I am seeking the title/author of two short stories; the first was about an engineer in a remote outpost near a rebelling or alien occupied planet. He orders the engineers of two ships to reduce the engine performance (I remember the author used the term “detune”) so it matched a third. He then circled the planet, one ship at a time, and bombarded a remote area. Sensors from the planet showed that what appeared to be one ship had released a payload greater than its own weight - they were awed by the apparent technology and surrendered.

There was a second story in a later anthology wherein the engineer, now in command of some sort of hauler or similar, gets caught up in a galactic battle of some significance. He defends an open perimeter by dumping a bunch of nuts and bolts into the space where the opposing force would come out of hyperspace and the slam into it at breakneck speed.

Would have been read (and likely published) in the late 80s. I thought it was from the anthology series The Fleet, but I'm reviewing the titles and I don't see it.

It was however like The Fleet – a single common world, occasional insertion of contextual commentary to inform the relevance of each short story as a “wrapper”.

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    Are you sure you're not thinking of The Fleet? There's a storyline very similar to the one you describe in the story Tradition by Bill Fawcett. – John Rennie Aug 2 '14 at 10:07

Eching @JohnRennie, I'm fairly sure that the second story you've described is Tradition by Bill Fawcett, one of the stories collected in "The Fleet".

A few seconds later a second bombardment ship appeared on the moon's far side from where the Ranier had disappeared. To the Tripean sensors this was the same ship. The ship's color and outline were the same and she appeared where the Ranier would have been if she had drifted in safety behind the moon. The second ship's engine's electronic signature was identical to the first, even to a desperate need for a tune-up.

Three minutes later this ship launched a salvo of missiles slightly greater than the first one. These completely obliterated the largest Tripean base on the planet. Lost in the explosion was the planetary commander's collection of First Empire artwork, including a rare Disney. He allowed himself one minute of personal rage and returned to dispassionately watching the data analysis as it poured in from numerous stations too small to attract the Alliance ship's attention.

The second ship, following the same orbit as the first, disappeared behind the moon and also ducked into FTL space. The third ship repeated the process exactly, eliminating the last base on Harlan's World, but then slowed to join the globe of silver and green scouts hovering far behind the moon. Not a single life, Tripean or Alliance, was lost.


Later the data on the bombardment ships was considered to be an error understandably made while under fire. A complete analysis of the telemetry still showed that one ship had somehow launched 150% of its own weight in missiles; reconfirmation was requested. After this was received, the peace party was able to force a cancellation of the imminent attack on McCauley.

"The Fleet" was followed by a number of books in the same series.

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