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Chapter 24 - The Advisor[]

New Syrtis Naval Headquarters
New Syrtis Star System
Federated Suns

"...convicts? Prisoners? pirates?  This is going too far, Milord!"  Admiral William Hasek scowled, then turned to the 'advisor' from the LCN.  "You were a law officer for christ's sake!!"

Anh glanced to the First Prince, Julian Davion, who just gave her a nod.

"Les condamnés sont qualifiés et nous avons besoin de gens qui peuvent naviguer."  she said it in a fairly smooth French, then added, "The FSN doesn't have enough on-hand, and it takes years to train them-these people have the single qualification. The capacité nécessaire et éprouvée to do these jobs, and this way. While your taxpayers are paying for their meals, they are not also paying for their lawyers. For the courts hearing their appeals, for the jailers, the maintainers, the prison meals, executioners, wardens..."  she tapped her boot with her crowbar, "When the Coast Guard had to suddenly secure thirteen periphery-border systems so thoroughly that we could neither allow anyone out, or anyone in lest the human race be put at mortal peril, Admiral, we emptied the prisons of pirates, and the ones who could pass the exams and the training, were worth twenty thousand times their weight in Germanium."
"You're claiming one person can be worth a jump core?"

"If it's the right person, Oui." she spoke with that same measured deliberate tone.  "Ayeh, th'raht nav'gattah es wuth a jump coah."

"These are felons!"

"It's necessary." Julian interrupted.  "How many did your dragnet catch, Commander?"

"Chief Willard an' th' MIIO guys found us one hundred fifty candidates in prisons, Capt'n LaFayette..." she slowed down again into measured tones, "Captain LaFayette and the recruitment gang signed on enough candidates to double that by hitting the lower-tier academies, local proving grounds, and high schools. Following the testing and training guidelines laid out. We should be able to graduate about seventy percent of candidates."
"Losing twenty five percent."

"Twenty. There's a built in death rate." she said, "Space duty is hostile environment. The more realistic the training, the more likely you are to experience casualties.  Barring a miracle of some sort, I expect five percent of candidates will die during each training cycle."

Julian stiffened, "That high? we don't see that with infantry training!"

"Infantry training generally does not include living for prolonged periods with less than three millimeters of material between you and hard vacuum, Your majesty."  she said, "A bored infantryman going a little stir crazy doesn't vent the whole compartment or lose his mind in such a way that it kills the men with him...usually, and Ship duty isn't like Tank duty or 'mech duty, both of those...dans les véhicules de combat et blindés, vous ne vivez pas à l’intérieur des parties mobiles de la machine."

Admiral Hasek gasped in surprise at her comment.  "'re not using simulators?"

"Realistic. Training." she said, "Nothing teaches like the real thing.  Trainees will be issued pressure suits, and attend classes in hard vacuum on the exterior of the facility.  By week two, they will be also be living and sleeping on the exterior of the facility.  This builds good habits, but it has a high casualty rate among those mentally and psychologically unfit for deep space service.  Among planetary populations that's around twenty percent, screening gets rid of three fourths of those, so five percent die because they didn't listen, or were foolish, or panic, or conned the screeners and shouldn't be there."

" insane!"

"No. What is insane is having a shelter with a buddy who cracks and takes his helmet off on day forty." she said, "In front of you, because he misses the smell of unfiltered air and so strongly desires sunshine he's willing to expose his FACE to the sun without an atmosphere!"

Hasek froze for a moment, "How old were you?" he asked.

"I was sixteen. Chuan, my shelter-buddy was eighteen and had gotten in with a one rank increase for getting a couple of friends to sign up.  He didn't make nineteen. It's probably for the best. However, I still had to bring the ashes home to his mom and explain my mistake in letting him go outside alone. it works, but there will be losses, barring a true miracle, realistic training creates real casualties, but the survivors are better."

"Can you minimize the risk and still maintain the quality?" Julian asked.

"Five percent is the best I can promise." She said, "Any way to minimize the risks while still getting the quality? I will take it. It is negligent not to minimize risks to trainee personnel-but there's a trade off, there always is.  Injuries in training prevents injuries in operations, it also provides additional training on casualty handling and prepares the potential crewman or marine for real-life action in the field, I can only promise that once things are rolling, every effort will be made to make the miracle happen and get every trainee through alive and intact...that said, the very best I can project, is a five percent casualty rate.  Training cycle one of this fiscal year is set to begin their education in one month.  When cycle one reaches the three month mark, cycle two will begin, and so on with three month separations for the two year period required to instill and prove competence for movement to Fleet Duty."

"Two years??" Hasek gasped.

"It's a reduced program, since the Infantry, Armor and 'mech commands remain the province of standard AFFS units. I don't have to put them through Coast Guard Ground School. They don't have to attend wet-naval or dive school, and they don't have to attend Infantry school cycles. That cuts three years off right there, we can have able crewmen and apprentices available to the Fleet in two years from cycle one-which corresponds to the projected arrival of the field-test ships.  With the recruited veteran and prior service personnel, we have a built in Officer and NCO core that can be built off of."

"Milord, she keeps saying 'we'."

"Oui." Julian said, "She does.  Commander McCoy, are you intending to participate?"

"Someone has to make sure it's done right." she said, and she looked at Hasek, "You're stuck with me for at least two years. Get used to it, Sir.  When I leave, your cutter program will be ship-shape. It will be fit to fight, because that is the mission I was given."

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