NaNoWriMo 2019: My Final Challenge

It’s day 30, I had just finished an epic short story yesterday and needed something new to write for my final day (complete the 30 day writing streak).

So in the NaNoWriMo Yorkshire region, we have our own series of WOTD, with two options presented every day, an easy option, and a challenging option.

So what better final challenge for my 30th day straight of writing? Use them all in a single short story. It seems a sufficiently difficult challenge, but I know others have done it before.

Here are the words that must be included:

CrowdCrowAlternate
LiminalAbateHegemony
FrameSnarlDrive
ObstreperousVulpeculatedCharette
DeliberateBootCup
InternecineSuperfluousRime
GeniusCoreCross
ParadigmSalutaryGallimaufry
BunchWoundRest
SubornNadirUmbrage
BurnKitSave
ImmolatePerniciousSempiternal
GameshotRun
GeliddiffuseCaissons
SlateWearCrown
CongeriesSuccourLimn
ShiftChartDeed
CampestralMeretriciousSaponification
MissPoreBook
ParoxysmJejuneZenith

And so, I set out with a shaky idea for a story, and have spent a few hours today writing it, it was slow going – people are clearly not speaking plain English, and in some places it’s a little forced. However, it is done. Complete. Challenge done.

And now I’m going to share it – it is unedited, served a purpose, and missed the mark of my original intention, (was going to make it feel like an 80’s comedy, and it went in a whole other direction, and I forgot the funny). But this is proof, that all those words can fit into a single story, (and warning it’s 5.282 words long):

The Poor Ship Classic Latte

by Jonathan Lawrence

Giles Devire was the Supercargo aboard Alliance Navy ship “Classic Latte”, and he wasn’t having a perfect day.

“God damn it, where’s my tablet?” he screamed as he charged through the decks, retracing his steps from earlier. He knew one of the reprobates on board had hidden it.

The Classic Latte was a large military transport ship, fourteen decks high, with two large cargo bays covering on the starboard and port sides, with engineering at the aft of the vessel, and crew and command decks at the fore. Giles was currently searching the crew decks.

“Looking for this?” Sally Korsakov said, holding out a tablet display, “Just found it in the waste disposal. You should be more careful Giles.”

Giles rushed forwards and grabbed the tablet eagerly, “Damn idiots,” he swore.

“Think this one was on you,” Sally said, peeling off some latex gloves, “Blocked up the pipes pretty badly with that.”

“It wasn’t me,” Giles said, deeply offended.

“You’re the last one the computer recognises as having gone in the bathroom. I’ll need to have a word with the Captain,” Sally said, “Blocking the plumbing is a pretty serious offence.”

“Why would…? B-b-but I,” Giles was flabbergasted.

“Accidents happen, I’m sure the Captain will take that into consideration,” Sally said in a friendly fashion.

“I don’t know how they did it, but that bitch Julia did this,” Giles said, recovering his sense of anger.

“You think a Second Lieutenant can compromise ship security protocols and then decided to use your tablet to block the pipes, that we all rely on?” Sally said scoffing, “Yeah, I’ll let you tell the Captain that one.”

Giles wanted to say more, but he recognised a losing game when he saw one, Sally Korsakov was the chief engineer of this bucket, a rank the Captain held in higher esteem than the Supercargo, so he scuttled off.

He did note the soft laughter that was emitted from behind him.

One day soon they all rue the day they had messed with him. First, though he needed to thoroughly disinfect this tablet and himself for touching it. The crew went through a lot of high protein bars, and the thought that his tablet would be covered in the refuse of this filthy lot made him sick.

“Second Lieutenant Julia Debussey,” Chief Engineer Sally called to the rushing unformed woman heading down corridor H8.

The woman came to a halt, allowing the magnets in her boots to arrest her momentum, then she pivoted and strolled back to the Chief Engineer, “Yes, ma’am?”

“You wouldn’t know anything about a tablet being jammed into the ship’s plumbing, would you?” Sally asked.

“Not a Scooby,” Julia said, “Messing with the plumbing is a prank too far, I’ll admit that. We’ve all got to live in this rust bucket.”

“You’re speaking to an engineer, never call the ship a rust bucket,” Sally said.

