Log Matsiyan 9116-2237

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    Personal Log, Lieutenant-Junior Conrad Matsiyan, TSN Lancer, 4th LD
    Stardate: 9116-2238

    The scent of spring is in the air! Spring in one’s step that is, coffee. Not literally of course, the packs are still safely sealed. But my brain is busily hallucinating the aroma that will ensue when I crack the first one after I finish what is left of Mundy’s bribe. Actually, that has been such a life saver, I should really check to see if those engineering profiles are working for her.

    Not only did I receive the shipment I had ordered, but the feelers I had out also got me word that it was coming and I was able to see it arrive. I was glad to know the military had not cut off all contact with the Earth Company. I have been assiduously helpful to the logistics sergeants and some part of that shipment is favourable trade goods to keep friendships alive, ardent spirits, sweets, comestibles of one kind and another. So I was at the viewport in the cargo docking bay as big, beautiful ECS Asia under Captain Keu glided into sight around the horizon of the station. She slid gracefully into position to allow her huge cargo loader docking connectors to mate precisely with her assigned slot. She is a very old ECS and of an even older lineage. The first ECS Asia predated artificial gravity tech. She had a rotating cylinder habitat during flight for crew comfort and health. The latest Asia is still a throwback. ECS ships used to operate even in areas without TSN frequent coverage, making runs to outlying colonies or trading partners who did not want a very visible TSN presence. She has huge cargo pod attachments either side of a slender spine running forward of her big warp nacelles. The pods can be jettisoned, though captains prefer to think of it as ‘parked’, to leave a vessel looking remarkably like a pirate arrow class if she has to run or defend herself and her cargo. Not so obvious either is that her big cargo shuttles are pretty nimble when not laden down and they are armed.

    That whole thing was a piece of luck. One of the instructors Mundy and I shared at the academy and who helped us both a great deal is going through some family tragedy. We had both put in for a leave of absence to go and help out while she was attending to some medical admin that was rather time consuming, but at the last minute things calmed down and it made more sense to postpone the trip for another time when it may be more urgent.

    But I barely had time to take delivery and get it into the storage I’ve rented before shift started. With some senior officers away, there was a general shuffling of crews to get the best coverage of experienced officers. I also suspect they were trying out, or at least using some of the new permanent assignments that should be posted any day now. I was aboard Hydra with her regular Helm and Tac officers, Quinn and Fulvus. Lt Cdr. del Pino was skipper. Uncomfortable to see ‘the Light Cavalry” broken up. It was strange to feel Mundy posted to Lancer. Through that elusive mental bond we share, I picked up strange flashes of familiar details of the dashing interceptor that so quickly became home. It was hard to tell if I was just getting memory flashes of things I was used to seeing.

    It was also great to run into Leo Kaplan again. Or should I say Chief Kaplan now. She was leading one of the DamCon teams rotating aboard Hydra and had specialist Polano on her squad. The only problem with those guys is stopping them from trying too hard. I have an extra incentive to station them out of harm’s way.

    Of course we started with a sim to warm up. Lots of Omega-three and Echo runs. I quickly realised it made sense to adapt the primary beams profile to a setting with a touch of extra manoeuvreing, a lot of front shields and some extra rear shields to take us through Echo runs.

    Then we received new orders including a live TSN Command transmission for a mineralogy study in Cerberus sector VII. Expected to be bored since Hydra only has point defense beams not strong enough to vaporize the volume of asteroid necessary to perform assays fast enough to be useful. We headed to the gate without incident but arrived to find N’tani using some of their high tech to scavenge wreckage. This is perfectly legal, if a trifle unusual. The fleet dispersed to scan each of the vessels for contraband. But this time we found no infractions and let them go peacefully about their business. What we did run into was a decloaking pirate transport, probably had been scavenging the wreckage before the N’tani showed up. Problem is – it was too close in to the fleet to use Hydra’s heavy ordnance. However a couple of Unakalhai ships tried to interfere. They are such suckers for anti-supremacist rhetoric that it was easy to have them target us. We got the ball rolling with an EMP and then, as the fleet closed with beams, we provided support with with a barrage of homing torps. The fleet followed humanitarian protocol closely with these opponents. Surrenders were demanded scrupulously, then the crew were called on to abandon ship into lifepods so the vessels could be destroyed. We don’t want to create martyrs going down with their ships, but neither do we want those ships mysteriously making their way back to the USF. It is easy to spot a Kralien in the fleet but the Unaks are only alien on the inside.

    We also had routine pirate encounters on the way to Ceberus VII. Once there the fleet docked briefly at Dlana and Jgoran stations before heading to the designated asteroids for the mineralogy sampling. We thought this is where it would get really boring for the Hydras, but in fact we were assigned to sector overwatch to distract rude strangers while the fleet was busy demonstrating its prowess.

    As we went to take up a central position at Halima station, a trio of TSN Destroyers entered the sector and proceeded as if on routine patrol. However their comms chatter was odd. There were snide remarks about our presence, then disparaging remarks and finally language that would strip paint off a bulkhead. Commander del Pino was very suspicious of their activity. At the least they were undisciplined. You might put that down to some jealousy between local defense forces and the Light Division. But it seemed to cross a line, either into intoxication or possibly insurrection. Have they been infiltrated by Unakalhai, or simply disaffected by some of the unfortunate station incidents?

