Author : Patricia Stewart, featured writer
Captain Leonard Thompson stood at attention as Admiral Richardsâ€™ shuttlecraft docked to the Dreadnought. Moments after the shuttle was secure, the hatch opened, and Admiral Richards stepped over the threshold. â€œLeonard. Itâ€™s good to see you again. How have you been?â€
As Captain Thompson reached out to shake hands he replied, â€œFantastic, Admiral. Thanks for asking. Well, this is certainly an unexpected surprise, considering our upcoming mission. Central Command did not notify me that you were coming. Is there a problem, sir?â€
â€œNo, Leonard. In fact, Command doesnâ€™t know Iâ€™m here. This visit is strictly personal. I was on Thaxion V when the Dreadnought was commissioned. And, since youâ€™ll be gone for four years, I was hoping youâ€™d give me the 50 credit tour, off the record, of course?â€
Somewhat nervous about an unauthorized guest, but helplessly outranked, Captain Thompson relented. â€œAye, Admiral, it would be my pleasure,â€ he said with a forced smile.
Captain Thompson gave the Admiral more than 50 credits worth of tour. They started at the shuttle bay and worked their way forward through the cargo bays, engine room, armory, sick bay, gymnasium, recreation area, crewâ€™s quarters, battle bridge, main bridge, and finally, two hours later, into the officerâ€™s lounge for coffee.
â€œAbsolutely, fabulous ship, Leonard,â€ said the Admiral with more than a little envy. â€œDoes it live up to the contractorâ€™s advertising?â€
â€œMostly, sir. The performance of the ship is exemplary. But, I have to admit, sir, the computer is beginning to get on my nerves.â€
â€œIn what way?â€
â€œIâ€™m probably overreacting, sir, but it seems hesitant about obeying certain commands. It seems overly concerned about protocols, etiquette, and political correctness. Last week, I gave it an order, and it replied that it was inappropriate because it might offend some members of the crew. On another occasion it replied that I was putting one ethnic group at more risk than another ethnic group. Frankly, sir, I never even heard of the ethnic groups it was referring too. Iâ€™m somewhat apprehensive about proceeding with this mission if I canâ€™t count on the computer following my orders.â€
â€œAh, O.C.P.C.M.C. (Obsessive Compulsive Politically Correct Main Computer). Iâ€™ve run into them before. I can fix it, if youâ€™d like.â€
â€œPlease, sir. I would be very grateful.â€
He spoke into the air, â€œComputer, this is Admiral Horatio S. Richards, per the authority of Earth Force Declaration 24532.8, I order you to obey any command given to you by Captain Leonard Thompson, instantly, and without question.â€ He took a gulp of coffee then said with a wink, â€œWell, Leonard, that should solve your PCMC problems.â€
They finished their coffee, and returned to the shuttle bay. â€œWell, Leonard, thanks for the tour, and good luck on your mission. Oh, donâ€™t forget, erase the logs. This visit never happened.â€
â€œAye, sir. As soon as I return to the bridge.â€ They shook hands, and the Admiral disembarked.
When Captain Thompson returned to the bridge he walked to the forward observation port and watched the Admiralâ€™s shuttle pass by. â€œComputer, remove all traces of Admiral Richardsâ€¦â€ all of Dreadnoughtâ€™s phasers fired simultaneously at the shuttle, vaporizing it instantly in an explosion of light and ion gas, â€œâ€¦fromâ€¦theâ€¦logs.â€