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Chapter 50

      Korfas let out an exasperated yell and threw the datapad on the desk. "Why do I have to read all those?"

      Jeremy looked through his screen, at the male seated at his old desk. Jeremy was at Gral's desk. It hadn't been easy for him to move to that desk, he hadn't wanted to. If he hadn't agreed to train Korfas, he'd have left this desk untouched, but life had required he moved on.

      "You need to know what's going on."

      "What do I care if six gunners are sick, or if some of the food has gone bad?"

      "What are you going to do if you get in a firefight with some pirates, and only discover half your gunners are in the medical bay when you can't shoot back at them? Or that you're running out of food, because it spoiled, when you're weeks away from the nearest station?"

      "That isn't my job," Korfas growled. "It's the Chiefs jobs to make sure everything's running correctly."

      Jeremy sighed. That's what came of putting someone on ships he didn't care to be on, with captains who didn't care to have him there. Years in space, and he didn't even know the basics of running a ship.

      "Being a captain isn't all about standing proud on the bridge, making threats to your enemies, and giving orders. If that's what you're looking for, become a vid actor. The Chiefs don't decide where the ship goes, the captain does. They update you on how things are going in their department, so you can decide what the ship needs to do. I don't like doing management and more than you do. I'd rather be buried in the generator, than sitting here, but I'm the captain, so I put my ass in this chair and read data. If you are serious about being a captain, this is something you need to learn to enjoy, or at least tolerate. If you don't think you can, you might want to consider doing something else."

      Korfas grumbled under his breath.

      "Tell me something. Who is after my ship. You or your mother?"

      The male looked up at him, "What?"

      "Your mother, then." Jeremy nodded to himself. "Do you actually want to be a captain?"

      "Of course I do. It's just that no one's ever told me any of this was involved in it."

      "Didn't you take the Command Courses at the academy?"

      Korfas shook his head. "Mother didn't feel it would be worthwhile, she felt the best way to learn was to be assigned to a ship."

      "Sounds like the captains you were assigned to didn't particularly want you around. What did they have you do?"

      "Relay orders, fetch drinks, watch over the shoulders of each boards."

      Jeremy stared at him. "Sixteen years of playing gofer? And you never questioned it?"

      "I asked mother about it, but she said it was fine, that I'd get my ship eventually."

      "She meant you'd get *my* ship. I don't know why, but she's obsessed with giving it to you. You're not getting it, by the way. I'm not saying that to discourage you. It's just that by time I'll be passing my ship on to its next captain, I'm hoping you'll have been captain of your own ship for a long time already. If you end up decide that the captainship isn't for you, that's fine too, what ever your mother might think. Your academy records show that you're good in combat, so I can put you with one of the hunter teams, and you could probably rise to leader."

      "As captain, wouldn't I lead all of them?"

      "If that's how you decide to do it, yes. My Heart lead them, I don't. I'm a good hunter, but I leave that side of the leadership to someone who is better at it than I. Just remember, this is your life. Make sure you're going to be happy with it, because you're the one who will have to live it, not your mother."

      Korfas nodded, made a face as he looked at the datapad, but picked it up again.

      "Captain?" the com asked.


      "We're in range."

      "I'm on my way." He shut down his computer. "You want to stay with the reports, or shadow me?"

      Korfas looked at his pad, and then to Jeremy. "What do you want me to do?"

      "I told you before, you have to make your decisions yourself. You're not here to pass the time. You're here to learn how to lead a ship." He kept his gaze on the male.

      Korfas was silent for moment. "Will it count against me if I decide to shadow you?"

      "No. So long as you go through those reports in a timely manner, and write a summary of them, with your opinion as to what needs to be done about them, I'll be happy."

      Korfas put the pad down and stood.

      * * * * *

      "On screen," Jeremy said, as he entered, and took position in the center of the bridge. On the main screen, a station appeared. It was toroid shaped, with spokes connecting a central cylinder. Jeremy smiled. It had been decade since he'd seen it. He hadn't thought he'd ever be back here. Even without considering the ban on kelsirian ships within human territory, Jeremy had never planned on coming back here, where he'd spend his last fifteen years within human space.

      "You said you're familiar with the boards?" Jeremy asked Korfas in a low tone.

