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DL | CIO | LCDR Stacker | "Crash Sail, Pt. 2"

Posted on Sat Oct 13th, 2018 @ 6:20pm by Commander James Stacker

Mission: Lacuna
Location: USS Campbeltown
Timeline: Departure from Cold Station Theta.

There was a simple way to distinguish veterans from newcomers when a ship left a station. It was so elementary that like most people James had overlooked it for much of his career; it had taken a wise non-commissioned officer (a sergeant) to point it out. Bringing truth to the saying that NCOs were the backbone of the MACOs.

Now, as he stood on the bridge of the Campbeltown next to the captain’s chair he felt the telltale vibration underfoot. A picture of nonchalance, he sipped at the coffee in his mug and watched the back of the neck of a young ensign at operations turn a meaningful shade of white. Practiced eyes swept to the right to survey the auxiliary operations and tactical stations. There were some necks or knuckles that betrayed inexperience there, too.

The vibration wasn’t a sign of anything wrong, he knew. No, the source of the vibration was mundane: the handover from the station’s structural integrity field generators to the ship’s own generators. It took a few times of departure before most newcomers became accustomed to the sensation.

At his side, the Benzite keyed the control panel at his fingertips. The speakers in the overhead clicked on. "All stations prepare for departure. Report final discrepancies to the bridge." They clicked off when he released the button.

James sighed and finished off the coffee, then turned to the alien in operations gold. "Guess that's my cue. Notify me when we're underway?" An order masked as a question. As he made his way back across the bridge his mouth tightened at the reminder that he was in charge. Any fault, any failure, would end up on his desk.

It was not a comfortable place to be.


The ship may have had a compacted sailing schedule, but such a thing couldn’t have been guessed if MACO berthing was the basis for judgment. It was almost as if they’d already made themselves at home. Footlockers were open, the racks were made, and when he walked in several fire teams were engrossed in weapons maintenance. The smell of electronics filled his nostrils when he inhaled.

A staff sergeant silently pointed him towards a small office tucked off in the side. Stenciling on the bulkhead announced it to be a supply closet; one that had evidently been repurposed. James knocked on the bulkhead.

"Come to see my new digs?" the MACO asked with arms outstretched, leaning back in a chair acquired from only-God-knew-where. The intelligence officer didn't ask. MACOs were famous - infamous in some circles - for their ability to scrounge up hard-to-acquire items. A chair was nothing compared to what he’d seen in the past.

He did, however, chuckle in amusement. "I see you're all settling in nicely," he replied, hooking a thumb back over his shoulder.

The chair creaked as the man behind it stood. "Well you know how things are with us, sir. Improve, adapt, and -"

"And overcome. I remember."

Silence fell for a moment. James stood at the doorway, turning to eye and listen to the activity in the outer compartment. The MACO regarded him with something akin to mixed curiosity and puzzlement, both content not to press and yet unable to fully relax so long as the the nominal CO of the mission was standing on his doorstep. Finally he just couldn't stand it any more.

"So what really brings you down here sir?" he asked as he shifted uncomfortable in the chair.

"How good’s your team? I saw them before, in that -"

"The place that didn't exist? You saw them sir. They're solid. Best operators in the business. We expecting trouble?"

"Don't know. Too many unknowns, I suppose."

"Well, you get us there in one piece and we'll handle the rest."

=/\= End Log =/\=

Lieutenant Commander James Stacker
2XO/Chief Intelligence Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB-1170


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