Erin’s foot beat a steady staccato against the floor of the waiting room. A human secretary sat as guardian to Mount Olympus; the President of The Stellar Trade Consortium’s office.
No drones flew by with drinks or disposed of the trash. President Hurley felt they were too “impersonal” and only used humans, even in the lowliest positions. A servant brought out a bottle of water, while the secretary stared off in the tell-tale sign of having an internal comm conversation. Her hand twitched every so often as she entered the data received in the company database.
Erin wondered what was taking so long. She sipped her water and dreamed of what her new responsibilities would be after her promotion. She had only performed three missions, but why else would the President of one of the largest trading conglomerates want to see her? Pilot 2nd class Erin Sta-. No, she thought. It’s Hardwick now.
Pilot 2nd class still had a nice ring to it.
“Erin Hardwick,” the secretary said. “The President will see you now.”
Erin stood and straightened her pilot’s tunic. She swept past another woman waiting and right into the President’s office. “Pilot 2nd, I mean, 3rd class Erin Hardwick reporting.”
President Hurley sat studying a holographic report and absently waved her to a seat. She felt stunned and insulted that he hadn’t even bothered to look at her.
“Sir,” she said with a bit of an edge in her voice. “I-”
President Hurley glared at her. “Sit down and shut up, Stahl,” he said with without inflection.
She sat, surprised at the use of her real name.
He pointed a finger at her. “You, young lady, are a problem for me. You will sit there and not say one word while I’m talking. Nod if you understand.”
President Hurley leaned back in his chair and tapped his forefingers together. “Your father came to me when you received your license and asked me to find a position for you.”
Erin’s mouth dropped open and tears started to form.
President Hurley continued by throwing up three different holographic reports between them. A flick of his finger enlarged the one on the left. “This is the report from your first captain. He states that your talent as a pilot is dwarfed by your staggering lack of interpersonal relationship skills.”
“Disobeying orders, arguing with ship’s crew, insulting civilian passengers…” Line after line turned red as he ran down the list until both of them in scarlet.
Erin’s shoulders slumped, and she sagged lower and lower in her chair as he read each damning sentence.
Hurley closed the reports and looked directly at her. “Erin Stahl, I don’t give a damn who your father is. I’m going to tell you something that should have been said long ago.” He stood up behind his desk and looked down on her. “You are a spoiled brat who has no idea how to work with a team. And that is what a starship crew is: a team. I made a mistake in bringing you on. One I will rectify now.”
“You are fired.”
Hurley sat back down. “Get out of my office.”
Erin scurried out, unable to hold back the tears and feelings of shame any longer. She tried to run past the woman still sitting in the waiting room, but was stopped by a strong arm. “Wait.”
Erin sniffled. “Wh-what do you want?” she asked with a tremor in her voice.
The woman smiled. “My name is Captain Megan Hurley and I run my own ship. I need a pilot for my third shift. Interested?”
“Let’s just say I know about overbearing father’s.”
Erin slowly smiled. “I’ll take it.”