Not From Here

deWulf Naval High Command, 43rd Floor
Office of Strategic Planning
City of Lowell, Fenris
deWulf Corporate Democracy

“So Junior PackMaster Korman, why did you want to get transferred to Strategic Planning?”

The officer involuntarily twisted a bit in his seat, eyes darting a bit at the question.

“You’ll forgive me PackMaster, I wasn’t expecting to be hearing that question. I was informed that there was an open position here, and I still haven’t been fully cleared for command, so…”

“Relax Walzo. This isn’t an interrogation-“
“And we’re not going to doing an excavation either.”

“I’m sorry, you are…” Walzo Korman turned his head away from his nominal superior to a Sintillan wearing the impeccably kept uniform of a Master Lancer in the deWulf Navy.

“Razina Denisov. I am PackMaster Heinrichs aide, and Strategic Planning’s liason with the Ship Design Bureau and the Bureau of Logistics. And a blunt hammer whenever PackMaster Heinrichs needs one. But here and today, I am not. Our only concern is that you are not here because you made a hash of your previous assignment.”

PackMaster Heinrichs picked up as Razina left off “and normally we wouldn’t ask, but your service record seems to have some security seals on it. ‘Need to know’ for the past few years of service, which makes it challenging for us to confirm that you aren’t a case of someone in Personnel offloading dunnage. But, based on your responses here, I think that is an unfounded concern. You have my apologies.”

Heinrichs bowed her head in apology, a low nod that was matched by the stiff and formal lean that spoke of the depths of her newly developed opinion. The concerns weren’t unfounded either. The past month had been an adventure sifting through the pile of ‘volunteers’ that had flooded through their recruitment pipe. Most of them had been volunteers on paper only, their commanders and team leaders seeing a chance to get rid of their hard cases, get-up artists, and the permanently baffled. Now and again there was a bit of steel in the scrap, a square peg that was being discarded because it couldn’t fit into a round hole. But they were the exception rather than the rule, and weeks of sifting had left Razina in particular low on mercy and understanding. As the department’s main (and only) aide, such grunt work had fallen onto her hardened shoulders.

“Well, since I appear to have passed whatever screening process you have, why are you looking for a line officer, PackMaster?”

Heinrichs pondered a moment before replying. “Simply, we need someone with operational experience. We’re building out an organizational doctrine based on some fairly heavy research and design work, but the simple truth is that actual applications often… diverge, let us say, from the official spec.”

She leaned back a bit in her chair “and the last thing we want is to get told ‘this just won’t work’ if we suggest changes. Our department is new and untested, and there’s been resistance to the changes we’ve already suggested, even if the majority of officers agree with them. A misstep this early would be crippling to our department-“

“To say nothing of our careers” opined Master Lancer Razina.

Korman steepled his hands, fingertips bouncing off one another softly as he pondered. “I suspect most of the pushback you are getting is more of a ‘not from up here’ concern than anything concrete. I presume you are planning on sending most of the capital fleet to storage at that new yard in Sif orbit?”

Both Packmaster Heinrichs and Master Lancer Denisov nodded. “That would be your biggest source of pushback right there-” replied Korman. “You’re sending a lot of officers, ones in charge of the biggest and best of the fleet, back into the general crewing pool for reassignment. Almost certainly to something less presteigous. They’ll be making all kinds of noise to avoid that, but that’s a problem for Personnel. Not us.” Heinrichs smiled thinly as she heard him refer to them as “us” already. “The aggressive officers, the ones that we want to retain, they’ll get new commands” continued Korman. “As will most of the crew, in the end. And when the peace dividend starts hitting the general economy, there’ll be plenty of jobs for them even outside the navy.”

“There’s other problems, of course. But they won’t be ours. So my suggestion, as a ‘combat commander’? Respectfully tell the complainers that their problems are the responsibility of Personnel. Or Yards and Docks. Or even Administration as a whole. Our job is to make sure that they’ll have the right tools for the job. How they manage them isn’t.”

“Well, I think we have our line officer, Packmaster.” Razina grinned sharply, the only kind of smile she seemed to have.

“Junior PackMaster Korman, welcome to Strategic Planning.”
PackMaster Janeth Heinrichs extended her hand.
He took it.

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