Personal Log, SubKommandant Adelaide Mundy, ISN Oblivion, 2nd Flotilla, 4th Hunter Group
As I reported to the Group Leader and the gathered officers, Stormhold Station is currently running, though we have little redundancy in her power systems. If we end up spending some time here, between Stormhold’s own manufacturing facilities and Grant’s, we might be able to build another power plant. I don’t know whether we want to. I think we should move on, as soon as we know where we’re moving to. Meanwhile, we’re improving the controls on the O2 levels, and working to eliminate those annoying little gravity fluctuations, so at least MedBay will see fewer people reporting in with bruises and sprains from stumbling and falling at inopportune moments.
We have basic residential quarters on Stormhold now, and the next step is community facilities – one of them is a chapel, which was felt to be necessary in order to complete the process of honouring the crew members who died as a result of the jump, and afterwards, as we were fighting to reach and take Stormhold. I’m trying to think of it as a room for quiet meditation, because the term irks me more than it should.
Now I want to get back to your logs and find out if you have any religious beliefs… but satisfying my curiosity is a low priority at the moment.
Our comms facilities have improved somewhat; and after the deployment of those sensor buoys last shift, we have been making progress in mapping our position. It seems likely we are located somewhere to Spinward of the Poseidon Rift, and we are still working on defining that further. And from our asteroid survey last shift, it looks as if the area probably contains rich mineral resources; however, it also seems as if some areas were set aside as off limits. The data we have recovered from the mining rig is incomplete, so we don’t know yet if they were set aside because of some danger, or for some other, as yet unspecified, reason. So it seems likely we’ll go poking around in the off limit areas soon… time for the Balrog to turn up?
We settled in for some sims; the Group Leader in Command, Quinn on Helm, Ironclad on Weapons, Graybeard in Engineering. The ship hums on a different frequency when Graybeard is in Engineering, I swear…
After a routine run, we settled in for the News Pulse, which is anything but routine, since it’s turned into a domestic creation. I was right about Morlock. He is uneasy about the place of non-human officers in the ISN. I need to get past the damage and the encryption in the databases to see what I can find out for him.
More sims, and the mission briefing followed – as expected, we were to go exploring Rimward, to follow the N’tani ships we had previously sighted, and find more information about them, and any human settlements. Meanwhile, the Group Leader announced the promotions of Subaltern Ironclad to SubIntendent (thank goodness, because he kept butchering the pronunciation of Subaltern at every roll call) and of OverIntendent Morlock to SubKommandant (though Morlock insists on using the TSN rank; and I understand his reasons. As long as he doesn’t slip up if and when we need to communicate with other ships.)
And so we set out for our exploration mission. We started out by clearing out some Torgoth ships that were hunting Space Whales – I suppose it would have been too much to hope that this-universe Torgoths were any more respectful of space life forms than the ones on our side of things. One ship did surrender (I can’t remember if it was one of mine) and we sent a shuttle to board her and retrieve her data core. We still need information more than any material supplies.
Further exploration to Rimward led us to a sector with a N’tani station, and two human shipyards, as well as fairly dense ship traffic. Our sensors picked up ships they identified as transports, two Gaspode class, some pirates, and a Destroyer. None took hostile action, but they seemed wary of us. A comms signal identifying as Independence Polity demanded we identify ourselves, and when the Group Leader replied we were on an exploration mission with no hostile intent, we received the reply, “The Empire has no jurisdiction here”. Interesting in itself. When the Group Leader asked for information about the sector, the reply was, “You are transiting restricted space, the Neutral Zone between Hegemony aggression and local peaceful operations.”
Clearly, this was a sensitive political situation. We were ordered to keep our ships at a non-threatening distance from ships and installations in the sector, and as Xavier asked for more information about the Neutral Zone, we received encoded co-ordinates for a rendez-vous point where we could meet an envoy. And that was when the Kraliens, Torgoths and Skaraans turned up in force, and attacked.
There were angry messages about us desecrating Zolmar’s grave, and threats of revenge, but at that point we were busy defending ourselves. Interestingly enough, some of the human and some N’tani ships joined us in fighting the Kraliens. At the end of the battle, after some back and forth of messages and shuttles, an envoy came aboard Invictus, and we adjourned back to Stormhold to continue the negotiations.
It seems that both N’tani and humans were worried by the presence of Imperial ships in the sector – what that says about the Empire is still debatable; we may simply be dealing with groups of settlers on the fringe of authority, who are reluctant to come under a powerful political entity’s sphere of influence; but we could also be appearing as representatives of an oppressive power. However, we came to their aid against the Kralien attack, and they seemed relieved to see we did not attack the N’tani. Perhaps the relationship between the Empire and the N’tani isn’t as neutral as the one between the TSN and the N’tani…
We sent Morlock to meet the envoy, because it seems the ISN doesn’t have many non-human officers, and we wanted to keep the delegation (a military commander and a civilian administrator) guessing. They seemed worried by our presence, as I said, confused by our cooperation, and disturbed at some insulting action we have inadvertently committed.
On our return to Stormhold, I was required to remain on the station in order to continue work on decyphering damaged databases; so my account of the next mission is, by necessity, second hand.
We received requests to help human stations in the next Trailing sector, where the Kraliens were about to besiege them. The Hunter Group used shuttles to aid in evacuating crew from the stations, while transports stood by. One disturbing detail is that the Kraliens were able to generate false signals, fooling our sensors into seeing their force as larger than it actually was. So, that will require another full diagnostic of all our sensor systems, and possibly a recalibration. And of course there were Skaraans, because they’ll do anything they’re paid to do. Dam… I mean, Hell’s bells… I’m trying to wean myself off saying Void-dammit, but blurting out “Well of the Furies!” just doesn’t feel the same.
And somewhere in there, Invictus was hit. Matsiyan wasn’t on board, he was on Stormhold, directing engineering crews. Morlock was in command. There seems to be a disturbing correlation between newly-promoted senior officers, and ships being destroyed on their first outing thereafter… Either that, or Beaumont on helm again. I’ve lost count if that’s the third of the fourth Purple Heart for him, and all for different ships: Lancer, Viper, Horizon – so, Invictus must be the fourth. She was running low on energy, and surrounded by enemy ships. Relentless went to her aid, but a cloaked Skaraan jumped to close range and drained what remained of her shields. Invictus wasn’t totally destroyed, her crew evacuated and their pods were picked up. Then, once the fighting had abated, our ships were able to send shuttles across with power cells and DamCon teams to patch her back together enough that she could limp away.
No, I don’t have a full list of casualties.
And then, it turned out that some of the asteroids we had been exploring contained sentient remains, both human and non-human, identified by data beacons. It took a while to determine that in the course of the fight against the Kraliens as they attempted to board Stormhold, the evidence of which we found all over the station, the power plant went critical, and human engineers stopped the explosion that would not only have destroyed what remained of th station, but also all friendly and enemy ships in the vicinity. They did so by remaining in the control room that was being flooded by lethal radiation, because the connections to the controls outside the shielding had been rendered inoperable by battle damage. In recognition of their sacrifice, Stormhold was declared a neutral zone, and casualties on all sides were removed from the station buried on several asteroids in the vicinity, which were then given the respect most races show to burial grounds. And by settling, however temporarily, on Stormhold, and by exploring the asteroid belt for minerals, we had broken the agreement that had been arrived at after that battle.
So, our first diplomatic blunder due to ignorance of our environment. I dread to think what you’ve been experiencing… and once again, I lament the fact that this psi-link is so hell’s bellishly (is that a word? Well, it is now.) limited.