You and Steve are the same rank, yet you are fresh out of the Academy and the Chief of Operations and he is the Assistant Chief," Whit clarified. "Shouldn't he be the Chief? I mean he was the Assistant to Jordan."
Kash nodded, "Steve, correct me if I am wrong, but as I understand it, you were offered the position but didn't feel ready, so you let a guy fresh out of the Academy have the position."
Steve chuckled, "I know that may sound silly, but I was just recently promoted and didn't feel ready for another promotion, but you are correct."
"I can tell you, I will probably rely a lot on Steve and Sasho as I get used to this position and crew, but I have had the same amount of training and experience as my cousin did when he first became the Chief of Operations, so I believe with this same crew, we will do great."
Having finished their rounds, Hal and Jordan returned to the Bridge, entering the Captain's Ready Room for their final preparations. Moments after they entered, Dave arrived, and upon being invited in, took a seat.
"You know, it feels weird sitting on this side of the desk, but I'm very proud of you, Babe. Is everything ready for launch?"
Hal smiled and turned to Jordan for the answer.
"First off, I feel slightly uncomfortable with you calling me 'babe,' especially in front of your husband, and second, everything is 'GO' for launch, Commodore."
Seeing Dave's expression, Jordan laughed and said, "Gotcha, Dave!"
Dave outlined his plan for the actual launch so there would be no surprises, then the three stood and left the Ready Room precisely at 0550, ten minutes before launch.
There was an air of excitement on the day the Sooloo launched for its initial departure on what was expected to be a 30-year mission. However, for some reason the excitement level for this mere Shakedown Cruise of three days seemed to surpass that several times over.
On the bridge, Kyle had decided to take the helm personally. Will Crusoe was at the Astrogation station. All of the Chiefs of Departments who have stations on the bridge were present leaving the Assistant Chiefs in their respective Departments.
Hal was in his new Captain's chair flanked by Dave and Robert Crusoe. Next to Dave was Corey Adams, complete with his audio recorder (having gotten permission to audio record his comments on the launch as it happened).
"Mr. Crusoe," Hal intoned professionally, "are we ready to depart?"
Will turned and looked at his Captain and couldn't help but notice the beaming, prideful smile on his father's face as he replied, "Astrogation reports green for launch, Sir."
Hal went through the checklist of departments and having received "Status Green" from each, turned to Dave. "Commodore, Sooloo is ready for departure."
"Thank you, Captain." Dave replied with a grin on his face. He had seated Corey next to him for a reason. "Cadet Adams, any comments?"
This question rather took Corey by surprise, but he found from within himself the ability not to get too flustered. "My only comment is that if this is a dream, I never want to wake up."
Grinning widely at this, Dave replied, "You and me both, brother. Now, Mr. Adams, if you would, please give the order to depart space dock."
Corey was less successful in hiding his reaction, "OH MY GOD!! Really?"
Every officer on the bridge had to laugh over that one when Dave leaned over and replied quietly, "Really, but try not to soil your underwear too often. The freshers are busy enough."
Corey blushed but smiled at that quip and in the most authoritative voice he could muster he stated, "Helm. By order of the Commodore and Captain, you are cleared to depart space dock."
Kyle grinned as he replied, "Aye, aye, Sir." He then deftly released the moorings and umbilicals, calling out each operation as he performed it and took the joystick controls for the engines into his hands. Within seconds, the Sooloo began to move.
As they cleared the space dock, everyone on the bridge broke out into applause. Over the din, Hal ordered, "Astrogation, set course for Jupiter space, let's see what the Sooloo is capable of now."