“Sorry ma’am, was just repeating you from last week,” Julia said.

“You’re dismissed,” Sally said, turning away to stifle a laugh, it was true she frequently called the old, slow ship a rust bucket, but that was okay, she was the chief engineer.

Over the ship’s intercom there was a crackle, “Supercargo to the bridge,” it instructed.

Giles muttered to himself along the way, he was having doubts that maybe he did accidentally leave his tablet behind, but if that were true, the Captain needed not to see that. The relationship between the Captain and Giles was frosty at best, the Navy had placed the Supercargo on board the aged Classic Latte, it wasn’t the Captain’s choice. The Captain was out of favour with the Fleet Command, that’s why he had been given the decrepit cargo ship instead of some fancy new cruiser or a frigate of the line.

“Captain,” Giles said as he entered through the automatic days onto dark grey metal command deck.

“Let’s go to my quarters,” the Captain said, getting out of the bare metal chair that served as the command seat in the circular command dome that sat atop the front of the rectangular cargo ship.

They walked across the bridge, and down some stairs into what Giles assumed was a storage room before the Captain had requisitioned it as his own personal office.

The Captain squeezed around the sides of the desk, and took his seat, there was no room for a chair by the door, so Giles remained standing.

“So, what do you have to say for yourself?” the Captain demanded.

“What do you mean, sir,” Giles said, doing his best to hide his contempt in the sir.

“Chief Engineer Korsakov reports that you may have inadvertently blocked the plumbing,” the Captain said.

“Chief Engineer Korsakov is a fine engineer, Captain,” the Supercargo began, “But she is mistaken. It was my tablet that caused the issue, but it was stolen.”

“Stolen?” the Captain said.

“Yes stolen, I was vupleculated,” Giles said.

“You were what now?” the Captain asked frustrated, Giles liked to show off his education a lot, he had three degrees which rubbed just about everyone up the wrong way, that one of them was in facilities management, another in English literature, and the last in Drama, never got in the way of Giles’ gloating.

“It means robbed, sir, robbed by a fox,” Giles said, “I believe…”

“You want to make another accusation against, wait… don’t tell me, I can guess… Second Lieutenant Julia Debussey?” the Captain said.

“I can not honestly say I know who took it,” Giles said, “But she would be the most likely suspect.”

“This internecine conflict between the two of you must stop,” the Captain said, “Now, I’m not sure I’ll be able to get to the truth of this one, but let me warn you, Mister, I want to put an end to this stupid conflict.”

“It is not I that is leading the conflict, sir,” Giles said aggravated that the Captain was putting it on him.

“You are the superior officer,” the Captain pointed out, “And still my inferior despite being placed here by command. I am ordering you to fix this mess before it goes too far out of hand.”

“But sir,” Giles complained, “I have only ever tried to do my job. Tracking down who…”

“Dismissed,” the Captain said, frustrated.

Giles knew what to cut his losses, so he turned and left the doors parting before him automatically, and then closing behind him.

He strolled up the stairs, and across the bridge, his head held high. He would not let this crew of reprobates see him as anything other than the officer he indeed was.

He went to the canteen and was surprised to find crowd had gathered, it was rare the ship ran a three-shift rotation so that facilities time was evenly distributed.

“What’s going on?” Giles asked one of the crewmen named Jacques.

“Oh crap,” Jacques said, “You probably don’t want to be here.”

“Nonsense, I’ve come for my breakfast,” Giles said, “What’s going on?”

“You’d best ask at the front,” Jacques said shiftily.

Annoyed, Giles pushed his way through the crowd and made his way to the front. On the big display screen, usually reserved for ship’s information, and the occasional movie night there was a scrolling list of statements.

“What is it?” Giles asked, still try to see around a tall engineer called Lewis.

Lewis stepped aside, “Crew evaluations,” he stated.

Giles looked at the screen, each text was in an oblong box that was floating up the screen, he read one of them:

“Miss Korsakov, I’m sure is a fine engineer, but has trouble distinguishing fact from fiction.”

Giles face reddened, he recognised that statement, he read another:

“First Lieutenant Faure is a meretricious nightmare, she seems only here to ensnare a husband, and provides little that actually improves this ship of fools.”

