Admiral (CICConFedFlt) Spencer Wayne "Skip" Banbridge was a distinguished officer of the Terran Confederation and for a time was the Admiral of the Fleet in the Terran Space Navy.
Appearance and character
- "I'm a born gutter fighter from a godforsaken gutter world outpost who came up the hard way. Never did have that polish and never will."
- ― Skip Banbridge
Banbridge was short and squat, built like a fireplug. Once he had been the Fleet's middleweight boxing champion, and had a mashed-in nose. His physique was intimidating to inferiors, and his chew outs (as well as his command of base vocabulary) were legendary.
He ported a near-fatal wound that still ached at times, years later.
When he became a senior officer and got the chair, he hoped that he could change the things about which they were always complaining, but he realized that the the war engine was far more complex than that. He believed that Confed Fleet was the most unjust of systems.
Little is known of Spencer Banbridge's early life. He came from an outpost world and managed to work his way upwards the hard way.
Skip was an enlisted youth of whom the Terran Confederation Fleet believed that spending money on an education would pay off as a sound investment and he began his wartime career in the Confederation Service Academy. In those early days he met his roommate Winston Turner, another rising officer. Although Skip was 6 years older, they became best friends. Many times Schneid called him in his office, scolding him about his performace in Naval History 101, warning that if he didn't pass, he would end up "on some lower deck of some orbital base beyond the Landreich". Thanks to Turner's tutoring, who was always the "brains" of the duo, Skip was graded A in the course.
- "If there's one system that's unfair, its Confed Fleet. How a bullhead like me got to be admiral is beyond me."
- ― Skip Banbridge
Together, they served in the Special Operations Division as operatives in Marine Commando Six, which Turner commanded. Banbridge and his unit were deployed to prevent a terrorist organization from launching a biological attack on a Terran colony where Skip suffered a near fatal wound. During the mission Sergeant Ulandi had saved his and Turner's lives. Despite the loss of 5/6 of the entire unit, Banbridge and Turner both displayed an extroardinary degree of courage that ensured the success of the operation. Both gentlemen were rewarded with the Fleet Cross for their actions.
- "I might be in the front seat, but the damn machine is programmed by others. Always thought when I got in the chair I could finally do something about the things you and I used to complain about back then."
- ― Skip Banbridge
At some point he married Janet, a woman who first wanted Turner. They had two sons together who around 2629 were lost at the Miaquez incident, caused by the Kilrathi, at the beginning of the Kilrathi crisis.
He hoped that once he got to the top he would have freedom of speech and movements, but reality put him chasing votes, flattering politicians, and only hoping for the best. One of his pet projects was to get the R&D money so that listening posts, capable of grabbing translight burst signals, could be reduced to a size smaller than a battlewagon.
For several years he gave the graduation speech to honor the fresh ensigns of the Confederation Service Academy, and admited they were trite copycats of the speech he heard rom old Horatio decades ago.
Around 2634 he passed by Base McAuliffe where he met his old colleague Ulandi and sent his regards to Turner. A few months later Banbridge made an appropriation request to a Senate Appropriations Committee for 3 carriers and 6 battleships to counter the Kilrathi threat.
Worrying abut the rising tensions and the Confed-Kilrathi border, he wrote orders (2634-98,1) to Rear Admiral (CONFEDFLTINT) Joshua Speedwell requesting a full update on the political and military situation within the Kilrathi Empire. In their last meeting, Speedwell pointed out that the Empire is a total mystery. They both know that ConFedFlt resources are inadequate to patrol the rapidly expanding frontiers of the Empire (bordering also a Confed sector). Eventually Speedwell managed to fill him a report and Skip was convinced that they had a bad leak.
He was in a hearing with Senator Jamison More and other politicians, and was informed that the appropriation request for carriers and battleships was denied (More considered it "provocative" for the Kilrathi). Later he was the ceremony of '34 in Houston to give one of his speeches for the graduation ceremony at the Academy, where he reunited with his old friend, Commander Turner.
His mood was soured seeing Senator More talking to the journalists, thinking that he'd at least let the ensigns celebrate without advocating more cutbacks. More was looking straight at him and smiling. Turner restrained him as the Senator could outtalk him in the public. Skip suggested to Turner to take him, as he is a scholar. There, Turner and Banbridge witnessed how Ensign Geoffrey Tolwyn confronted the Senator; they escaped a meeting with him by retreating to Turner's (formerly Schneid's) office.
