Personal log, supplemental
I suppose I’ve let enough time go by to actually talk about events during this shift. For the sake of completion, then, not because I want to contemplate our actions again, let’s start:
A briefing from Commodore McCullough — he sounds even more pompous than Great Aunt Adelaide’s imitation of him. She would get so bored when my grandmother invited the Great and the Good to tea, that after the second cream beignet she would start imitating the whole Admiralty senior staff, as if they were there too, taking tea: “I say, Admiral Zheng, would you care for another cup of tea, what?” “Oh, my dear Commodore, that would be capital!” “Not as capital as TSN Redoubtable, I dare say!” “Ha ha ha, Rear-Admiral Collins, how very droll!”
From which we can learn two valuable lessons, Adelaide: never underestimate the observation powers of a Mundy; and never underestimate the possibilities for obfuscation and procrastination, either. Oh, there’s never start a land war in Asia, too, but at the moment it’s not entirely relevant.
We started with sims as usual, with specific instructions to switch consoles for less familiar ones, in order to get used to the latest upgrades. I took Tactical, on Excision, and was predictably slow.
Off to Cerberus on our first mission. We were told we were needed to tie up loose ends caused by the loss of Third Hunter Group in Krisenda — so that didn’t make anybody uncomfortable at all — and specifically to extract one person of interest. We were told he’d be in Cerberus Sector 7, in Halmina Station. This did not probe to be quite correct… We were also told that we were to expect opposition (No! Really? How stunningly unusual!), since information about this raid had probably been leaked, and it was likely TSN ships would attempt to interfere with our rescue of Commodore Miles Holbrook. We were informed that Fourth Hunter would receive an award for each TSN ship destroyed.
This is what I meant when I was ranting. Of course we couldn’t kick up a fuss while under ISN comms observation, but hell’s bells and buckets of blood, Adelaide, nobody even raised an eyebrow! And I swear they’re not that good at acting. Even on board, with secure comms protocols, there were no questions, no objections.
I suppose I let the shock get the better of me. I was in command of Excision, as the Group Leader was still reporting to the Higher Ups about that kerfuffle on Olnara station last shift; and I didn’t really react fast enough. Some of it was confusing fleet orders, some of it was, frankly, reluctance on my part. There was much to-ing and fro-ing of shuttles, dropping off Marines to collect the Commodore from Halima station, while our ships fended off attacks by the TSN. Dammit. And the Commodore Odysseus picked up was, in fact, an impostor. His suicide vest would have destroyed Invictus quite thoroughly, had he managed to go undetected. As it happened Odysseus’ pilot spotted it, and was able to show him the airlock door… and even so, both Odysseus and Invictus were badly damaged by the explosion. I think the poor engineering crew on Invictus have run out of all possible patching materials.
While this was happening, the real Holbrook escaped an assassination attempt on the station by barricading himself inside secure quarters. I have since looked up why the insurgents wanted to assassinate him. I think he deserves a trial, not a reward, for his “counter-insurgency work”. I don’t think the slaughter or unarmed civilians is considered acceptable counter-insurgency work among civilised people. Marines from Invictus and Excision went to collect Holbrook, and the TSN objected. Some pirates joined in too, just to spice things up. And somehow, while fending off pirates and retrieving Marines (and the Void-damned Commodore), and capturing a TSN vessel, Relentless managed to drop a mine just close enough to Invictus’ position, that she blew her systems… again.
After hurried repairs while back at Command, we received our orders for the next mission, based on information that we had previously recovered from Research Station 56-X. It seemed that a few months ago, the Kraliens lost a holy relic, which is believed to be somehow connected to the catastrophic jumpgate malfunction near the Poseidon Rift. Now, let’s pause there a moment. Are the Kraliens hopelessly unlucky, or just epically untidy? Because to lose Artefacts in one universe may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose Artefacts in two universes looks like carelessness.
And I’d like to add, I thought the catastrophic jumpgate malfunction in the Poseidon Rift was actually us, arriving; but it seems there may be elements that reflect our actions in this universe too. What had you been up to, Adelaide? Oh, and just to compound the irony, this holy relic we were to look for, it’s called Rit al’Knaph’s Mirror.
So, Commodore McCullough held the briefing (the Group Leader was still “unavoidably delayed”), OverKmdt. Jemel was placed in fleet command, and off we went into the Rift, to escort the scientific expedition that was looking for this Mirror. We rendez-voused with the science ships at RS-82X, and proceeded with Invictus as their close escort, Relentless as loose escort, and Excision as backup. This being the Rift, there were a number of Piranhas, Insects and Dragons to avoid, or send off chasing after probes. And there was a large Kralien fleet that tried to stop us. And there was the headache.
Caltrons, Voiddamn them. I think they came after the sensor sweeps the science ships were doing on the Mirror, but at that point I just wanted us to destroy them as fast as possible so the headache would stop. I’m not quite sure how that went. I mean, I know we got data from those sensor sweeps, but I don’t even remember if we recovered that Mirror thing. I hope not. I can’t shake the feeling that if we look into it, something we don’t like is going to look out at us. But that’s probably the effect of the Caltron headache.
Do you get Caltron headaches?
We returned to base, and engaged in a closing sim, once more at unfamiliar stations. So I took Weapons again, despite the lingering headache. We faced a pretty high difficulty scenario, but the result was not improved by decisions such as drawing lines of enemies towards our sole remaining base, rather than towards the conveniently placed and extensive mine fields. OverKommandant Jemel (who was running Engineering, and thus saved us from certain death several times) was approaching apoplexy when the junior officer in command seemed either deaf or oblivious to his far from tentative tactical suggestions.
I wonder if having another cup of your mint tea will help?