Captain Travis

The Travis Style

     Captain Travis was in charge, and we all knew it, though he never seemed to be giving orders. His style was something like, “Lar why don’t you and Arte do a visual and PM on the balance pumps.”  The balance pumps made sure that as we used reaction mass in the Dee-Hee drive the Mayflower stayed in trim.  “If you can, get it today, if not first thing tomorrow would be fine.”

     Or, he would say. “Bart, your last sim where you had to land the Surprise, (the Surprise was the name of his cruiser), on that 10% slope. Well…when she toppled over she hit pretty hard. During your watch tonight how about running a few more and when you’ve gotten say…”, here he would tilt his head a bit and look upwards as if in contemplation, “15 in a row without damaging the paint let me know.”

     It took me almost 2 months to get there. After a first success all the sims at each difficulty level ran progressively faster. And at the 15 mark I was trying to complete a 30 minute landing in under 17. When things went wrong, and in the sims they always did, they went wrong in a hurry. There was always a way to save the situation but some were devilishly hard to find.

     With all the time the Historian spent in the greenhouse, the captain rarely asked him to do anything else. But when he did it got done. The Historian could dictate into his log or the E/A even while working on something else if the task wasn’t too demanding. And do it in complete paragraphs with sentences, phrases, clauses, colons and semicolons. He said it was easy because that’s how he had always worked. I could never get semicolons right so just left them out of my entries.

     The Hist had a lot of his material in the Encyclopedia locked away from public access. I asked him why? and he said he was still working on some and some just wasn’t ready to see the light of day. I asked him when? He said “Some sooner. Some later. Some maybe never. In any event the Captain has the passwords.”

     We all took a lot of meals on the bridge where the Captain spent the bulk of his time. The man could cook! There was an alcove which connected to his cabin and contained a rudimentary kitchen setup. Nearly every day he would put together something much more edible than an issue MRE. It was on our Sunday “Day of Rest” meal that he really put on a show. If we run out of need for ships Captains I know where a restaurant can find a pretty fair gourmet chef.

     I once asked him, “Cap, what are your plans if we can make a go of this colony?” He listed a number of possibilities I never would have suspected. After that I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find out he was such an accomplished painter. He spent a fair amount of time every Sunday at it and let me use some of his work to illustrate Encyclopedia entries.  He didn’t much engage in small talk beyond what was necessary for the Mayflower’s operation.

     He told me once, and it almost seemed an inadvertent slip. “Bart, I didn’t come along for the ride, or to be the Captain of the first ever colony ship. I did it because I believe, along with everyone else on board, that this is our last best chance to live as free men ought.

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Colony: Alchibah is a science fiction blog novel.
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