Not everyone makes the effort to learn or study. I did and had earned my ship engineering degree before I was eighteen. I worked at the port maintenance yard to pay for the courses and the degree. Mostly on shuttles but also on routine lifeboat repair and refitting. Once I had my degree I studied and passed the ship engineer certification exam.
I paid the engineer guild and they sent me up to Salvator station. A large yacht was docked and needed a new man. My rating was engineer third class and I reported aboard to the captain. He did not look happy to see me and sent me to the engineer. Lieutenant Dobbs was a sour asshole and started me off doing make shift work.
He did give me a list each day and I followed it. A week and the owner Mr Michaels came aboard. With him were eight friends and several consorts or whores if you are rude. The stewards were the ones that dealt with the owner and everyone else. The ship left the station and was headed out.
We were going to Albert which was a minor system but not a colony. Once we jumped I had a whole new list to work on. Every crew member seemed to go out of their way to make it harder. Of course when I did a random inspection of the starboard lifeboat things changed. We were a day and a half out with three and a half to go.
I checked the lifeboat fuel tanks and hissed when I saw them empty. I checked the controls and opened the panel to see a small control board unplugged. I plugged it in and closed the panel and saw the fuel being pumped into the cells. It was almost done when engineer first class Davis found me.
He growled, “get away from that!”
I glanced at him, “there was a problem. Someone unplugged the fuel regulator sensor and vented the fuel back into the ship.”
He moved towards me, “I said...”
I growled back at him, “I will need to send in the imperial safety violation to Albert.”
He licked his lips, “that is not necessary. You fixed the problem right?”
I looked at him, “this one but I need to do an inspection of all systems now.”
He shook his head, “I will do that. Engineer Dobbs wants you so get moving.”
I hesitated before I started away. I went around the corner and remembered my diagnostic still clipped to the control panel. I turned and went back and found Davis venting the fuel back into the ship and yanked him away, “what the hell are you doing!”
His eyes were wide and he stammered as I shut the vent and spun, “are you an idiot?”
He shifted, “I was just making sure there was no contamination.”
I started refilling the tank and used my comp to file the report. I sent one copy to the engineer, one to the captain, a third to Albert and the forth to the owner. I glared at him, “I will be back to check this and if you screw with it I will space you myself.”
I made sure the tanks were full before I closed the panel and strode away. I should have followed up, I should have inspected the lifeboat. When I reached lieutenant Dobbs he was disconnecting a call on his comm. He chewed me out for touching the lifeboat and I shoved the list he gave me at him, “it is on your damn list!”
He stammered and reddened and then gestured, “your shift is over.”
I woke to the abandon ship alarm and rolled out of bed and ran for the hatch. I do not know why but I grabbed my comp before I yanked the hatch open. I was scheduled for the alpha lifeboat which was the starboard one I had been at. I ran in and spun as I started counting the people struggling in after me.
There were twenty including the steward staff, the owner and his guests and ... me. The captain arrived and stood waiting for everyone. That was when I thought it was a drill and moved to the controls and sat. I started running tests and everything flagged red. I spun and leaped up and ran for the hatch, “wait!”
The captain looked right at me and closed the hatch and I looked through the port to see him hit the docking release. The life board lurched as it moved away from the ship and I turned as my mind spun, “they sabotaged the life boat.”
Mr Michaels looked at me as everyone else kept talking, “what?”
I looked at my comp and it was still linked to the ship AI. I started entering data, “the captain and crew are stealing the ship. They have mutinied and ejected the life boat. They sabotaged it, there is only battery power and no engines, no life support, no star comm or star comm marker beacon.”
I turned my comp, “what is your emergency distress code sir?”
He looked at my comp and then start speaking and as soon as he finished I hit send. I ran to the controls and yanked two people away, “do not touch anything.”
I looked out to see the ship suddenly streaking away and then it was gone. I cursed and turned to look at everyone, “quiet!”
I had to yell several times before Mr Michaels got them to shut up. I explained about the life boat systems and told them I needed quiet. I knelt and started opening panels and pulling micro boards. I found the problem with the power, they had cut across the board which killed it. All the controls on the console had been burnt so I would have to link them to my comp.