“Oh no, oh no,” Giles exclaimed, “Turn if off he shouted,” but there was so much noise and mutterings from the people around him, that he wasn’t heeded.

“Captain Gabriel refuses to wear his uniform, per Alliance Military requirements, instead opting for overalls, and a jumpsuit, the clothing of minor working ranks.”

Giles had a paroxysm, “Get out, get out! All of you back to your service stations this instant!” he screamed.

The crowd was having none of it.

“All right, back to work you lazy sods,” the first mate, a swarthy man in his forties, thick with muscle, and a tight moustache across his pale-skinned lip, “Clear out.”

The crowd immediately broke up, none wanted to be on the wrong side of the Captain’s right-hand man, he was the discipliner.

“Thank you,” Giles said to the first mate.

“Thank me?” Commander Bach said, “I don’t think thanks are in order, after what you wrote about me.”

“Those were personal observations,” Giles protested, “Taken out of context.”

“Commander Bach is all snarl and likes to crow, but in reality he has no teeth, and only the newest members of the crew fear him, with time, anyone would have a paradigm shift and realise that he has little to actually threaten anyone with,” the first mate said reading from the screen.

“Personal observation,” Giles said, “I must insist this is taken down, deleted and no records kept. I have a right to privacy which someone has violated.”

“Right now you’re lucky your still alive,” the first mate snarled, “Go back to your quarters and stay there. Some people may have taken offence at your little character assassinations.”

Giles scooted out of the canteen. Furiously he checked his tablet as he went, and yes there in its memory were the personal evaluations he kept, ready to share with command when the time was right.

Giles had reached a nadir in his assignment aboard this clapped out old freighter. He had been given the mission by Admiral Cash himself.

“Come in, come in,” the Admiral said, not bothering with the intercom.

Giles entered the Admirals office on Sinatra Station, an Alliance Military facility, Giles was in his dress reds, a marvellously well-kept bit of kit, if he did say so himself.

“Take a seat,” the Admiral instructed, which Giles didn’t hesitate to obey.

“I’ve looked over your record,” the Admiral said, “You have a knack for aggravating people it seems.”

“I insist the orders are obeyed, and the proper protocol is kept at all times,” Giles replied, trying to surreptitiously knock something off that had attached itself to the tread of his boot.

“An admirable position,” the Admiral said, “I have just the assignment for you.”

“Oh?” Giles said, perking up.

“Yes, we have recently had a spate of minor crimes, and breaking of core procedures. We’d like to get to the bottom of it, cut it off at the source. However, this has proved difficult, it’s quite widespread, with the perpetrators diffused among the wider fleet,” the Admiral said.

“I can see how that could be a challenge,” Giles said.

“Yes well, there are people we suspect of a lack of discipline in that regard,” the Admiral said, “So we’re arranging for as many of them to serve aboard a ship together.”

“Sounds dangerous,” Giles said.

“You know, I said the same thing. Which is why it will be a cargo ship and not a warship. What I’d like though is to have at least one good man aboard, who can observe and report back, and hopefully find evidence of what is really going on,” the Admiral said.

“You want me?” the junior grade officer enquired.

“Yes,” the Admiral said, “Of course for your trouble, we’ll promote you, you’ll be the Supercargo onboard.”

“I accept,” Giles said instantly.

“Don’t be so fast,” the Admiral said, “These are some of the laziest, and underworked members of our Navy. You will have to put up with a lot of less than ideal situations along the way.”

“Have no fear, I will hunt down the superfluously inclined, and I will know every person that provides them succour,” Giles said.

The Admiral had no reservations in sending him on board this claptrap of a ship, and Giles would not let him down. He would weather the storm of someone hacking his tablet.

He realised he really can’t have left the tablet behind, someone really had tried to use his tablet to sabotage the ship.

Giles smiled to himself, they had a chart that would take them into troubled waters, Supercargo Devire was on the case.

He needed to follow Second Lieutenant Debussy more closely, he was utterly convinced she was the ringleader of the never do wells on board ship, he had clocked her from day one, she had a strange campestral smell, that meant she had some kind of soap. Soap wasn’t allowed on board ships, there was no extra water to wash that way. It was all sonic showers, and sand scrubs, it was an efficient and economical way in the Navy.

