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Posted on 31 Aug 2020 @ 11:04am by Captain Annett Matthews D.Eng. & Command Master Chief Spencer Barrentine & Lieutenant Commander Natsumi Messala & Lieutenant Dante Jones

Mission: M1: Distress Signal (Cancelled)
Location: A Deck, Captain's Office
Timeline: Mission Day 1 at 0805

Annett paced back and forth in her office sipping from her coffee mug, "enter," she called when the chime rang. She didn't bother to look to see who it was but moved to her armchair in the sitting area.

Natsumi took a deep breath. The Captain was not going to be happy, but entered, saluting.

"Captain." Natsumi came to attention.

"Sit," she said. "Tell me what happened."

Natsumi nodding, sitting and taking a moment to restructure it in her mind.

"According to the watchstander, Crewman Grover took the last shuttle to Earth at 2000 hours. They gave their reason as something personal had came up that they needed to clear up, and would be back with the morning supplies. Their section chief, when I checked in to see if she knew anything, mentioned they had been a little distracted and nervous that day. I've reached out to Fort Story, and they left the base at about 2300 hours according to the MPs there. When I informed them he was due back at 0600 hours, they began initiating procedures to locate Grover."

"Was our weapons department notified?" Annett asked.

"Grover's section chief was notified they left, and I passed on the results of what I know so far to Lieutenant Jones."

"Alright," Annett said. "And while we wait for the Master Chief and Mr. Jones how is progress in preparation to get underway?"

"We're doing last minute checks, but barring a major surprise, we should be ready to go by 0945 hours. That was the last summation I got."

"That's fine, let's try and do our best to be out of here by ten as planned."

Spencer arrived as soon as he could. He had been down in the engineering area reviewing information with some of the crew there when he received the summons to the Captain's Office. As he approached the door he took a second to adjust his uniform a bit and brush off a bit of the dirt he had collected on it. He pressed the chime, signaling that he had arrived.

"Enter," Annett called.

"Captain," He said as he entered, but without his usual chipperness. He then noticed that Natsumi had beat him there. "Commander."

"Please sit," she said. "Hopefully the Lieutenant will be here shortly. We need to discuss our missing crew member."

Spencer took a seat as directed by the Captain. Within moments he heard the chime and turned his attention toward the door.

He'd woken up late, dragged himself up and dressed and headed to the Captain's office as ordered. Dante thumped a light fist against the door chime, exhaled and walked in as soon as he was given permission.

"Mornin'," he greeted the other officers with a casual upward nod of his head.

"Lieutenant," Spencer said as a means of greeting.

"Mr. Jones, have you made contact with anyone on Earth regarding Crewman Grover?" Annett asked.

Dante frowned, looked around the room at the other faces, then fixed his attention on Captain Matthews as if she might reveal the answer before he had to. "Crewman Grover?" He repeated, slowly, hoping someone would give him a hint. "Uh, no... was I 'sposed to?"

"Commander?" Annett asked, turning an annoyed gaze to the Operations Officer.

Natsumi looked at her a bit helplessly. "I sent the details via electronic message about 45 minutes ago, high priority."

"I see," Annett said. "I thought you had actually spoken to the Lieutenant." She turned to face the Weapons Officer. "We have a missing crew member and you need to begin liaising with ground security forces so that we can figure out why Crewman Grover decided to go AWOL."

Dodged a bullet there, Dante realized with eternal gratitude. He'd have to buy Natsumi a drink later or some such token thank you. To the Captain, however, he nodded sagely and exhaled lightly.

"Yes sir," he said. "I'll get on it." To Natsumi, Dante added. "Any reason - personal or otherwise - that we know of for him to vanish?"

"I'm a ma'am, and the crew member in question is also female. Crewman Hannah Grover," Annett corrected. "Can either of you shed some light?" she asked, turning to the CMC and OPS.

Dante took the critique with nothing more than a silent nod. He didn't feel the need to argue the point or apologise for his apparent error.

Spencer had sat quietly listening to everyone talk. He hid a slight chuckle after the correction from Annett. 'This guy is doing great,' he thought to himself as he adjusted in his seat.

"Captain, I can't offer a reason. Talking to the crew that worked with Crewman Grover, no solid leads turned up. They all state a nervousness about it being her first assignment and first time being away from family. My assumption, which I hate to offer, would be she didn't realize what she was signing up for and wanted to run. With it being this close to departure, she wouldn't expect us to spend time to find her. Write it off as a loss." Spencer spoke in measured and a calm voice as he filtered through his notes. "Requests have been sent to recruitment command for further access to performance and psychological reports during her initial on-boarding and training.

"Obviously it's a loss, but a senseless one, and not one we can ignore. She deserted and she is absent without leave, these are serious crimes," Annett countered.

"I agree. I believe with Lieutenant Jones's attention on the matter, we should be able to provide our staff on Earth with plenty of information to help them ascertain the location of Ms. Grover." Spencer replied.

Natsumi nodded. "With your permission, ma'am, I can get a replacement sent to us and still make our departure window."

"If that's possible fine but she is a non-rate I don't think we need to lose sleep on being down one. Lieutenant Jones I would like you and a Master-at-Arms or two to go down to check her residence on file and any immediate family before we depart, be quick," she ordered.

"Yes ma'am," Dante returned swiftly and with a renewed surety to his tone. AWOL was indeed a serious matter, but genuinely he felt a glimmer of concern for Grover now. This talk of nervousness and a 'personal matter' didn't bode well, and he gave a curt, upward nod to the Captain. "Permission to leave right now?"

"Granted," Annett said. "Let's get back to work... And Lieutenant, I'll leave without you," she said in a warning to Jones.


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