“Thank you for seeing us privately, sir.” The chief engineer of the Malice of Maldeumer was certain that neither his captain nor his first officer would want this conversation to take place publicly on the bridge.
“Chief, you suggested that it was urgent and that it was a security issue. I trust your judgement. What’s the problem?” Captain Niblitz smiled at the two engineers on the other side of the conference table in his office.
“I assigned Lieutenant Commander Yoganda here,” the chief engineer indicated his subordinate, “to investigating the incident involving Cadet Kremerskorn. The brief I gave him specified finding out both what happened to the cadet and why nothing was reported to engineering by our internal sensors. Yoganda found this.”
At a gesture from his chief, Lieutenant Commander Yoganda put an evidence bag containing an object on the table. “Sir, this is an anti-personnel device much used by enemy forces during the war. It was wired into the circuit array Cadet Kremerskorn repaired and we believe it was triggered when he tested his repair.” The two engineers exchanged looks and Yoganda went on, “We believe that if Cadet Kremerskorn had been any closer to the device when it detonated, then he would have been killed instead of concussed. We also believe that detonation was intended to have been controlled from the airlock in that section. Not only had the engineering sensors that should have alerted us to the plasma burst been compromised but the sensors monitoring the airlock had also been compromised.”
Captain Niblitz’ face and voice were hard, “Someone sabotaged my ship to let a raiding party on board. Who did it and when?”
“They were good enough at covering their tracks that we can’t tell, sir,” confessed the Chief Engineer. “It could have been done several years ago while the ship was alongside for maintenance and repair, it could have been done in the past few days and it could have been done anywhere in between. There may be a kernel of deleted information in the logs somewhere but we two don’t have the skills to find it and we didn’t want to brief anyone else in on this before we spoke to you, sir.”
“Have you taken any further actions?” The first officer was as alert as the captain.
“I’ve had Lieutenant Commander Yoganda start checking all circuit arrays of the relevant type for similar items,” explained the Chief Engineer. “So far he’s cleared this deck and C deck. He can do every airlock on the ship himself, if you wish.”
“However that will take three days sir, assuming I stop to eat and sleep.” Yoganda’s voice was wry. “Should we read anyone else into this and, if so, who?”
This is followed by The Cadet: Part 16.