Life lessons

Erin ached all over.

Captain Hurley made it a mission that Erin learn new skills, including how to fight. So everyday for the past month she had sat her shift bruised and sore.

Erin stifled a moan of pain as she entered a minor course correction.

It wasn’t fair. She wasn’t some dirty groundpounder slogging through the mud. Why did she need to learn hand-to-hand? It was… It was…

It was barbaric, that’s what it was.

It wasn’t just her martial arts instructor. The whole crew was mean to her, and she didn’t understand why. She had good ideas, but when she tried to tell people she was told to shutup.

Civilized people were not supposed to behave this way. None of the three previous crews she served with acted this way, nor did the captains make her do extra work.

That had to be it. These people were just uncivilized barabarians and she should just get off at the next planet and find a ride…

“What are you thinking about, Erin?” Captain Hurley’s question startled Erin. She twisted too quickly and an involuntary squeak slipped her lips, while her eyes started glistening.

“I see Master-at-Arms Gillian is getting you into shape,” Hurley said with a hint of humor and sympathy.

“Permission to speak privately, Captain?” Erin said.

Captain Hurley raised an eyebrow, but gestured for Erin to head to the ready room. She saw the navigator, Samantha Gutierrez, roll her eyes in disdain as Erin strode through the hatch.

In the office, Erin started pouring out her complaints against the rest of the crew. Captain Hurley listened without a word, the corners of her mouth twitching every so often.

When Erin finished, her cheeks flushed and eyes glinting with anger, Captain Hurley began. “Do you know why I needed a new pilot? Did you ever bother to ask about your predecessor?”

Erin’s confused look gave her the answer. “Pilot 3rd Class Dani Tyler was a bright shiny newbie, not unlike yourself in that regard. But that is where the similarities end.”

She leaned back in her chair and tapped her fingers together under her chin. “My father fired you because three crews couldn’t stand to work with you. Three.”

They locked gazes and Erin looked away first.

Captain Hurley continued. “I don’t necessarily blame you for all of that, though you do bear a large portion. The captains of those vessels bear some responsibility. See, they were afraid of the repercussions should Senator Daddy’s little girl grow unhappy, so they didn’t treat you like they should have.”

Hurley’s eyes grew distant. “Dani was the exact opposite. She could work with anyone because she cared about more than herself. She asked smart questions and made an effort to draw out even the most reclusive crewman.”

“In short, she was just about the best damn person I’ve ever met.”

“You have twice the piloting ability of Dani.” Captain Hurley refocused on the present. “I have no complaints about that aspect. However, you make imperious demands you expect to be followed, could give a damn less about anyone’s feelings but your own, and whine about learning.”

She stood up and leaned on her desk. “Dani was killed during an ambush on one of our runs. And that was my fault because I never made her learn how to handle combat.”

She straightened and crossed her arms over her chest. “I want you to learn other jobs because redundancy in knowledge helps stave off disaster, plus you need to learn to work with, listen to and respect others. Nobody here gives a damn about who your father is, and nobody is going to treat you like a princess-or let you get away with acting like one.”

“You can stay and change to fit in with this crew or leave your fourth crew and best chance at making it on your own.”

“Your decision.”

Captain Hurley waited as Erin digested everything.

Erin stood up and stiffened to attention. “Captain, if you don’t mind. I don’t want to be late for my session with MA Gillian.”

Captain Hurley nodded. “Dismissed.”

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