Junkyard Dogs 1: The Scrapyard Incident

BOOK: Junkyard Dogs 1: The Scrapyard Incident
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Junkyard
Dogs Book One

The Scrapyard Incident.

by
Phillip Nolte

(
[email protected]
)

Cover
image by A. Wirth. (
[email protected]

Dedication.

This
book is dedicated to my wife Lucinda and my daughter Jill who were always the
first to read any of my stories...

Special
thanks to good friend and artist A. Wirth for bringing Ensign Carlisle and the
Scrapyard to life.

The Scrapyard Incident
is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the products of the
author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual
events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright
2013 by Phillip Nolte

Contents

Prologue

From nearby space, the United
Terran
Federation Naval Reclamation Center looked like a
gargantuan, spherical explosion that had somehow been frozen in place. The
"Scrapyard," as it was often called, was essentially a huge cloud of
damaged and obsolete warships jumbled together with a wide assortment of other
space junk and debris. An inhabited construct dubbed the "Main
Facility" was maintained within the cloud to house the personnel that were
necessary to keep the whole mess inline. The planet of New Ceylon, orbiting the
star
Naccobus
, (the home star system for the
Reclamation Center) was only colonized in the first place because the system
had a stable Whitney overdrive point; the planet itself was only marginally
inhabitable. As had happened so many times in the past, a remote, nondescript,
under populated locale became famous because an entire series of interrelated,
chance events conspired to make the locale ground zero for a titanic and
pivotal clash between human cultures. Thus was New Ceylon added to the list of
names that includes Thermopylae, Waterloo, Gettysburg, Midway,
Proxima
Signis
and
Rigel's
Gate. In this case, the region near the system's
Whitney overdrive point was the scene of the largest and, some say, most
important battle between space-faring navies in Mankind's long history of
conflict. This same battle had provided much of the material that made up the
Scrapyard.

Rear Admiral Bartholomew Charlemagne "
Battlecruiser
" Janssen, when asked about New Ceylon,
was reported to have said, "Even though I played an important role in the
great battle and received a great deal of fame and fortune because of it, I
would have been happy never to have set eyes on the Godforsaken place!"

Hartwell Wrist
Comp reference note highlighted for further review by Tamara Carlisle. Excerpt
is from "The Scrapyard" by Calvin Desjardins, Official Historian,
UTFN
Reclamation Center.

Chapter 1

Meridian Star System, onboard
the
Meridian Imperial Diplomatic Ship
Istanbul
, October 4, 2598.

Mohammad
Saad
Saladin keyed up the communications console on the
bridge onboard the Meridian Imperial Starship
Istanbul
and waited for the person he was calling, the prime
minister of the Meridian planetary government, to answer. After a short wait,
the minister came into view.

"Allah be
praised,
Saad
," said the prime minister,
"thank you for calling me before you departed."

The
Istanbul
was poised right near the
Whitney Hyperlink point for the Meridian system and would be translating out to
her destination in another star system within the next few minutes.

"You are too
kind, Ali. I know it's only been a couple of days, but how are things since I
left? Have the protests died down as yet?"

The screen view
on the
Istanbul
shifted to a live
newsfeed with protesters carrying signs and chanting slogans while they marched
in front of a line of soldiers in battle armor with the Meridian Imperial Army
insignia emblazoned across the front.

"No, I'm
afraid that they haven't. At least they are remaining peaceful and, if you look
closely, there don't seem to be as many of them as usual."

"I hope
there is no trouble, but it seems that no matter what we do, someone will find
reason to protest."

"Do not
allow this to upset you,
Saad
. Your mission is far
too important to the future of the Islamic Alliance for these simple-minded
fools to disrupt."

"Of that I
have no doubt. If we do not hold out our hand in friendship to the Federation,
even if it is only on a small scale, only Allah knows what the future will bring.
I fear it would not be pleasant."

"A journey
of a thousand miles begins with a single step..."

"That is
true, Ali, but sometimes that first step is the most difficult of the entire
journey!"

"For what
it's worth, the young Emperor has publicly praised your mission."

"That is
good news! Without his approval we would be all but certain to fail."

"It is good
that you understand. Be well, my son. You know that I am not going to live
forever. I would like for you to succeed me in this position when I am no
longer capable. Perhaps that day is closer than you think. Your vision and your
dedication are just what Meridian and the Alliance needs."

"Again you
are too kind," said the younger man, with a slight bow. He looked to his
right, as someone off-screen engaged him in conversation. "My apologies,
Ali, they are signaling that it is time to go. May Allah be with
you!
"

"And with you.
Farewell,
Saad
.
Do be careful. There are others who wish us ill. Contact me when your mission
is complete. Tell
Sondia
that I love her."

The younger man
smiled kindly.

"She knows
that, Ali, but I will tell her anyway."

Chapter 2

United
Terran
Federation Naval Reclamation Center, Main Facility, October 4, 2598.

Ensign Tamara
Carlisle fidgeted nervously in her seat as the small United
Terran
 
Federation
Navy cutter docked with the
main facility of the Reclamation Center. After a few minutes, the pilot
announced that it was okay to exit. The craft was too large to fit inside the
cargo bay of the Center's Main Facility and Carlisle made her way over to the
receiving area through a temporary docking tube, along with handful of other
travelers. As she left the small ship, several dockworkers in utility suits
began unloading the cutter's small load of cargo and transporting the gear of the
few passengers, Carlisle's included.

She had been
onboard the small craft for just over twenty-four hours, the time it took for
the cutter to make its way out to the Reclamation Center from the planetary
facilities orbiting New Ceylon. She had been able to sleep for several hours
and was looking forward to the next phase of her project, which involved the
close study of some of the wrecks in the Scrapyard. After a few minutes
traversing a long corridor, during which she had remained weightless, she finally
arrived at the living area of the station, with its simulated gravity. She got
into the short line that had formed as the newcomers were processed.

"...Reclamation
center...checkpoint...credentials...take it easy, Tamara...," she mumbled
to herself.

"Pardon?"
said the man in directly in front of her, turning slightly to acknowledge the
speaker behind.

"What? Oh, I
must've been talking to myself again.
Bad habit.
My apologies."

The man looked
the petite, muscular young woman over and, upon seeing the Spacer clan tattoo
emblazoned across her left cheek, gave her a strange look and moved away from
her as quickly as he could, presenting his credentials to the sailor at the
checkpoint.

"Shuster,"
he said to the sailor with the clipboard.
"Carmine
Shuster."
 

The ensign shook
her head.

"Now you've
done it, Tamara," she said, "...must learn to stop thinking out
loud..." She spoke softly, almost a whisper, and then gave a slightly
exasperated shake of her head as the irony of her last statement hit her.

The sailor -- she
noticed he was a chief petty officer -- looked up from his electronic clipboard
and saluted. He gave the clan markings on her cheek a surreptitious glance
before resuming eye contact.

"Ensign
Tamara Carlisle reporting for duty," she said, returning his salute. Still
a little off balance from the unintentional interaction with the civilian, she
handed him her military issue travel wallet containing a few official papers
and her personnel chip.

"Ah yes,
Ensign Carlisle," said the chief as he gave her chip a quick once over
with the clipboard scanner. "We've been expecting you. Did you have a good
trip?"

"Yes, I did,
thank you, Chief...," she read his name from his coveralls,
"...Allen."

The Chief began
to hand back her credentials, but hesitated for a moment, looking at her
expectantly.

"...Standard
protocol ...naval etiquette ...," she mumbled to herself before responding
to the Chief's unspoken query, "...Um, sorry...Permission to come
aboard?" she asked, belatedly remembering the formalities required by the
occasion.

"Permission
granted, Ensign." He grinned but looked a little doubtful as he handed
back the travel wallet. "Welcome aboard the Reclamation Center Main
Facility."

