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The Administator (Chapter Cover Art) Chapter Page - Book 1

Chapter 62 - The Administrator[]

Tharkad Naval Shipyard
Tharkad System
Lyran Commonwealth
3148

"...where is she?" The Archon demanded.

Lt. Chris Keller glanced toward the 'ceiling'. "Outside, Your Majesty."

Trillian fumed, "I need an EVA suit, NOW."

"Your majesty-"

"Did I stutter?"

"Right this way, Your Majesty."

He brought her to a room on the base, and a pair of suit technicians quailed at the expression on Trillian's face.

"I want a suit. NOW."

"I'll be outside, Lia." the Male tech said.

"What??"

"Highness, Regulations and basic decency, Chief Kleistner is male, you are a ranking female who is not experiencing a medical emergency. I am sorry, but he is correct to leave the room-unless you want him to see your naughty bits." the female's hair had just about almost covered the tattoos on her scalp, but the clipped accent was pure spacer.

"A...skinsuit?" Trillian asked.

"You did ask for an EVA suit, Majesty."

Trillian closed her eyes, "Right...Chief, my apologies, you may go."

"Thank You, Majesty." the male suit-tech departed with a somersault in null-gee.

"Disrobe, please. This will not take long. You will need to update it if you experience any major physical changes, such as weight loss or gain, pregnancy..."

"Is there a manual? I'll read the manual."

It began with a scan, and a rub-down, followed by a ritual that Trillian had learned to hate on shopping expeditions with cousins...but without either the fawning false adoration, or the hidden sneers of the Triad's shopping districts.

The cool professionalism was relaxing.

"Is it like this for everyone?" Trillian asked.

"No, Highness, most recruits get fitted and have to wait three days downside before they get theirs-it's the volume, you see. Every suit's personally fitted."

"PERSONALLY FITTED? whatever for?"

"Range of motion, remember we spend months in these things, including in depressurized battle conditions. The Skinsuit has to fit like your skin, see? it's not just some fashionable body-glove with a coolant circuit. Though it does have one."

The suit-fitter worked fast, shaping and cutting the material, drawing it against her body, trimming and joining the edges with practiced precision. "Can you put...the fittings for a cooling vest on this?"

"Those are the standard coolant fittings, Majesty. Cheaper than designing one specifically for the Navy. You can wear it in a 'mech or powered armor, or in the cockpit of a fighter. It even works as a flight suit for pilots."

"Everyone in my navy has one of these?"

"Yes, Your Majesty...everyone. It's the standard uniform garment, mission-oriented overgarments are available, and of course, the dress uniform overgarment."

Trillian's skin tingled. "What's-"

"Well, now I need to calibrate the pressure and temperature sensor interfaces, extend your hand?"

Trillian found out a few things with this. Like the sensations of temperature were muted and she could tell fuzzy from smooth from rough textured thanks to layers of piezoelectric nerve inducers throughout the garment.

That the catheters weren't any more comfortable in a skinsuit, than they are in a hospital bed. "All the time?"

"While you're wearing it. Some of the wastes are reprocessed, some have to be dumped. It's in your manual." The last bit, being the helmet, and having to tie her hair up in a very tight braided bun to clear it. "There you are...except...ah. rank tabs and nameplate."

"She wears this all the time?"

"The Admiral? Yeah, She does. We all do. Seals are good, let's get you to a safety lock so we can make sure all the seams are proper."

"Has that happened?"

"We check to assure it doesn't, Your Majesty. Safety First."

The whole procedure took three hours from walking in to the fitting room, to climbing out the ventral airlock. The view was most unlike what she was used to. There was a clarity in the vacuum that didn't really seem to translate through the viewports of a ship, and unlike her previous EVA suit experiences-done in 'one size fits all' suits, this felt incredibly exposed, yet safer.

Sharon was anchored to the station with a line, floating in a lotus position fifteen meters from the deck.

"Admiral."

"Highness. sorry, had my suit comm off. By the time they got ahold of me, you were in the fitter's shack."

"You are here, and not in your office."

"I needed a sanity break." Sharon's tone was distant, neutral, "Careful, part of that hull is demagnetized. You'll want to connect your lanyard."

"A...sanity break, so you come out here." Trillian anchored her lanyard, and gave a careful hop, letting herself drift to the end of the line.

"Yep. where things make sense." Sharon said. "Heard a little birdy in Mount Asgard. Said you want to give the third Frederick Steiner class contract to Lockheed. I decided I needed a walk before asking if it were true."

"I have been approached. I get the impression this was an attempt to go over your head?"

"Something like that." Sharon said. "My family's done business with them for centuries. There is a reason I don't trust them with another major contract."

"Tales out of school, goody." Trillian said acidly. "What is yours?"

"Deke Haranshire tried to court mom for a while, and he couldn't keep his fat mouth shut about how he was screwing the Commonwealth." Sharon said quietly. "Charging personal travel as business expenses. Clocking expensive dinners as time on government programs, most of the contracts I canceled were with Lockheed CBM for a reason-cost overruns, and program delays are how the Haranshires pad their pockets. They get away with it by offering cush 'jobs' upon retirement to officers in the Procurement branch-one of the main reasons I sacked most of the senior officers IN LCN Procurement, and put young guys who are nowhere near retirement in their place...but the biggest problem is that they're accessible on Tharkad. Six martini lunches at strip clubs. Golf in the afternoon, offers of expensive vacations to family members."

"The reasons you tried to move operations out here." Trillian was never stupid. "You weren't just being inaccessible to be a bitch, you're trying to make your reforms stick."

"Yup." Sharon said, "The limits on personal time, the uniform changes, establishing a different culture from the rest of LCAF. It's all about making it harder for the contractors and their bought Estates General reps to rip off the nation."

"You can't entirely prevent it."

"Don't I know that!" Sharon laughed harshly, "But, I can make it expensive and difficult. Expensive to levy the bribes and difficult to gather blackmail. Everyone does a staff rotation but, then, they go back into the black...everyone but me, apparently."

"Someone has to keep pushing to make it work, Sharon." Trillian stated.

"I know. I also know, now, what it felt like to Nikki Minh when I told her I needed her manning a desk as a civilian instead of helming a cutter...because I'm in the same, damned, job."

"How do you think I feel, or Roderick? we're in the same hole you are-we only get to pilot our 'mechs for parades and carefully monitored practice!"

"Our jobs suck." Sharon said.

"Are you ready to come back to work now?" Trillian asked crossly.

"Yeah. let's reel in, we'll take a shuttle down. I think we can change things up against the Falcons. Throw the bastards off-balance again."

"Can it involve our allies?"

"It's gonna have to, see, I want to send them to Arc Royal with a Destroyer group..."



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