1) Standing under the appropriately colossal statue of Atlas, his back bent as he carries the globe, and looking North, the view of City Hall as a whole, with the two ponds on either side, flanked by the hero statues, the wide steps leading up to the colonnade, the dome above.
Before the training sims started, Act. Ens. Feil was promoted to full Ensign, to the traditional division-wide cheers.
2 ) Approaching City Hall: the marble statue (the marble for all the Paragon statues came from the mountains hundreds of miles inland) of the male hero on the right of the staircase, standing planted in a wide stance, left fist on hip, right fist on chest as if making a solemn oath.
The training, for some of us, involved the Ximni jump-drive ship, with Fleet Capt. Xavier Wise in command, Lt. Aramond as XO and on Weapons, Lt. Matsiyan in Engineering, Garion on Helm, while I ran Science and Comms. Yes, there had been talk of the need for everyone to train on stations they’re less familiar with, but we had the challenge of learning how to handle a new type of ship, and it seemed best to start with stations we were familiar with. Matsiyan, in particular, found the energy requirements quite different from the warp engines we’re used to.
3) The statue of the female hero (I ought to know their names, dammit, and I feel I’ve failed their memory because I don’t. All that remains is in the mind of the survivors, and on data that was sent off planet. Why didn’t I pay attention?) on the left, poised on the left leg, left arm upraised, right leg bent as if about to jump, or fly up.
Did I mention she’s a pretty ship? She’s a pretty ship, Rolling Thunder, with lovely fluid lines on the exterior. Inside, odd dimensions and odd proportions everywhere, just enough to remind you that this is an alien ship. It’s like the first night sleeping in a different bed, but all the time, while you’re awake: nothing is quite where you expect it to be, from door controls to food dispensers. And I swear one of the drinks you can get is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. The consoles also take a little bit of getting used to, even though the displays are reconfigured for humans.
4) The wide flights of stone stairs, the first one 21 steps, the second 20 steps – I remember counting them the first time I went to City Hall for some paperwork, and wondering why they weren’t the same number of steps. No idea what the documents I needed were…
Strangest of all is the sensation of jump itself: that moment of utter blackness and nothingness between one place and another, with the stomach-lurch as you arrive. Describing it as a jump is the closest analogue, I agree, but it doesn’t do full justice to how it feels.
5) Through the double doors, to the rotunda under the dome: the black and grey stone compass rose inlayed in the gleaming marble floor. There was always a city representative standing there to direct visitors.
The role of Science officer changes somewhat, too: while at the beginning of the sim the Captain was determining the jump coordinates while I kept an eye on the wider picture, when it came to engagements, with the Captain needing to coordinate the whole fleet, I had more responsibility for setting up the jumps. At that point, I think a dedicated Comms officer would have been useful, as I had to give more attention to the Science console, and I suspect I missed some possible surrenders. It’s a new way of working different ships together, and we’ll keep tweaking until we get it right. So, overall, the sims highlighted new challenges, as we have to work out the best way to exploit the jump drive while working in concert with the other ships.
6) Turning left to a niche in SW wall, with a smaller statue on a pedestal, only twice life size, of the same female hero who was outside, in the same about to fly pose.
After the warm-ups, the actual mission, centred on getting intel from Moonsec that would prove their involvement in the development of the Weapon, and the shady business deals that accompanied it. One of the Fleet Captain’s contacts, seeking the source of Moonsec operations, found a secure gate near Krisenda gate, leading to the weapon development site, the Blackwater Complex. You’d think people would avoid names tainted by associations like that, but it seems that the old saying about not learning from history and being doomed to repeat it never goes out of style. The central base, which we are told holds the crucial information, is surrounded by a number of science stations, and the stations are encircled by a mine field.
7) To the W, a wide hallway carpeted in blue, leading to dark wood doors that I never saw open.
In order to gather the proof we need to clear our names from the charges of mutiny and/or desertion that are certainly being made against us, and in order to gain the information we need to close the rift the Weapon ripped open, we have to take the main station with as little damage as possible. Preferably damn fast, or someone will have the bright idea to destroy the data. At the same time, we don’t want to destroy the bases because, dammit, they’re TSN bases, and we’re trying to prove that we’re still TSN. So all our ships have marines on board, and the plan is for the marines to secure each science station in turn while we avoid getting blown to pieces by defences, and/or the mine field.
8) A niche in the NW wall, a marble statue – is it a version of Ms. Liberty? She doesn’t have the little skirt and the sword – in a solid, planted stance, feet shoulder-wide apart, fists on hips. There is a plaque in front of her, but I can’t remember the inscription.
The reason I’m still talking in the present tense is that we’re mid-way through the mission, hiding in a nebula outside the minefield, waiting for the signal to proceed. Sitting in our respective tin cans – now, that’s no way to talk about the fleet. I shall start arguing with myself if we don’t get back to duty soon.
9) To the N, directly opposite the doors, the information desk, polished dark wood, with information terminals and old-fashioned paper leaflets, and a City Hall employee to answer questions.
We were escorted to Cerberus Gate by a number of Hjorden ships, which went through the gate first and gave us the all clear; we proceeded to Krisenda gate; we found the secure gate, WayPoint 60, hidden in a nebula, and emerged to see the layout of the science stations, and the mine field around them. And here we are, holding position until we’re given the word.
10) A niche in the NE wall, with a marble statue of a male hero looking up, standing on his right leg, his left leg bent as if ready to step or jump or fly, both arms curled forward and up, fists clenched.
We’re not quite off duty, and we’re not quite on duty either – relief crews are on the bridge for now, while we prepare. Matsiyan set up a virtual meeting place using the low priority comms, so officers can chat ship-to-ship, but dammit, he made it Pocket D. I used to hate the music in that place. And of course I was always the one sent to retrieve The Little Horror when he decided he wanted to party with his King’s Row friends.
11) Directly E, a wide hallway leading to the stairs down to various department offices.
One of the disadvantages of the virtual bar is that the refreshments are virtual too. I miss that Hjorden chocolate-like drink… On the other hand, it means I can keep running the data I need as we discuss what happens next; and van Leigh can attend without danger of fainting into his drink. I hope he’s in Hunter MedBay right now, and the medics can sort out whatever’s wrong with him. It must have been a little disturbing for the cadets on Dauntless to see him collapse. Just as well Blaze was ready to take over. Perhaps while we wait for the fireworks to start one of the ships could send a couple of more experienced officers across to help Blaze out.
12) A niche in the SE wall, a marble statue of the same male hero as outside in his manly fist-on-chest pose.
Then Zak Turnez appears in our little virtual gathering, cheerfully telling us how easy it was to find us. So much for INVINCIBLE(tm) encryption. How long do we have before someone less friendly finds us?
- This reply was modified 5 years, 5 months ago by Adele Mundy. Reason: Correction: Dauntless to Hunter