Giles strongly suspected of Debussey being the culprit leading the saponification on board, and wouldn’t be surprised if she was the zenith of all the wrongdoing onboard. Giles had followed her on shore leave, she had a habit of meeting with the local low-lives at many of the ports they visited.

Giles, however, still wasn’t convinced that the Captain was innocent in all this, he sat on the throne and wore the crown, how could he not know what was going on board ship.

So, his next job was to find the equipment they were making soap with. The Admiral had said he needed concrete evidence to run this gallimaufry crew out of the Navy.

“How’s it going?” the Captain asked, as he strolled along the maintenance bay, he had gestured that Debussey should walk with him.

“Sir?” First Lieutenant Debussey enquired.

“This prank war you seem to have engaged in with our Supercargo,” the Captain said.

“You know it’s more than a prank war, sir,” Debussey said.

“You really think the brass sent him to come after me?” the Captain asked.

“I hear, what I hear,” Debussey said, “I was there, what you did was genius, but it was also against regulations, and a slap in the face to the government. Your punishment was this obstreperous crew perfect and a bunch of barely welded parts for a ship.”

“What happened was a wound in the pride of the Navy,” the Captain said, “I had no choice, we had to immolate the flagship, burn it down to the skeleton. It was the only way to stop the violence.”

“You saw life and death, they say a game,” Debussey pointed out, “They’ve sent this odious little man to suborn you into finishing off the ruin of your career. The public supported you, even the President of the Alliance spoke openly of your heroic act. So they need another way to get you back. It was this or a pernicious attack on an unstoppable enemy, but that would make a martyr of you.”

“I still don’t understand why you’re here helping me, and playing some kind of game to frame Supercargo Devire,” the Captain said.

“There are elements in the Navy that appreciated what you had done. I lost my rank in that exchange, but here I am now, at your service, we steer you through this assignment, and we can get you a clean slate,” Debussey said.

“But first you need to do something about the Supercargo?” the Captain said.

“It’s almost done,” Debussey said, “He’s been exposed. He’ll have to escalate to fulfil his orders.”

“And those orders are?” the Captain asked.

“Straight from Admiral Cash,” Debussey said, not actually answering the question.

“Makes sense, he hates me, the Sun Ray was commissioned by him, and I burnt it down,” the Captain said.

“Just worry about doing the best you can with this jejune crew, and I’ll worry about the Navy’s games,” Debussey said, “It’s all under control.”

They separated, the Captain headed back to the command deck, where he spent most of his time, except for brief respites for food, drink, and comfort, and a few hours sleep.

“Save me a drink,” called crewman Jacques as he entered the little gap in the aft of the ship.

“Fairly sure you had one earlier, Jacques,” ensign Mazda pointed out.

“Yeah but I’ve got a cargo check with Devire,” Jacques said, “Salutary duty from Commander Bach. I think I deserve a second drink today.”

“Tell you what, you make it through a shift with that arsehole, and I’ll give you my shot for the day,” Mazda promised, “Best not turn up with hooch on your breath.”

“Yea, I suppose you’re right,” Jacques said resignedly.

“Cheer up,” Mazda said, “How much fun can you have winding him up about his crew evaluations. Really make that moron squirm.”

“Yeah,” Jacques said warming to the idea, “I’d love to be the one that that drove him off the ship.”

“If you can drive him off, I’d serve double duty at the still, and you can have a bottle,” Mazda said.

“I’ll hold you to that,” Jacques said, “A good deed deserves a reward.”

“I’m sure it says so in the good book,” Mazda said, “Now you best go, the shift starts in five minutes.”

“Fine,” Jacques said, “But there’ll be umbrage if you forget your promises.”

“Have no fear, I’m not looking to cross you,” Mazda said.

Jacques reported for duty at the starboard cargo bay’s main entrance.

“On time for once Mr Shada,” Giles noted.

Jacques held his tongue, “Shall we go in?”

“After you crewman,” the Supercargo gestured.

Inside the cargo bay, it was frigid, well below freezing.

“Oooh,” Jacques shuddered.

“Come on,” Giles said, trying to cover for his chattering teeth and presenting the nonchalance he felt a senior officer should show. “You check those crates over there. Accurate counting, please mister Shada.”

