Monica stood with her right leg on a seat and her right hand against her face. She was staring at two individuals that sat before her. A Laizroe Johnson, the marine that was incredibly sick, (yet had been trying his best not to show it) and Sesslare Tussa the 'stowaway' from the rear compartment. Monica had listened to both men and was now rolling the new information through her mind, despite the increased pounding in her head.
The situation Ms. Tanner was bearing witness to reminded her of the B.O.S.S. mission some ten years ago. The B.O.S.S. had been one of those rushed missions. The man responsible for initiating the assignment later disappeared. The mission was to last three years to long and cost 3.5 billion dollars over budget. Most of the equipment had either not been shipped or arrived in the wrong country. What finally ran the mission into the ground was the fact that nothing was accomplished. The mission was scrapped.
Monica had left the mission after only six months with disgust.
If the Concord's mission began looking that way, she would simply resign. No promotion was worth her professional reputation being tarnished by some one else's incompetence.
Still, that was old news and Monica had to deal with the present. The marine claimed that he was not suppose to question orders. Monica then had asked if she could look at the soldiers private black file. Upon investigation she found that Gunnery Sargent Laizroe was to report to the medical facilities upon arrival. He would then catch up with the rest of the crew two hours later just before the official debriefing.
Monica conversed with Doctor Tazu about possible cures for the soldiers condition. Sakae had not heard of any medical break through or if any treatment had been discovered. Monica then checked her computer files on medical shipments to the Mars base. With the help of the Doctor, the two deciphered that the shipments where twenty times the amount of medical supplies needed at the Effendi base. And over half of those supplies were highly experimental. At this point there was nothing Monica could do, so she would just have to wait another mystery out.
Then there is the priest, or as she found out from his paperwork, Bishop Sesslare Tussa from the Vatican's Space Assembly of God. After the marines had drug him to the floor, the Bishop had finally found his tongue. A rather powerful tongue at that, as he then proceeded to chastise everyone for the overly violent reaction to his presence.
In the 22nd Century, all of the major religions had banded together, much like the new NASA program. Religious leaders or icons had taken a bigger roll in politics, helping in the rewriting of many laws pertaining to marriage, divorce, morals, abuse and public misconduct. The new involvement of church and state remedied the poor spending of tax dollars. Money once spent on lavish offices, lunches, and personal political agendas was now having to go through the church. The church had learned through years of surviving off of donations how to budget money, pay their employees a descent pay and when to say "Hey we have people homeless and starving in the streets, we will not be funding a new sports stadium this year."
Sakae was nursing the Bishop's wrist from the deadly grip of the Tiger Claw, while Monica plotted her next series of question.
"So it says here," Monica motioned to the Bishop's paper work in her left hand, "That you'll be joining the Concord Mission, as Earth's Religious Ambassador to other worlds."
"Yes, that's right," the Bishop's reply was laced with annoyance at having been attacked in his sleep. "If you people think you can pull these secret mission's off with out the church finding out, your sadly mistaken."
"Well Bishop Tussa, myself and the others had little to do with the planning of this mission, and the ship's crew does have a priest," Monica stood her ground. She did not like the bishop's insinuation that she had anything to do with the planning of the mission.
"Yes, I know that, but he's not apart of the V.S.A.G. and - Ouch!"
"By the way this is gonna hurt a little, but it'll keep you from getting an infection," Dr. Sakae's voice was even toned and showed no hint of enjoying the discomfort she was giving the bitter Bishop.
"Now Bishop Tussa, I checked the records and Pete Daursaw was endorsed by the Vatican back in 2110. He is very capable of being our Religious Ambassador." Monica winced as she found herself trying to defend some one else's decision.
"No offense Ms.," the Bishop fumbled not knowing her name. "But Mr. Daursaw is NASA personnel and is not from the Space Assembly of God. Nor has he attended any of the meetings in the past five years. Therefore for I'm here to either council him or replace him."
"Listen Bishop Tussa, we have another four days of travel and I am not going to spend that time arguing with you about what somebody else has done, you can talk with the authorities when we reach Mars. Better yet, why don't you take it up with the Captain of Concord," Ms. Tanner's voice had begun to rise along with her temper.
Monica turned to leave the conversation when , Tussa spoke to her back.
"And when I talk to those authorities, I'll be sure to tell them how you attacked me, I will file charges, I'll have you know," the Bishop's words cutting through Monica's mind.
Monica paused next to a soldier sitting just a meter away. The soldier was actually a Navy Seal, his name was Kick 'E' Lang, American and Chinese. As a Navy Seal, he had spent most of the trip in isolated silence. He had watched the entire scene with little interest or reaction. He did notice Monica's rage play across her face. He simply moved to the next seat, putting some space between himself and the enraged NASA Commander.
Monica had the notion to turn and give the Bishop a piece of her mind. Instead she took a big breath, knowing nothing good would come of it. She then continued on her way to the front of the shuttle where she grabbed a large packet of instant milk and strawberry flavoring.
The Bishop turned to Dr. Tazu at his right, not fond of being ignored.
"Well, she's got some nerve, I wonder how many of the crew even attends church?" Bishop Tussa waited for the Doctors reply.
"I'm a Doctor Bishop Tussa, not a preacher."
"Ms. Tazu ," she finished for the Bishop.
