Janice couldn’t sleep after her shift. She really hadn’t adjusted to the night work. But, really it was a matter of everything that had gone on the night before.
She hadn’t expected that much excitement from working on a ship. This was supposed to be peace time, these things were not supposed to happen. A nameless, faceless enemy had attacked an Earth warship.
Her adrenaline was still flowing, and the only way she was going to calm down was to walk around. So she had been wondering the ship for the last hour.
The news media was going to have a field day over this. The media laws wouldn’t allow them to broadcast any speculation, but once the Australia arrived at space dock all bets were off. Janice knew the routine. They would only report that the ship arrived damaged. But that is all it would take for the public to start asking questions. Within hours the Navy or the Prime Minister would be forced to make an official statement.
Politics wasn’t Janice’s thing, but when you work for the government you learn the game. It was worse when you were in Security Forces, which was by far the largest branch in the Military. When you had to police the world, police the military, and staff the prison that was a lot of personnel. The Navy was distant second, but still had a significantly larger staffing level than the Army or Air Force. There just wasn’t much need for a standing army when there was peace and the only threats would come from space.
Janice wasn’t really sure where she was. She didn’t know the ship well outside of the maps, and Carlson wasn’t being much of a host. His file was about all Janice knew of him.
He has served on the Australia for most of his time in Security Forces, has been in Protective Services for about three years. He had the same partner since he’d been on board. Roger Mathews. There was nothing on him. His file was restricted to a clearance above Janice’s. That was odd enough. But, there was nothing in the record about why they were suddenly not partners anymore. Janice was beginning to think it had been Mathews’s funeral Carlson attended when she arrived.
Janice found a bar on deck 6, she knew there was one up near the shops, but not down here. It would be something different than the mess hall. She went in. It was a lot like the bars of Earth, only cleaner. Dimly lit with dark paint, and soft music playing. There were pool tables and booths around the room; to the left was the long bar. Sitting there, alone, was Mike.
Janice took a seat next to him. He’d seen her as soon as she got close. He was certainly on his toes. She motioned the bartender over and ordered a drink. “Can’t sleep either?”
“I haven’t even tried.” Carlson’s voice was quiet. “That was a first for everyone on this ship.”
She studied him for a moment. “So you come here often?” Carlson gave a chuckle. “Actually, I do. It’s quieter here.”
“I didn’t even know it was here.”
“I used to patrol this deck before I went to Protective Services.”
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Genre – Science Fiction
Rating – PG13 to R (Language)