22/06/2018 at 03:49 #32521Harriet HamiltonParticipant
Personal Log, Cdt. Harriet Hamilton, TSN, 2nd Flt. 4th Lt.Div.
All ready to go. All personnel is on battle stations, just waiting for the word from Lt.Cmdr. Mundy. How she’s going to manage it, I have no idea. Those alien Artefacts make no sense to me, but she talks about them as if they’re almost communicating with her, and intelligibly at that. And she’s going to interface with them to get us back, whatever “interface” means in this case. I know MedBay and Engineering have been working together on that contraption she wants, with the connection to her brain waves and the intravenous Hjocoa. It doesn’t look entirely sane. She doesn’t sound entirely sane, when she talks about it. I suppose a stint under interrogation by the Azure Legion, and the after-effects of Hjocaine addiction would do that. But, sane or not, she’s the only chance the Fourth Light have, so we’re going to take it.
Some of us are going to be more reluctant than others. I was enjoying being a rebel. Now it’s going to be time to pay the piper.
We started out on Alpha Station, in the Hjorden Sector, with the Idol of Hioko in our possession, and a good idea of where the Artefact that would open the Rift could be found. There was running around and setting up of access to more slingshot charges, to allow us to breach the Arietis Gate into the Poseidon Rift. Or at least, that’s what the technical staff were doing. The Bridge crews were conducting training sims to practice battle formations, in preparation for what we would meet.
And the sims went fairly smoothly, considering we were working in controlled conditions, with knowledge of what ships we were about to face, and which formations we would need to stay in during battle. It’s like anything, though: you practice the moves when you’re not under pressure, until you can do them without taking your attention away from the immediate situation.
So we deployed for Arietis Gate. The Fleet Captain took command of Steadfast, with Lt. Cmdr. Mundy as his XO, taking Science and Comms (how she could run the stations, given the state she was in, I don’t know); Lt. Sr. Graybeard had Engineering, Lt. Cmdr. Vaj was on Helm, Ens. Trueman on Weapons. Vigilant joined us, Cmdr. Matsiyan in command; Nemesis, under Cmdr. Hall, and Excision, under Capt. Jemel. And Grant was with us to provide us with supplies until the jump. And all that remained of our original crews were aboard.
ISN ships tried to stop us coming through the Arietis gate, but we stopped them, and TSN ships stayed behind to guard it, though we gained control of the Gate and locked it out, so that we would not be pursued. We continued into the Rift, with the usual dangers there becoming secondary as we looked for the Caltrons. And Lt. Cmdr. Mundy seems to have become more sensitive to them, because she could tell where they would be before we crossed into the unmapped sector.
The auxiliary Science screen showed nebulas, but she was adamant there was a massive Caltron formation in the sector. The Fleet Captain ordered probes and fighters to be launched to explore further than our limited sensor reach; then we experienced a system-wide crash, as energy surged through everything as we started getting readings from the increasingly active Caltrons. All fighters were recalled, and all DamCon teams were scrambled to reset the systems before we could be detected.
And that gave me one, tiny window of opportunity.
When everything (almost everything) was reset, we were able to establish the presence of a science vessel among the Caltrons, and a base, either of which could house the Artefact that controls the creation of universe-spanning rifts. We made multiple tries at approaches to the centre of the Caltron formation, and each time we flew too close to some of the larger Caltron ships, and had to retreat before swarms of Variation B fighters. Those things will rip a ship’s shields off in a heartbeat.
Nemesis seemed particularly adept at waking up lots of fighters, getting stuck in fights with them, and not joining the rest of the fleet when ordered to do so. There was one moment when Steadfast and Excision, working in concert, were ploughing their way through a formation towards the centre, and needed support as a Caltron Duodenary approached. Nemesis, ordered to support, wasn’t there, she was busy as her fighters were fending off Variations B. Shortly afterwards, as Steadfast and Vigilant continued the painstaking advance, Nemesis was heading rimwards towards Grant instead of joining the formation. And this espite clear orders to the contrary, which the Fleet Captain repeated twice. Nemesis only responded the third time.
It looked for a while as if we would never make it through, we’d just wake up more and more Caltrons on our approach to the centre; and then Lt.Cmdr. Mundy called for the intravenous Hjocoa (she insisted on calling it Hjocoa, but that had to be Hjocaine), put on the weird helmet contraption, and started making less and less sense. She must have made sense to the Caltrons, though, because some of them changed sides, and started attacking the other Caltrons.
That distraction was sufficient to allow us to close in on the science vessel, recover the Artefact it carried, bring it aboard by shuttle, and destroy the ship. Then we dropped Marines on the base until they had it under control and we were able to dock.
This was when we lost contact with Nemesis, briefly. There was concern that the self-destruct had activated prematurely, but in fact it was just another systems overload, because, as a former INI ship, her systems more vulnerable to interaction with the Caltrons.
Now that’s been cleared up, and our ships are ready. The devices have been set up to activate once the rift has closed, and should destroy all the ships as soon as we are gone… except Steadfast. Her warp drive will be irreparably damaged, but her impulse should allow her to limp out, if the Caltrons let her. That’s a pretty big if. Her location beacon will also activate at that point, so that Lt. Cmdr. Harold Mundy, whose ship has not remained by Arietis Gate, but is just beyond the edge of this sector, can recover Steadfast’s crew, including his sister. Whether she’ll be at all pleased to see him is another matter. I warned him, in our last communication, but he told me to let him deal with that. I can only trust that he knows what he’s doing.
I’ll miss him. I was really rather hoping I could stay and be a rebel against the Evil Empire…
And right on cue, we have the gravity waves, and the spectrum shifts. Here we go…
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