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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 13: Kondor 5
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 12, Slade 4
Captain Johnson was pleased to have Kondor on board for another run. But he didn't have any openings in security. He did need another deck hand, and the chief of deck would no doubt approve Kondor, but that was a cut in pay. There were also openings in navigation, engineering, and medical; but if he wanted one of those positions, he needed the recommendation of the department head indicating that he could do the job. After a good night's rest, he went to medical.
Dr. Evans was not in. Kondor took time to peruse the medical database, to brush up on a few things. As he read, his mind drifted back home, to the family that always seemed to be around, whether you wanted them or not. He and his brothers and sisters were often surrounded by cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and family friends close enough that the kids didn't know which ones weren't really related. He remembered his mother's sister Zakiya, always trying to get them to go to church. She was a bit of a religious nut, he thought, but she made fabulous chocolate chip cookies. Uncle Ty taught him to shoot, and gave him his first gun. There was Uncle Whitney and Aunt Mary--his grandfather's brother. But at the top of the list he recalled his parents. He had some leave coming up before all this, and had been looking forward to seeing them again. He had joined the army to get out on his own. He was on his own now.
When Dr. Evans saw him the next morning, it was the beginning of a rather thorough examination. Kondor lacked knowledge of current treatments, modern pharmacology, and new technologies; but he made up for it with a good grasp of physiology, field medicine, and disease process. He banked on the fact that in most cases treatment focused on the same objectives, and the basic treatments he learned in the army would be correct in an emergent situation even if there were a new way of doing it.
But the four-man medical team had other duties. They were responsible for the health of the crew, and that included nutrition. Much of the machinery which prepared meals was automatic, but it required supervision, and sometimes intervention. After demonstrating his knowledge of first aid, Kondor had to prove he knew something about cooking. "Chef" was never one of his job titles; but the automated world in which he found himself did not consider cooking an essential skill, and as a bachelor he had cooked his share of omelets and burgers and was able to bake a cake from a mix with little difficulty. Dr. Evans was soon enjoying a tender bit of steak, and said that food like that could keep him on the ship during layovers.
In short, Kondor got the job.
But their layover was to last a fortnight. At first, Kondor stayed aboard, avoiding any more legal entanglements. But then he realized that this was his opportunity to get acculturated, and he began to spend his days visiting museums. He absorbed names of artists and architects, tried to recognize famous works and major trends. Time spent at the natural history and technology museums gave him a sense of the differences in discovery and the names of key historic figures. Soon he was visiting libraries, mostly to hear the music of the ages, but also for recordings and film clips of famous speeches and historic moments. He had about a week to learn what he could about another world.
Near the end of his shore leave, he discovered an educational program. Although there were universities, there were also college-level programs available in hexadecimal databooks. On his last day ashore, he purchased the first year of a two-part pre-med degree, a chance to expand his medical knowledge, plus a few elective courses in the arts and a decent history class. The cargo circuit run by The Mary Piper usually took a little more than half a year, and there would be much to learn in his new job, but he did get free time. Although he intended to put some of it into exercising and possibly practicing his new weapon skills, he would still have plenty of time to read, and if nothing went terribly wrong he might one day be the doctor.
All but five of the twenty-seven man crew returned; and since Kondor was one of the new ones, he knew most of his companions as the ship lifted off on the first stretch of its trip, bound for New Tempest.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with the first six chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #22: Getting Into Characters. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: