Ghost Station (The Wandering Engineer)

BOOK: Ghost Station (The Wandering Engineer)
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The Wandering Engineer 4

 

Ghost Station

 

 

 

By Chris “Jekyll” Hechtl

 

 

Copyright:

 

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and
events portrayed in this book are fictional. Any resemblance to other people is
in parody or is purely coincidental. ;)

 

All rights
reserved, including the right to reproduce this book and or portions thereof in
any form.

 

 

Copyright 2012 by Chris Hechtl

ISBN:

BN#:

 

Cover art Copyright 2012 by Chris Hechtl

 

Proof read and edited by Gord Archer, Jacob Larson

Dedication:

 

I'd like to dedicate this book to my dad. He's a
grumpy pain in the A$$ but he's a rock. Maybe someday I can be just as good a
rock to the next generation.

 

 

 

 

Special thanks to Gord, Jacob, Mechmaster, and all
those who offered to proof read this. Thanks!

 

 

Table of Contents

Act I

Chapter 1

 

After
taking his leave of the freighter Destiny the admiral made his way to his new
transport, a kilometer long bulk cargo starship the Kiev221. Destiny was
already on her way out of the system so there was no turning back. En route he
used the rebuilt fleet launch's passive sensors to get a better feel for the
ship.

The
ship had an oval shaped bow which jutted out from the main body and then
extended to the mid section as a spine, with a recessed belt line extending
around it. On either side of the spine were giant cylindrical cargo pods. Each
were easily two hundred meters in diameter and extended a good eight hundred
meters of the length of the ship. Force emitter pods, tacked panels, and other
things were grafted all over the sides of the hull. Lights from windows cut
into the cargo pods, sensor pods, and almost but not quite dark airlocks
littered the beltway and sides as make shift running lights.

Aft
of the main section the ship was made up of truss sections and giant fuel pods
that ran to the main fusion drive. There were two drive nacelles that had seen
better times. On either side of the engines, three sail like radiator spars
extended horizontally. They were heavily patched; he noted parts from several
different ships patched in. One of the radiators looked like it had came from a
space station, another on the port side was pretty chewed up. Still another was
bent and stuck out like an errant cow lick.

Kiev
had definitely been past its prime centuries ago. Hell she might have been well
past her prime even before the Xeno war
started
! That was to be expected
after all, no one was building or really maintaining ships or technology any
more. Or at least not in the past seven centuries after the last gasp of the
Xeno war and the fall of the Federation.

Bulk
freighters normally got the short end of the stick from their corporate
masters. They were expected to make long runs, constantly in use with little or
no time in port for repairs. Repairs cost money, money to pay the ship fitters
and money lost in cargo the ship could have been hauling. No corporation
allowed a ship into port for repairs unless she was seriously damaged.

The
fact that the elderly ship was functional let alone mobile was a huge testimony
to the commitment of her crew. Any other ship would have been turned into a
station or been lost in hyper a long long time ago. To keep the ship flying at
all was incredible. She had a good crew, a crew that loved her. That was good,
he could use that.

Drive
pods from what looked like a yacht, and subspace freighter were grafted to her
port mid side in place of her usual RCS systems that would have been located
there. He wasn't sure how practical that was, after all the smaller drives
would be almost completely ineffective in maneuvering the big ass freighter
around. Then again a bulk freighter really wasn't known for its
speed
.

Her
hull was heavily patched, some of the skin was bluish, and others had rainbow
colors. He wasn't sure if it was because they came from various sources or from
extended time in space. There were definite signs of meteorite strikes along
her upper starboard hull. Yup, she'd been through a few tough times.

Passive
sensors told him her sensors were myopic, most likely down or relying on
shuttle grade sensors. They probably wouldn't pick him up on their lidar system
until he was a kilometer or two out. He heard the Destiny talking to the Kiev
on the guard channel, and snorted as captain Ferguson informed the Kiev to take
care of him and described him as a priceless treasure.

