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Fleet 12

Before I could look further into the ship and crew a warning light flashed on the bottom of my tablet. A small red sigil in the shape of an antique paper envelope. I had email. For some reason that struck me as weird. Why would anyone send me an email instead of just using the intercom. Oh, right. No one has any clue who I am or where I am. Gotcha.

I flipped the contact at the bottom of the terminal that took me to my messages. The message address labeled it as from the Quartermaster’s office. It turned out to be from Oswald, telling me my uniforms were ready to be picked up and there were personal items I had to sign for. I raised an eyebrow at the screen. What the hell did I need to sign for? It was probably an authorization to hand over my whiskey ration.

Three more messages came in while I was reading the first one. The first two were from the Captain. One gave me the duty schedule and a list of my assigned duties, and the second was a reminder to the ship’s remaining officers that crew evaluations were due soon. I laughed. Crew evaluations? What the hell was I going to put: “Seems nice, hasn’t tried to kill me.”

The third email was from Janet, inviting me to join her and Curtis at dinner. Just reading the invite caused my stomach to remind me I hadn’t eaten anything since the Chinese food the other day. I wasn’t even sure how long ago that had been. Coming out of cryo had really scrambled my interior clock.The display on the desk told me I still had the better part of an hour before they wanted to meet up, which should be enough time for me to find the quartermaster’s and get my uniforms. Did I have to wear them to dinner? Probably not, but it would be nice to have clothes I hadn’t worn for the last week. The remote tablet showed me the easy way down to the cargo hold Tripps had taken me to earlier. I studied the route and left the tablet behind me on the desk when I left the room.

The short route to the cargo bay led me along the main hallway through the ship’s crew quarters. I hadn’t realized how packed the area would be. First watch had just ended and people bustled about, coming home or running late. It was like something out of an old movie. People hung out of doorways, talking and laughing, two of the community rooms held bars where people were leaving off the stress of the day and the small gym I passed was also packed with people. The quarters had the overall feeling of a massive barracks or college dorm. People just trying to live together in close proximity.

It turns out that being he first new face on a starship is the perfect way to garner attention. Almost every person I passed stopped what they were doing long enough to stare. I set my face in a basic mask and kept walking. I’d learned in the military that dealing with a community like this was like dealing with a pack of dogs; keep moving, avoid eye contact, don’t speak, don’t get drawn in. Let them make their minds up without pressure. It may sound cold, but it’s the best way. First impressions are important and you can always warm up later.

By the time I made it to the cargo bay Oswald was off duty. His replacement was a tall thin woman with close-cropped hair and a librarian’s expression. I didn’t even have to speak. She looked up as I entered the bay and immediately turned, pulling my stack of uniforms off the shelf behind her. I smiled as I approached. “That obvious?”

“We have a new third mate, you’re the only person I’ve never seen before, Q.E.D.. Sign here.” She said and waved a tablet in my direction.

Her voice was old. Far older than her apparent mid-twenties, like every part of her had went into cryo except her larynx. I took the offered tablet and read the screen, signing when I reached the bottom. The not old woman nodded her approval. “Most people don’t bother to read it first.”

“Most people haven’t been screwed over as often as I have.”