20/05/2017 at 08:02 #23776MatsiyanParticipant
Personal Log, Lieutenant-Commander Conrad Matsiyan, XO TSN Hunter, 4th L.D.
The Stars Around bless Captain Jemel. Now I feel like a senior officer.
I have been trying to think of what I want to say for three shifts. But frankly, everything has been a blur since I was promoted on 29417-2237. What will I want to remember about this? The operational logs will have the mission details.
Mundy and I were a few minutes late to shift because we have been drafted to assist with this year’s Starship Academy outreach program. We have been completing a preparation study program and attending remote meetings. After next shift we travel back to Earth to attend the event in Phoenix, Arizona where we essentially act as recruiting officers for potential Academy candidates.
We found that we were not the only ones tasked with other duties and the division could only muster crews for four vessels. Sims were underway and Hunter’s crew had been folded into other ship’s complements. Cdr Tuor was serving as Verok’s XO aboard Viper. Raven was already crewed up with the addition of Lt. Cdr. Zelreich and an unfamiliar Lt. Ehrmann.
So Mundy and I were assigned to Phoenix where a fortunate new cadet, Kichi, was receiving instruction from Cdr. van Leigh and his acting XO the redoubtable Lt. Slate. We brought the crew up to par with the rest of the division and joined in the sims. Cdr van Leigh was kind enough to invite myself or Mundy to act as his XO based on our seniority. However Slate is not only very capable but very much a part of Phoenix and we were guests. So we demurred in her favour. I greatly enjoyed a chance to get in some practice at the Helm and after warming up seemed to get back some of my old capability. We were running really quite smoothly despite a certain lack of familiarity and having time available to help out the cadet.
Fleet Captain Xavier started the mission briefing session by announcing my promotion to Lieutenant Commander along with some very nice things about my record which I now utterly fail to recall. I was dazed. I could feel this stupid grin curving my lips and tried to hold it down. I had hoped, but tried not to think about it, tried not to measure myself against others, tried not to expect or to wonder how long it had been. I just put my head down and tried to be what was needed, to show initiative but not to push, to fill in whatever post was open even if I wasn’t that comfortable at it. And suddenly there I was, a senior officer. This was utterly unlike any previous promotion. The sense of privilege and responsibility was overwhelming.
And then we were off on the mission. Upper brass were off navel-gazing about how to deal with the Ximni and we were expected to do heavy patrolling while the in-system defense craft ran customs patrols to filter undesirables. Mundy and I continued on Phoenix, Slate was needed elsewhere and we were awarded Ensign Trueman as a consolation. I took over as XO but apart from running the station check was basically heavily involved with Helm since it isn’t a seat I regularly sit. I had to concentrate very hard to perform division formation flying. I was quite proud of how closely I was able to keep Raven exactly under the intersection of maximum beam range off our port beam.
With the fleet’s main line divisions weakened by the need for major Ximni engagements, the Fourth Light was tasked with interdicting light Kralien fleets probing through the Cronus gate. With ordnance in short supply it’s a good job the Kraliens have not yet put together a stronger task force. Probably they are trying to see how thinly stretched we are by the Ximni before they risk greater commitment. As long as we can keep demonstrating a clear superiority, hopefully they will think twice. So let’s hope they did not catch that Viper took a big hit and is lucky to have been quickly refitted.
The shift of 6517-2237 is a complete blur. All I know is that I spent the entire shift as Tuor’s XO at Engineering aboard TSN Excalibur. I had command of her while I was on the Command Training Track. She is quite a challenge, an uprated system defense Destroyer, slow but reasonably manoeuvreable, one regular primary beam with an expanded firing arc for point defense, a whopping great slow-cycling primary cannon with a narrow forward firing arc and a good range. She carries two torpedo tubes like a light cruiser but is not rated for heavy ordnance, having extra capacity in homings and EMP warheads in compensation. So, like the interceptors she cannot rapidly engage sizable fleets. Her average continuous beam output is barely half that of an interceptor though and of course it is very easy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time to use the cannon cycle or to have the auto-defenses waste it on an incoming drone. If I’m honest with myself, I felt a little bit exiled and excluded down in Engineering for my first shift at my new rank with my regular skipper while a raw cadet was expected to interpret and advise on the sensor intelligence and comms traffic. On the other hand Excalibur really does need a wide-awake Engineer to keep her nimble and moving with the fleet even when one has the excellent Mr. Beaumont at the helm. The other new cadet, Dominic Clarke had clearly been paying attention in class and comported himself creditably at Tactical.
Cdr Tuor was feeling his way. I had worked out some tactical doctrine for her, with insights from Nhaima during our shakedown cruise, but they require familiarity with the ship, close coordination and significant practice. Without a consistent crew over several shifts, I never achieved that. But down in Engineering it is hard to provide tactical input and doubly so without seeming to undermine the skipper while he was kept busy mentoring two cadets. So I shut up and got on with it while dreaming of a kilo-delta-one pass, followed up with a spread of homings while we let the cannon cycle as we came about to re-engage with delta-three.
OK. Thinking about that has brought some flashes through the psi-link. Mundy’s memories involve a bunch of technical glitches with the new updates, a rescue mission from Volantis to WP52 looking for a missing ship and finding Penwrath scum nosing around. ALso had a fleeting glimpse of a USF vessel and wondering what in The Void she was doing there.
But this shift was a complete delight. Again short of personnel I and Beaumont were seconded to Lancer, where in the absence of Aposine, I was able to act as Jemel’s XO. During sims I took Engineering and was able to developed a more nuanced doctrine for keeping her shields on the mend as well as maximizing her beam outputs when it counted. And when the mission started, Captain Jemel asked me to take command while he dealt with some technical issues and then he was kept busy with fleet ops conferences. With Roshin Das on weapons, Donovan at SciCom and Bubba at Engineering, I had a crew that were used to each other and the ship. I only had to communicate my operational preference expectations and I could concentrate entirely on command. Lancer and Phoenix were running interception to protect Viper who was carrying a VIP. We were in the fortunate position of having a clearly defined role and reasonable latitude to carry it out. It was a nice mix of receiving clear orders from Fleet, anticipating Fleet orders and just doing what was needed without Fleet input. Watching what Phoenix committed herself to do and either running the closer intercept or scouting the opposite flank while she completed an engagement. It was marvelous to be able to act decisively for rapid movement and engagement. As a novice commander, it does help that Lancer has a limited palette of effective engagement strategies. It was pleasant to be able to give positive feedback to the crew on the performance of their roles. Beaumont is not as familiar with Lancer and just needs a bit more practice to develop finesse with her slight range advantage and angling her approach to maximize opportunities to disable enemy weapons while minimizing the effect of their strikes.
What warmed my heart was their feedback on my performance noting that my confidence, clarity and decisiveness have improved since those first few shifts in the Big Chair aboard Excalibur.
Commanding Lancer is the highlight of my career to date. Captain Jemel could not have given me a greater gift. I think this will warm Grandfather’s engineering heart when I write to tell him of my promotion and the fantastic ship I was allowed to conn at the behest of a legendary fleet engineer.
The snarky note I write to inform Father of my advancement despite his avaricious bean-counting will be pure icing on the cake of Grandfather’s contentment.
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