"Thank you
again, Chief Allen."

"You'll want
to get familiar with this facility as soon as you can." He pointed to a
tall, gangly, black officer across the room. "That's Lieutenant Perkins
over there. He'll show you around."
 

She crossed the
room and waited for the Lieutenant to dismiss the sailor he was giving instructions
to. After returning her salute, and exchanging introductions, he held out his
hand. She shook it, gripping firmly.

"Ensign
Carlisle," he said, "pleased to meet you." He looked directly at
her facial markings.
"Spacer, eh?
I'm not
familiar with your clan. Where did you say you were from?"

"...Remote...mining...asteroid
belt," she began, haltingly and then, as though she had gotten over some
kind of mental hurdle, continued more confidently, "...I'm from Piedmont,
it's an asteroid mining colony in the Saroyan-Catskill System. I'm not
surprised you haven't heard of it.
It's
way over near
the Geneva Quadrant."

Perkins nodded in
acknowledgement. "No worries," he said, "we get recruits from
all over Federation space here at the Scrapyard. Welcome aboard, Ensign."
His manner transitioned immediately back to business. "Your gear will be
delivered to your quarters. Your space suit will be in the suit prep area which
is through that door over there." He pointed to an open door just off from
the corridor that led away from the main airlock. "If you'll follow me,
I'll show you some more of the station." He headed for the main corridor.

They proceeded
down the curved corridor, Carlisle ticking off the various locations softly,
but still out loud, as Perkins pointed them out to her.

"...Main
airlock...suit prep...exercise area...briefing room..."

"What's
that, Ensign?"

"Sorry, Sir,
I was... thinking out loud again. It helps me remember things better."

"I'd get a
handle on that if I were you. The Federation Navy is a tough place for junior
officers who speak out of turn. We've got enough confusion around here
already!"

"Sorry,
Sir," she replied. "I'll keep that in mind."

They came to a
somewhat larger side door. She could smell hot food and hear the buzz of
conversation from the room beyond.

"This is the
mess hall, Ensign."

They went inside
and Perkins led her over to a table full of recruits in their khakis, eating
from trays and conversing. The recruits didn't get up but the talk died down as
the Lieutenant came to their table."

"Everyone,
this is Ensign Tamara Carlisle." Perkins went around the table performing
introductions. "Carlisle, this is Ensign Stewart McConnell, Ensign Andrea
Hart, Ensign
Yoichiro
Suzuka
and Ensign Chester
Skillings
. There are several more
new people here but they're on duty right now."

"...McConnell...Hart...
Suzuka
...
Skillings
..." She
mumbled their names absently, eyes mildly glazed, as she committed them to
memory. There were several frowns from the group at the table at her distinct
facial markings and her noticeably odd behavior.

Snapping back to
reality, she smiled nervously and said, "Pleased to meet all of you."

After a few more
introductions, they left the mess hall to resume the orientation tour.

Nothing was said,
but the junior officers exchanged some doubtful glances regarding the newest
member of their ranks before resuming their former discussion.

Perkins gave
Carlisle a thorough tour of the station, rattling off a seemingly unending
string of information as they went. Finally, they stood at the entry to the
corridor where the junior officer's quarters were located. Perkins looked at
his wrist chronometer and appeared to be about ready to wrap up the
introductory tour.

"That's
pretty much it, there're a few more places you'll need to know about but you'll
find out about them over the next few days."

"Could I ask
a question, Lieutenant?"

"What is it,
Ensign?"

"They say
that the commander of this facility runs a tight ship."

Perkins slowly
nodded his head in affirmation, but looked thoughtful.

"A tight
ship...?" He frowned slightly, considering the question for a moment
longer before replying, "Let me put it this way. Commander
Kresge
is the best Commanding Officer this facility has
ever had. This is a very remote post and the two previous CO's really let a lot
of things slide.
Kresge
came out here and coaxed it
all back into shape within a couple of months. He did it by getting back to
basics. Consider what we're supposed to be accomplishing out here. Aside from
the more obvious functions of the Reclamation Center, it's also a training
facility. Another of our goals is to teach you people how to think on your
own." He smirked.
"Though I sometimes wonder if
such a thing is even possible."
 