He
grimaced and activated the communications. “Fleet Launch to Kiev 221 prepared
to dock.”

It
took a full standard minute before he received a response. “Roger um, Fleet
Launch. Our port bay is ready when you are.” He winced at the static and
interference in that transmission. Obviously their communications needed work
if they couldn't handle something at this short a range. He was less than a
hundred kilometers out, approaching the starboard side.

Getting
permission to land in the port shuttle bay, he performed a slow spin around the
ship and lined up for his approach.

“Not
much to look at,” Sprite said sounding a little put out. He had kept the sensor
scans to passive scans. Sprite however was a bit more direct. He noted but
didn't comment when she went active with all the sensors.

“But
it's home, at least for now.” He shrugged off the scan she performed. They
didn't protest so he didn't concern himself over it.

“Another
challenge,” she sighed. “You and Proteus. I bet the two of you are just aching
to dig into her engineering. And I suppose you want me to play software repair
lady again?”

He
checked the stats on the shuttle and then shrugged. “If it's not too much
trouble. After all your neck is on the line right along with mine. I'd prefer
all the creature comforts and not have the ship get sucked down a black hole
because of a virus,” he replied dryly.

“Okay,
got me there,” she muttered. “I bet this ship doesn't even have a functioning
replicator. Talk about a challenge.” She used the fleet launch's sensors to do a
deep penetration scan of the vessel. Technically that was illegal and highly
rude, but he let it go. Defender and Proteus were both in with her, he bet for
their own reasons. Defender to check for security threats, Proteus to see what
the damage was. Hell, he couldn't resist himself. He flicked a glance at the
sensor recordings. Yes, it was a big ship, far far past her prime, and over
extended. Yes, she was in trouble. Metal fatigue alone was probably a major
issue.

“I
think they will be glad we've come along here admiral, this place is a rat
trap.”

“Rats
probably abandoned ship a long long time ago,” he joked weakly.

“You
know you're not exactly helping your cause when you undermine your own argument
admiral,” Sprite sighed.

“True,”
he snorted. “Tricky bit here.”

The
bay doors opened in fits and starts before getting fully open. He shook his
head in resignation at the sight of worn parts and skeletons of stripped
shuttles scattered all over the bay. Cables snaked along the floor and walls;
some looked like they were live. One was even venting puffs of atmosphere. He
took a moment to call the ship, and informed the bridge the bay was fouled and
he couldn’t land without using his RCS in the main bay. Using a small craft's
Reactionary Control System wasn't as stupid as using a wedge but it was
dangerous and the thruster gas did damage to whatever it touched. From the look
of the pitting on the bay's deck that was apparently normal.

The
communications tech was surprised, but acknowledged his dry observation. He turned
the shuttle and used his implants to guide the shuttle backwards into the bay.

About
a hundred meters out Sprite found a clear space near the rear of the bay near
another shuttle and highlighted it. He had to cut his impellers so they
wouldn’t kick the parts up with their force emitters or rip into the hull of
the ship. With his impellers down he felt naked, however he expertly maneuvered
the shuttle with his RCS into position and dropped the landing gear. Gently he
settled the ship down onto the deck, and then winced when he heard crunching
and pings. “FOD,” he grumbled darkly. He wasn't at all happy about that.
Foreign Object Debris was a big no no when it came to ships in space. There was
no telling when bits impacting a ship would do damage. His estimation of the
crew dropped considerably.

“Not
as bad as we had feared admiral. I am not detecting any damage beyond
cosmetic,” Proteus informed him a moment later. “I do recommend refueling
however. Using the RCS to come and go from this bay will use a great deal of
fuel over time.”

“Noted,”
he replied with a nod. Proteus was online all the time now, like Sprite and
Defender. Before... before he'd only booted Proteus's full cognitive functions
when he needed them. Now he just left the AI online all the time. It was
another comforting presence in this fallen time.

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