Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Putting the Crew Together

Imperial Navy Base Terra, Alice Springs, Central Australia
130-1119
            Ian Brickley had gotten back to Navy HQ at Alice Springs last night, and was checking in at the Personnel Unit at 0800 local time. It had been a rough transition, as he’d been on leave in North America the until the day before. He had first found many world’s day and night cycles difficult to adapt to, as his homeworld of Anacreon is tidally locked. The proceeding eighteen years off his homeworld meant it was normal, but the human body wasn’t meant for a thirteen-hour time zone difference. Still, the time relaxing on a wooded, rocky coastline was a welcome relief from the cramped, aging System Defense Boat he’d been commanding for much of the past six months. He’d taken command of it in late 1118, and the little boat and its crew had done well enough in covering routine inspections, including supporting the still new Terran Commonwealth Navy’s customs inspections. They even had taken part in Exercise RAPID RESPONSE, where the SDB Squadron was loaded onto a dispersed structure bulk carrier to deploy to Fenris, and then ferried back to the Sol sytem.
            Now, he just had his orders to report to the Naval Personnel Unit-Terra and wait. Entering the line marked “JUNIOR OFFICERS”, he thought it could be assignment to the staff pool for a while, or else a transfer to another ship, perhaps as a Department Head, or possibly Executive Officer of a destroyer or escort. As a certainly ambitious officer, there was no limit to what he wanted to next in his career. There were about five of them ahead of him, with three terminals reserved for their use. He patiently made small talk with the engineer sub-lieutenant ahead of him, and the weapons lieutenant behind.
            At the head of the line, he went for the right-hand terminal as it opened. He inserted his ID for a scan, typed in a quick passcode, and the monitor spat up a new set of orders.

TO: LT BRICKLEY, IAN D. IN
FM: PERSSOLRIM, DET TERRA

SUBJ: ORDERS TO COMMAND INS BOXING KANGAROO (UNDER CONST)

He couldn’t believe it. He read through it again, and confirmed it. Command of a starship as a junior officer was one hell of a privilege. The terminal gave him additional instructions, as well. It turned out the Kangaroo was still building, and he would be able to take her out as new construction. Call it the chance of a lifetime, to command and build a ship. Ian knew this would be his best chance to make or break his career. The printer spat out a hard copy with more instructions. His instructions required a meeting with a personnel detailer at 0900, and a meeting at the Ship Planning Building at 1300.

LATER THAT DAY
            Following an exhausting series of meetings, Brickley reported to the Flag Officer Commanding, Naval Base Terra’s office. He had mostly been talking to the yeomen and the Lieutenant Commander flag secretary about the whole process. One of the yeomen noted that her cousin was admitted to the Rim Naval Academy at Dingir for the next term.
            The Flag Lieutenant stepped out of the office, and said, “LT Brickley, the Admiral will see you now,” and held the door open.
            “Congratulations, Captain! You’d better get used to that, you know, with your upcoming position,” Rear Admiral Lady Shana Wooten Taulogo greeted him with a smile. She wore the standard office uniform of a Navy officer. White shirt with ribbons rank epaulettes, black trousers, and shoes. Despite never having met her, Brickley had a chance to examine her official biography beforehand.
            “I’m honored, Admiral, to have this opportunity,” he began. “To gain this opportunity…”