“Of course, sir,” Jacques said, “I wouldn’t want to be known as the alternate for a monkey.”

“Excuse me?” the Supercargo spluttered.

“You heard me, or is this gelid ice getting to your ears,” Jacques knew he shouldn’t be confronting the appalling little man in quite so deliberate a fashion, but he was struggling. He had been offended about what had been written about him.

“You are dismissed,” Giles snarled, “I’ll handle counting these congeries, you can report to the Captain why you’re not on duty.”

Jacques didn’t respond verbally, he just walked out. He knew it wouldn’t do to just approach the Captain about this, so he sought out Commander Bach.

“What is it?” Bach asked.

“Apparently I upset our Supercargo, he’s dismissed me from duty,” Jacques said.

“You should know better,”

Commander Bach said, “You’ve been warned before about antagonising mister Devire.”

“I know, and but I saw what he wrote about me,” Jacques said, “And holding my tongue was too difficult.”

“Did you have anything to do with that stunt?” Bach asked.

“Me? No sir,” Jacques said, “I just heard something was going on in the galley.”

“Who did?” Bach asked.

“No idea, sir,” Jacques said.

“I know what the hegemony on this ship is like,” Bach said, “The little group of troublemakers, rabble-rousers, holding your little charettes.”

“Charette, sir?” Jacques asked.

“You know full well Mister Shada,” Bach warned, “The small meetings you have about getting rid of our Supercargo, the pranks, the jokes. Pass the message on, not on my ship. If this behaviour doesn’t abate, then there will be trouble.”

Jacques wisely said nothing.

“For the rest of the shift, you’re on the refrigeration system maintenance. Apparently, the starboard cargo bay is rime, like someone messed with the settings,” Bach said.

“Yes sir,” Jacques said.

“Dismissed,” Commander Bach pointed to the door.

Second Lieutenant Debussey banged her cup, bringing the gathering to order, there was six of them gathered in the Aft gap, breaking in the armour which formed a small room. “Right, we’re nearly done, let’s not rest up now.”

“Commander Bach has outright threatened us if we continue this,” Jacques informed Julia Debussey.

“Commander Bach doesn’t understand what’s going on,” Debussey said.

“Why don’t you explain it to me,” Bach said, walking around the corner.

“Commander Bach, sir,” Debussey said, “We were just having a catch up about our day.”

“Uhuh,” Bach said, “Don’t let me disturb you, I think it’s good to see what’s going on with the crew, how people are feeling.”

“Well sir,” Debussey said, “We prefer to do it without senior officers. Makes it awkward.”

“How about we have a personal chat instead then?” Bach asked.

“Fine,” Debussey said annoyed, then remembering herself, “Sir.”

They walked off into the caissons, an area of engineering that operated like a giant airlock for moving large parts in and outside of the ship.

“Tell me what’s really going on,” Bach said, “I’ve seen your service record, you were a Commander like me, now you’re a second lieutenant. You’re very friendly with the Captain, but somehow he never ever mentions you.”

“Sir, this is probably something you should discuss with the Captain,” Debussey said.

“No,” Bach said, “I know you’re not doing things his way. He might have given you permission, but this is your mission.”

“You know my service record; how much do you know about the Captain’s?” Debussey asked.

  “I know about the Peyou, how he destroyed it, after ordering all crew to abandon ship, to stop the Forza fleet in its tracks,” Bach said, “I know that got him dropped from his super cruiser down to a cargo ship. What has this to do with our Supercargo. I dislike the man as much as the next, but he is a senior Navy officer, and deserves respect.”

“He is a plant,” Debussey said, “They jumped him up from ensign after he repeatedly got into a mess with crews he was put on. They put him here to try and torpedo the Captain’s career once and for all.”

“How do you know this?” Bach insisted.

“Well I’ve known for a while, but if you want proof,” Debussy pulled out a slim tablet, and tapped a few things on it, “How about a copy of his orders?” she handed the tablet over.

Commander Bach read over the document.

“Hey, it says I’m involved in drug smuggling,” he looked genuinely offended.

“Every member of this crew was handpicked to raise the potential embarrassment to the captain,” Debussey said, “Anyone they could make available that has ever been a suspect in misdemeanours, larceny, smuggling and every other infraction against the rules.”

