28/01/2016 at 02:29 #4150
Personal Log, Lt.Jr. Adele Mundy, TSN Hawk, 2nd Flt. 4LD
One never knows when the blow may fall. Such a drastic change from my last log. Euphoria has morphed into a pounding headache, and Doc’s “take two of these and call me in the morning” response is ineffective. I don’t want to make too overt a fuss over it, though, because they’re busy with Expree in the main MedBay, and I really don’t want them to start looking at me.
It all seemed to be going so well… no, no it wasn’t, not when you step back and think. We had been on a long stint guarding the Cosmic Icosahedron, and though things were quiet on the surface, everyone was on edge. I had been sleeping badly, disturbed by some faint but irritating sound I couldn’t trace the source of, and that nobody else seemed to hear. Mess room jokes about cadets and inappropriate uniforms, and toasters, and loud music (people, cool jazz was cool two hundred years ago, can we move on? Has nobody heard of Kralien tri-harp threnody?) were only covering up uneasy talk about security breaches, and about the autopsies that had been carried out on the bodies of those Unukalhai prisoners who died in mysterious circumstances before they could be interrogated. The rumours were circulating freely, and like rumours do, they contradicted each other, but stirred up suspicion and more conjecture.
The mission briefing brought a welcome return to action. Crews have been reassigned, but more reassignments could be happening – I’m still on Hawk at present, though Hawk is still in dock, so Hawk‘s crew, old, new and temporary, was to report to Valiant.
Cadets Morlock and Deverin received their deserved promotions to Lt.jr., Morlock also received a Bronze Star, while Wade and Matsiyan received Distinguished Service medals for taking command of their respective vessels when hostiles attacked while the commanding officers were in conference over what to do about the Cosmic Icosahedron. Much cheering ensued, and rightly so. I hope Matsiyan caught some echo of it in whatever dismal office he is currently sequestered, buried in charts, schedules, reports and red tape.
A final word from Finley in his position as Security Manager warned us that a program del Pino was circulating contained malware, and should not be opened. I am tempted to vent some schadenfreude, but my head aches too much to express myself in a way I won’t find blatant in future, and while it may be acceptable at times to offend other people’s sensibilities, one should never offend one’s own.
So we headed for Valiant to run a couple of simulations in order to settle into our new ships and new roles, in preparation for a supply run to the Atlantis system. Capt. Evans was in command, and we were a little light on crew, so that it looked for a moment as if I could try my hand in engineering while Ens. Cessna took SciComms. However, Lt. Greybeard arrived just before we left dock, and I relinquished the engine room to his much more experienced supervision. I returned to SciComms, and Cessna took on Weapons, where he acquitted himself most creditably.
Then Greybeard was off to Phoenix, and Lt. Kennon Far joined us and took engineering. Capt. Evans also disembarked, and del Pino took command while Lt.jr. Aposine remained on helm. So the crew was just reshuffled when the red alerts sounded, and we scrambled for the mission. Hostiles were appearing everywhere as we formed up to fly right back to the the Cosmic Icosahedron (henceforth CI), to defend it from the Hegemony attack, then recover it and tractor it to Promethean System.
We took so much damage that the engine room went offline for a while, and we were, if not immobilised, at least crippled. I heard Lt. Far warning us that he’d have to disconnect several crucial engine components and practically rebuild them, and then we were limping away and trying to dodge combat with what little power we had left.
Somehow, in a lull between battles, Ens. Remmick managed to reach us – his shuttle pilot must have been dodging an interesting amount of ordnance – and he rushed down to the engine room, to discover that only four damage control techs were still on their feet. Lt. Far was barely conscious, in a tangle of wires under some twisted panels. By heroic effort, Remmick got the engine room into some semblance of working order, and we got back into formation with the rest of the division to tractor the CI out of the sector.
And the hostiles kept coming. And my head felt like it was about to split open. I blamed Aposine at the time, he is loud and has a tendency to play loud music. I didn’t think that of course he wouldn’t be playing music on the bridge during a battle, but I was hearing it all the same, damn discordant notes and unsettling intervals. Not quite cool jazz, more like that ghastly “when does the tune start?” kind of jazz that became popular in the second half of the 20th century, but played on some shrieking, high-pitched almost-zither. It bothered me and upset my concentration, and I was annoyed that Cmdr. del Pino, who seems such a stickler for formalities otherwise, appeared entirely oblivious to the din. That really should have been a clue…
A new message appeared on my Comms board and I couldn’t believe what I was reading, I went to scan Schroedinger and her shields were going down as her Comms officer indignantly hailed Phoenix again, demanding to know why she was firing on Schroedinger. Then comms came in from Phoenix, a confusion of voices, Cmdr. Expree in command, CIC on the channel, other voices in the background, and that cacophony of not-quite-jazz under and over and through everything. Someone (Capt. Xavier Wise) ordering Expree to desist – too late. Schroedinger was destroyed. Expree, sounding agitated, claimed he had received an order to shoot, to defend the artefact, said that Schroedinger was about to attack, to destroy… He did not finish the sentence. According to Capt. Xavier, no such orders were given. Xavier relieved Expree of command, and Expree was placed under arrest. Aramond, who was running SciComms on Phoenix, confirmed that no orders to destroy Schroedinger had come through.
