McLain's Misfits Ch. 02bykingkey©
After I'd had lunch in my ready room, I heard a rap on my door and shouted, "Enter!"
"Lt. Cliff Jackson reporting as ordered, Sir."
"Come in, Lieutenant. Please have a seat. I have been going over your service record, and it is very colorful, indeed. Are you just a natural born fuck up, or do you have to work at it? Just what the hell is going on here?"
"Actually, Commander McLain, what I have been trying to do is to get my ass kicked out of the service... but so far, nothing has worked!"
"If you want out so bad. Why don't you just quit? This service is purely voluntary. You know that, don't you?"
"I can't quit! My whole family is military! Hell, Admiral Jackson is my uncle.
"Has it ever occurred to you that THAT is the reason why you haven't been kicked out, either? The Admiral wouldn't like it!"
"I thought that was how it was. No matter what I've done it seems like a slight punishment."
"You may have only received a slight punishment, but all your commanders have had their careers RUINED by you! As of right now, this shit is ceasing! I will not have my ship's record tarnished, nor my own, just because you are some sort of shit-bird! You had BETTER get your act cleaned up, or you WILL suffer!"
"I swear, Commander, I was not out to hurt anybody but myself! I won't do anything to jeopardize our missions, or to make this ship or its crew look bad."
At this time, the ship's AI announced, "Commander McLain, please report to the Admiral's office as soon as possible."
"McLain I'm getting reports of mass thievery all over this station. I know it's your crew, so don't try to deny it!" the Admiral said as soon as I walked into his office.
"How can it be us? You have us confined to Q-Deck?"
"I don't know how you're doing it, but I will find out! Then, no matter what kind of pull you have, I will have you all court marshaled!"
"Sir, I must be able to get my supplies, to keep my unit combat ready."
"You are on the supply schedule, but I have to give priority to the ships that are going out. I told you your ship would be the last to get any missions that came in, so you have last priority."
"Admiral, you can't do this! We are not in your chain of command!"
"No, you're not. But this is MY station, and I say who gets what supplies, and when. I can't help it if you are unable to take a mission, because you're not ready. Now get back to Q-Deck, with those other foul-ups, and rot for all I care."
"Admiral, I demand to speak with headquarters about this. I need those supplies."
"That may be, but we are having trouble with the communications equipment, right now. I'll let you know as soon as it is back up. It shouldn't take more than a few weeks."
"A few weeks? I need those supplies NOW!"
"Don't you raise your voice to ME! Now get your ass back to Q-deck!"
As I was walking onto Q-deck, I was surprised to find it so busy. There were people everywhere.
Spotting Mike, I went up and asked her, "What's going on. Where did all these people come from?"
"Since we can't leave Q-deck, we are having a kind of a party.
"What kind of a party?"
"Well, a gambling kind of party."
"GAMBLING! With the Admiral watching our every move? Are you all nuts?"
"Nope. We've got it all figured out. All the cameras are on a loop, and won't show a thing. Wiz has all the games rigged. If they pay out, it's going to be for a low amount, and not often."
"But what's everyone doing for money? We can't take their credit chips! Every transaction is recorded?"
"That's just it. We aren't taking money! We're taking parts and giving them tokens to use for more gambling. So, in a way, it's not really gambling."
"No, it's a grand theft! The Admiral is already suspicious of all the missing parts on this station."
"But how can it have been us? He confined us to Q-Deck, under guard."
"Speaking of guards, where are they?"
"Let's see... One is over there, playing craps. The other is talking to Cyndi."
"What if they turn us in?"
"They won't, we cut them in on it. If we burn, so do they."
"Yeah, well, that's just great. But how will we pay off if anybody wins?"
Mike started laughing, "Wins? That would really take a miracle. We had Cyndi and Wiz go over everything before we started. These suckers would have a better chance of learning to breathe vacuum."
"Well let's get it closed down as soon as possible. I've already got the Admiral breathing down my neck. We don't need any more trouble."
