12. Judgement call.

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“Damn! Where the hell could I have left that?”

Eric Lazzaro was not having a good day so far.
Maybe he’d had one too many glasses of Toes’ evil homebrew last night (he’d only had one, although that could easily be considered too much by anyone with functioning taste buds) but he certainly hadn’t been incapacitated to the extent that he would have misplaced his security pass.
He hardly ever took it off, let alone put it down and forgot about it, and to make matters worse it was one of Toes’ pet peeves; having to cancel security clearances and issue new passes was a tiresome and irritating procedure that involved resetting all the top-level access codes on the ship. Eric was keen to avoid confronting ZT about it, especially while his head was steadily throbbing the way it was this morning.

Lazzaro took one final look around his cabin, then, accepting that he wasn’t going to find it in time, headed for the daily briefing on the bridge.
As luck would have it he ran into Matt Drake, hurrying in the same direction, on his way to update the captain on the medical condition of the rescued colonists.

“Morning Matthias,” Eric slapped the lightly puffing doctor on the back and slowed to keep pace with him, “you on your way to the bitch session too?”

“Yes, the Good Captain wanted a run down of any nasty bugs or viruses we may have inadvertently picked up, along with the colonists. A sensible precaution, the escape pods are designed to keep organisms alive after all, and that includes bacteria, parasites, all sorts of microscopic beasties.”

“And,” Eric looked at the doctor in curiosity, “did we? Pick any up, I mean?”

“No. Well, not as far as I can tell anyway. What?” Drake saw Lazzaro’s quizzical expression, “It’s all very well for you to raise your eyebrows at me like that, but it’s difficult when you’re trying to spot “new” organisms. Look, if I want to tell if someone has the ‘flu, I know what to look for, where to look for it and what it looks like. If one of those survivors gets sick and I can’t find anything recognizably wrong with them, how do I know what to look for? You see what I mean?”

Eric wasn’t sure that he did, but it he did know it wasn’t his problem. His problem was that they had just arrived at the bridge and he didn’t have his pass. Fortunately the voluble doctor just kept talking, digging in his pocket and swiping his pass across the sensor pad, allowing them both entry.

“…there really would be no way to tell what type of infection you were dealing with…,” the doctor continued droning on, but Lazzaro had tuned Matthias Drake out now, having noticed that Toes was already in attendance, and he made a snap decision to not tell him, yet, about his missing security pass.

It’s bound to turn up sooner or later, he thought, shaking his head as he watched the captain trying to arm wrestle one of the kitchen staff, who had only come up to clear away the debris of Toes’ early morning “working breakfast”, as he called it.
What this actually amounted to was; Toes sitting in his command chair, often in his underpants, eating bacon and hash browns while he took reports from the night crew, before they went off shift and the ship’s daily rota began all over again.

Today he’d obviously decided to finish off with a bit of a workout, namely; attempting to budge a forearm that looked like it was made of seasoned timber anywhere away from the vertical position it had clearly occupied for some considerable time, given the sweat on their glorious leader’s brow, the way his bicep looked as if it was about to burst and the unpleasant wheezing noises he was making.
The cook on the other end of this mighty onslaught however, seemed not at all bothered and was in fact picking his teeth with his free hand and occasionally taking a mouthful of coffee.

“Okay, okay!” Toes eventually gasped, “I’m gonna let you off this time son, it’s briefing time,” Lazzaro could see the enormous crewman thinking “Son”? as he stood up, looming over the captain by a good six inches, “but you wait until I’ve got the time to slowly grind you down.”

“Yessir cap’n,” said the cook with, Lazzaro thought, a commendably straight face, “I was startin’ to weaken a little there, you had me on the run and no mistake.” He nodded a greeting to Eric, picked up the breakfast things and left, leaving Toes rubbing his wrist and looking after him thoughtfully.

“You don’t think he was yanking my chain do you, First Officer Lazzaro?”

“Me sir? No sir! I don’t think sir, I leave that to the upper ranks like yourself sir.”

“Eric?”

“Yes captain?”

“Screw you.”
Eric laughed and pulled out his seat at the briefing table as the rest of the attendees filed onto the bridge.

And another day in outer space begins, thought Eric, let’s hope I find that pass sooner rather than later.

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