Second-in-Command

Admiral Bradbury sat back in his chair.   He smiled at the viewscreen. “Thank you for your report Captain,” he said. “Now tell me how your new second-in-command is settling in. I know that the transfer was unexpected.”

Captain Dodgett’s mouth turned up in a half-smile. “He’s organized, hard-working and competent. He can also speak all the major languages used in our galaxy. He’s an excellent first officer.”

“So no complaints?”   Admiral Bradbury smiled. “His last captain gave him a glowing review, but said that there were personality conflicts that made it necessary for him to be transferred immediately.”

“Well…” Captain Dodgett paused. “No, never mind. He’s an excellent officer.   He’s very knowledgeable. I have no complaints.”

“Off the record?” The admiral asked. “I’d really like to know why Captain Tasker couldn’t handle Commander Ghoti on his ship for even one more day. On paper it doesn’t make sense. I’d like to eventually offer him command of his own starship, but I need to know if there are going to be problems with his crew.”

Captain Dodgett sighed and leaned back in his seat. “It’s so silly. And yet, some of the crew have complained to me about it. It’s just…”

“Yes?” The admiral lifted an eyebrow and waited.

“Fine, fine.” The captain ran a hand through his short gray hair. “He likes to make sound effects during battles.”

“He does what?”   The admiral looked confused.

“He makes sound effects during battles. Sounds for crashes and explosions and weapons firing and people dying. It’s a bit distracting.” The captain laughed a small, huffy sort of laugh. “He stopped when people asked him to, but he started up again a few minutes later. When asked to stop, he apologized, but it happened again and again. By the end of the battle, my weapons officer looked ready to hit him.”

“That is a little strange,” the admiral said. “Did you talk to him later?”

“Yes, he said it’s a nervous habit. I recommended chewing gum. The next battle, he’d left it in his room. He said he wasn’t expecting a battle. He’s now required to carry it at all times. It does cut down on some of the noise.”

The admiral smiled.   “Well done. Is that all?”

“Well, there are the theme songs,” the captain said.

“Theme songs?”

“He insists on giving everyone a theme song and humming it whenever they come into the room or when they start giving a report. Some of the crew find it unsettling. And some don’t really like the song he chose for them.”

The admiral frowned. “Are the songs inappropriate?”

“No.” Captain Dodgett smiled. “It’s just that some of them are a little gloomy. Or angry. And one of them sounds a bit like sarcastic laughter.   He insists it’s just how he keeps people straight and he doesn’t mean to be rude.”

“Did he change the tunes when asked?”

The captain sighed.   “He did, but then he started getting their names wrong. He says it will just take a while for him to fix his mental filing system.”

The admiral nodded.   “But he will be able to fix it?”

“Yes, I think so,” the captain said. “And it’s been weeks since he last drew a mustache on any one or carried around that spray bottle.”

“What did he need a spray bottle for?”

“Oh he was spraying water on people on people that were arguing. He said it was his duty as a superior officer. We went over proper conflict resolution skills and there haven’t been any more problems.” Captain Dodgett smiled.

“All right,” the admiral said. “And the mustaches?”

“He said it was meant as light-hearted humor and that they’d wash off. However, too many people didn’t find it very funny.” The captain laughed. “I gave him a joke book. He memorized all the jokes and tells them constantly.”

“Is there anything else?” Admiral Bradbury asked.

“Not really.   Honestly, he’s an excellent first officer and I have no complaints. I think he’s settling in just fine,” the captain said.

“Right. Thank you for your report,” the admiral said.

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