McLain's Misfits Ch. 01bykingkey©
Commander Dan McLain, nicknamed 'Viper', was in command of His Imperial Majesty's Long-range Strike Ship 73, nicknamed, the 'Loony Bin'. The crew had heard someone call it that, and the next day the name was mysteriously painted on both sides of the bridge.
A Strike Ship carried a normal crew of six and was a hyperspace, sublight and atmospheric capable craft. It was three hundred meters long and fifty meters in diameter, with retractable wing control surfaces for atmospheric flight. It had hydrogen-fueled fission power, and was easily refueled by using a ram scoop in a shallow pass through a gas giant's atmosphere.
The ship passed from sublight to hyper by slingshotting around a gas giant to bring the speed up close to lightspeed, and then switching to the hyper-engines. The process was reversed, to slow down.
The ship also had teeth the equivalent of a small Destroyer. It had four missile tubes forward and two aft, with eight on each broadside with two pulse laser fore and aft with six on each broadside. It also carried four ECM drones with that could be made to resemble any ship's emissions, to simulate another ship. The small ship's main flaw was the restricted magazine space. They only had two spare missiles for each tube, without resupply. These were sometimes a few and far between. Luckily, the extra large engines would recharge the lasers at a rapid rate. The cost of the ship, to the Empire, was about the same as a small dreadnaught.
Shelia, the ships AI, was the heart and soul of the Loony Bin. Sgt. Michelle "Mike" Andrews was the Pilot/Sniper. She had the popular 'girl next door' looks, but the attitude of a stepped on rattlesnake!
Sgt. Jim "Doc" Adams was a Combat Medic and Ship's Surgeon. He always had three or four scams going on... be it a bootleg still, or a floating crap game.
SSgt. Dave "Wiz" Willard handled Communications, AI Tech, and Ship's Engineering. He could make a computer do things the designer had never thought possible. Totally a recluse, if it was not a computer or a ship's component, it barely existed to him.
Cpl. Cynthia "Scrounger" Davis cared for the ship's weapons and the demolition ordinances. She could make a weapon or explosive out of most anything. She was also an accomplished thief. Just tell her what you needed, and she'd find a way to get it... just don't ask where it came from!
I had just cleared customs from a commercial interplanetary flight, when the customs agent said, "Commander McLain? We have a message that as soon as you arrive on station, we're to send you straight to the Admiral's office. He wants to see you as soon as possible."
I knew when Admiral Kelly said as soon as possible, he meant NOW!
"Can you watch my bags?" I asked, hurrying off for the Admiral's office.
On my way there I was wondering what the hell I was trouble for, now? Admiral Kelly always seemed to 'have it in' for me and my crew.
"Commander McLain, Admiral Kelly will see you now," the Admiral's receptionist said.
As soon as I walked into the Admiral's office he turned to me and said, "I don't know who you know in the Emperor's Court, but when I requested a court marshal, I was told to stand down and post guards. You would handle it when you returned. By God, I want their asses for this!"
He proceeded to tell me of the charges against my crew in my absence.
"Now it can't be all that bad. First of all, that sailor had no business pinching Mike's ass. He's lucky she didn't rip off his arm, and feed it to him."
"Secondly, there's no proof that any of my crew stole anything, including those fembots. Now I know that Wiz is a little strange, but what the hell would he want with a fembot, let alone two of them? All he seems interested in are computers and AIs."
"And lastly, what were Mike and Adams arrested for? I didn't think that singing was a criminal offence... though with their voices, maybe it should be. And as far as them powering up the ships weapons... it's an Imperial Order that Strike Ships and their crews are off limits to base and system personnel. They even have authority to place this system under martial law, if they deem it is needed. They are subject only to others in their own chain of command, or the Emperor himself... and you are not in that chain of command."
"No, but I am in charge of this sector, and this base! So I order you to relocate your ship and that meatball crew of yours to level Q, section 7, space dock 3. If I see any of your crew in the rest of this base, except on official business, I will have them shot. You will stay there 'till your ship rusts away. Any missions will be attended to by one of the other crews."
"But, Admiral, that's not fair. Besides, I'll appeal to the Emperor, personally."
"How? You need my permission to use any of the stations resources, and that includes communications!"
"OK. You win, for now. As you know, Lt. Johns requested and was granted a transfer. Is there a new Exec to take his place?"
"Yes He should be here in three days. I handpicked him, myself. He should fit right in."
Great! I could just imagine what kind of Exec the Admiral would pick.
As I went back to Customs to pick up my gear, I was pondering on what to do about all this trouble. My people were just blowing off some steam. If the station crew would just leave them alone, there wouldn't be as many problems. They had just come from a tough mission, where we could have been killed several times over. They had a real need to relax and unwind. It seemed like we got every dirty job that came around. I didn't know how they would react to being cast aside to stagnate on the quarantine deck.
"Welcome back, Skipper. How was your leave?" Sgt. Adams asked.
"KNOCK OFF THE BULLSHIT! I want every one of you assholes assembled here, in five minutes! Do I make myself clear?" I barked.
The next things I heard, was, "ALL HANDS ASSEMMBLE ON THE QUARTERDECK, ASAP." through the ship's intercom. Someone must have been monitoring my arrival.
After a few minutes of scrambling, everyone was assembled and trying to look innocent.
