“Commander Eight-twenty, why have the permanent transmitters been taken offline aboard your ship?”
“Admiral, we were trained from birth for our job here. We are the perfect crew and this is the perfect ship. We’ve already proved to you multiple times that we are perfectly capable of doing our job. I do not find your wasting time looking over our shoulders necessary.”
The key was to sound arrogant and haughty and at the same time careful and logical. That was what was expected from a commander. The important thing was to give no hint of the true reasons he had for turning off the permanent transmitters.
“But the permanent transmitters are universal, standard procedure, all ships have them.”
“Please admiral, I am a commander, I know that. But I’ve done some research and concluded that it is a better use of resources for Command to focus their time on the less reliable ships. There are also studies that have proven that my crew will perform better if not being constantly watched. In fact, I am disappointed that Command has not already implemented the results of these studies. Were you aware of the statistics?”
“Yes, Eight-twenty. I’m aware of them.” There was silence over the transmitter for a long moment and Eight-twenty watched the image of the Admiral’s face as he thought. This was it. If the Admiral said ‘no’ the game was over. “Alright, we’ll try it—as an experiment, for a period of time. I will expect daily reports from you, Commander, and at anytime I can ask for the transmitter to be put back online. Understand?”
“That will be everything for now, Commander.”
The screen faded to black. Commander Eight-twenty, who secretly called himself Jason, sat for a long time, staring absentmindedly at the black screen and thinking. He had won the first battle. Now they would no longer be watched constantly. But by all outward appearances nothing would change. They would continue with the endless stream of assignments. And hopefully their performance would improve. But inside this vessel, the way things run was going to change, starting now.
First, he would find out everyone’s nickname. And if any of his crew members had not yet made private names for themselves… they would. Once, when everyone was more human, people had gone by a proper name, not a number. It was time to reinstate that aboard his ship. He rose and left his office room.