11/02/2017 at 08:13 #20811MatsiyanParticipant
Personal Log, Lieutenant-Senior Conrad Matsiyan, XO TSN Raven, 4th L.D.
Christmas in the trenches is the wrong image, but it’s the one that comes to me. We weren’t in stagnant defensive positions, with no orders, few supplies, and on the occasion of a shared festival of peace and kindness, but we faced our enemy and neither of us offered violence to the other.
Having completed some initial training for induction into the Office of Naval Intelligence last shift, I reported-in to the pre-shift ONI briefing. As a mere junior bridge officer, it was fascinating to learn what data ONI has compiled or surmised from our mission sensor logs. Some of it is not in fact restricted. It is simply a summary of known and reported facts gathered together in a coherent whole. It is much easier to get an overall understanding without piecing it together from your own narrow view from a single bridge, the mission voice recorder log of inter-ship chatter, the brief remarks the senior officers may deign to parcel out before, during or after a mission, or the scuttlebutt you pick up in the bar.
This at least left me feeling slightly better prepared for my new temporary assignment as Fleet Captain Xavier’s XO aboard TSN Raven. Funny thing is, despite commanding Excalibur for three shifts, I have only served as XO very briefly for a couple of sims over the months. So I did not really know what to expect. Everything turned topsy-turvy in the end. So I am still not sure. I do know that I miss commanding Excalibur. She is a challenging ship to get the best out of, no heavy ordnance and no rapid fire beams. She can get in the occasional telling blow and since she’s one of the few hulls available to the division, it behooves us to get the best out of her.
The briefing started with the wildly popular promotion of Raven’s helmsman, Quinn to full Lieutenant. Really, the volume and duration of the cheering was significant.
The plan for the shift was to perform some shakedown exercises in the sims and then execute an exploratory patrol further into the Euphini Expanse, still seeking a new homeworld for the disposessed N’tari.
Very easy to organize a sharp crew like Raven’s; newly promoted Lieutenant Quinn on helm where he works well in combination with Lieutenant-Junior Nhaima at Tactical. Lt. Sr. Mundy was primarily responsible for comms traffic for Raven and for the division’s allied vessel coordination, but also for Science. With Toro away I had a comfortable slot covering Engineering from the auxiliary console on the bridge and leaving me a little spare bandwidth to help with Science when Comms was busy.
I obtained permission to use my R&D credentials to temporarily install the experimental AI subliminal status reporting suite. Captain Xavier noticed and was concerned that the feedback was so automatic that it made him too relaxed.
Maybe I was too relaxed, or too absorbed in making sure I did not slip up in Enngineering. Twice Nhaima covered for me in announcing the Captain on the bridge.
After the two standard sector seige simulations, I could understand why. Shipboard operations were very smooth. Nhaima and Quinn work excellently together and Mundy and I have known each other since the Academy, not to mention the psi-link.
The mission started very normally as we started a patrol on heading 090 with a routine sector transition. During sensor sweeps we encountered medium Kralien forces and immediately manoeuvred to engage. The Kraliens, most unusually, were not interested. They were venting plasma fast to continue on heading 090. In fact they were redlining their powerplants, running way beyond their standard military max power. Mundy picked up, decrypted and translated some of their comms traffic. Their formation was receiving orders to ignore us, disengage and make all speed to relieve station BETA from attack. They made sector transit well before us.
There was the briefest of pauses while senior officers conferenced on how to proceed. There was some concern that this was a ruse to draw us into ambush. My feeling was that they were damn good actors if that was the case. Mundy had some difficulty with the translation because of the rapidity and speech inflections that did not match anything she had come across before.
The Fleet Captain decided that whatever they were up to we needed to know about it and that on this shift we had a full complement of active vessels with veteran crews. There was not going to be a better opportunity for a show of strength and to fight a retreat if needed. Cautiously we made sector transition.
There was a lot of activity in sector. Fairly nearby there was a heavy presence of Kraliens clustered around a sizable station with several personnel transports. They were heavily engaged with fast moving raiders in advance of some heavier vessels and at least three much larger units barely moving. All were in an arc this side of a black hole. The lateral sensor arrays rapidly assessed their profiles as Caltron.
To wax poetic, you could almost feel a shiver run through the division. Caltrons are a weapon system associated with technical artifacts billions of years old. We don’t know if the voiddamned things are relics of that bygone age or if they are still being manufactured and commissioned by some alien system. The problem is that their base or resupply locations are unknown since they have the capability to project forces through existing or even temporarily created gravitational anomalies, with concomitant tell-tale radiation.
We were almost on top of the nearest Kraliens, who, instinctively I suspect, immediately turned on us. We were also quickly engaged with small Caltron units. It was very clear that engaging both sets of forces in the sector was a task that might prove beyond the division’s capabilities. The Kraliens were already up to significant mischief on the far side of the system but, we had never allowed a Caltron presence to obtain and maintain a foothold after any encounter. Their tactical acumen and power efficiency seems to increase non-linearly when they are in close proximity. We don’t ever want to find out how bad Things could get if too many assemble in one place.
