Log Matsiyan 191116-2237

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    Personal Log, Lieutenant-Senior Conrad Matsiyan, TSN Lancer, 4th L.D.
    Stardate: 121116-2237

    Computer, please order more rum, honey, lemon and hot water, plus antipyretics, analgesics, decongestants, anti-histamines and tissues.

    Team building exercises. Loud, jumping around, lying down between sets, team building exercises.

    But Quinn is at work on designs for Excalibur’s logo!

    [End log]

    Personal Log, Lieutenant-Senior Conrad Matsiyan, Acting CO TSN Excalibur, 4th L.D.
    Stardate: 191116-2237

    Espresso, fresh uniform, draft icon for Excalibur, draft Standing Orders prepared and headed on down to the galley to try and look nonchalant. Plenty of new faces and some old ones missing left a total well short of that needed to run the five regular division ships. I wasn’t quite sure whether to be disappointed or relieved but it all turned out well.

    It didn’t hurt that Mundy was able to spend some time with me before the shift started, checking out the inter-ship comms circuits I anticipated for commanding Excalibur.

    The decision was taken to distribute Lancer’s crew across the division to bring four vessels up to scratch. This gave me a rare and interesting opportunity to form part of the flagship’s crew. Xiph came with me and took his usual steady post at Engineering. I was running Science and Comms, which I always find a stretch. Quinn was at helm and for the first time I found myself on a bridge with Ensign Nhaima at Tactical.

    It doesn’t seem to matter what station I am at when aboard the flagship. Fleet Captain Xavier keeps me busy. This time around the large number of hostiles kept me doing little but scanning, trying to find the larger vessels and their detailed profiles. Later on I managed to clear enough mental space to be useful not only with headings and ranges but also target tactical data. There was also plenty of work for Comms. I had to make some guesses early on when detailed profiles on hostile captains were not yet available. The stars around favoured me since only one refused my imprecations. Later on I was pleased to dissuade a number of enemy commanders from further resistance. Though Mundy scored double digits from where she was seconded aboard Horizon. The rest of the bridge operated smoothly.

    After the warm up sim, Phoenix and Viper were detached to a mission of which I have not yet heard the results. While they were away we continued with a Border War and a Siege sim. In the former we lost an overexposed station though I did have the opportunity to put together a local defense task force after working out that two of them were fighters based at a base which greatly limited their operating effectiveness.

    Xavier stepped out to run a command net simulated mission and instructed me to take Excalibur out with the available crew. And so we decamped aboard my new command. “You are requested and required…” ran through my head as did “…fail at your own peril”.

    Mental flashback to that first time I entered ECS Norway’s engineering deck with that official badge on my coveralls and the newly accredited rank of Third Engineer on my file. I can still feel the eyes of the DamCon crew chiefs on me as I crossed to my console and made a show of pulling up the DC rosters (that I had been studying half the off-shift). I made the official postings of members to crews and designated crew assembly and standby zones exactly the way the chiefs had been used to while the Second Engineer had been standing in. Except I swapped two crew members because I heard them having a lover’s spat the day before in the galley while I was still a lowly Engineering Apprentice (and therefore below notice) and I relocated one of the standby zones because the revised coolant distribution flows implemented two cycles before had closed off one of the access hatches in there and tended to make the room chilly too. On balance it also made that zone more of a safety risk. The chief of the first crew pushed back on the change, but calmed down when I mentioned I had relocated the replicator out of there to the new location and moved two of the more comfortable benches. If only bridge issues could be so easily handled.

    “Captain on the bridge” had me squaring my shoulders before I realized that was me, but it was of course still appropriate. The Chair takes on a whole new significance when it has your backside written all over it. I tried to profit from Aposine’s experience with his first session in command and placed my back firmly against the chair upright and faked up a relaxed posture. His back never touched the chair as he stayed on the edge of his seat the whole mission.

    Excalibur has no assigned crew as yet and my fellow command trainee, Leonard Hall, was not on shift so I did not have the expected XO there to provide a steady support. I assumed he had commanded her the last two shifts while I was away and it would have been good to have his input. On the other hand, I did feel a certain relief that there was no-one aboard with more experience of either Excalibur or the division looking over my shoulder. Thanks be to the Stars Around.

