One of the things Adam doesn't really touch on at all in any of the books he's put out there was the challenge of integrating the various Artemis and Union personnel into the Terran Federation.
Putting not too fine a point on it?
It was a nightmare.
Lucky for me, I didn't have to deal with 99% of it.
Isn't that what good subordinates are for?
I had two who really saved me: Colonel Davie Whitmore, and Diana. And Hecate, of course, because without her dedication the whole "build a fleet while at war" thing would have been impossible!
“Please, sit down. What do you think of the rebuild?”
“It’s amazing, Colonel. I didn’t think that you’d be able to get it all done in a week.”
“I’ve learned not to underestimate the AI’s on this station,” Whitmore replied. The two were in her office discussing What Comes Next.
“It’s amazing,” Porter repeated. “And you say it’s all because of these two women?”
“Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but they are certainly the movers and shakers. I have never met anyone with more drive than the Admiral, though her wife comes close, and if there’s a problem the Commander can’t think her way around, the Admiral is likely to simply smash through. They’re as good together as any pair I’ve ever known.”
“I’ve been learning. And what you’ve done with this station, well. We were briefed, of course, on what the Union thought you, I guess I mean ‘we’, could do. At least, what we thought you could do, based on what we had seen. We were totally wrong.”
“Good; that means they won’t be prepared for the Defiants.” She nodded her satisfaction. “Let’s review what we’ve done with the ship. First, the name.”
“BonHomme Richard? It’s a little weird. I mean, the Admiral does know the former captain was Richard Moon, right? And we called him Captain Prick?”
Whitmore smiled at the name.
“I’m sure she does. She never does things unintentionally; she simply doesn’t care. It turns out the name is to honor an ancient sailing ship. The original ship also started with a different name, but had her most glorious history happen after the change.”
“Ah, that makes sense.”
“What of the other changes?”
“I’m not happy about losing half of each broadside, but I understand the tradeoff. From what, I forgot her name. Hecate?”
“From what Hecate was telling me, by reducing the broadsides she actually gave us more firepower?”
“She added our capacitors in place of yours, and installed more powerful lasers. The practical upshot is you have ten three mW lasers per broadside now.”
“But I have the same spinal lasers as before.”
“Which are six mW lasers, I might remind you. And the capacitors will recharge much more quickly.”
“Point taken, Colonel. I appreciate the new missiles. Much more capable than the Huygens we used to carry.”
“That was the idea of the Thunderbolts. It’s a pity we can’t fit you with energy torpedoes, but it’s too power-intensive.”
“Maybe my next ship.”
“Perhaps. Now, as to your mission profile.”
“The Admiral talked to me. She wants me available for local defense at Titan? I’m not sure I can sell it to my crew, Colonel. Pardon my language, but Titan’s a real shithole for leave.”
“Oberon wept! Do you think me so fragile? I came up through the Navy, Mr. Porter, and I can outcurse you on your best day.”
“As for leave, it won’t be an issue. I think you’ll find the inhabitants will be much friendlier to Federation personnel than they ever were to Union personnel. Besides, for the first several weeks, your area of patrol is going to be the space around Njord in company with the Roosa and –”
“The Roosa? Isn’t he an Artemis ship?”
“It was. Captain Gonzalez can tell you how she and her crew came over. I’d suggest it, on your own time.” Her point was crystal-clear, and Porter nodded. “So you’ll be paired with Roosa as well as learning to integrate with the Wolves and Direwolves.”
“Your assault shuttles are going to be removed; frankly, we don’t have the time or the right tech base to maintain them. You’re going to be getting two Wolves instead.”
“Those are sweet little ships,” Porter said. “I did see they would be exchanged, but you didn’t answer my question.”
Whitmore pursed her lips. “No, I suppose I didn’t. Frankly, Captain, your ship is an anachronism. It may be the most advanced ship the Union ever produced, but, well…”
“No need to sugarcoat it, Colonel. I’ve seen enough aboard Njord to convince me.”
