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

Chapter 92 - The Administrator[]

Tharkad Shipyard
Gasthaus station
Tharkad system
Lyran Commonwealth

"...manual labor? in a Shipyard??"  Trillian was fending off Julian again when Sharon walked in.

"It's called 'inspections'." Sharon said.  she had taken the message at face value, and was still wearing the work-duty outergarment, the scorch and embedded slag around the sleeves and chest-piece darkening the reflective surface.  "What?"  Sharon slid her 'duty' crowbar into the handy loop-and pocket on the back of her harness.  "Don't your naval people bother checking out the ships they're going to be commanding?"

"Usually...from a safe distance." he said.  "You were doing actual work on a ship?"
"Every LCN officer and crewman is expected to put hands on their ship, especially in the yard." Sharon said, "Lead by Example, you learn more about what it can maybe do that the spec sheets don't talk about. If you have actual hands to the ferrosteel and it's a good way to keep training sharp when a crew's not on an actual deployment. What's the trouble, Highness?" she asked.

"Julian was asking about your naval reforms, Admiral." Trillian said, "I think you're better equipped to give the briefing on that."

"First, fire any brass-ass who thinks 'ramming' is a viable tactic." Sharon said.  "Then fire anyone who won't put hands to the steel on the ships they intend to command. then fire anyone who thinks a shore billet is a good thing.  If they aren't begging for a boat, they aren't committed. if they won't work with the yard on a hull, then they're probably shit in an emergency, and anyone who uses words like 'proles' or 'rankers' in a non-ironic way? kick 'em to ground forces asap.  A ship commander needs to want it in his bones."

"A bit less generalized, Sharon." Trillian told her.

"Okay, first off you need to go through the books of your navy with a couple of forensic accountants. Have them find out who's taking bribes, which hands are getting graft, and who's not showing up for work."  Sharon said.  "I spent months before the 'Monday Massacre' digging up who was in which contractors' pockets, who was slacking on their duties, and who was just plain too stupid to live.  Your first step, is to eliminate the dead-weight."

"The...dead weight?"

"Yeah, guys whose commission has more to do with mommy and daddy's money or social standing.  Kick them the hell out." she said, "A Navy can't afford officers that can't do the job, and schooling is only part of the job.  I'll take an illiterate who can identify stars from his peasant hut over an academy grad who can't tell the difference between a starship, and a battering ram.  why? I can teach the illiterate to read and do math. Ninety nine percent of a starship comes down in one way or another, to doing calculus and reading a clock.  one percent is knowing how to look confident under pressure."

"You keep bringing up ramming-"

"You brought four corvettes designed for ramming attacks!" she said, letting her passion reach her voice, "You've got admirals who need to be fired from a naval gauss at the nearest convenient slag asteroid! The guys who wrote the spec on those need to be relieved for cause and stripped of rank for the good of the service.  Warships are force multipliers, for Christ's sake! What is the stupidest Battlemech design in the last four hundred years, Julian?"

"The Charger."



"Because it's useless for anything but, boxing." Sharon told him, "It represents a force deficit.  Those Kentares class corvettes of yours, if used for the purpose they were obviously designed for. It represent a one-for-one in a naval engagement, at the build cost of a ship that can get at least two or three to one.  They represent a significant waste of your manpower and resources for at best, breaking even-and that's assuming they can actually hit under thrust with a solid impact. Against a half-aware or half-competent opponent, they'll burn their fuel out and take damage. Doing it without even crippling their opposition.  So first, you take the theorists and historians who suggested that as a proposal, and you pink-slip them into oblivion, and hire someone with at least two ****** brain cells to rub together."

"Assuming I do that, what is the next step?" he asked.

"Impose standards." Sharon said,  "No starship captains who can't navigate a six minute jump point. No officers who don't have competency at damage control tasks and I'm not talking theoretical. They need to be able to run a cutting torch and a welder. A captain should know how to do basic electrical and plumbing work in vacuum."

"How does that-oh..because warships take fire and you don't believe in trusting the enemy to miss." Julian said.