    As it turned out I would have been hard-pressed to ask for better. Lt. Jr. Quinn transitioned smoothly over from the flagship’s helm and as the ranking junior officer stepped up as XO and asked the crew to prep their consoles for connection. They reported in by the book; Ensign Nhaima at Tactical, her militia experience giving her a significant skill advantage over the typical Academy graduate with her length of service, the reassuring presence of my shipmate, Ensign Xiph from Lancer, at the Engineering boards, already familiarizing himself with the names of the DamCon teams, and the quiet Acting Ensign Candice at SciCom.

    We were quickly underway before I could dig out and distribute the Standing Orders I had drafted, but I verbally gave them the high points; expected communications on the bridge, Engineering/Helm coordination, expected manoeuvres lacking ordnance.

    And then it was time for deep breaths and calm pronouncements. Fortunately we had reasonable initial fleet coordination from Captain Evans aboard Horizon. First order of business was to deliver medical supplies to stations that had experienced an outbreak of infection. Correlating schedules, CIC reported that a single vessel had rendezvoused with each shortly before each breakout. The division scoured the sectors on her route and tracked her down. There was some light interference from pirates and so we had a chance to get a simple engagement under our belts. Quinn was steady and accurate at the helm dealing nicely with the lower velocity and better turn rate, aided by Xiph with keeping station in fleet manoeuvres and unafraid to punch it for rapid transits without overshooting. I was determined that we not be seen as a slow coach. Her base velocity may be low but the efficiency of her engines to mass ratio gives her power to spare for keeping up. I thought Quinn was being a bit cavalier with following incoming fleet orders before we acknowledged them, but it was pointed out in debrief that I had given him that carte blanche and never rescinded it. First lesson.

    Nhaima was keenly honing her skills in the manual targeting scope to get the drift of enemy manoeuvring. She was pretty quick about transferring to drone defence too and quickly spotted a flaw in the default targeting interlocks that had the beam cannon used as priority even for taking down drones which is a huge waste given its long cycle time. Xiph was good about keep the cannon hot for rapid firing, but once or twice there was a hiccup as he was aggressively cooling them and had them offline. We tried swinging to the side to take drones with the secondaries but that’s tough while you are trying to keep the cannon on target. A couple of times I made the call to let the shields take the hit. Nhaima called my attention to that during debrief and I added a contingency for the Engineer to harden shields against inbound drones in the Standing Orders. Candice was a little reticent about chipping in information from Science and I tried to make a point of asking for headings and encouraging more verbal interaction and she picked up nicely during the mission.

    Xiph has perhaps been exposed to bad influences with the light cavalry aboard Lancer. It’s no good, computer. I just can’t finish that sentence with a straight face. It is true that Lancer’s crew inherited the madcap ambience they brought with them from Hunter. But it has in general been good for morale. Xiph had a very fine line in making light of stress, danger and DamCon casualties by pretending to be drinking to excess. His rendition of (hic) instead of “sir” was inspired.

    Before we intercepted the transport U68 we ran into USF task forces. That turned out to be because the medical supplies U68 was dropping off had been booby trapped to break containment by USF saboteurs. After a brief pause to regroup and rebrief we set out into the Poseidon Rift to Search and Destroy the USF transports being used to manufacture the devices.

    I tried to be first in analyzing the strategic and tactical situations but at the same time have confidence enough in the bridge officers not to micromanage them and to accept their input and use it when they spotted something I missed. Walking the tightrope of being inspiring and empowering while not looking weak or out of control gave me a powerful post-shift thirst.

    I circulated the standing orders after the shift and asked for input from Hall and the crew even though they are not permanent. Mostly it stood and the good feedback went into version 2 which I will post for all new crew. Major excitement was that Captain Evans took our feedback and promised to review what could be done to balance her systems for the combat situations we expect. Nhaima passed back some scuttlebutt from a post shift card game that sounds hopeful that they have rebalanced her shields, improved both the cycle time and damage of her beam cannon and sacrificed only a little power efficiency to do it. They also fixed the target lock priority bug.

    For icing on the cake, Quinn came up with revised insignia that is a nice improvement on the first pass, though I think the background blue is a little off. Hopefully she will soon have a proud new face to show the galaxy.

    I can’t have screwed up too badly because I heard someone applied for a transfer in the right direction.

    [End log]

    Blaze Strife

    //A nice story. 🙂


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