“And our Supercargo is meant to report back all crimes, and present a pattern of court marshall levels of conduct?” Bach clarified.

“Yes,” Debussey confirmed.

“So instead you’re trying to setup up Devires to take the fall?” Bach asked.

“Yes. The pranks are more laying the foundation,” Debussey said, “We need to show just how odious a man he truly is, that criminality oozes from every pore, that way the embarrassment falls back on the Admiral.”

“This entire plan is a court marshall waiting to happen,” Bach pointed out, “He’s your senior officer.”

“He’s a senior officer, and he’s superior to none,” Debussey countered.

“And the Captain is actively letting you do this?” Bach asked.

“To an extent,” Debussey said, “He’s not aware of it all. He can’t be, that would compromise him just as much.”

“What can I do to help?” Bach asked.

“Help?” Debussey asked, surprised.

“I may be new to serving with the Captain, but I am loyal, and I can’t have this whole thing as a stain on my record. So what can I do to help?”

“Well we’re at the liminal stage of the plan,” Debussey explained, “The pranks are over, we need to actively limn the evidence to end the Supercargo’s tenure with us.”

“What do you think you’ll do?” Bach said, probing.

“I’m really not sure I should say, sir,” Debussey said.

Bach took of his naval insignia, a bronze eagle on his chest, with three filled pips underneath, with a fourth empty pip, “I’m simply a member of this crew now. The Commander doesn’t know what’s being discussed.”

“If you say so, sir,” Debussey said, “Basically we catch him red-handed with contraband.”

“He’ll just say he’s confiscated it as part of his duties as Supercargo,” Bach pointed out.

“True, but here’s the kicker, it’s actually his contraband, an illegal comms system in his quarters,” Debussey said, “It’ll be hard to cover it up as someone else.”

“He won’t go quietly,” Bach said, “Why would he? If you have him bang to rights, but he’s following Navy orders.”

“They’re not official orders,” Debussey said, “We’re part of the fifth fleet, Admiral Cash is Second Fleet. It’s out of the chain of command.”

“I noticed that,” Bach said, “I also noticed that only thirty members of the crew are listed on here, there are fifty-eight in total.”

“That’s why we’ve kept our cabal small,” Debussey said.

“That was a mistake,” Bach said, “I’m right, the admiral didn’t send our Supercargo here alone.”

“There’s something else,” Debussey said.

“What?” Bach asked, “The fall out from this will be severe. Is that it?”

“The sempiternal idea of the Alliance fleet is that we stand together, there has only ever been two cases of mutiny in the past, and they were driven out of cowardice, not politics,” Debussey said, “You should know I was ordered here by the president himself.”

“Son of a bitch!” exclaimed Bach, “We can’t do this. Political authority interfering in the chain of command is far worse than an admiral making assignments in another fleet.”

“The future of the Alliance is on this,” Debussey said, “And it is to the Alliance I swore my allegiance just like you. The whole reason we’re in this mess is because the Alliance Naval Command started its own war. The Captain ended that war.”

“We could hang for this,” Bach said.

“We could,” Julia Debussey said, “But, right now we just need to do the right thing.”

Hours later Commander Bach, with a security detail in tow, and Second Lieutenant Debussey following along, having officially been assigned to the security detail approached the Supercargo’s quarters.

Bach pressed the intercom button on the door.

“Who is it?” Devire enquired.

“It’s Commander Bach,” the Commander said, “We’re here for a security sweep.”

“I’m a bit busy right now,” Giles Devire replied back.

“I’m under orders,” Bach said, “We’re coming in.” He tapped something into the display on the door, and suddenly it was opening.

Bach stepped in, Giles looked flustered and was standing in the middle of his quarters.

“What is the meaning of this?” Giles blustered.

“We’ve had reports of contraband,” Bach said, “We will now do a sweep.”

“That’s entirely improper,” Giles said.

“Captain’s orders,” Bach said, “He takes contraband very seriously.”

“You will leave now, and I will discuss this with the Captain,” Giles pointed towards the door.

“Take a seat, this won’t take long Mister Devire,” Bach said, and then gestured to the security officers behind him.