Skip shared his worries about the Kilrathi crisis that was going on. That very morning he had given to Turner clearance Grade 3A in order to look at Speedwell's report, and share with him his own perspective. They joked that if Winston is killed, Janet will make the rest of Skip's life a hell, but the mention of her name made Winston to lower his gaze. He broke the awkward silence announcing the youngsters he will assign him, Vance Richards, son of their late comrade Quentin, and Robert Singh as his admin assistant. Winston rather preferred to pick the admirable Ensign who had just destroyed his career; Skip would be forced to ream him publicly, to satisfy More. Skip agreed and asked for his record. Indeed, Tolwyn was summoned to his office and was given one of Bandbridge's legendary painfully loud reprimands that lasted for 10 minutes, in front of More's aides, so as to not be accused for supporting insubordination. Then he "banished" the Ensign to Base McAuliffe, where he also sent Turner to recruit him for the operation.
As he could not give an increased readiness alert, he unofficially made some key people to start hord some of the training ammunition, speed up overhauls and cut back on leaves.
On 2634.180 Banbridge made a comment to the press that it is time to put aside political considerations (implying More) in order to facilitate upgrades will be needed for an upcoming crisis. More's understood it as a comment for his political motivations for blocking the Wildcat facilities. The next day More stormed into his office. Banbridge feigned a smiling welcome, sat and on purpose didn't offer him a cup of coffee. Spencer warned him that as he cares about his own district, it is very close to what will be a front line, as a declaration of war is imminent. More enraged Spencer, snapping back that he is surprisingly against it, as the "fleet boys" look forward for a "little shoot-up".
He complained angrily, questioning why Banbridge opposed the surgical strikes. He also brought up the matter of the facility on his planet, which Banbridge dismissed, as it was too close to the front lines, and such installations are made to the inner worlds. Seeing the Senator's insistence on the "surgical strikes", the deaths of pilots and his politician maneuvers to shift the blame, Banbridge swore that he will make him answer to the mothers of the dead pilots. More threatened Banbridge that he will begin investigations on him so that he can't breathe.
In a later meeting with the President and the Senate Committee on the Conduct of the War he was frustrated to see them happy for the bloodless victories, and saw no need to mobilize the fleet and the reserves before the holidays and an election.
By 2654, Banbridge was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet, the highest rank in the Terran Space Navy, and as such became the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During the Vega Campaign in 2654, Banbridge authorized a covert operation to discover Kilrathi intentions in the McAuliffe System, which they once again planned to attack. This order resulted in a mission to Gar's Emporium, a Kilrathi facility. By 2668, the Terran Confederation had liberated both the Vega and the Enigma Sectors, and the Kilrathi Empire was falling back. During 2668, the Kilrathi sued for peace in what became the 2668 False Armistace, allowing for a time of "peace" between the Confederation and the Empire. Like billions of other Confed citizens, Banbridge recognized the ploy, and authorized a covert operation to discover the Kilrathi's true intent.
This covert operation, led by Colonel James Taggart, eventually discovered the Hakaga Fleet being secretly assembled in the Hari Sector, a remote region of space beyond the Kilrathi Empire. It was determined that the Kilrathi were planning to assault Earth within a matter of weeks. The group attempted to send a warning to Banbridge, who would not get the chance to act on this intelligence.
On 2668.341, Vak'ga, the Kilrathi Ambassador to the Terran Confederation, called for a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During the meeting, he detonated a bomb attached to his chest, killing himself and 142 Terran officers of various ranks. Banbridge was among the dead. The only survivor of the meeting was Marine General Duke Grecko, who exited the room before the detonation but still sustained severe injuries. The loss of Admiral Banbridge and most of the Joint Chiefs, some of the finest officers in the Terran Confederation, left humanity in a precarious situation, as the majority of its leadership was massacred and left the Terran Space Navy in utter chaos. This confusion only left the Confederation more vulnerable to the Kilrathi assault that nearly vanquished the human race in the massive Battle of Earth mere weeks later.
- William R. Forstchen, Action Stations, ch. 2
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- William R. Forstchen, Action Stations, ch. 7