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Chapter 91 - The Administrator[]

Tharkad Shipyard
Work Platform 1115 Tharkad system
Lyran Commonwealth

Sharon pinged the civcon on the other end, and locked her boots to the girder, lifting with her legs, to hold the hull plate on Destroyer DG-401 while Lt. Kasseler sparked the welding rigs to full power and started to run the joining beade.

A thousand kilometers away, Trillian was holding meetings, Roderick was half a solar system away speaking with his General Staff, and Sharon was here, leading by example along with the men and women who would be the crew of the yet-unnamed Landmark II destroyer, helping the Yard with the heavy work, because her own staff were handling things and Trillian didn't need her making waves at the conference.

DG-401 was the first Landmark II, and the class would get a new name by the time the outer hull was fully braced and plated, wiring runs finished, and the ship was ready to leave the slip.

For right now, the Fleet Admiral could spare a few hours to help the civilian contractors, engineers, and the crew to get a little further ahead.

Every military has busywork, and experience actually building or, after damage, repairing a warship gives the crew a chance to build bonds between ranks and crewmates, as well as a deeper understanding that you can't get from an academy classroom.

The heavy work was good for burning off the excess distracting energy.  she watched suit monitors for tolerance and flex, keeping the thousand ton structural member aligned to within .01 centimeters while a welding rig the size of a bulldozer passed within meters, the powerful jet of metallic plasma countered by tuned thrusters.

The coolant cycle over the fresh join came next, crystallized frozen nitrogen sprayed on the superheated weld line, bending the whole join in a pre-planned arc as it flash-cooled in the vacuum of space, the frozen gas becoming once again gas-phase and flashing off, to recrystallze when it shed the excess energies.

She reached into her 'yard bag' and checked the join and the gap with a handy, fist-sized go/no-go guage.

Within tolerance.  She slid her work-bar out, and walked out onto the new structural member,  "Let's get the next one ready, Midshipman, you saw what I was doing?"

"Aye mum." Midshipman Liezler was a senior at Nagelring, doing a Naval program, and while his LCAF ground-forces bound classmates were going home for the semester break. He was here at the yard, learning how the ships he would serve on are built.

Learning to live in a suit full-time, far from the safety and security of a planet, earning his salt.

"Here." She handed him the yard-bar and the inspection bag.  "Next one is yours. don't ****** it up or you'll have to learn how to re-do it."

"Aye, Mum."

Her helmet comm pinged almost as if by arrangement.  The text message said "Report to the conference, duty uniform.  Trillian."

"Gotta go guys, sorry!" she said over the work-channel for the dock.
"No problem, Admiral. Don't let the dirtyfeet walk on you too hard!"  The dock's shift-boss, an old Schvarze-volk who probably had seventy hours on a planet in his entire seventy years of living, said with a grin in his tone.

"Work safe, guys!"  Sharon fired her EMU and caught the skids of a loader bound for the drydock's shuttle deck.

The T-11 executive shuttle was already positioned when she let go of the hauler and free-dropping toward the open airlock of the Admiral's pinnace.

"Have fun playing construction worker, Admiral ma'am?"  Dietrich 'Deke' Rutherford asked.

"Herr Lieutenant, I always have a wonderful time playing with the Yard apes." Sharon said, as she settled into her seat.  "It's a nice break from the endless paperwork of actually running this organization."

"Her Majesty set me out to find you with a string of expletives, Mum." he said, "Nasty words, like 'Diplomacy' and 'dress uniforms' were tossed at me, it were a terror, mum. she almost had me locked up for five whole seconds."

"You'll live. Besides, I think if a foul word actually passed Her Majesty's lips, it would be given special dignity and cease to be foul."

"Your lips to god's hearing aid, mum." he said, "She did say she needed you at the station in a ticky manner, however."

"So have some fun, you've got the priority flight clearance."

He grinned wide behind his mask, and reached for the throttles.

"If you scratch the paint, I'm going to make you clean, alodine and repaint the marks..." she added, "....and I better not feel it when we hit the docking lock."

"Aye mum...hey, there's this guy I saw at a bar down on the Triad docks. He is most unfortunately, painful straight and only likes girls though I could rock his world...he seems like maybe your type."

"Gods, you too?"

"Mum, you're a human being. You need to let the steam off sometime, Ayuh? Dude is prime."
"Just fly the damn shuttle, Deke.  I know Emily must've put you up to this...or was it Linda?"

"Hey, no. I know you barred that line. This comes from Her Majesty herself. She said to me, 'Deke, that Admiral of yours, she needs to blow off the steam and find a good man before she tears someone in half!' So I says, 'Yes, Your Majesty, but my Admiral, she don't settle for no ordinary blokes. She needs a special kinda man, don't you know.' and she tells me, she does, 'Deke, you're a natural seeker of the primest of men. Judge of character and bottomless drinker of the juice of love, if any ought find herself the Sharon a man, it's you', so you see, I have a directive from our Lord to find you a proper man."

"I believe exactly none of that story, and you better hope nobody has a recording of it." Sharon said, laughing.

"I do hope you'll at least find a moment to toast my upcoming nuptials, Mum." he said.

"Someone's making an honest man of you, Deke?"

"Oh Yes, Mum, and He's a proper man too.  Even has all his teeth." Deke said.

"Good for you. When am I signing the leave slip, you horrible liar?"

His mein changed, "I'm serious, Admiral.  He proposed, I accepted. I'm about to be off the market, no more midnight pickups on shore leave for me.  We're planning on an adoption. A full nuclear family, I've even turned down the re-enlistment bonus.  The day after my ETS, I'm going to be a married man."

"Oh...I need to find your replacement." Sharon said with a sigh, "Good for you, Deke.  Am I invited to the wedding?"

"I think I just said that, yes." he told her.

"I'll bring a nice gift...." she said, "...and I promise to only cry a little bit."

"You'd better be catching the flowers, mum." his bright mood returning.

"I make zero promises, you know I'm a Kludge in gravity."

"You better bring a date." he added.  "It's traditional, and my husband-to-be is a very traditional guy...but no pressure, you have four months to find someone."

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