Not yet on the calender, but I'm writing!
Janek Hamilton didn't really do 'nervous', but even he was a bit overwhelmed. Commander Seardon had come to their quarters to collect them and had walked them to the shuttle, asking them questions the entire time. And not math or sensor questions, either.
"Mr. Trilling, what is the role of a Master Chief on a ship?"
"He's a rating, altho a high ranked one," Trilling tried, and Seardon frowned.
"Your education is rather deficient in several areas. Mr. Hamilton?"
"A master chief may hold the 'rank' of a type of rating," Mr. Hamilton said, "But his role is that of the ship's grandfather, or so my uncle tells me. He doesn't have that much to do officially, almost like he's retired, but he watches over all of the ratings and stands between them and the officers when they need it."
"And you boys remember that," Mr. Seardon said. "Even the captain would be very, very hesitant to overrule the word of a master chief. Not that he would give his word on a ship matter, you understand. He almost always intervenes in personel matters. Ship's boys who are homesick, ratings who are lost."
"Here we are, take a seat," Mr. Seardon said and Janek looked around. He had been so busy trying to listen to Mr Seardon he had hardly noticed they were now on the shuttle. They sat down, two on each side of the commander, and watched as women, children, ratings, and even an officer or two came on, most of them staring at them curiously.
"What is the proper response to a rating that slow walks you, Mr. Harris?" Seardon asked.
"Slow walk... oh, obeys slowly. Well, one of the other boys told me that the best thing to do in that case was to make them do the whole thing again. Put it back or whatever and do it again."
"Umm, well, I heard that too, but I also heard that if you make it so everyone around them also gets punished then..."
Mr Janek was keeping one ear on the conversation, but was also listening and looking around the shuttle. So he caught one ship's boy across the way elbowing another and gesturing at the door. So he looked at the door himself and saw, amongst the crowd, a boy a little older than he was, wearing a middy uniform, walking in. The boy was about half way down the aisle, looking for a free seat, when he saw Janek and the others, and stopped dead, causing a seaman third to ram into his back and say, well, Janek didn't hear what he said but it didn't look clean.
"Mr Janek?" he heard and snapped his attention back to commander Seardon. "Yes, Sir?"
"I asked you how many ratings would you consider yourself capable of managing at a given time."
"It depends on what they were doing," he answered.
"Truth. Give us some examples."
Janek and the others heard the pre-flight checklist and other announcements only partially, being too busy answering Commander Seardon's questions. The only time they ceased was for a few minutes during the actual take off. But as soon as the seats pivoted back to normal flight he started in again.
"So, Commander Seardon, can you introduce me?" he heard and he and the other middies turned, startled, to see a captain standing there. Their captain now!
"Indeed, Sir," Commander Seardon said, not rising as he was strapped in and officially not required to, "These are midshipmen Janek Hamilton, Artus Harris, Nicodem Faust, and Dionzy Trilling," he said, indicating each in turn.
"Gentlemen," the captain said. "Welcome to the Far Venture. Where are you all from?"
Janek and the the other boys glanced back and forth for a second and thenJanek realized that it really was his job to answer first said, "Sir, I'm from Argonis IV."
The Captain nodded and looked at Mr. Harris.
"Sir, I'm from Trenton III," Artus Harris said, and the captain started.
"Really? So is my wife! Not that I've ever been there. We met via a mutual acquaintance."
Mr Harris blushed, not seeming to know how to answer that. After an awkward pause Nicodem gave his planet as Feertaen II and then Dionzy gulped (which he was always doing) and said, "I'm from the Capital, Messina Zone."
Most people from the capital answered that way. It was the third most populous planet in the Republic and as such each of it's sectors had more people than most planets. And different cultures as well.
"So, did you all meet up here?"
"No, Sir," Artus Harris said. "We were at the Pup academy together."
Janek saw the captain start at that. While many parents sent their boys who were interested in the navy to some kind of prep academy, the Pup academy was the most prestigious, the most expensive, and was a form of influence all by itself. He knew that for a little ship like the Far Venture, here at the at the end of a chain like this, the very idea of one graduate coming to the Far Venture was unthinkable, let alone four of them.
"Well, be that as it may," the captain finally responded, "Welcome on board. I trust that I won't have to hear anything about your for a few days, at least."
Nobody really answered that, and the Captain looked at the view screen where Janek noticed that they were approaching the ship, their new ship and first real assignment.
Not that you could see anything of the ship proper. Some people claimed to be able to see a black that was a little different than the background black of the star field, but a modern ship's stealth coating faithfully reproduced everything else. The only thing that you could see, and the thing that he did see, were the flashing docking lights that the shuttle pilot wasn't using to line up and dock... the lights that he had practiced using dozens of times in sims but, as long as the ship's docking aides were working properly, he would never actually have to use.
But Janek could see the ship in his minds eye... the ship that he knew from schematics and from crawling all over in the sims they had done on the trip out. The vast missile bays... ten of them forming two rings of five, one toward the bow of the ship, the other toward the stern. The dozens of cargo bays that filled in the gaps between the missile bays. The crowded engine rooms, the dozens of crew rooms. You couldn't really see it from the outside, as the passive stealth systems made that impossible, but his minds eye had no problem envisioning it.
The captain went back to sit down next to an commander with engineering tabs, and Janek's pulse pounded. Finally!