I was working my way through the XO's report on our new ground security squad when the intercomm buzzed, "Leftenant Steiner is here to see you."
"Send him in." I rose as he came in, partially in respect to one of my senior officers, mostly to refill my mug with what passes for coffee on Port Moseby. Actually what passes for coffee on Port Moseby for a unit with out current budget status.
"Bad news boss." Vinnie didn't mince words as he poured a cup for himself. As the unit's Logistics/Personnel/Supply/whatever officer, he spent enough time in my office to warrant his own mug by the Herr Kaffee machine. I knew I really wasn't going to like whatever he had in store when he pulled a small flask from inside his uniform jacket and spiked his mug and mine.
"It's MechWarrior Jamie Wreth. I'm going to recommend to him that he resign. If he doesn't take that up, my advice is we let him go for breech of contract."
I took a long pull from my mug, letting the warmth from the coffee slide down and wrap around the kick from the brandy Vinnie added. Loosing a mechwarrior from a company garrisoned on a border world is generally considered a bad thing. Something you don't do voluntarily without good reason. Double that when the mechwarrior in question owns his own mech. I let my raised eyebrow voice the question Vinnie knew was coming.
"It seems that Wreth wasn't quite truthful on his application. He listed that he was divorced, but not the number of times. Paperwork just showed up from two of his ex-wives' lawyers. Each with a court order requiring that 50% of his pay be garnished to pay back alimony payments."
I took another drink and cast an eye toward the filing cabinet drawer where I keep a bottle of Ralph's latest.
"Wait", said Vinnie, "It gets better. My contact in LCAF JAG office tells me that there is another court order working it's way through that places a lien hold against his mech. Wife number three this time. Back alimony and child support payments. If that come through while he's working for us, we could get stuck with being held responsible for seeing that damn thing doesn't get damaged and thus reducing it's value. Bit a of problem for a combat unit."
"Well...on the plus side I won't have to read anymore of Quinn's reports on how Wreth's doesn't pilot his Orion according to classic doctrine." Dad taught me to look for the positive side of bad situations. Mom taught me to cut your losses and don't get involved in legal battles unless you can afford to outspend your opponent. Given the Spartan's finances, I didn't want to take on one ex-wife, let alone three.
I shrugged, "We don't have much a choice here. Get Sgt. Stephon working on the paper work. Wreth should be attending one of XO's tactical lectures now. I'll have him report here afterwards and I'll do the dirty deed."
I noticed Vinnie relax, "Oh no...You'll be here to provide the forms for signing. I handle the tough part, but I'm not letting you off the hook."
He frowned through his beard and then grinned, "Twenty Kroner says he's off planet within 24 hours. The paper trail on those court orders cover half the Commonwealth. This probably won't be first time this has happened to him."
I nodded in agreement, "It leaves us with an unwanted hole in our TO&E at a bad time. Dock him two weeks pay for making a mistake on his next-of-kin form. If he yelps, tell him it's payment for giving him advance warning on the court order on the way."
I examined the bottom of my empty cup as I sat back down behind my desk. "Give me some good news now. You do have some good news..."
Vinnie took a moment to look like he was actually thinking about it as he wiped out his empty mug with a cloth he keeps in his back pocket. That cloth made it's first appearance after my senior staff and I attended a semi-formal LCAF function. My XO, Leftenant Dysart Quinn, wore his 'school rag' as part of his dress uniform. Vinnie's commission in the LCAF, back when he was in the LCAF, had more to do with family ties than formal military schooling, something my XO has in abundance. Vinnie's cloth is the exact same shade as Dysart's school rag. Vinnie uses it to clean out mugs, blow his nose, and clean up any smudge on the furniture, real or imagined. I swear I saw Quinn's eye's widen the first Vinnie pulled it out and loudly blew his nose in it during a staff meeting. To the XO's credit, he hasn't so much as flinched since then. This doesn't stop Vinnie from using the damn thing to mop chicken soup out of his beard at the officer's table at mess.
"Ok, good news. I've got a line on a replacement. Dervish pilot." He actually grinned as he carefully refolded his rag and returned it his pocket. "Her service record looks good, and she's a looker too."
Lord give me strength, "Uh Vinnie, Isn't Barbara still on your jets over that zaftig redhead you hired as a supply clerk? Never mind, just get me her paperwork after we finish with Wreth, and have somebody run her down and make sure she hasn't signed on anywhere else yet."
"Right away boss. Don't worry about Barb. I've got things running smooth and hot. Besides, I'll tell you her that you approved her. " Vinnie looked just too damn smug just then. I made a mental note to have Quinn review the last PT evaluations for Leftenant Steiner's group. They may be paper pushers, but they were military paperpushers. Besides a morning of the XO's PT followed by a five klick run would save Vinnie from having to have is uniform retailored.
Vinnie interrupted my evil thoughts with one of his patented quasi-military salutes before heading off to start dealing with the Wreth problem. Vinnie, being an evil, but subtle bastard graced everyone in the unit with those half assed saluted, except the XO. His salutes to Quinn were parade ground perfect. Vinnie wouldn't give him the satisfaction letting him go off on a lecture on proper military decorum. Even a 'brother officer to brother officer' level lecture. Leftenant Steiner actually knows the drill, he had a promising career as a LCAF 'Social Officer'. I think he just gets a kick out of seeing just how far he can go without making the XO blink. Vinnie should watch himself though, the XO is no dummy and doesn't put up with much shit.