At that moment CIC reached out to us with a comms channel opened by the Kralien sector commander requesting assistance. The Fleet Captain was heavily occupied with coordinating the division in action and authorized me to liaise directly with the Kralien commander. Fortunately, after commanding Excalibur and taking the ONI intro course I have become somewhat familiar with intership comms and CIC channel management.
I worked with Mundy to tap into the Comms board and she configured some of her personal Kralien translation matrices to hook up with the CIC relay. She has been improving her Kralien linguistics by leaps and bounds since the Academy with some significant field experience in Kralien military jargon, customs and the TSN dossiers on their personnel and customs. It was enormously helpful to have that at hand. After that point it became a little difficult for me to keep track of division operations as I expanded on Xavier’s efficiently brief directives to talk with the Enemy.
He offered a temporary ceasefire and requested our assistance to escort materiel and non-combatant personnel Including spouses and incompetent minors aboard the transports evacuating their BETA station in the sector. In return he offered a copy of the research data they had been accumulating on the Caltrons, assuming we could download it before the station was destroyed, and even half of any materiel recovered.
The captain again consulted the division’s senior officers. There was some significant skepticism, but a very strong desire to quell the major Caltron incursion. Cdr van Leigh, ever ruthlessly practical pointed out that the escaping Kraliens could reinforce their forces across the system with additional materiel, personnel, knowledge of the Caltrons and Intel on our in-system capabilities. Since we were already in a state of open hostility for the Hegemony breach of the Euphini accords after the division’s last campaign in the area, he reasoned we could fall on the Kraliens after the retreat and before they could join up with other system forces.
My blood ran cold. We had to stope the Caltrons at all costs. We could not do that and confront the Kraliens at the same time. We almost certainly could eliminate the Kraliens after and they already had a worryingly large presence the other side of Command Post 27X.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about Kralien non-combatants, especially after knowing what happened to our civilian populations on stations in Cerberus Sector VI when their General Monteurg led the Grand Alliance to occupy it.
But it was actually my years aboard ECS ships, learning the ropes of true mercantile life that determined my fealings. I despise my father for the callous way he treats corporate entrepreneurship. Caveat Emptor is his motto and quarterly financials his only metric. He is a voiddamned genius with finance, an able if unimaginitive senior corporate officer, but I don’t think grandad will ever sponsor him to The Board. He and his father were instrumental in taking mankind to the stars. Sure they made money, but they happened to be engineering geniuses, inspired by a passion for empowering humanity to reach beyond the terran system before they bickered themselves out of existence. My great-grandfather and his son wanted to help humanity and they saw Beauty in a brilliantly designed engine. They put those passions together and made smart but fair deals to expand their knowhow into the major shipping combine in, and even beyond, Terran-controlled space. That was of huge value to Earth and they reaped the benefits. But they had the luxury and the generosity never to be mean in their dealings. Dad didn’t get that gene.
So what hit me in the gut was that we had been offered an incredibly fair bargain for a valuable prize. I spoke in favour of letting those Kraliens help us hold off and defeat the Caltrons in exchange for protecting their people who might one day kill more Terrans. On the other hand, if Hegemony citizens and soldiers only ever see us as targets, as murderers, as ungrateful “tenants” of “their” galaxy (yeah, yeah, I know), then they will never be moved to hesitate in attacking us or destroying our ships and stations, or speaking ifavour of rescuing our lifepods or treating gently occupied outposts. Maybe this one little bargain can open the door a crack to having some Kraliens see us differently, act differently.
The resolution passed and I painstakingly hammered out the communications with that strange alien accent. Stars Around, but we served them badly. We are so used to defending our own vessels and fighting for advantage without too much regard to time that we let the Caltrons get to close to the station. Raven was in early. We received the data download of their research, even received medical aid for our, admittedly light, injuries among DamCon and then we took our heavy beams and ordnance to help reduce the three Caltron Superswarms loitering in the sector.
But the Caltrons got in close to the station and they slaughterd the transports.
The Kralien commander was furious. He was practically ready to make a suicide run at us in retalliation. I don’t even recall what I managed to say acros that barrier of language and culture and fear of loss, that persuaded him that we had not deliberately allowed his men and women and children to die. I have a shrewd idea how Xavier would have felt on the other side of the table.
We limped out of the sector with a single Kralien transport. Oh yeah, we gloriously and efficiently took down three fearsome Caltron Superswarms. I hope the Kralien Commanders close kin were aboard the surviving ship.
I hope we serve the N’tari better.
[End log]11/02/2017 at 19:24 #20822Blaze StrifeParticipant
//”experimental AI subliminal status reporting suite” What’s that?
//Excellent RP material!11/02/2017 at 21:14 #20835MatsiyanParticipant
// AI is the background sound Jemel and I play. I use a TNG bridge. HE uses a randomised vague instrument sound11/02/2017 at 21:37 #20838Blaze StrifeParticipant
//Oh, that. Thanks. 🙂11/02/2017 at 22:19 #20843XiphParticipant
//Randomised vague instrument sound?
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