"Aye-aye, Skipper. We should be able to shut it down in a couple more hours. We passed the word that it would only run until 1900 hours, since we still had a lot of work to do on the Loony. That's why we decided to cut it short."
"By the way, where is our new XO? Shouldn't he be here?"
"He took Wiz over to the hospital."
"Over to the hospital? Why? Was Wiz hurt? Was there an accident?"
"Relax, Wiz is fine. He just went over there because they needed a couple more memory chips for the fembot's they were working on."
"Just what part of 'be careful because the Admiral was watching our every move' don't you people understand?"
Just about then Lieutenant Jackson and Wiz returned to Q-deck. Each man was pulling a large gravity pallet behind himself.
Turning to the Lieutenant Jackson I said, "I thought I told you the Admiral was watching our every move! Now, you to go out and rob the hospital blind Just what do you think is going to happen, just as soon as the Admiral finds out the list of what is missing from the station hospital?"
"Relax skipper, we got into the station computer, and saw to it that none of this stuff was ever listed on the inventory. So, presto, all of this stuff ceased to exist, as far as the station was concerned."
"So nobody is going to come looking for this stuff? Just what is all this stuff for, anyway?"
"Wiz seems to think that we need to make a new body for Sheila, and to have better bots than those small maintenance robots she controls now."
"That's a great idea. Why does she need all this extra stuff? Can't she just control the fembot's the way she does her maintenance robots, now?"
"Wiz's idea is that by adding so much computing power, Sheila can be much more part of the crew, instead of just a part of the ship. He says that he can program the fembot's to be able to do most crew functions, such as maintenance and repair, cooking, shuttle piloting, weapons maintenance, and other similar functions. Plus, with the medical training that is already programmed into the fembots, they will make excellent field medics. We were going to teach them to fight, but that would go against their basic programming and would probably turn their brains to mush."
"That's fine, but how about all the other work that needs to be done to get the ship spaceworthy?"
"The ship is ready, now. All the new upgrades and repairs are done. All that is left is to load fuel and air. Then we'd be ready to go."
Suddenly there was a message from Sheila, the ships AI.
"Commander McLain, I've intercepted a message from Ambassador Timmons requesting us for a mission. It seems that Pirates have attacked the ship on which his daughter was traveling. They have taken her hostage. The ambassador knows it's against Imperial policy to pay ransoms, so he is requesting that your team mount a rescue mission."
I suddenly started rattling off orders to my crew.
"Okay, get this gambling wrapped up, now! I'm heading over to talk to the Admiral, again, to get a better idea of this upcoming mission. As soon as I'm back I want us ready to get underway. Is that clear?"
Coming up to the Admiral's receptionist, I said, "I need to see the Admiral, right away!"
Going in, I said to the Admiral, "I just received information that we were requested for a mission."
"I have your ass, now, McLain. Tapping into the station communications center is an act of espionage!"
"And cutting us off from our command headquarters is an act of treason! Should we compare charges, now, Admiral?"
"Besides I'm going to have to assign Commander Cunningham to this mission, since you are obviously not ready. I will also have to have it recorded into the record that when the mission came in, your ship was not available to answer this mission, and you had to be replaced. I don't think your headquarters is going to care too much for this, do you?"
"Sir, my ship is ready to leave as soon as we take on fuel and air. So you see, we are ready to take on this mission."
"I knew you was behind all the thievery! You can forget about going on a mission since you will be in my brig!"
"Come off it, Admiral, you know you really screwed the pooch, on this one! By denying us the parts and supplies we need; you have basically contributed to an act of treason, by making sure that we were not ready when called upon. So we had to go back to our training, and improvise to accomplish the mission, even if it did mean that we had to get our supplies through alternate channels. I think you should also be warned that as soon as we leave the dock, our radios have enough range that we can contact headquarters and file a complete report. I would advise you to start planning your defense."
I turned my back on him, and left him fuming.
Edited By TeNderLoin