      "Yes sir," he replied.

      "Look them over and give me your report."

      Korfas left his side.

      "Have they hailed us?" Jeremy asked, in a normal voice.

      "No, sir," Tamirik answered.

      "Alright. Initiate contact with the station."

      Tamirik nodded to indicate she'd done it.

      "Station, this is the Viper's Bane, please respond."

      Korfas rejoined him. "The station's weapons are powered down, their sensors are going full strength, no military ships within sensor range. No unusual chatter on the com."


      "They didn't know we were coming?"

      "They knew. If you had surprised them, their weapons would be hot. Remember, if not for our orders, we'd be breaking the ban."

      "Viper's Bane, this is Newton's Station. State your purpose here."

      "As per the relocation order, we're here to pickup two hundred and twenty-three humans. You guys must be pretty crowded right now."

      "Yeah, we are. We're going to be happy to get rid of those perverts."

      Jeremy kept his mouth shut, even with the look of dismay Korfas was making. Arguing wouldn't resolve anything, and just delay their departure. He wanted to be out of here as soon as possible.

      "Where do you want us to dock?"

      "Dock? No one told me anything about you docking."

      "How do you expect the passengers to board my ship, walk?"

      "That works for me. They might even be able to hold their breath that far."

      "Look, are you, or are you not, going to assign me a dock?"

      "Like I said, no one gave me any indications that you're allowed to dock."

      Jeremy sighed. "Bring the weapons online." The weapons board lit up, and Shoriden moved to it.

      "What are you doing?" the station asked. Korfas was eying him suspiciously.

      "I'm pointing out that I have the superior fire power. And indicating that I have very little patience for human stupidity. Now, I'm here under federation orders, so you are going to assign me a dock, or I'm going shoot the doors off one and storm the station." He motioned for Tamirik to disconnect, and the voice was cut in mid protest. "Toom, give them five minutes. If they haven't assigned us one by then, pick one and head for it."

      "Is this wise?" Korfas asked, "sir?"

      "We're here under orders, they know it, they're just being difficult because they can. And don't worry, as much as I'm tempted to do so, I'm not going to open fire on them." He paused. "At least, not until all the Leafers are on board."

      * * * * *

      Docking had been uneventful. They were at the dock that had been assigned to them. Jeremy was standing in front of the access, waiting for the Leafers to arrive. A group walked toward them, but they weren't Leafers, he recognized the human leading them. Jeremy's smile took on a vicious tint.

      "Commander O'neil," he said, walking toward them, hand extended, he had to remind himself of how humans greeted each others. "It's such a pleasure to see you after all these years." He indicated Korfas, "this is Korfas, I'm afraid he doesn't speak English."

      The human glared at him, at the offered hand, and ignored Korfas. "What the hell are you doing here?"

      "When the exodus was announced, and my ship drafted, I requested to be the one to come here. I have to say, I would have expected you to have been promoted out of this hole, after all these years? Still paying for letting me go, I see."

      The human was livid, which only made Jeremy smile wider.

      "Get the fuck off my station."

      "I'll be happy to do so, as soon as all the Leafers have boarded. Are the armed guards really needed?" He turned to Korfas, and said, in kelsirian. "Go in, and get me some hunters, armed. Don worry about armor. Aim to match the humans one for one." Korfas nodded and left.

      "What did you tell him."

      "I told him that it would be dishonorable for us not to match your honor guard. He's gone to fetch some, after all, we wouldn't want any kind of misunderstanding to happen, would we? Although I have to wonder, which will look worse on your file. A firefight? Which you'll lose, or letting all those Leafers escape human control?"

      The jab actually made the commander smile. "Oh, you don't have to worry, I have no intention on preventing them from leaving. I want them to settle on their pervert world, what's in called, of yeah, Paradise. Let them settle there, and reap what they sowed."

      If Jeremy didn't know what he knew, that would have worried him greatly. Armed kelsirians formed a corridor from the ship's access to the a third of the distance to the cargo bay's entrance, where people were starting to file in.

      Jeremy looked at them, males and females, of a wide range of age. Fear and worries on their face. Hopefully, his human crew would be able to calm and comfort them. His ship was going to be crowded for the six month it would take to reach paradise.

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