The CSS Stability was an octohedral ship with secondary command decks located at each of its six points. The primary command deck was located in the center of the well-fortified vessel, along with the alchemy drive and most of the critical systems, though there were redundant back-ups located throughout the entirety of the vessel.
The Galactic Confederation didn’t win space battles by making their ships easy to disable.
The theme of redundancy was carried forward to the point of having six separate parallel chains of command devolving from the commander. If the commander were rendered hors de combat or needed to be relieved of duty, a computer algorithm would automatically assign command to one of the six second officers, taking into account all current shipboard conditions.
It was neither necessary nor possible for the Stability’s commander to have a close working relationship with all of his individual seconds, especially as each one only had physical access to the ship’s central core for the four hours and forty minutes out of every day that he or she was acting as the primary secondary commander on duty.
Fourth Second Officer Lietuenant Commander Jacob Asher had occupied his current position for two years and had only visited the inner regions of the ship three times before, but on this day he hurried down the corridor towards the central command deck as soon as he came on duty and the physical connection between his point and the central compartment opened.
He identified himself outside the final moving bulkhead and was granted permission to enter the inner sanctum, where the commander sat alone in the middle of a bank of holoprojectors summarizing the ship’s status.
“What can I do for you, LC?” Commander Mehoff asked him.
“Well, sir… do you remember the bulletin we received last month about the missing child?”
“Yes,” the commander said. “The young woman with the class one personality disorder. I do remember. I’m sure she’s… well, someone like that’s easy prey.”
“Well, I was monitoring the local trade nets on my downshift and I came across something interesting,” the yeoman said. “There was a small offer floating around for Confederation foodstuffs.”
“Well, that’s interesting but not conclusive,” the commander said. “Someone could have been curious, or temporarily entertaining a citizen as a guest… that happens, you know.”
“I didn’t think that it was conclsuive, sir,” Asher said. “But it was interesting enough to make me curious, so I searched backwards to see if there had been any other inquiries or trafficking in Confederation goods.”
“And you found something more substantial?”
“Substantially more substantial, sir,” the second officer said. “Eight days before that there was a request going around for a utility suit, fitted to phenotypic specifications #c322b0.”
“And that would be the Adams girl’s size?”
“Yes, sir… I checked it against the bulletin.”
“Did these requests originate from the same place?”
“I can’t yet say, sir,” Asher said. “The trade boards are supposed to be anonymous. If you negotiate a deal, then you can exchange coordinates or direct exchange contact information…”
“I’m roughly familiar with the process,” the commander said. “Incidentally, what were trawling for?”
“BBs sir,” Asher said, blushing. “Er, that is… bound books.”
“Never mind that… I can see why you came here in person, though,” the commander said. “Odd hobby for an officer. The offer that’s floating around now… is that something that we could satisfy with our stores?”
“Yes, sir. Very easily.”
“Then I’d like you to make an answer to it. On your own time…. make sure you file an Orders Off The Record on this, of course, but let’s find out what we’re dealing with before we do anything too official.”« « 105: Formal Dining Options 107: Public Trading » »
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