Walking slowly up the gangplank, Abernathy’s legs began to shake. He had dreamed of flying into space for as long as he could remember. Now all he thought about was his mother, and his brothers and sisters in the den at the outskirts of the port. But he realized that there were too many mouths to feed and one less would probably be better for his family. Besides, he signed up to have half his pay forwarded to his mother and he knew that it would make a big difference in their life to have the income he was going to provide.
His head held high, he marched up the gangplank, ready to meet his destiny, thoughts of adventure running through his mind. He was proud because he was now, “In Service.”
He stepped off the gangplank and through the door of the huge spacecraft and saw hundreds of dogs lined up inside a huge room, each of them wearing a long blue blazer from which hung rows of medals. Most of the dogs were larger breeds like; Labrador Retriever, Huskie, Rottweiler, Mastiff, and German Shepherd, but there were all smaller dogs like; Jack Russell, Poodle and Bichon.
He walked into the room and notices that, like him, there were several dogs that did not have the blue blazers and he walked over towards them as he figured that they too were new recruits. He hadn’t taken but a few steps when he heard a three toned whistle blow and all the dogs with blazers promptly snapped to attention, he froze.
“Get out of the way boy,” he heard quietly behind him. It was the cocker spaniel, “Doc,” followed by Pete, the straw boss. He quickly ran to the small gathering of new recruits and stood still to see what happened next.
“Good Day,” Pete said, “and welcome aboard the “Millie,” one of the finest and largest of her class in the Federation fleet. Welcome to the new recruits as this is your first voyage. To all of you; this is an important shipment of food and supplies to “Manu,” [the bird planet] one of our neighboring planets in the Sirius star system. Manu is closer to Sirius A the bigger of the two stars in our system. It is currently having one of the biggest droughts in its history and we are tasked with providing them with assistance.”
“Germano, Alfredo, Laticia, Miss “D”, Sergio and Lorena, please make ready for Departure.” Pete called his captains.
Snapping to attention, they saluted as one, “Aye, Aye Chief!”
Returning their salute, he walked toward the bridge.
Turning around, the six chiefs began briefing the crew on the tasks for making ready to depart the port. Germano, a large Mastiff walked over to the group of new recruits and told them to follow him as he walked them to the quartermaster for uniforms and along the way, he instructed them on ship policy.
At the quartermaster, there was a pecan tan, African Hound barking out orders as the airmen ran around making ready for the flight. She turned just as the Mastiff and recruits came through the huge doors to her area, “Good day, Germano,” She said politely, “here to outfit the new members of our crew?”
“Ah Laticia, you are absolutely correct, as usual. See what you can do for them please, and then we will find a place for them to work.”
Just then, a large rat ran through the working area and the whole crew gasped and stopped their work, cringing back from where it was. Abernathy ran at lightning speed and grabbed the rat behind the head and shook it till it’s neck was broken, than laid it down. He looked up and saw that everyone was staring at him, “Sorry, I guess it just came naturally. They are bad creatures to have onboard a cargo ship, especially one carrying precious food to a planet on the verge of starvation.” He looked down.
Smiling broadly, the Mastiff said, “I guess you will do a fine job in cargo, and they are always shorthanded. After getting your gear, please report to Miss “D” in cargo hold #7.”
After receiving his blue blazer and bedding, he was told how to get to cargo hold #7 and proceeded to walk in awe of the huge ship and become acquainted with the marking of sections and levels. He managed to find cargo hold #7 and found a delightful Bulldog directing cargo around the hold while her crew bustled about making fast the boxes and crates.
“Ah, Miss “D?” he questioned quietly.
“Oh good, We need some more hands,” she said without taking her eyes off the load that was slowly traveling along the track in the massive warehouse. “My name is Dierdre, but everyone calls me Miss “D.” Please take your gear and settle in, then we will get you to work.”
As the crate was laid in place and the crew members began lashing it down, she looked over to Abernathy. “My name is Abernathy,” he said slowly as she looked at him.
“Mr. Abernathy, please to meet you,” She said. “Jack! She barked loudly. I got another member for your crew.”
Popping out of nowhere, a small Jack Russell launched toward Abernathy, All right there matey, we can use some help. Ah, a fine looking Yorkie! Welcome aboard.” He stood in front of Abernathy.
Miss “D” told him to help the new crew member to get his gear stowed and to show him the hold and his duties as she turned her attention to other pre-flight duties, she nodded farewell.
Jack introduced himself and took Abernathy’s bedding and motioned for him to follow. They walked to the back of the cargo area and he found himself in a rather large sleeping area. “Over there, row three, column 14, is your bed. You will be sharing with Airman Sergio, a wire haired terrier. You will sleep there while he is on duty during the day and he will have the bed while you are on duty at night.”
After settling in, he reported to Jack and got on the schedule to begin his training as a cargo protection crewman second class. After his training, he would begin his first watch in cargo hold #7.
Just then a yellow light flashed several times and a horn was heard throughout the ship. Over the intercom came the voice of Pete, the big black lab, Abernathy found out that he was the Senior Master Chief of the entire ship, “ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION! MAKE READY FOR TAKE OFF!”
The whole crew finished their jobs and made for the ready room where there were rows upon rows of comfortable seats with seat belts. Everyone took their seat and Abernathy stood there, not knowing where his seat was. A few minutes passed and a small sandy white Bichon Frise approached him, “My name is Lorena and you must be new. Here are the seating assignments,” she pointed to a plaque on the wall near the entrance. “These seats here are for new crew members. Feel free to take one of them until you get a proper assigned seat.” With that said, she departed to her seat.
Abernathy found a vacant seat for new crew members and settled in. After figuring out the three point seat belt, he was sitting back, when deep within the behemoth of a ship, a loud thundering began. The whole body of the huge spacecraft began to shudder and it began to rise above the launch pad.
Within a few seconds, it felt like a huge weight was pressing down on Abernathy’s body. He was literally pressed down into his seat and his body felt like is weighed a thousand times more. He closed his eyes and tried to control his breathing. Just as quickly as the weight began to bear down on him, it lifted. He opened his eyes and realized that everyone was getting out of their seats. Not just getting out of their seats, but floating above their seats…
More next week…