    Before we could think of raising a complaint, or investigating further, a pirate arrow decloaked near the destroyers. Given the destroyers’ previous behaviour we were especially concerned about their ability to defend themselves. So Deverin or Morlock was quick to open an insulting hailing frequency and keep their attention while Hydra scrambled to intercept them. Every ship is different, but there is nothing quite like the deep melodic hum that the urgency of a high energy turn, and 300% power allocation to the warp drive, creates in Hydra’s massive frame. This one you feel in your diaphragm, making you aware of every breath you take.

    The arrow’s dangerous gatling beams were no threat to Hydra’s stand off barrage of ordnance. And again before we could think of dealing with the destroyers there was an urgent multiple hostile contact. “Caltrons! Caltrons in subsector Delta Five Mark One!”

    I am sure that the crew of Lancer were busy with their mineralogical survey tasks but once again feeling that pressure on your breathing as helm was given a free rein and I was encouraged to redline power to the warp drive, was glorious. We were on the swarm before they knew it, and eating the electromagnetic death of our greeting and the plasma tsunami of our Echo-ing embrace before they could calibrate. Their primary beams’ response sucked all the energy out of our shields as we left them in our dust for newly arriving Lancer to mop up.

    We also beat Lancer back to base. But that fun triumph was marred by the fact that the Unakalhai prisoners we dropped off at Halima station were dead shortly after arrival under suspicious circumstances.

    Another official mission was launched almost at once and we lost Fulvus from Tactical. Morlock cheerfully moved over since it is his primary and young Deverin was left with both Sci and Com. However Morlock and I could breath easy on that score as we were pretty sure Lt. Cdr del Pino would be unable to resist keeping an eye on his favourite stations.

    The division was to escort a science vessel, the PSE Schroedinger, to investigate the alien Artifact left hidden in a nebula in the Cronus system. The problem with that fine plan was that the Artifact was no longer there. Schroedinger traced its energy signature and was able to track iT out of the sector. Apart from minor pirate interference, a major Kralien fleet was discovered and dealt with. Again an oddity – Valiant destroyed surrendered Kralien vessels. Not sure why. I sincerely hope I was picking up an erroneous transmission or that the Kraliens broke parole. If it was just some psychopath racist then they deserve to have the book thrown at them – preferably in the form of a superheated plasma.

    Transiting into the sector where the Artifact was eventually discovered, a number of life pods were found. No living occupants were found aboard. From their flight data recorder logs, they had been drifting for six years. I wonder where they came from? I must try to research that.

    The Artifact was recovered and tractored back towards the gate and again stashed in a nebula after removing a carrier fleet. There was then a fleet commanders’ conference on what to do with the Artifact. To my surprise I was made XO and given temporary command of Hydra while Cdr del Pino took a shuttle to the conference. Looking around I realised that no one actually outranked me. We have a lot of green officers! I was not prepared for this. Despite the fact that even as an Acting Ensign you are in the chain of command, the odds of finding yourself in command of more than a simple replicator are pretty remote. I had actually been temporary XO once before, but only for about two minutes, during which nothing happened before a senior officer returned. So that hardly counts.

    Naturally the cosmos decided that moment for Kraliens to stumble upon the division. A quick Command broadcast indicated that there was not enough time for senior officers to return and that XOs should deal with the situation. There was instantly some babble on the bridge as stations tried to do their job but had no smoothly functioning nexus of command and feedback. They were obviously nervous at not having a familiar figure with known competence processing strategic inputs and giving operational direction. Quickly I stood up and paced the deck to create a reassuring presence and a focus for communications. To calm things down I wanted to get the stations busy. Best I could do was to have Ens. Deverin at Science, the least experienced officer aboard, initiate sensors sweeps and give helm a course for the largest of the small groups of invaders. I had Tactical prepare a general purpose ordnance loadout. What I desperately wanted was to coordinate with other fleet units to ensure optimum coverage of the intruders and appropriate concentration of Complementary firepower. That is the moment when I realized that as a humble Lieutenant-Junior I did not have sufficient rank to access intership communications. My security codes were refused. Seeing other fleet units closing to the attack, I had to hold back Hydra’s heavy ordnance and support other units with volleys of Homing Torpedoes. Fortunately Quinn at Helm and Morlock on Tactical, were both well versed in their primary areas of expertise and handled the ship appropriately until Caltrons turned up and one of the other fleet vessels had a full Lieutenant who could coordinate the cruisers and Lancer to deal with them while Hydra dealt with arriving Skaraans and Kraliens who were at enough of a distance for our ordnance to be safe. Later we applied EMP to an Arvonian carrier on behalf of Lancer.

    My first taste of command was a wild scramble internally while trying to keep the crew chatter down and everyone on the bridge occupied productively while still supporting them at the Engineering station. Less than ideal, but we managed neither to lose the ship nor initiate any friendly fire incidents. This was a major win for Hydra.

    When the senior officers returned, the fleet went into low power mode to minimize footprint and maximize loiter time while we guarded the Artifact until a permanent solution could be devised.

    Before we were dismissed to get some field rest, Chuck Finley was elected division Security Officer.

    Time to hit the sack.
    [End log.]

    John van Leigh

    Well, I do have a tendency to keep an eye on scicomms. I feel it helps me notice how good that officer’s doing, there are sadly too many instances in which is hard to see how good those are.

    But that was a very well deserved DSM you earned there!

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