The security personal, all six of them squeezed into the quarters.

“Perhaps we should step outside,” the Commander said to Devire, gesturing to the door.

Giles looked around nervously, there was nothing he could do he realised, he didn’t have the rank to override the Captain on matters of security, so he followed the ship’s, first mate.

“What contraband, and who reported it?” Giles demanded.

“You know I’m not going to tell you that,” Bach said, “You’ve probably nothing to worry about. You’re a pretty straight shooter.”

“Yeah,” Giles said, though he felt nervous.

“Commander,” one of the security men called.

“Give me a moment,” Bach said and went into the room.

“Sir looks like some improvised comm rig, has an encryption plugin here,” the officer pointed out a card drive sticking out the side of the plastic central unit.

“Mister Derive, how do you explain this?” Commander Bach said, turning back, expecting the Supercargo to come up with some kind of opposition, or excuse.

Nothing came.

“Mister Derive?” Bach repeated.

One of the security officers stepped out, “He’s not there, sir,” he reported back.

“Oh,” Commander Bach said.

“He’s making his play,” Debussey said.

“You three,” Commander Bach gestured to three of the security officers, “Go and secure engineering. You three,” he gestured to the remaining security officers, “With me to the bridge.”

They charged through the ship, taking the stairs, whoever designed the ship maximised the living space, but at the cost of elevators, it was a six-deck climb.

“What’s going?” the Captain asked, rising from his chair upon hearing five people coming into the bridge.

“We’ve got a problem,” Commander Bach said, and gestured to second Lieutenant Debussey.

“Devire is making his move,” Debussey reported.

“Mutiny? On my ship? Are you telling me he intends to mutiny?” the Captain said, growing redder and redder in the face.

“I’ve sent some men to secure engineering,” Bach said, “And brought the others I have with me here, pending your orders captain.”

“I want our mutinous Supercargo tracked down and arrested,” the Captain said.

“Sir,” Lieutenant Ames at the ops console signalled.

“What is it?” the Captain asked.

“A life pod just ejected from the ship, starboard side, deck thirteen,” Ames said.

“Have you got his move wrong?” the Captain asked.

“Err… honestly expected him to try and mutiny,” Debussey said.

“Shall we get him back?” Bach asked.

“Yes,” the Captain said, “Can’t leave him out there to starve or suffer a malfunction. Bring him back on board, and whack him in the brig, no visitors.”

“Yes sir,” Bach said, heading off.

“Debussey, with me,” the Captain said, gesturing towards his office.

The Captain was seated, Debussey was leaning against the wall.

“Things didn’t go to plan then?” the Captain asked.

“No,” Debussey admitted, “I think I gave Lieutenant Devire more credit than he deserved.”

“You honestly thought he could rally the crew against me?” the Captain asked.

“Well there’s about twenty members of the crew that don’t fit the profile of the rest of us, I assumed they were here to help him,” Debussey explained, “Once his role was finally received, I fully expected that they were here to take the ship from you, to escort you back to HQ to face charges.”

“Apparently not,” the Captain said, “Since that wasn’t the plan. What was it that?”

“We found an independent comm set in his quarters, I think the plan was simply to inform on us,” Debussey said.

“Well, we’ll need to read what he’s sent,” the Captain said, “Let us know what we’re walking back into when I go back.”

“I’ll work on getting it decrypted,” Debussey said.

“And I want the names of everyone you thought didn’t fit in,” the Captain said, “And the job is done, you can break up that little group of yours.”

“Anything else, sir?” Debussey asked.

“No, I want everything back to normal, minus a Supercargo,” the Captain instructed.

“Aren’t we going to use this to get you back a proper command?” Debussey asked.

“No, absolutely not. This is a proper command, we have a job to do, and keeping the supply lines moving is vital work. If that’s what you did all this for, you should know I’m a loyal Navy officer,” the Captain said having jumped to his feet.

“Oh,” Debussey said, “I didn’t realise.”

“I want my ship running ship-shape again, I want discipline, and I want peace,” the Captain said, “Is that clear? If not you’d better speak up now, Commander Bach will be the next to lay it down to the crew.”

“Yes, sir, understood, sir,” Debussey said.

“Good dismissed,” the Captain said.

The end.

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