The ready light on the boarding lock signaled the shuttle had sealed to the hull. The small command staff snapped to attention at the sound of the boarding whistle. With a faint hum, the iris opened and the captain stepped on board. The officer stopped just inside of the Accipiter, the newest Andromeda class escort carrier, to savor the moment of her first true ship command.
The interior was spare, off white and still held the crisp smell of newly welded metal. While Republic ships prided themselves on maintaining a high level of cleanliness, brand new ships had yet to collect the little scars and greasy corners of their veteran sisters. The captain briefly considered how quickly it would take to make the Accipiter a veteran.
Turning smartly to face the line gathered at attention Reyna Hevn first saluted the Dock Master who still held the titular of Captain for this vessel. Returning the salute the Dock Master inserted a command control rod into his clip port. After a few seconds, he unclipped then formerly extended the rod to Reyna.
Receiving the rod, she inserted the device into the clip port on her arm. Instantly all command codes, ship schematics, software builds and even current supplies in the mess down to the ounce flooded her mind. After removing the rod the Dock Master snapped to attention, rendered a salute then stated, “Do I stand relieved of this vessel Captain?”
Returning the salute Reyna replied with the traditional statement when command is transferred. “In the name of the Sphere I accept command of this vessel. Compliments to my predecessor and their crew for allowing me the privilege of carrying on their duties upon this ship. May my command bring not dishonor to her, you or the Republic. You stand relieved.”
Wheeling on his heel the Dock Master exited through the same iris Reyna had come through. The shuttle would return him to the main PHR Fleet Construction office for a new assignment as “Captain” of the next vessel in queue to be constructed. She then turned her attention to her command staff. A salute and brief introductions followed.
Her XO, Viktor Taran, was a serious looking individual. His reputation as a tough but fair leader preceded him. Close cropped hair so blonde to be silver, impeccable uniform, and implants tailored for use on board a combat carrier. She had done similar – swapping out implants that were suited more for fighter combat for those needed to run a ship.
Introductions of her lead navigator/gunner, engineer, pilot and chief of ship were made. The last two individuals in line brought a slight smile to her face. One she had specifically requested while the other was a very pleasant surprise.
The former was her old wingman, Kornet Ansgar. Preferring to climb the command ladder within the Fleet Air Arm versus ship command he was now her Carrier Flight Commander. In charge of all aspects of the fighter and bomber launch assets nestled in the Accipiter’s hangars, he would command the offensive power of the ship. She knew that with him on board she could concentrate on fighting the ship, and not worry about what “her flock” was doing.
The surprise was seeing Tech-II Remi – now Chief-I Remi! Her and Kornet’s former maintenance tech was now the overall maintenance chief for the launch assets. Using his newly promoted position as CFC, Kornet had requested and been granted Remi’s transfer to the Accipiter. Reyna knew that Remi would ensure all fighters and bombers would be combat capable at a moment’s notice.
After formal introductions were completed each officer left to ready their departments for her official inspection. Until then her XO escorted her to her quarters, which were next to his own and attached to the bridge. The bridge itself was small, compact and buried deep within the vessel. Unlike the UCM the use of holo-screens, secondary consoles, and similar were sparse.
Instead, individuals physically clipped into the ship AI allowing reactions at the speed of thought. Physical controls were used almost exclusively as back-ups. Some such as command staff, maintenance techs, and others that needed to be mobile were equipped with a complex AI control node. This was not a clip system but rather a dedicated implant that allowed wireless uplink to the AI no matter where they were in or on the ship. This multi-channel information and decision making capability was invaluable in allowing a PHR ship to efficiently run with a crew significantly smaller than similar sized ships from other races.
The next few hours were taken up with inspecting and receiving briefs from the senior staff in charge of various departments. Starting in the aft with the Fold Space drives, she worked her way to the bow. Nothing was left out – from the Mosquito close action systems, the damage control teams, even down to the supply section. Reyna also made sure to greet each of her crew personally and by name. Eventually she ended her tour where she truly wanted to be – the hangar of the Accipiter.
Entering the hangar, she noted with satisfaction each fighter and bomber properly clamped in its berth. Two fighters stood in the ready launch bays – fully armed with their pilots standing next to them in flight gear. While their use here at the main shipyards over the PHR home world would not be needed this was a symbol that the Accipiter was now a fighting ship.
Standing in the middle of the hangar Reyna uplinked an order to broadcast the hangar cameras ship wide. With her XO and CFC, flanking her she gave what she hoped was a correct speech of welcome, pride and duty to her crew. She reminded all that they were plank owners – the first crew of the Accipiter who would lay down her reputation within the PHR fleet.
At the conclusion of her speech, the XO made a few brief remarks before presenting her with the traditional plank owner plaque given to the captain. The plaque was made from the original maintenance panel of her command chair (since replaced). Engraved on it was the ship name, commission date, dockyard berth number and command staff names.
Upon acceptance of the plaque Reyna uploaded the names of all crew assigned to the Accipiter on this day. The AI would keep this list. From now until her end fate, this crew would have the words “Plank Owner” with Accipiter under it embroidered on their upper right chest while they served on her. If they left and came back the AI would remember and ensure their plank owner status was once again affixed to their uniforms.
Reyna smiled as she verbally gave as her first order “Per order of ship’s captain, plank owner list approved and so ordered.”
Stories set in the Dropverse.
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