"Ms. Tazu, everyone of us is a preacher, it's only a matter of whether one wants to apply oneself."
Sakae Tazu turned her attention to the Bishop's wound, avoiding his intense stare that demanded an answer. Dr. Tazu did not feel like discussing her spirituality with the Bishop at the time. She found his probing questions a bit pushy and his presence discomforting.
"Looks like your not going to lose the arm after all Bishop Tussa."
"Thank you Dr. Tazu, and maybe next time I can help you with some healing of your own."
'The Bishop's comment was nice, but why'd he have to be so dam pushy,' mused Dr. Tazu to herself.
"Yea, well maybe," the Doctor hesitantly replied.
Not giving the Bishop the chance to court her into another spiritual conversation Dr. Tazu took her leave.
"You should be fine for the rest of trip, but I'd have some one look at your arm when we get to Effendi, take care." Tazu quickly packed her things making a quick retreat to the rear of the shuttle.
The Bishop found himself sitting alone, so he turned to his bible to ease his own thoughts.
Dr. Tazu found herself at the rear of the shuttle where the Astrologer Ky-vanya Orinda had been hiding since the Bishop had been brought forward. Ky-vanya stood six foot two with long burnt red hair. Unlike her counter part Dekel, she did not have the privilege of American colleges, or a French expert to guide her. In fact, Ky-vanya had fought against sexist red tape and funding to get where she was today. At age thirty-five, she had learned to take care of herself against a variety of adversaries from a generation set in it's way to power abusive scholars. Her complexion was soft and youthful, yet she was to be taken seriously. Ky-vanya had read a couple of books written by Dekel. Upon meeting him, she could feel the arrogance that she had sensed within the pages of his books. Ky-vanya knew she had to be careful. For past Dekel's arrogant surface, there was a very smart man that would not pass up the chance to put some one in their place. Still she had met men like him before and she would put him in his place as well. Ky-vanya also knew that she would be spending a lot of time with Dekel in close quarters. On a professional basis she preferred to be his colleague, though as she had deciphered from his books, a colleague is some one Dekel considered an equal. She suspected he did not think of her as an equal. This meant she would have to prove herself, again. It seemed to her that she was always having to prove herself.
Tazu found Ky-vanya engrossed in one of her favorite pass times, tackling a cross word puzzle on her lap top. The crossword puzzle program was set up with ten thousand patterns and over one billion questions, which the computer would randomly put in each puzzle. The program was called Crossed Words. What the Doctor didn't realize was that the Astrologer was on the newly released Third Edition. Tazu had not been very good at crosswords, unless they where full of medical questions. One thing she and Ky-vanya would not have in common. This would not stop her from making friends.
"Yes," Ky-vanya's thick Russian accent made her voice surprisingly deep.
"Mind if I join you? Though I don't think I'll be any help with that crossword."
"That's okay, I was just thinking about putting it down."
"I never could finish those damn things."
"I only do them when I'm bored or have a lot on my mind."
"Let me guess, you're bored?"
"Actually, it's both, this is my twentieth puzzle since we've left."
"Only twenty, how many questions are they?" Dr. Tazu remembering how crosswords averaged about thirty to fifty questions.
"This one has a thousand questions more than the last one," Ky-vanya stated nonchalantly.
Tazu's eyes widened as she sat in the seat next to the Russian.
"I can never get use to the artificial gravity on these shuttles," commented Ky-vanya as she put her lap top away.
"Well, I hope it's better on this new super ship, we're to spend the next year on."
"It's suppose to be the most advanced ship designed to date."
"That's what they said about the Titanic," reminded Dr. Tazu.
"You seem a bit cynical about this trip. Did you choose to come or are you one of those that was told to be here?" Ky-vanya was feeling that the Doctor and she could be good friends. Something she would need on this trip, since she had never worked with any of these people before and was feeling like an outsider.
"I chose to be here, but I'm having some second thoughts. Maybe I've been listening to much too Ms. Tanner about her mysterious captain."
"I don't normally talk behind other peoples backs, but it seems we're going to have some personality conflicts on our little voyage. I looked at every body's personality evaluations and we've got everything from Navy Seals to Nature lovers. As for the captain, I wouldn't be surprised if his name was a misprint."
"You seem pretty sure of yourself. Are you sure you're on the right mission?" Dr. Tazu comment had become an inside joke during the journey, that when ever something went right it must not have been planned for. (the only thing that everyone seemed to have in common). "We can't be looking at this voyage with all gloom and doom or we'll jinx ourselves."
"I hope the Captain isn't a handsome," commented Ky-vanya out of the blue.
"Handsome?, What made you think of that?" The Doctor gave Ky-vanya a comical look.
"I can't take orders from some one that's attractive," Ky-vanya shrugged her shoulders as if to say 'Wouldn't that be a shame'.
"In all my years of medical school, I've never heard of that disability."
"I'll have to tell you a story sometime," Ky-vanya looked away as if hiding some juicy story.
"Sometime! We've got three days till we reach Mars, how much time do you need?" Dr. Tazu loved a good story and even more so when it was real. "Promise to tell me before we leave our solar system?"
"Okay, I'll tell you before we leave, but you have to remember one thing."
"What's that?" Dr. Tazu's curiosity growing.
"It had nothing to do with my four year sweep of the Asian Science Fair."
"This is going to be an interesting voyage, I can see that now."