"You're getting it.  Every ship in the black faces emergencies and military ships bring and experience disaster on a regular basis.  If your naval uniform doesn't include a skinsuit as daily wear? You need to fix that.  Spacers who don't wear space suits become dead spacers at inconvenient times-your naval personnel must learn to live in and love the black. The silent space between stars and you're better off if they learn to love it more than being ashore on a planet.  Your crews and captains should know their ships, every centimeter, every defect, and every character line.  Your ship is your home. Your crew is your family. Your service is your nation, your nation is your mother, and so on.  The next step is probably going to be harder for you. Since you have to invest in your navy's professional standards.  Those standards mean things like 'class' or 'caste' get tossed aside. A dirtyside distinctions have no place on a ship in combat."

He looked a bit confused, "Explain that one-what do you mean?"

"My ace Battleship captain was born in a poverty-stricken slum. He didn't finish high school, much less attend a service academy." Sharon told him, "Ike's a ****** genius, but until he enlisted in the Coast Guard, his future looked like a lifetime spent as a petty crook in the deck levels of Swindon Arcology on Winter. His mother was a drug addict and his father was a convicted pimp and dealer.  the coast guard made that ruin into one of the finest officers in the Lyran Commonwealth Navy.  Talent, determination and skill count for more than birth, the Federated Suns has a highly feudal society, and you'll have to break your Naval branch of those attachments.  There is only the Service, and the Sovereign, nothing in between, or it won't work."

Trillian looked thoughtful, "That's why you rejected Brewer, isn't it?"

Sharon nodded, "Fundamental of professionalism, Brewer was not the lawful sovereign. Melissa was and when she chose you as became the sovereign.  Vedet Brewer was an idiot and an ******. He got in power by being a well-connected noble who could play on feudal loyalties and flat out corruption.  A navy becomes worthless if they start accepting...suggestions...from people based on ground-sider titles, who their inherited money, or political affiliations. That's also why I put a hard ban on extracurricular memberships and associations, and rooted out anyone who wouldn't drop them. the order is Nation-Sovereign-Service-Crew-Family-Self.  Any other order is anathema to good discipline, and discipline is what keeps your crew alive."

"How does that work into what you did with limiting your resource waste?" Julian asked.
"When your CNO has his or her priorities in order? Do they have your support as the Sovereign? Is cutting waste becomes mandatory in their own mind? Do they go out to find the waste, the sap on life-support, and the thing that is holding it all back? Finding the solutions to supply and support problems? that becomes the easy part." Sharon explained, "First you cut sentimental things.  LAS Invincible was a sentimental vanity project and going nowhere. Cut it.  Keeping a couple of half-dead foxes 'in service' for prestige? Cut them, they're costing more in upkeep than it would cost to replace them.  Has your prime contractor got a record for production delays, missed deadlines, and cost overruns? Find someone else.  If nobody else has the capacity, you spend the money and fix that, but you stop propping up somebody's gardening trophies and six fusionaire business luncheons at the strip club.  Ninety eight percent of the 3142 budget was going to non-service related costs, black budgets that produced nothing, and lobbying.  There's a reason that Lockheed CBM fired most of their executive board after Semier Datatron got the Fredric Steiner contract-they also went through a corporate 'reorganizing' that saw most of the CEO's family members tossed out on their asses-if your contractor hires his idiot nephew for an important position you don't use that contractor."

"I feel like I should be taking notes..." Julian said.

"You should." Trillian told him.  "When Sharon presented me with her reforms, I was...skeptical, but the Navy was our worst branch and had just proven to be incompetent, so I let her run with it. you can see the result of that."

"I don't have a 'coast guard' to draw officer replacements from." he said.

"Build one first." Sharon said, "The tech is actually low-cost once you have the base infrastructures in place. The Sampans Cutters don't use anything really exotic, the KF cores are actually outdated designs.  You can probably front a couple of small contractors to build the facilities.  build up your small vessel navy, then build off that...but cut your dead-wood out right now, and start grooming in people who can actually do the job."

"With a crowbar?" he asked.

"I'd recommend it." Sharon told him.  "You should never have an officer in command, who doesn't know how to be a spacer."

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