Log Hamilton, 28418-2237

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    Adele Mundy

    Personal Log, Harriet Hamilton, TSN
    Stardate: 28418-22237

    I’ve done it now. My parents and my teachers were right about my criminal future, it seems…

    One thing about being a cadet, or a midshipman, is that as long as you look busy, and a bit harried, carry a PADD around and keep looking at it intently, hardly anyone notices you. If they do, they tend not to look at you twice. If they look at you twice, they assume you’re wherever you are, doing whatever you’re doing, because somebody told you to. If they ask you, you can salute, and confirm their assumption. So I, well, since I’ve been on Oblivion I listened in on conversations that weren’t meant for junior ears; probably more than is good for me, considering where I am and what I’m doing.

    I’ve managed to talk myself into the biggest heap of trouble ever. No more ISN, no more rank, no more anything. My personal log on the ship is scrambled into bits, with the circuits it was stored on “accidentally” fried. The message I left for Lt.Sr. Quinn is set for self-erase. This is what I wrote. I hope I didn’t give too much away. I had to explain something to someone!

    Personal Log, OInt. Nathan Quinn, ISN Oblivion, 2nd Space Flotilla, 4th Hunter Group
    Stardate: 28418-2237

    I apologise for the intrusion, Sir. Lt.Cmdr. Mundy gave me the encryption code to your personal log. You’d better change it after this, by the way. She made me promise to only use it in an emergency. This is an emergency. And this message will be scrubbed after you read it.

    I said, quite openly, on the bridge on Invictus, that I wouldn’t take part in any action like the one we were ordered to carry out. By the time you read this, I shall have left the base, and be on my way… elsewhere. You may deduce where, but if they question you, you can say quite truthfully that you don’t know.

    I realise this is a serious breach of discipline, Sir, but at this point, it’s all I can do. If I find… well, if I find them, I’ll do what an officer of the TSN ought to do.

    Cdt. H. Hamilton.

    So… Now my uniform and all my personal accessories are left behind in my locker, just in case there were bugs on them I couldn’t find, and the clothes I was wearing when I got out are in some trash compactor back on the base, for the same reason. I’ve changed ships and replaced full outfits twice so far. I wasn’t caught by the crews, or on the docks. I’ll switch routes a few more times before I start travelling towards where I think my real destination is. If my information is correct. There is that.

    Working as an engineering maintenance tech on an “independent trader” in exchange for my passage is not ideal, but better than stowing away, which is what I did on the first two ships. I wanted no records of my presence aboard any ship in the vicinity of the base, both for my safety and their crews’. What they don’t know is less likely to hurt them. Here on Sagacity, I know just enough about her engines (thanks, Academy training!) to look busy on AlterDay shift, not do any damage, and occasionally improve things. Small trader, two shifts: also not ideal, but I can cope.

    And it’s quiet on AlterDay shift, so I can start keeping a log again. This little notepad is a bog-standard, cheap, every-kid-has-one model. No security to speak of, except that it’s ubiquitous and, I hope, beneath anyone’s notice. And except for the little mod I put in that will melt its guts under certain conditions. So I won’t be using it for comms, or to do anything at all except record my log. It’s not even able to connect to the ship’s chronometer. Poor little isolated thing.

    So… with all the Senior Officers gone, we had Lt.Sr. Graybeard in charge. Until he promoted Quinn to Lt.Sr., so Quinn ended up in fleet command for our first sim. And then again when we were called in for the mission briefing. McCullough did the briefing. Pompous ass. We had three more Midshipmen up from Second and Third Shift, so we were able to crew Oblivion, Relentless, Excision and Invictus. And we were told there was an N’tani incursion in Krisenda (they’re angry about that obelisk thing from several shifts ago, I think), and one of the stations had sent out a distress call. That was DS-33, and wasn’t that the one that had made the breakthrough in Caltron tech? Or was that R-56X? Best to incinerate the place, I should think. But after evacuating the personnel.

    I was on Comms on Invictus, Lt.Sr. Graybeard was in command, but also running Engineering, because that’s what he does. Lt. Beaumont was on Helm, Lt. Xiph on Science, Mid. Rakaydos on Weapons.

    We got to Krisenda 3, and both DS-33 and R-56X were gone. So we spread out to look for survivors. Oblivion found a N’tani fleet hiding in a nebula, then some Skaraans, so we dealt with them. But CIC gave orders to proceed to Sector 4, because that was where the N’tani ships had last been seen heading. And that’s where we found them, with more Skaraans, and tried to keep them away from the stations. We lost one station, DS-96. We gathered up the life pods, but… Oh, and also, Caltrons turned up, with friendly IFF signals. I’ll never get used to that. Never. Creepy spiky metal horror movie aliens. Ugh.

    Back at the station, the equally creepy INI operative told us that the loss of DS-96 will be (ominous pause) analysed. As if we didn’t already know we’re in trouble. He just wanted to revel in his creepy spook power. Creep.

    Did I mention that the news service specifically talked about the 4HG S.O.s taking part in some sort of security conference. Right. Because we’re totally going to believe that. Anyway, that was before the first mission. Getting things out of order, what a mess. I don’t normally do personal logs, seems like a waste of time… except that this time it might be important.

