Commodore Glen Van Ross was the Lord of all he surveyed. He stood proudly on the bridge of the USS Saratoga. His crew working around him in the quiet, efficient manner of a well oiled machine. Even the new ensigns that had arrived yesterday were fitting in under the careful eye of his XO, Commander Thompson. Lieutenant Colonel T.C McQueen the Marine Tactical Deployment Officer stood next to him. Ross was contented but thirsty. He lifted the mug of steaming coffee to his lips. He had been waiting for this all morning.
"Excuse me Sir. I have a message from Admiral Hendon."
Ross turned around and as he did so the new Ensign thrust the sealed envelope at him. The hand with the envelope caught the bottom of Ross's coffee mug, sending it up in a graceful arc to deposit its contents down Ross's shirt.
"Er. Oh. I'm sorry ,Sir." The young man blustered rubbing at the Commodore's soggy shirt front.
Ross couldn't believe what had happened. He grasped the envelope before it was used as a towel and stopped the Ensign.
"Its alright. Ensign. As you were."
Turning round Ross caught the look on McQueen's face. A rare smile played across the Marine's lips, who turned around suddenly developing a coughing fit. From the corner of his eye Ross caught his XO. The man turned around and Ross could definitely see his shoulders shaking.
Tearing open the envelope and trying to ignore the now cold wet sensation that was running down his front, Ross read the message.
"Helm set course 357.09 mark 045.03. Mr Thompson you have the con. I'm going to change."
The first officer straightened up and seemed about to acknowledge when he too developed a coughing fit.
Ross was sure that he could hear laughter as he left the bridge.
Ross loved the feel of the Saratoga, while she was underway. He loved the ship. He had come to know her every mood and movement and knew he could rely on her as well as, if not better than, the crew who ran her. A yeoman approached him with a tray and offered him a mug of coffee. The smell reminded Ross that he had not had a drink since breakfast, he had snatched a snack after meeting with the Admiral and it was now mid afternoon. Putting the non-slip mug carefully on the display table he resumed his studying of their destination. Lieutenant Colonel McQueen put his mug next to Ross's and the two officers continued with their duty.
"There's something on the LIDAR, Sir. Its big" The duty officer sounded worried.
"What is it Fields?" The XO was behind the junior officer, then turned around. The look of concern on his face made Ross stand upright. "General Quarters! Brace for Impact!" The XO shouted into the internal communications unit, simultaneously hitting the alarm.
"It looks like the nearby star has just exploded. The shock wave will hit in three mikes." The XO turned towards the helm station. "Turn away from the wave. Run for it. Helm, when the front hits try and keep the bow up. Don't let her tip over or we'll be shaken to death."
McQueen was now standing behind the second helm officer.
The Saratoga groaned as the leading wave caught up with her. Then as her super structure screamed in protest she began to shake and buck. The deck lurched crazily at an angle throwing Ross off balance as he grasped the bridge rail. Looking up he could see both helm officers struggling with their control consuls. As the wave increased in severity McQueen and Thompson worked their way around to the sides of the helm and grasping the controls helped the officers to keep the bow up. The Saratoga bucked again and the starboard wall temporarily became the floor. Anything loose flew towards that area of the ship.
Then it was over, calm returned. The wave had passed.
"We can expect smaller fronts, Sir. But Toga can cope with them, while we're on this heading." The XO looked relieved.
Damage reports started coming in. Surprisingly there was little damage. Injuries consisted of a few bruises and one broken arm.
As Ross straightened up and began to re-organise the bridge table he realised he had a very uncomfortable wet feeling running down his back and into his under wear. Two non-slip mugs lay on the floor. Turning round he was just in time to see both McQueen and Thompson turning deliberately around back to the helm officers. He was sure McQueen's shoulders were shaking.
Walking towards the door Ross called "You have the con Mr. Thompson. I'm going to change."
He was sure he could hear laughter as he left the bridge.
Ross had had a hard day. He had used up nearly all of his clean linen and had not had a decent cup of coffee all day.
Now he sat in his cabin. A steaming cup of coffee on his desk and his faithful guitar in his hands. He loved this guitar. He felt one with it. It was tuned and played like a well oiled machine in his capable hands. The guitar had never let him down.
Settling down Ross began to strum to himself, when there was a knock at his door.
"Who's at my hatch?" The Commodore called, turning to see who was there.
McQueen and Thompson entered the Cabin in time to see the neck of the guitar scoop the steaming cup into the Commodore's lap. They both turned around and walked straight out. Shoulders shaking. Ross was sure he could hear laughter as his hatch closed behind them.