Yes, I know you won’t recognise all the characters. I just enjoyed writing the scene so much I though I would share.
5. The Captain meets his crew
The police prisoner transport squealed to a halt on the tarmac at the base of one of the LD841’s landing struts. A heavyset officer in shell armour walked along the flank of the boxy vehicle, opening the individual transport cells with his palm print.
From the passenger door, the Second Engineer stepped out. He brushed his grease-grey overalls clean of the clinging local dust and squinted at the row of dishevelled crewmen and women blinking at the bright morning sunshine. He shook his head. Each of them sported lumps and bruises; split lips and torn clothing.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he began in a mild voice as the police transport moved off. “You are a disgrace.”
There was a low murmur in response from the group, but nobody’s lips moved.
“Quiet in the ranks!” He bawled and began to stalk down the line, each pace bringing him level with another battered face.
“I’ve been Fleet since I was sixteen years old. I’ve seen more action than all of you put together. Don’t challenge me on that, I looked you up.” He reached the end of the line and spun on his heel.
“My father was Fleet. My Grandfather was wet-hull Fleet on Earth! And …” his tirade was interrupted by the blaring of private ground car horn as it weaved across the landing field. It stopped and Ramone stepped out, his undamaged ship suit crisp, but his eyes bleary. He blew a kiss into the car, and Rose drove off, her snake tattoo glistening in the sunlight as she waved goodbye.
“Ramone Rodriguez reporting, sir!” bellowed Ramone, drawing himself to attention and snapping a salute so crisp you could hear the air tearing.
“Fall in, Rodriquez.”
Ramone marched with perfect, precise steps to the end of the rank, did an immaculate about-face and stood at ease. The Second Engineer glared at him and shook his head.
“As I was saying; all of you are a disgrace. You were given a seventy two hour shore leave. That time expires in a little over two hours. As Watch Officer Discipline, the very last thing I expected to have to do is get your sorry little arseholes out of gaol, before time. Never, in twenty years relative, have I been so disappointed.”
He paused at Goofball, and glared at the egg sized lump on her hairline. “Fighting.”
Two more paces and he looked Ramone up and down. “Fornicating.”
He spun on his heel and slow marched back along the rank, until he stopped at Sean. “And what in the name of the Martyr’s bleeding arse is a charge of …” he took a slim data tablet from his pocket and tapped the screen, “… randomly supplying intoxicants with intent?”
Sean pulled himself up straighter, staring directly ahead out of a swollen blackened eye. “I stood a round for another jump team, sir.”
Tap. Tap. The screens flipped. “It says here that you were handing out stim packs on the street, outside licensed premises.”
“They tasted like rodent piss. We gave them away.”
The Second Engineer slid the tablet back into his pocket and shook his head slowly in disbelief.
“Have standards slipped so far? Two hours left. Two full hours.”
Nobody said a word.
“There is going to be a full dress inspection at 0800. Here. Then we lift. Anyone not here in full ribbons and perfect creases gets left behind. Senior Paramedic Sean Mulholland report to me; the rest of you, fall out.”
Sean turned to face the Second Engineer, who simply said “Catch,” as he lobbed an oblong. A slight juggle and fumble occurred before Sean realised what it was. An old fashioned leather wallet. He flipped it open to see a wad of notes inside.”
“Sir?” was all he managed to say.
“The Base mess is five hundred paces that way, and I wish to remind you that you are still officially on shore leave. Don’t let the standards fall any further.”
At 0800 the next morning, the Second Engineer roard, “P’rade! P’rade, atten-hut!”
Two dozen boots slammed into the steel hull plates and a dozen faces winced through blazing hangovers.
First Officer Flynn Rothman stepped forward.
“Thank you, Buffer. I have the parade.”
The Second Engineer saluted smartly and replied, “Sir, you have the parade.” He spun on his heel and marched off to the side.
“Ladies and gentlemen, allow me formally welcome you aboard the LD841. Further, let me congratulate you on managing such neat shaves over the top of the bruising.”
Rothman let his gaze roam across the crew. Every uniform was perfect; the collection of service ribbons and medals on display would not have shamed a crew three times the size.
“This is a new ship, of a new class with a new mission. Many of us have served on capital ships, undertaking rescue and retrieval missions when we weren’t prosecuting the war.”
The First Officer paused. He became aware of one of the parajumpers staring at him. She was tall, with pale skin and dark, dark eyes. In fact, he realised, she was staring at his sleeve, where his wounds stripes were. He blinked, then carried on.
“Our mission is search and rescue. Dedicated search and rescue. Crews that go down in enemy space, or ground combat teams that need urgent medivac. Crews in engagements where nobody can be spared from the fighting for the rescue effort. The broken angels for whom there is no hope.”
“We are unarmed. Not defenceless, but unarmed. The heaviest weapons on board are the side arms of the paramedic teams. We have the legs of a smuggler and the wings of an eagle. Ladies and gentlemen, between us we are going to make this ship soar.”