    Next mission. And here is where the story really starts. We were sent to “conduct further investigations on Station Eris”, near the Titan gate in Atlantis. Allegedly, DS Eris had been supporting smuggling operations by dissidents, and there were suspicions about involvement in the Moritani kerfuffle, so we had to go and patrol, and check the local traffic for smuggling.

    We were under orders to deploy some Marines onto the station, have them investigate any dissident action, and remove the dissident leaders. Which would have been bad enough. But no. We were supposed to bring the dissident leaders aboard, for show trials and exemplary execution at a later date, I suppose, but meanwhile, we were supposed to destroy the station, to make an example of it. With everyone aboard, including civilians.

    And that oath we all recited at graduation, about not enabling an injustice? What do we do with that? Lt. Sr. Quinn told us that we would proceed with the inspection, and would carry out arrests if we found illegal goods, but we would not destroy civilian stations. Though later, other officers were talking about the importance of keeping our cover… This is where I started speaking out of turn. I mean, cadets should be seen and not heard, and all that, normally. This was not normal.

    Anyway, we started the patrol and inspection thing. We had ships calling us and expecting “the usual deal”, which tells you a lot about the incorruptible Imperial officers, eh? So I took advantage of the fact that this sort of thing seemed to happen, when I was lucky enough to spot IR Hood, and sent them a tight-beam message to clear out, fast. Which, you know, might have been a contributing factor in “Capt. Johnson”’s attitude towards me, later.

    Stuff escalated. The traders/pirates tried to fight. Half the stations turned hostile. TSN ships turned up and ordered us to stand down. I was practically… no, I was actually shouting at Lt.Sr. Graybeard that they were urging us in the name of humanity to save those civilians. I thought he’d understand. I don’t know how he could… I just don’t know. He kept saying he had to refer back to the Acting Fleet Captain, and he dithered, and people were dying. Civilians were dying, and we could have stopped it.

    I should have bypassed my comms straight into the All Ships channel. So stupid of me… following rules, like rules mattered at that point. Not even thinking of breaking into the Commanding Officers channel and relaying the TSN’s message directly to all ships. Stupid, stupid and slow.

    Then ISN ships showed up, stations were being destroyed, Relentless gave us all a heart attack when her systems went down as she was surrounded, and for a moment we thought she was gone. Excision was damaged too. Oblivion was trying to regroup us. I was sending the TSN messages, trying to get them to stand down, to back away – completely without orders, because at that point nobody was paying any attention to anything I said. And I was saying things quite loudly, and with no respect for rank… Not Academy behaviour, not by a long chalk. Oh, yes, and my suggestions to change sides and join the TSN, then and there… Treason, obviously. And my messages to Eris station to evacuate immediately, they were treason too.

    Eventually, in all that mayhem, Oblivion’s shuttle launched, dropped a black box for the TSN to collect, with info on the Caltrons and stuff, if I heard right over the chaos on the bridge and over comms.

    A ship left Eris station and hightailed it to the Sector border, pursued by Relentless, who made it look horribly convincing. Meanwhile, Eris station exploded, by self-destruct rather than being blown up by the ISN. I hope that means everyone got out first.

    And on the way home, the acting COs and all the Lieutenants conferred about what to do next, while we ran sims. I was not diplomatic, at this point, about what we should do, about Relick’s running of Science, about anything. Then the Lts., senior and not, came to the wrong decision. Never turn from a right path, indeed. So here I am.

    [end log]

    Adele Mundy

    Personal Log, Harriet Hamilton, etc.

    A stroke of luck. At least, I hope it’s a stroke of luck. I was hoping I’d find Lt. Donovan’s former ship, IR Hood — well, its equivalent in this universe, anyway — along one of the routes he mentioned, and I have. She’s another one of those “independent traders” who make their real living smuggling. The thug on watch, with the guns, the muscles and the cunning hat, looked at me suspiciously when I asked for Capt. Johnson. Then he kind of winked at me, and said, “Oh, you mean ‘Capt. Johnson’!” I told him, yes, I meant “Capt. Johnson”, and winked back at him. He wasn’t the brightest light on the console, so that helped. “Tell him Donovan sends me,” I added. That was a blatant lie, but it worked. I’m sure the Lieutenant won’t mind. If either of us are alive at the end of this.

    Hood is small, fast, and, from what I gathered by snooping in the hold later, deeply involved in the Hjocoa smuggling trade — poor Lt. Cmdr. Mundy, so much Hjocoa on board, and she’s nowhere near! “Capt. Johnson” actually believed me when I told him I know Donovan… and was willing to take me aboard when I suggested that my familiarity with ISN frequencies and protocols would come in useful for avoiding inspections. And when I pointed out that it already had.

    More importantly, just as in our universe Capt. Johnson had dealings with the Unukalhai, this “Capt. Johnson” has contacts in the TSN. Hood is on her way to trade illegal Hjocoa for other supplies (I haven’t been told what, and I haven’t asked. If I want to find out, I’ll do it after we have the stuff on board), and then, to trade those supplies to a TSN transport. So, if we don’t get inspected and arrested on the way, and if this isn’t some convoluted ploy by INI to have me lead them to the TSN… Yeah, that’s been in my nightmares a lot. But I’ve been as careful as I could.

    Now, all I need to do is talk my way to someone in the TSN who is going to be willing to overlook those TSN ships 4HG destroyed, and help me rescue the 4th Light, both Senior and Junior. And believe the whole alternate universe thing.

    How hard can it be?

    [end log]

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