I turned and looked at everyone back to murmuring and talking. I saw the emergency maintenance kit and stood. I went to pull it off the wall and brought it back. Mr Michaels followed and watched as I held the small board and opened a small packet and poured nanites onto it. I shifted the board so they filled in the cut.
I poured the remaining nanites back into the packet. I pulled a small can and sprayed an adhesive over the board and then knelt to put the board back in. I searched for link wires and connected my comp, a minute and I had the power back and could start on the life support. I shook my head and looked at Mr Michaels, “we need everyone in the stasis tubes.”
He blinked, “you can...”
I shook my head, “all access is on the outside and we do not have an airlock. I will need to vacuum the air to save it and then go out and try to fix the problem.”
He hesitated and I shrugged, “we have maybe three hours of air with everyone out.”
That worked and he helped push and shove people into the emergency stasis tubes. Of course the bastards had dumped most of the evac suit air tanks and I had to use several just to fill one and even more for two. I started the pump and directed the air into a secondary tank. I looked at Mr Michaels, “close the helmet and hook the safety line.”
I closed mine and moved to the hatch and clipped my line to a safety point. I waited until ninety five percent was gone before I shut the pump down and opened the hatch. I led the way out and up and then back. I opened the panel and secured the inner locking bar to another cord. I leaned in and started looking and searching.
I kept speaking to Mr Michaels until I found the problem. They had done the same thing as before to a control board. It was a little harder to use the nanites but I managed and then turned my attention to the engines. I rerouted the controls around the primary through secondary control runs.
One look at the tiny skip engine and I knew nothing short of a full maintenance shop would fix it. I backed out and closed the panel, “we have life support and the main engines but the skip engine is dead.”
He cleared his throat but since I could not see his face I had no idea what he was thinking. I moved forward, “before we go in I want to check the arrays and the beacon.”
I cursed when I saw the array and the deep plasma burn from a torch that meant I had no way to fix it. The marker beacon array was okay and we went back in. After I closed the hatch I checked the seals and then opened the air tanks. We had to wait before we could get out of the suits and then I went to the controls.
I used my comp and did a reboot of the life support system and it started up. I relaxed and turned to the nav system, not only was it dead but they had vacuumed the data banks. I had to do a little adjusting on my comp to find an old set of algorithms I could use. I accepted a ration from Mr Michaels, “I have been thinking.”
He looked at me from the second control seat, “what?”
I touched the two sets of controls for the star comm and the star comm marker beacon, “they put in a test shunt on the beacon and destroyed the link to the comm array. If I hard wire a link between the star comm and the beacon array we should be able to make a star comm.”
He grinned, “do it.”
I nodded as I looked at my already over worked comp, “the problem is I will need to route the mic and speaker through my comp and it is already at full capacity.”
He frowned and shook his head, “drop the nav. We need the star comm worse.”
It took several hours to find and hard wire the two before I put in the address for the Albert system control. Of course they were assholes and official and it was not until Mr Michaels started speaking that they paid attention. It would be two days before the yacht arrived in the system but he was already listed as missing.
Only not by the ship, his sister had listed him as missing two hours after the captain and crew stole the ship and left us. Plus the bastard was selling the yacht and had a buyer listed. Since Mr Michaels had used his distress code and I had rerouted the reported mutiny ... there was no way they could sell the ship without Mr Michaels being there.
It was a day before a cruiser squadron appeared. They had been on the way to Albert and were the closest ships. We did not wake everyone until one of the ships docked. They locked the life boat down and took us aboard. The ship first officer took statements and they fed us and found clothes.
They sealed the life boat which meant I could not get my comp. The station above Albert’s primary settled planet had the crews bios and would seal every access once the yacht arrived. Things did not work out and the captain found out that he could not sell the ship after they docked.
They abandoned the ship before the station police arrived. Every shuttle or ship had their bio so they could not leave the station. At least that was what the station officials kept saying. In the cruiser it took us eighteen hours to reach the system. The cruiser engineer had written a long report that basically said I should not have been able to do what I had.
Mr Michaels arranged for rooms on the station and was having the police at home question his sister under a truth scan. I slept for two hours before I showered and dressed. The yacht was sealed so no one could go aboard to get their belongings. That meant I had to recycle the clothes I had been given.
Mr Michaels had slept on the cruiser while I had not and he was still awake and busy. He was working in the station hotel lobby when I came out at noon and grinned, “Mr Bear.”
