It had been ten days since we started investigating the planet below. There were twelve of us running three eight hour shifts. The captain had approved my temporary reassignment to Cartography. I was getting good at finding anomalies but no one had caught any IEs in any of the pictures that we had been taking. It was getting a little spooky. Arie had posted a bounty to go to the first person that correctly identified an IE on the planet. The captain matched it “just to make things more interesting.”
Most of us were concentrating on finding and marking anomalies but Arie and Charlie, his senior tech, had taken a different approach. For the last two days they had been looking for patterns in the placements of the anomalies relative to each other and other natural features, like oceans and rivers and mountains. No one had come up with anything yet but we were all still excited.
I had been scanning images for four hours as fast as I could without risking overlooking something. Janice, one of the other junior cartographers came over to where I was working. “Are you hungry?” she asked.
“Yes, now that you mention it I am,” I said. She smiled coyly and crooked her finger at me. I hit pause on the scanning program and followed her out the door. We raced to the galley like kids. When we got there, we discovered that we had the place to ourselves.
“What would you like?” I asked.
“How about a veggie fajita salad with guacamole and chips,” she said. I punched in her order and ordered a burrito and queso and chips for myself to keep in the spirit of things. While we waited for the autochef to prepare our meal I fixed two large lime waters.
“You do like lime water,” I asked. She nodded yes. As I set the drinks on the table the autochef chimed. I got our food and joined Janice at the table. “What else do you do around here when you’re not looking for IEs in cartography?” I asked.
“I am an anthropologist and a geologist. But mostly, I help the quartermaster keep tabs on our inventory. What are your other occupations?”
“Well, I’m a pilot/navigator so I normally pull a watch on the bridge twice a day. I’m also a physicist and an apprentice engineer so I get to help keep the ship’s engines in top running order.” She looked at me with an incredulous smile. “Actually, I do odd jobs for the chief engineer and sometimes he lets me watch while he keeps the ship’s engines in top running order.” I admitted.
“That’s more like what I heard from my friend Ellen. She is the clerk.” Janice said.
“I know Ellen. She proofs my reports sometimes. I am a terrible speller and she said she didn’t mind. The captain likes his reports flawless. He maintains it reflects on the integrity of the ship and its crew.”
“Is this your first survey mission,” Janice asked.
“Yes. I just graduated from Feynman University. I had a scholarship from the Star Service. I spent my summers learning to fly starships. How about you?”
“This is my second mission. I’m on the last interval of a geology internship. I will finish my dissertation when we get back and then I’ll be Dr. Janice Fletcher. Then I want to apply for a post as science officer on a survey ship.”
“Good for you! It takes longer to work your way up the command career path. I’ll probably be a pilot for a least ten years before I get a chance to move up.” We finished our lunch and placed our dishes in the washer. Then we headed back to cartography to get back to work.
Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the people you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.