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Chapter 6 - Important People[]

LCS Frederick Steiner
Tharkad Orbital Anchorage Yard - Slip 16
Tharkad System
Lyran Commonwealth
September 3097

"...undergoing her five year inspection and refit, but we've got your quarters ready, Ma'am."  the Petty officer was friendly, at least.  His New Capetown accent wasn't even grating a little bit.

"Thank you, chief." Amanda surveyed the ship outside, before entering the docking umbilical, and kicked off gracefully, floating freestyle down the tube with a little, controlled flip at the end, where she waited for the NCO to catch up.

"You know-we get in trouble for that." he told her, "Not supposed to fly clear of the line in case of a problem, Ma'am."

"Oh, sorry." not sorry! she gave him a tight, cheery smile with a little shoulder shrug, "I'll be good now."  no I wont.

"It's alright. Everybody does it, even if it's against the rules."

"Sounds like...everywhere." she agreed, "Let's keep this between us and not the brass, ayeh?"

"Ajaeh." his accent mangled the acknowledgement just the littlest bit.  "Yool be rohmin' wi' Van Oosten from the weapons department, hope you don't mind."

"Not at all." she said, "What's he like?"

"She.  Like...she's a good'un, mum.  bery shahp, but good wi' the leds, o'cawse, I kina hefta sey thet, she's a Praetoria gehl."

"Ah. So from your hometown, ayeh?" asks Amanda

"Yes'm." he said with a vigorous nod.

"Well, I've never met someone from New Capetown, so this is two in a single shift. This should be fun." Amanda grinned wider.

The interior was stripped, and Amanda only KNEW it was stripped, because she could see where the  panels would go once the updates to the wiring and plumbing were complete.

The signs of work got fewer as they went deeper and further up the Ship's length.  Mentally she noted the locations of each pak of Beachballs and where the manual valves were for the fluid and gaseous plumbing, constructing a mental map for quick reference later. She also counted frames as they passed them.

They reached an intersection where the rungs were back in place. Fresh welds showing the handgrips, useful both for dirtyfeet to stay oriented, and as launch points for bounding movements.

Also occasionally useful as tie-offs, or when the ship was under sustained thrust.

The Chief waved her card in front of the hatch to Officer's quarters, and floated aside to let her pass.  "Room fifteen Alpha, mum." he told her, "Past here, I don't go."

"Thanks Jeremy." she said his last name as if it were his name, forgetting for a moment the formality of rank.

"Yer welcom, mum."  she free-floated along the p-way intersection to floor fifteen, and looked for 'A'.

There you are.

She touched the faceplate, and when it neither opened the door. Nor did it alarmed her off, she examined it.

Set to manual, huh.

She braced a foot, and spun the wheel one-half turn, unlocking the bolts manually to swing the hatch open.

She got blasted by some kind of raucous music that sounded like it came from a garage studio.

...It's a long way to Llewelyn

It's a long way on the train

We can kwai it to the North Pole, But they'd build one just the same.

The parade square

We all dig the stoppies, haircuts and the graze.

And if we really scheme it's lekker when we start on our first phase!

The blondest girl she'd ever seen was...kind of dancing? to it.

Amanda watched for a few moments, mentally trying to decipher the low-grade rock music her apparent bunkie was listening to at decibels high enough to maybe drown out a blowout alarm.

She drew in a breath because apparently Van Oosten's situational awareness was absolute shit.

"HEY!! Innyawallah!!! Say finagle wahttahelle yo!" she bellowed in Rokkajakkah dialect like a Basic instructor. (from the diaphragm, no screech)

The blonde skipped a spin and tumbled in sudden panic.

"You read me clear yeah ovah?" Amanda added when the girl's sound system cut out mid-tune.

"Oh shit, sorreh, Yer th' new gehl yah?"

"Ayeh, which rack's yours?" Amanda asked.

"This one."

"A'right then.  All shifts?"

"Um, can have the other one, nobody is using it?" the blond responds

"Thanks." Amanda floated in, "Amanda Ngo, Nav department."

"Irena Van Oosten, Weapons and Ordnance."

Amanda helped her stop her spin one-handed.  "You a Dirtyfeet?"


"That'd be yes. So am I, is there anyone on this boat who's a proper spacer?" Amanda asked cheerfully.


"Dumb question, never mind..."

She released her bunkie and pushed for her bunk assignment, "Damn, the lockers double cap too?"

"No? where you from Ngo?"

"Cutters." Amanda said, "Coast Guard, Reserve activated.  You?"

"First ship, ma'am." Irena said.

"We're the same rank." Amanda pointed out, "I would guess you're senior in grade, but I probably have you on total service time."

"Time, and combat patch...and is that an earring?"
"Yeah. Regulation size. Metal and placement for surviving having my boat shot out from under me."  Amanda opened the locker, and dropped her C-bag in.

"'s totally lekker!!"

"Not so much if lekker means good or cool.  Watching an aerofighter come in without a nice bit of hull in the way isn't much fun." Amanda told her, "I hit the initiate and vorp! Golden light and colorless void and six years later I came out. My Twin brother is six years ahead of me in grade and rank now."

"Holy shite, f'r real??" asks the Irena.

"For-real." Amanda turned around, "Where's your suit?"

"Uh...we're not under way?"

"******..regulars, right...Okay, what's the duty uniform for the day?"

"Working duties." responds Irena.

"...and since officer of the Watch wasn't there when I came aboard, I'm guessing that..."

"Oh, I'm on duty." Irena chirped.

"You...are the duty officer..?" asks Amanda.

"We're in dock. Ship's on blocks. The Captain's got a rotation and today I'm it. If there's trouble, I call the XO at the BOQ, and ef I can't get him, the Captain's line."

Jesus ******, mom, why didn't you warn me??

"Okay, so you're the briefer then." Amanda said, "Care to bring the newbie up to speed?"

"About what?"

"Why there isn't an O-4 or above doing ship's watch in port, for starters, and why this ship's half-dismantled but nobody's actually working on her."

"That...isn't normal?"

"No, it really isn't." Amanda said, "In dock during a half-dee? There should be at least a third of the crew at work with the civcons. It's not just good for budget, it's also good for keeping skills sharp on Dee-Cee and vacuum procedures.  A crew that works on the ship, knows the ship.  Senior officers are supposed to be immediately available at all times so someone can be here to take responsibility, us juniors are supposed to be learning our craft as officers during this down time through mentoring and practice with the crew."

"I can honestly say I never heard that." Irena said, the chirp was almost gone in her tone, "but christ it makes sense!"

"Yah. Okay, no grownups, We're going to go through the ship on a babysit walk, ayeh?"


"I'll wait for you to get suited up." Amanda told her, "We're going to check the exterior too."

"What for?"

"Cool things." Amanda said, "Totally metal things, things they don't teach in ground school." she grinned impishly.


"and when we get back, you can show me how to log on to the ship's network. My P-mail is probably blowing up."

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