Turning serious
again, he continued. "
Kresge
can be strict, but
he's also fair. If you do your job, you'll have no trouble with him. If you
don't...," he let the thought trail off.

"I'll
remember that, Sir."

Her head was
swimming with all the new information as Perkins led her down the residential
corridor which was lined with rows of identical doors on either side. Finally,
he stopped in front of one of them.

"Your quarters, Ensign Carlisle."
He ran a key
card through the slot by the door and pointed to the palm reader next to the
slot.

"Place your
hand firmly on the reader pad."

She held her hand
in place for a moment. As soon as a small green light came on, Perkins used the
key card again.

"This door
will only respond to your palm print now, Ensign."

"Thank you,
Lieutenant Perkins."

She went into a
tiny room that had a bed, a wardrobe, a small study area, and another door that
presumably led to a washroom.

"Good,"
said the Lieutenant. "I see that your gear got here before you. There'll
be a staff meeting in the briefing room at sixteen hundred hours." He
looked at his wrist chronometer. "That's three and a half hours from now.
See that you get there on time. Let me know if you need anything else."

"Actually,
Lieutenant, there is something else."

"Yes?"

"I'm looking
for some Succession War destroyers that might be in the Military Section. Do
you know how I could find them?"

"Probably.
I'll tell you what, I'm officer of the watch
at fifteen hundred, come up to the command center and I'll see what I can
do."

"Thanks,
Lieutenant."

"My pleasure, Ensign.
I hope you find your time here to
be worthwhile."

He left her on
her own. She was still keyed up, determined to do well at this assignment but
unsure of whether or not she had gotten off to a good start. She thought out loud
quietly and almost nonstop, a stream of consciousness string of related and
unrelated information about everything and nothing in particular as she
unpacked her gear and set up housekeeping in the tiny but adequate quarters. A
few minutes before fifteen hundred hours, she used the ultrasonic shower and
put on a fresh pair of khaki coveralls. Using the mirror of the tiny rest
facility, she ran a brush through her short, dark hair. Satisfied with her
appearance, she spoke to her image in the mirror.

"...Bridge...inventory...see
about the ships, Tamara...briefing at sixteen hundred...time to get a move
on!"

She then left for
the command center. With her perfect memory, she had no trouble remembering
exactly how to get there. Perkins saw her come in, spoke quietly to the
technician at the communications console, and came over to greet her.

"Ensign Carlisle, nice to see you again."

"Thank you,
Sir."

"Actually,
you've come at a good time. We're not very busy right at the moment."

"That's great,
Sir, I wouldn't want to cause any trouble."

"No problem.
Let me see... you wanted to try to locate some ships in the Military Section?
You can use the tracking computer over here." He led her over to the
console. "I assume you have some names?"

"Yes, I have
a list."

He sat down in
front of the computer and tapped in a string of commands. He pushed the chair
back, got up and motioned for her to sit.

"Just enter
the names in here," he pointed to the field on the screen, "...and
the information will appear below. Let me know if you need more help.

"Thanks
again, Lieutenant." She pulled the chair up close so she could reach the
keyboard and began entering ship names -- while saying them out loud.

"...
Osage...Terrier...Fairmont...Albany
..."

"Ensign...,"
Perkins called from across the command center, she turned to look at him. His
stern look might have contained a hint of amusement, "...you're doing it
again. Do try to be quiet."

"Sorry,
Sir," she said sheepishly. She scolded herself, bit down on her tongue and
managed to keep quiet although the thoughts continued to spiral in her head, as
they always did. After about a half hour, she thought she had what she wanted
and departed for the briefing room.

BOOK: Junkyard Dogs 1: The Scrapyard Incident
13.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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