            “Well, with your MCUF as an Ensign, and handling of your SDB this year was more like an old veteran of a planetary navy than a young man whose been on larger ships. You are the sort of officer we want in command….” The Admiral continued into her speech, about how he was the kind of officer they wanted for future command positions, and this was the way to find them.
            The unspoken line is that if I mess up I’ll be pushed aside. At best I’ll find myself ashore until I hit retirement, at worst, cashiered. Brickley thought through the extended speech.
            “Bring in Haidan and Hassan!” she directed her Flag Lieutenant, who opened a door and, and a spacer with a camera, and an obviously prior enlisted Sublieutenant came through.
            “Lt Brickley, this is Sub-Lt Hassan. He’s mustang Astrogator who’ll be your XO,” she introduced him.
            “Pleased to meet you, sir, and I’m looking forward to being your XO,” Hassan spoke with a marked corewards accent, shaking Brickley’s hand strongly.
            “Right, you two will have plenty of time to get along,” the Admiral interrupted. She squared him off, with the spacer holding the camera ready to take the picture, “Lieutenant Brickley, for and by direction of His Imperial Majesty, Strephon, by the authority of the Admiralty Board, I do hereby appoint you to command in construction of the Imperial Naval Ship Boxing Kangaroo, to take affect from this 130th day of the 1119th year of the Imperium, 49th of his Reign. Long Live the Emperor!” she said as she pinned a miniature of the Imperial Sunburst wreathed in laurel on the right breast of his uniform, indicating his office as a commander. They smiled together as the spacer took a picture.
            “Long Live the Emperor!” he responded, and the others in the office chorused as well. This formality underlined his new authority.
            “I’ve got an appointment tonight with my husband, so you two officers can consider yourselves dismissed,” the Admiral noted.
            “Thank you, ma’am. I understand my new duties, Brickley responded. He followed Hassan out the door into the reception room. “Sub-lieutenant, do you have plans for this evening?”
            “No, sir, your plan?” Hassan replied formally.
            “Meet me at the officer’s club at 1830, we’ll get to know each other, and figure some stuff out.”
            “It’s been a pleasure to meet you today sir, and I’ll meet you there.”

1200 local, 131-1119
            It had been a productive morning, Brickley had found. He and Hassan had moved into the command office for new ships. An aging, standard issue office building, the space they received was little more than a tiny office off a slightly larger room that had three desks and a work table. Musty, it was obviously unused in several months. Two spacers from the transfer and training division followed a Chief obviously on his twilight tour who opened the rooms up for them. The spacers had stayed with them to turn on the lights and HVAC, wiped down the table and desks, and cleaned the floor in the main room. They would be back for his office while he and Hassan had lunch. A good couple of newbies, he thought, And maybe I can get them for the Kangaroo. We’re going to need a couple of good basic hands.
One of the highly recommended spacers worked out well for their needs. Within her transfer window, Machinist Mate 1st Class Juliana Brand had the skills and scores they wanted. She was currently assigned to a forward base and was scheduled to rotate back to Terra next month.
            For the pilot, he had one man in mind. BM3 Zabiyah, the pilot on his old SDB. A young man, but by god, he could fly a starship like it was a fighter in a precision group. A video conference with him and his current chain of command got their approval. He’d be here once the paperwork was processed.
            The final senior rating was the Gunner, and that was GM2 Chishan. He was actually assigned to the Naval Personnel Unit on Alice Springs, and he would be reporting shortly this afternoon.
            “Well, that settles it for our Navy side, sir,” Hassan spoke up, shutting down his computer on Brickley’s desk. “I’m not sure how we’re going to get our Marines though.”
            “Well, we have some time. I’d like to have them earlier to get them integrated, but to be honest, they aren’t going to be much use in the yard. Besides, we’ll just be getting a Boat from Fleet Stock,” Brickley replied.
            “Right. And we’re getting our first actual member of the crew today..” Hassan trailed off.
            “Make it a long lunch. I’m tired of mostly seeing your old mug around here,” Brickley replied jokingly.
            “But you’re going to see a lot of it! I’ll make myself scare until 1330, anyhow. Give those two kids plenty of time to goldbrick in here. They deserve it though.”

            “Right, I’ll see you about then, and get our first crewmember checked in.”


TNS Message:
Terra/Solomani Rim                  128-1119

Officials at Terra announced today that the freighter Alcibiades is reported overdue at Barnard Highport, and is now officially considered missing. The J-2 capable vessel, leased by Tukera lines to Lambeth Factors, LIC, of Terra, left Terra over a month ago, bound for Barnard en route to Nuskan, and did not exit jump when scheduled. Alcibiades transmitted the normal messages before entering jump, and reported all systems working perfectly upon arrival at the jump point. Analysis of the jump signature on departure indicated nothing unusual.

A search of expected arrival points Barnard system revealed no recent debris, and no distress calls or other messages have been received. All systems within 36 parsecs are on alert for a possible misjump. The official announcement indicated there is no evidence of hijacking or sabotage, but these and other possibilities cannot be discounted until more evidence comes to light.