A few days ago I asked my Facebook followers what they would ask my indomitable Yunkin captain.
Below is an interview, written in second person to give the interview an intimate feel.
You’ve read about him in the Federation archives. At a hundred and twenty years old, he’s the youngest most distinguished Yunkin, with a promising career. You looked at his picture more times than necessary. Piercing blue eyes, pale white skin with icy white hair. His Federation photo had not been updated to show his scar, but even if it did, it wouldn’t take away how striking he was. Something about his picture, no, his eyes kept bringing you back. Something that implied, he’s not what he appears to be. Of course that’s why you suggested the interview, but you never thought you’d be right here, with him.
He stays seated and greets you with a silver mug filled with dark coffee. This is the first interview of your career where a backup audio technician didn’t come. Trying to smile, but feeling nervous you take the mug with two hands so you don’t do something embarrassing like drop it.
You sit adjacent and try to pull your thoughts together. This is your job, you know how to do this. Taking a sip you taste the bitter drink and swallow it down. Black. No sugar or creamer. Nasty.
“Thank you,” you say.
Rannn takes another drink. “You don’t like it?”
“Black’s not my favorite, but it’s not as bitter as coffee usually is, did you brew this or get it made?”
“I made it,” he said without elaboration on what planet he bought it from.
“How do you take your coffee?” you asked stretching your neck to see inside his cup.
“The same way I made yours.”
Nodding you try and think of something casual to talk about. Something to get him talking freely without short and clipped answers. “Can you cook? If so, what is your best dish?”
He looks away and shrugs. “I’ve been with the Federation for over fifty years. I don’t cook, but I can warm up a bag of food like the best of them.”
“Over fifty years,” you repeat respectfully, “You must like being a part of the Federation. What’s your favorite part of the job?”
Rannn sets the mug on his knee. “Doing what needs to be done.”
That’s it? You’re a little disappointed in that answer. Probing forward you ask, “What’s your favorite time on the ship?”
“Any of them.”
His eyes wander for a moment before answering, “I don’t think I’ve had a favorite time on any of my ships because there is always a mission, there’s always someone in trouble, or dying. But for a few hours after a mission, I drink with my W&T Commander. He’s good company, and he usually supplies the drinks.”
You knew about his crew. Enough that you were sure who he was talking about. “You drink with Pax after your missions.”
He looked over and gave a nod.
“What made you pick this path out of all the others?”
Rannn looked away, and you thought you saw a slight eye roll. “It’s what Yunkins do. We join the Federation, we get married, we have a family, and the process starts all over again.”
There was enough sarcasm in his tone to make you wonder if being in the Federation wasn’t his dream. But you decided not to press that topic. Instead, you wanted to address marriage. Rannn was married, but now he was a widow.
No one knew why he hadn’t taken another wife, and there were plenty of females interested, but as far as you had found out – Rannn never responded to any message that asked about getting married again.
Pushing a little out of your comfort zone you asked boldly, “How would you describe your type of woman? Or better yet, what attracts you the most?”
“Bloody Seth…” he said shaking his head. He didn’t answer right away. In fact, he scratched his brow and even grunted. “I won’t be accepting any wedding offers if that’s where this is going.”
“Nope,” you cut in quickly. “I’m just curious.”
“Right,” he said mockingly. “I’m not sure what you want me to say. I like all kinds of females. Tall, short, thin, or thick, they can be anything so long as they are levelheaded. Since I have no interest in getting married, I don’t care much about looks, I just want to make sure that if I blitz them, they won’t try to pull me into a love trap.”
“How do you maintain the distance between being a friend to some crew members and being the captain of the ship?”
Rannn’s snort turned into a chuckle. “I don’t know if I do. I’d like to think I treat everyone the same.”
“Are you happy being the captain on Garna or would you exchange it for a small ship -with a small crew that you know and can depend on- to go out and explore new worlds?”
Rannn looked over and this time you noticed he was really looking. Not in a sexual way, but in a way that said, how clever are you?
“In the Federation, I get told where I go. There’s no point in fantasizing about another crew or ship.”
A polite answer, but not one that said what he wanted to say. Interesting.
“If you could be any other race, what would you be?”
He frowned. “I’ll always be Yunkin. Even if a Numan took me and stuck my brain in a Grach’s body. I’d still be who I am.”
A man with Honor, you said to yourself. And in the last few minutes, you heartedly agreed.
“What do you do for entertainment, other than drinking?”
Rannn picked up his coffee and took a sip. His voice was low and you almost didn’t hear it when he said, “I read.”
“What do you read?”
He nodded his head one way then the other. “Whatever looks good.”
Good Seth of Stars, he was the worst interviewer. “Okay, then what weapon do you prefer in close combat, or do you rather fight with your fists?”
“In a fight, you don’t worry about your preference. You use whatever it takes to stay alive.” His tone was dark and omniscient. You knew he had a blank spot in his record for about seven months. During that time, he had been a fighting slave on the Angny planet. It was a brutal time where most of his crew died.
Letting that topic die, you ask, “What is it you’d like to do, but can’t in your current position as a captain?”
“If you are asking if I want to be an Admiral one day, the answer is no.”
That wasn’t what you were asking but understood what he was saying. Captain Rannn wasn’t ever going to take another position. Or at least not anytime soon.
Checking the time you had about three minutes left. You set the coffee down on the large wooden stump. “Well, my time’s about up, so I guess my last question is, what is your goal in life? What do you expect to do to get there?”
He let out a long breath and peered over at the icy river. One moment passed and then another. Rannn set his empty mug down on the stump and stood up.
You followed wondering if he wasn’t going to answer you. Then just before you were about to say goodbye, he said, “My goal is to die an old father. And I have no idea how I’m going to get there.”