Irulan 350 System
The Aramus Depot orbited the third planet of the Irulan 350 star system. Like so many Alliance military facilities, it was an abandoned commercial concern. The big space station was originally a refinery and trans-shipment point for the minerals mined in this and the surrounding systems. When the mines were no longer commercially viable, the company had abandoned it. The Alliance Fleet took over the station when the war broke out. Now it was the graveyard of hundreds of obsolete ships that had been replaced by the new construction.
Lt. Com. Nick Pace, senior officer of the facility, had a mixed staff of thirty fleet personnel and civilian contractors. Their job was to maintain the ships but they were hopelessly outmanned in that department. There were over a hundred obsolete destroyers alone. Many of the ships had sustained significant battle damage before they were decommissioned.
Their real job was to make sure that those ships didn’t end up in the wrong hands. That was accomplished by removing the ships core security key. When ships were consigned to the depot, it was the first thing removed and stored in a safe deep inside the space station.
Each Alliance naval vessel had to have a core security key. They looked innocent enough: they were 10 centimeter long stainless steel rectangle with a special interface connector on one end. Each was engraved with the hull number of the ship that it was associated with. The core key was actually a very sophisticated device that had to be in place before an Alliance ships computer core would boot. It had a considerable amount of static memory inside that contained the ships primary access and transponder codes and root encryption keys to Alliance codes. Once installed, it could not be removed until the computer core was completely shut down. Their construction was a closely guarded secret so they would be very difficult to counterfeit even if you could get hold of one.
Commander Pace was inspecting an old light cruiser that had just been added to their tattered collection. The St. Louis had served with distinction through the first few years of the war. She had taken an enemy missile escorting a convoy to Epsilon Ceti and been sent core-ward or repairs. Instead of repairing her, she had been retired. The damage was extensive but it wasn’t the worst that he had seen. Much of the port side from frame 30 to the bow was gutted but it wasn’t anything that a couple of months in the yard couldn’t fix.
He was entering her salvage potential in his computer pad when his comm link buzzed.
“This is Pace.”
Ensign Ortez voice came through his headset: “Commander, we just got a priority message from the Marine Annex on Parliament.”
A priority communication to the boneyard? “Send it to my Pad.”
The message scrolled across the screen:
TO: Lt. Com. Pace, Aramus Depot
FROM: Brigadier General Geiger, Marine Training Command
RE: MAV Corregidor
Prepare the Marine Assault Vessel Corregidor for reactivation as a cadet ship.
We need her ready for pick up within the week to take advantage of dockyard scheduling.
Your resupply ship will be carrying an officer and skeleton crew to transport her to the Griffin Shipyards in the Ostland system for refit.
Pace knew that this was time sensitive. The shipyards were at maximum capacity and any yard time was at a premium. He said, “Alert the team. We need to fuel and prep the Corregidor for pickup by the time our resupply arrives.”
Well, at least we get to do something useful for a change.