"OK, you eight balls, would someone please tell me what the hell is going on, here? I had no sooner stepped on the station, than I'm summoned to the Admiral's office for a royal ass chewing! Do I need to hire babysitters for you fuck-ups?"
"Look, skipper we were..."
"Save it for someone who doesn't know you!" I snapped back, "How long until we can leave this dock?"
"Do we have a mission, skipper? I have the starboard warp engine torn down, waiting on parts. The weapons computer has a major glitch in the software. Wiz thinks we need to reload and update the fire control system... and we have three minor leaks that the seals need replacing on, on airlocks two and four.
"If you had all that to do to get the Loony ready, how did you find time to cause so much trouble?"
"Base said without an Exec. We wouldn't be going out until Lt. Johns was replaced, and we had the new XO up to speed."
"THAT'S BULLSHIT! How are we supposed to stay in combat readiness? Did you send out Scrounger?"
"We did. That's why we did the drunken singing. It was supposed to be a distraction. Then all the trouble started, and we were thrown in the station's brig, overnight."
"Did it work?"
"Sure! We got everything we needed, and then some."
"I suppose the 'and then some' means you robbed the station blind? Just why you stole two fembot's from the station hospital is beyond me?"
"That was Wiz's idea! He thinks Shelia needs a better body than those robot drones she now has, and fembot's are the only ones with the processing ability to handle Sheila's load. He wants to double the processing to be sure, so we stole two."
"Well, we leave this dock in ten minutes. After the little stunts you've pulled, the Admiral is exiling us to Q-deck, section 7, space dock 3!'
"Q-Deck! That's for quarantine! There's nothing there! No action!" Doc exclaimed.
"I think that's the general idea. He said he was posting guards in all the access points, with orders to shoot if any of you try to pass... unless you're on official business."
"Skipper you gotta to do something about this!"
"I'm trying, but there's not much I can do until things quiet down some. In the meantime, I want the Loony to be in top shape. I know the Admiral says we will be docked until we rust away, but somehow I don't think that's going to happen. Sooner or later they will have a problem they can't handle, and they'll come running to us."
"Ok, Skip, but what can we do if we're confined to Q-Deck?"
"Since when did being 'confined' stop you guys? Let's get the ship moved, and do a little planning."
Moving the ship took less than two hours.
"OK! LISTEN UP! I want this tub to be shipshape at a moment's notice.
"Doc, get a list of all parts and supplies we need, and double it. I also want passes for the ship's crew. Get us onto the main decks, to get those supplies.
"Mike, I want you to find out all you can about this new XO we are getting. The Admiral claims he picked him out, personally. Find out all you can, and see what the Admiral is up to.
"Cyndi, I want you to get with Doc. Get everything that's on that list, and anything else that's not nailed down that we might use.
"Wiz, I need you and Shelia to monitor all communications and try to find out anything going on, and I want this ship ready with the first sign of a mission. I have the feeling that the Admiral is going to try to discredit us by showing we aren't ready when a call comes in. I want to know immediately and us ready for action."
"Ok, everyone, let's get cracking!"
After breakfast the next morning, I said, "Ok! Everyone report what progress has been accomplished on the orders I gave you, yesterday?"
Mike said, "The new XO is a Lt. Jackson. He is a real screw up. He was busted for the theft of Government property, for stealing the station admiral's gig, and taking a young woman for a joy ride. He has had six paternity suits filed against him. One was the planetary Governor's daughter. He has also been busted for running a gambling casino out of his last ship's sick bay. He's a bigger thief then little Cyndi here. He should be reporting on board sometime this afternoon."
"Damn why isn't this guy in the Brig or drummed out of the service?"
"His Uncle is Fleet Admiral Jackson, which makes his mother the Admiral's baby sister. If something happens, his Commander gets the blame.
"So that's the Admiral's little game. He can't touch us. But if we look bad, the Fleet Admiral can make us the scapegoats."
"Cyndi, how you coming with those supplies?"
"All requested supplies are either on board or on the way. I also got us sixty of the Mark X ship killer missiles, forty of the new Beta 5 hyper-pulse missiles, and twenty-six of the new Mark XV lasers, to replace all of our old Mark IVs
"How did you ever get those? I thought they were only for cruisers and battleships because of the power drain?"
"Since we use the same engines they do, I think they will work for us. They have a slower firing cycle than the Mark IVs, but about five times the range and hitting power."
"Wiz can you hook them up, and will they work?"
Thinking for a minute he said they should work, as long as they weren't fired all at once... otherwise they would start blowing circuits.
"Now I know the magazines won't hold all those missiles, but I'd sure like to have them. Why don't we put the surplus in a cargo hold, and hand reload them after the battle? It will be hard work, but we may need them."
Cyndi spoke up and said she had a lead on getting us a new battle computer.
"What's wrong with the one we have?
"This one is a command battle computer for a flagship. It will even handle the telemetry on our battle armor."
"Hmmm... Better get it. You know, with all these upgrades, it's going to just about cost the Empire almost the twice what the Loony cost, originally?
"Wiz, how are the repairs coming along?"
"Most are done, but I've still got problems getting the aft shield emitters to stay in synch."
"What are the chances of getting new emitter units, Cyndi?"
"Most are as bad as we have. The Admiral has all the new ones under tight guard."
"Do your best."
Edited By TeNderLoin & Old Fart