It’s that time again, and a very special one (sort of). Still no Adam Caine I’m afraid, but this one is directly related to him. I have drawn a reasonably detailed schematic of the ship in question, and I’ll post that as soon as I can get it scanned and coloured and whatnot.
There’s a short but sweet review of The Legend of Adam Caine over on Krystal Clear Book Reviews, you can find it here:
So, this week’s Tale?
If you’ve read Legend and Ghosts of Earth, this will make a huge lot of sense. If not, it’s just a nice little story of a captain being assigned to his new (or rather old) starship.
Can any of you guess who it is, and the ship, without reading the last two lines of the story?
A NEW BEGINNING
The naval officer stood in the observation lounge of the shipyard. The panoramic wraparound window looked out onto the ship he had come here to be a part of, sat just above the armoured prow, looking up and along the central command spine.
The blue hull was dulled by extreme age, and mismatched with newer hull panels where repairs had been made recently.
It was an ancient starship, the oldest in the fleet. Sleeker and longer than her contemporaries, she had been built in an extreme time of war, when humans fought humans. Its bridge was set back towards the engineering section, whereas contemporaries had theirs near the bow. Its sublight engines were housed in the rear as opposed to outrigger nacelles and she carried a bigger complement of starfighters.
She was hodgepodge of retrofits and repairs, but he thought the ship was beautiful.
The Navy had intended this to be a plum assignment, somewhere he couldn’t cause trouble and keep him out of their hair. Nobody had commanded the ship for twenty years; it had been sitting in the shipyards for all that time, captain after captain refusing to command her.
This captain didn’t care.
This was his new home.
Maybe his chance at redemption.
His own personal betrayals weighed heavily on him.
Maybe this ship could lift some of them.
He had yet to select a full crew, though many of the repair crew were being assigned to the ship anyway. Starfighters would arrive on Tuesday, as would most of the weapons.
The ship was falling apart, held together by luck.
He smiled as the repair crews flitted about over the hull in EV armatures and small purpose-built construction vehicles.
He slung his kitbag over his shoulder and headed down to the nearest airlock, stepping across the empty bridge that stretched the distance.
At 2900 metres long, she was slightly longer than the berth she had been placed in these last twenty years. The transparent tunnel creaked and groaned, and he was starting to wonder if this was such a good idea after all.
The ship had no shuttles assigned to it as of yet, and he would take an external inspection tour when they arrived on Thursday. For now, he wanted to just tour the ship.
There were no security guards or FPG troopers standing guard at the airlock.
There was nobody to greet him.
Not that he minded; he wasn’t a huge believer in all the Navy’s protocols regarding senior officers. The engineers were busy; he didn’t want to disturb them. Though he was annoyed that anybody could just walk on board without being stopped.
The computer was far older than anything he had seen before. The software was the same, the on-screen interfaces worked the same way, but there were no three-dimensional holograms. This ship was so old even its technology was ancient.
It brought a smile to his face.
This ship was like stepping back in time, back to when humanity still explored space instead of just enforcing its borders. He brought up a ship’s schematic and downloaded it to a small digipad in his pocket.
The corridors were dirty and grimy, but it had once been white and beautiful. Nothing like modern vessels -where the corridors almost looked clinical and squeaky clean in their appearance- but it had a real rough appearance.
It made him giddy with excitement.
He had been stuck to a desk in the shipyard above for the last two years whilst the Navy decided what to do with him. Now, he was back in the centre seat. Sure, it would take a few months before the ship was ready, but he didn’t care.
He was home.
* * *
After ditching his bag in what he hoped was his new quarters –the schematics had been rather vague, bizarrely enough. Something to worry about in the future.
He toured the ship.
Most of the crew were oblivious to his presence, and those that weren’t, didn’t realise who he was, nodding and returning to their work. He didn’t mind. For now, he was just a caretaker, and these men and women were getting his ship in shape.
He headed to the bridge.
There was nobody up here yet. It was quiet like a tomb, but he was on his own. His office was burned out, some fire during its last active duty that hadn’t been repaired.
Non-essential work can wait, he thought.
He stood in front of the command chair. Oddly, the chair was pristine, almost brand new, like somebody had brought it up here for their own express use. He sat down in it, staring down the length of the battleship’s blue hull.
Someone in a grimy, oil-streaked uniform bumbled onto the empty bridge, disturbing his thoughts. They weren’t looking up, reading through something on a digipad in their hands. He had Lieutenant Commander rank stripes on his shoulders.
“I finished that fernikking program you wanted, Masch, you narkhead,” the man said as he approached the command chair.
“Have you indeed?” the captain said, with a wry smile on his lips. The engineer’s eyes widened, and he looked up to see the captain sat in the command chair. He immediately dropped the digipad and snapped to attention, throwing an oddly-lax salute.
“I’m sorry, Captain, I wasn’t aware you were onboard,” he stammered.
“That’s quite alright, commander, I’m sure you were busy.”
The engineer nodded enthusiastically.
“Are you the senior officer onboard?” he asked the younger man.
The engineer nodded again.
“Well then; permission to come aboard,” the captain said, standing out of the chair.
“Permission granted, sir. Welcome aboard the Roland Westwood.”
Captain Brag Franks smiled.