That door over there is mine. Outside is my name with my full rank and my ship. I am no longer a guest, a visitor, a distraction. I am a Hunter. I am crew. This is my berth. And in my kingdom I can lounge luxuriously on the half taken up by my bunk with a demitasse in hand and sip my espresso while I review the latest shift announcements.
– Lieutenant Allard promoted to Lieutenant-Commander.
– New bridge protocol standardizes the combination of Science and Communications bridge officer roles with full crews having two officers share the duties.
– New Fleet Attack Pattern Kappa assigning attack and defense roles within a battlegroup especially to maximize the effectiveness of Missile Cruisers.
And report for shakedown simulation at oh crap hundred. Right now!
Resume log entry.
Apart from Commander Jemel being elsewhere, the standard crew of TSN Hunter were aboard; Ensign Aposine at the Helm, Ensign Morlock at the Weapons console, myself at Engineering and the XO, Lieutenant-Commander del Pino covering SciCom and Command.
Our mission was to accompany the TSN Hydra Mark II Missile Cruiser. Interesting to learn to compensate warp velocity to stay in close company. We learned to exercise patience by taking tango on a gaggle of Arvonian fighters and then hiding out on the far side of a gravitational anomaly to watch them implode helplessly. Then we practiced some coordinated mine runs. Still need to be more in the helmsman’s head when they are about to enter combat. I want the ship’s energy where it will do most good while we are being shot at.
No time to ponder before mission briefing was ordered. It is really quite sobering to assemble with dozens of other bridge officers to hear what the Division plans to do next and to realize, as the lights are dimmed in the lecture theatre, that means the success of all those plans rests on your actions.
ONI had extracted from the hulk of the TSN Hammer, the location and specifications of the weapon whose intel had been suspected to be aboard. It seems to be some kind of tachyonic railgun that launches a plasma slug at FTL velocity. This bypasses shields and overloads warp containment causing the target to explode with no trace of the reason. We definitely don’t want that in enemy hands, though my engineer’s gut instinct makes me think that thing could also cause disturbance in the warp core of the launching vessel, especially at transwarp velocities. People in glass houses. We were ”required and directed to proceed each aboard our several vessels” to the Cerberus system in company of the Starship grade AI Supercarrier Infinity as support. Thence to locate the hidden station Mike-one-eight and tractor the weapon back to TSN Command while the TSN Hydra and the AI were protected from significant enemy fleets expected to attempt the capture of the weapon themselves. ”Hereof nor you nor any of you may fail as you will answer at your Peril.”
It seems like a long time since that espresso before the simulation.
Resume log entry.
With TSN Hawk under Captain Evans, we escorted TSN Hydra leading the Battle Group under Captain Alice, to the Cerberus gate and then to Selena station. Transitioned sector and docked at DS-43. We despatched a hapless Pirate Arrow class and made the sector transition to Forward Command and the Cronus gate just as a small hostile fleet appeared but the gate was already engaged. I had to reign the Hunter’s warp power in to 50% to match Hydra and even that had Ensign Aposine at the helm pausing sometimes. That was however the least of his issues as his console was having severe command net connection issues. Commander de Pino had to re-route to his own station and take over several times. This does explain the dainty reverse pirouettes the Hunter performed like a fine dressage horse while battle raged around her.
Hunter was tasked to range ahead as usual, confirm the location of the hidden station and reconnoitre the nebula behind it. We located the weapon. Its huge spinal mount and ancillary engines gave it a silhouette not dissimilar to a standard TSN destroyer, which may prove useful on a battlefield one day I suppose. I am still suspicious of the energy management and warp physics of the design. At one time during our approach it looked as if there were three of the damn things out there. It wouldn’t surprise me if that tech was playing merry Hobb with our sensor suite.
We certainly suspected so when we discovered multiple huge Kralien fleets approaching the weapon. These were easily twice the size of any fleets I had seen before. Epic multi ship mine drops ensued, Hydra leading off with an Omega three and then a fleet attack pattern that had her execute an Echo 2 followed up by another from Hawk before we contributed our singleton and commenced the reverse waltz barely 1500 clicks from the reeling Kralien mega fleet, or what was left of it.
Despite posting the DamCon teams away from primary systems nodes to minimize casualties, we were in over our heads, especially when we practically stumbled into another massive fleet as we dashed into the nebula to recover from our last drubbing. But they were too close and there was too little time. We had no option but to get to close quarters and Hunter’s shields just cannot withstand incoming fire from multiple opponents, even Kraliens. But we and Hawk had to clear away the wounded enemy staggering from Hydra’s bombardment and clear a space to get a tractor on the weapon.
There was a terrible moment where I was glad for Polano, still in Medical at the command base. Kaplan was back aboard Hawk where she’d been posted since recovering from the coma she’d been blasted into aboard the old Hydra. It had been a fluke she had been shuffled aboard the Hunter on my last tour in the midst of all the station refugee overload. In that moment the whole forward and port side of the saucer was lit up like a Christmas Tree on the Engineering DamCon schematic and there were less than a third remaining of the crew assigned to damage control. How they jury-rigged the systems back up to 100% I’ll never know. Literally. Only one was still mobile when we returned to dock. There was grim humour on the bridge about the first job of the new DC teams being to fix the red paint job and find all the parts of the the old crew.
Hawk finally got a tractor beam on the weapon and the battlegroup escorted her and the AI carrier home. We received a rather nice commendation from the merchant captain. I don’t expect he sees that much violent energy expenditure from one end of a year to another.
There was not much time to enjoy the praise however. The next mission briefing was already being posted as we docked, although there was time for a decent meal break and coffee.
The second briefing was somehow more upbeat. Partly because anything would be after the heavy scrap we just concluded and partly because we were striking back finally. Or maybe it was because Commander Jemel Eahain appeared at the last minute and with our Captain aboard every bridge post could have full attention. We were to start recapturing stations in Cerberus sector VI. Each ship was to carry a complement of Marines that we were to put aboard occupied stations to retake them. ONI reported that the Grand Allience was pulling back despite that not fitting General Monteurg’s profile. How the old bastard is still alive is a mystery given that by all accounts he never retreats.
We deployed smoothly into theatre and then we played pathfinder to thread the minefield. We executed our usual scouting role and then General Monteurg broadcast in clear that if he could not have the sector, we should not either. We expected an assault, so we paused to deploy our Marines along with others. But then hi-V kinetic asteroids came hurtling in-system aimed at our stations. Hunter was like a cheetah sprinting about and tripping up these deadly missiles, even crossing the whole sector and risking a minefield at the end to take out one aimed at Cronus forward command. Morlock did sterling duty at the helm today.
Much lower casualties this time. Debrief was generally favourable except that we have to be on scramble alert to shoot down rogue asteroids whose orbits have been perturbed by the strike. Meanwhile TSN Engineers are hard at work breaking and resetting the IFF transponders on the recaptured stations.
And the final note of the debrief. Mundy passed her exam for Ensign with flying colours, earning a silver pin and, on the basis of her stellar work as Science Officer aboard the Hawk, her rank as Ensign was confirmed. Many drinks with bubbles ensued.
End personal log