“However, he still has a purpose, for now. We don’t have a defense fleet. As the Admiral is fond of saying, she started the Federation, and Starfleet, to explore, not make war. We’re building more starships as quickly as possible, but bringing the Guild and Titan into the Federation is a stretch. It wasn’t planned; like so many things with the Admiral, it simply happened. As a result the Richard will be assigned to the defense of Titan.”
“One ship? Colonel, what if the Union sends a fleet?”
Whitmore shook her head. “They won’t. Newling is too much of a coward to expose herself that way; she’s always going to retain a substantial number of ships in the vicinity of Luna to protect herself. But let’s say someone convinces her otherwise. Unlikely, but possible. If they do, then we have the ability to intercept them before they reach Titan. No, Captain, what I expect are some low-intensity attempts to harass our newest ally.”
“I can see how the Kep – Richard would be useful. And the Wolves will extend our reach.”
“And that’s the other half of the equation. Wolves and Direwolves are the perfect craft to defend a fixed point. In the next year, the plan is to bring additional squadrons of both online, and assign them for local defense. We have enough to do a short-term rotation to Titan, which brings us back to you and the Richard.”
“Ah, now it all makes sense. Got it, Colonel. I have to ask, though, what happens to us after the Richard is retired?”
“Why, you transfer into a starship. I don’t think you’ll be in line to command one right off, but I don’t think you’re going to be far down the list. Assuming that’s something you want to do, of course.”
Porter’s face was alight. “I think it’s something I could adjust to.”
“I thought you might.”
“Colonel, can I ask you a personal question?”
“Why did you sign on with the Federation? I mean, you were a high-ranking member of the Artemis government, and now you’re a Colonel. It certainly seems like a step backwards.”
“I like working for people who aren’t liable to order my death on a whim,” she answered lightly, then took on a more serious tone.
“Putting aside the fact they were behind the effort to get me off Luna in one piece, I believe in what they’re trying to achieve. Um. I heard a story, from Commander Cassidy, okay?”
“The Commander? You know, people talk about the Admiral, but the Commander scares me. I heard about what she did on Titan.” He shivered. “Takes nerves to aim for the arm first.”
“She’s never lacked courage,” agreed Whitmore. “Or a cool head. Now, keep in mind this was before I came on board, before the Federation was officially born, okay? She and Kendra were talking, and Kendra said something like, ‘it’s raining soup and the politicians are all arguing about who gets to play in the mud.’”
“It is. But she, they, have always dreamed big, and they are dammed well going to drag this System into that dream, kicking and screaming if necessary. And that sort of conviction is contagious. When they rescued me, I had just spent six lunars, no, months. Months. In hiding. So you’d think I’d be falling-over-my-feet grateful, right? Not so much. See, both of my husbands were killed by the Federation when the Enterprise came swooping in and saved the day. And it was the Commander who gave the order to fire. I had reason to hate them both.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Colonel.”
She waved a hand, not in dismissal but acknowledgement.
“In fact, I did hate them, at least for the first while. But you can’t hate forever, and by the time I actually met them for the first time it had settled into a sort of simmering resentment. Then Kendra came and talked to me.”
“That couldn’t have been comfortable.”
Whitmore’s voice, heavy with emotion, dropped.
“It wasn’t. But by the end of it we both understood each other better, the losses we’d suffered, and I had a chance to see the pain every one of those deaths laid on her soul. That’s when I started to actually look around, listen to what I was being told, without filters and preconceptions. That’s when I started to believe.”
She straightened and brought herself back to the present.
“Now, Captain, are there any other questions?”
“One more. During the refit, I took a tour of the bay, and I saw something which didn’t make sense.”
“Well. Point. Colonel, did I actually see a battleship?”
“Oh, the Missouri. Yes. What about it?”
“There’s a battleship in the docking bay?”
“One of the Cassidy’s projects. At this point, Captain, you’re bumping into need to know.”
“Aye, Colonel. Consider it forgotten.”
“Not forgotten, Captain, just tabled. Now, unless there’s anything else?”
Her tone made it abundantly clear there shouldn’t be.
“Then you have an appointment with the CAG.”