I smiled, “feeling better sir?”
He nodded and gestured to a young woman and picked up a package. I walked to him and he held it out, “they still have the life boat sealed and the yacht. I thought you could use a new comp.”
I reddened and accepted it, “thank you sir.”
He smiled, “I also had a suitable reward put in your account and...”
He turned to the woman, “this is Jamie. She is a bond servant and she is yours.”
I blinked and opened my mouth and he looked at me, “you are going after the bastards yes?”
I nodded and he grinned, “she has been trained as a protection specialist. You find them and she will make sure they do not harm you.”
I smiled and then chuckled, “okay sir.”
I looked at the woman as I headed for the entrance while opening the package, “my name is Roger.”
She walked beside me and grinned, “you really need a protection specialist?”
I slowed when I saw the new comp, it was one of the best they made. I shook my head and then looked at her, “what I need is to find the bastards that sent us out in a life boat to die.”
She nodded, “check with the police first.”
She hesitated, “I am Jamie.”
I smiled as I looked at her, “we need to get you armed.”
She slipped one of her arms around mine, “I was hoping you would say that.”
First I checked in with the station police and three of the fifteen crewmen had been caught. In a weapon shop we looked at non lethal weapons since that was the only thing anyone could carry. Mr Michaels had been extremely generous and I bought her a stun wand, a stun bag pistol and a collapsing baton for me and flex restraints.
Next I pulled up the help wanted and then the same list from a couple of days ago. I checked it and we used a walk slide and a tram to get out to a cargo ship that was loading. We walked into the loading bay and crossed to the ship cargo master. He glanced at me, “we are not looking for anymore crew and are not taking passengers.”
I pulled my comp and accessed the vid images of the crew from the yacht, “we are looking for men that mutinied and tried to kill the owner and passengers of a yacht.”
I turned and held up my comp and slowly went through the images until he stiffened. I marked it and kept going until he identified two more. One was engineer first class Davis and another was former lieutenant Dobbs. I looked at him, “permission to board your ship and take them into custody.”
He nodded as he used his comm to call the captain. We went through the ship hold and out the hatch. I led the way to engineering and when we stepped in I saw Davis and Dobbs. I started for them and Davis glanced at me. His face went white and he gasped and Dobbs turned. He shoved a hand into his shirt before I reached him.
Before I could even react Jamie fired the stun bag pistol and he jerked and fell spasming to the floor. I snapped the baton down and then around and into the side of Davis’s head. He went down and I kicked him over and onto his stomach. I knelt and yanked his arms back and put a set of restraints on.
I moved to Dobbs and ignored the stun bag as I searched him and held the plasma pistol up for Jamie. I put him in restraints and then shut off the stun bag. I slapped Davis awake and pulled them both to their feet, “where is Nolen?”
That was the third man but Dobbs only spit and Davis glared. I shoved them to the hatch and used the intercom to call the bridge. The captain answered right away and I told him I had two of the men and was still looking for the scan tech Nolen. He gave me the crew cabin number and I thanked him and shoved the men out and started hunting.
I banged on the hatch and Dobbs yelled but Nolen still opened the hatch. I kicked and the hatch slammed into him and a pistol went flying. I heard Dobbs scream as I stepped into the cabin. I lashed out and into the wrist of Nolen as he reached for me and heard the bone break. He screamed and I slugged him and spun him around.
I shoved him into the wall and yanked his arms back and put the restraints on. When we reached the cargo hold the captain and the cargo master were there with two of the station police. They looked at the men when I shoved them out. One checked his comp before he nodded, “he was right. They are wanted for mutiny and attempted murder of twenty people.”
They took custody and switched my restraints for theirs. I looked at the three sullen men, “see you in hell.”
We left and Jamie grinned as she caught my arm, “feel better?”
I smiled, “yes.”
She laughed and gestured, “you need new clothes.”
I looked down and blushed and nodded. We made a stop and I bought a couple sets of clothes and so did Jamie before I led her to a place to eat and then back to the hotel. Mr Michaels was still working and had a few of his assistants but looked at me, “find any?”
I nodded, “three so that only leaves nine.”
He grinned, “great. Let me know when you find the captain. According to the police my sister paid him to kill me.”
I hesitated, “sorry.”
He snorted, “the bitch can rot in prison now.”