I can only surmise that the rest of the fleet was as dismayed as the bridge crew on Valiant. As we formed up once more to continue tractoring the CI to TSN controlled space, del Pino and Aposine, who have served together for some significant time, started to discuss whether Expree could be a traitor working for the supremacists, or whether Xavier had planted the fake orders so that Expree would be blamed, or whether Aramond had been responsible for the transmission and had then erased it… Just the sort of divisive speculation that would gladden the minds of any potential spies.
We travelled on to Forward Command. The CI’s field behind Valiant made us look like a glowing firefly, which I found rather soothing. It was reassuring to think of the other ships in formation around us, ready to defend the CI. That was when the Caltrons started emerging from the nebulas on either side of us.
My headache lessened somewhat during the battle. That should have been another clue, but I was rather intent on scanning the Caltrons. Cmdr. del Pino wanted the Caltrons taunted. Sigh. You can’t taunt Caltrons. Science scans pick up no details about their captains (if they have captains at all and aren’t simply mechanical constructs), and when hailed they don’t respond, not even to proclaim radio silence. They’re in radio silence from the start. Sometimes they surrender, which indicates they do at least receive comms, but what triggers the decision to surrender, and who or what makes the decision, is not clear to me even when I don’t have to contend with dissonant pseudo-music in my head. And when it looked like both Lancer and Hydra had been destroyed, I had serious doubts that we would be able to survive. We were ordered to tractor the CI to Promethean Gate while the surviving vessels were covering our retreat – and then Lancer and Hydra were back on my scanner, back in the fight, and we all made it through. I don’t know what glitch made them disappear. I’ve since been going over my comms console again to make sure all is as it should be.
We transitioned into Promethean Sector, and found the Unukalhai were attacking just the area we were to travel through… Too pat for a coincidence. Since our maneuvreability was affected by tractoring the CI, we were ordered to fly deep into a nebula and park it in a convenient minefield that we hoped would provide enough of an obstacle to anyone who might come after it. I was troubled at the thought of leaving the CI unguarded, but there was no question of exposing it to USF attacks.
One of our bases was going into irreversible meltdown, and we raced to pick up its life pods as the crew evacuated – again, the fact that this was happening just as another base had been taken over by the USF was too suspicious to ascribe to coincidence, and therefore all the crew we rescued were actually placed in secure quarters.
USF ships that surrendered were also ordered to evacuate their crews in life pods. As a security measure, the ships were destroyed, the pods collected and stowed, the captured crew was delivered to security for interrogation. I scanned all the camera feeds we had, just in case, but no. So the prisoners went with security, and one can only hope they fare better than the previous batch. And we were finally ordered to make our way to Promethean Command, as a battle division had been dispatched to secure the CI, so we disabled the tractor beam and left it behind.
The sector transition felt as if a voice cried out in anguish, and was suddenly silenced. It took me a little while to realise that the discordant not-jazz, not-zither had gone; the silence in my head brought both relief and, strangely, a sense of loss.
I had no time to reflect on what that might mean, though, as we reached Command and went to debrief. Everyone was talking about the events on Phoenix, and when the crew walked in they were the centre of attention. Greybeard was clearly shaken; Cadet Millari, who had been on her first duty shift, at first seemed lighthearted, but it turned out she had been at the weapons console, so she was the one who, obeying Expree’s orders, actually fired on Schroedinger. I can only attempt to imagine what she must be going through at the thought of the death of the crew and scientists on board… Accusations were flying back and forth, several people calling Expree a traitor; Aposine suggested that Roshin Das, who was running comms on Phoenix, must have given the false information that led Expree to give the order; Das countered that he received no such message, nor did he convey it to Expree; somebody, I couldn’t place who, suggested it might be some kind of mind-affecting bug. Reports came in that Expree was in the station brig, then that he had been transferred to MedBay, under heavy sedation.
The formal debrief confirmed that Expree was going to be moved to a secure facility for medical and psi evaluation.
It also confirmed that the USF seemed to know that the division was moving the CI to Sector 12, and were trying a surgical strike to take possession of the CI – the way they focused on attacking Valiant seems to bear that out. The question still is, how they knew… one can’t help concluding that the simplest way to obtain that information would be to have an informant in the TSN. And I can’t help wondering what security might be thinking. I must assume they have the relevant information on The Little Horror, a mere name change does not erase the genetic markers embedded in our dog tags. I reported him missing, after Paragon. I didn’t lie. He did go missing. It’s just that, though I have not a scrap of proof, I suspect where he went. It would not look good. At all.
Changing the subject: for his superhuman efforts in restoring Valiant to function while we were under attack, Act.Ens. Remmick was promoted to full Ensign, among loud cheers from us.
There followed what turned out to be a fairly quiet mission as we took the division to Atlantis Command to pick up upgrades and new codes. A few pirates tried to interfere, but we dealt with them in short order. In the intervals, as we cruised quietly in formation, del Pino reminisced about his early career, under the controversial Capt. Corwin, who has since left the TSN. I drew some mental parallels, but I kept quiet about them.
Once we reached Atlantis Command, we had a final fleet debrief that updated us on Expree’s condition: apparently, the Cosmic Icosahedron emits a low level psi field, which for some reason affected Expree rather than anyone else, and which gave him delusions – as the CI was being tractored, it perceived us as a threat and took Expree over, so he felt this irresistible urge to defend it.
Damn. Low level psi field. Weird not-quite-music in my head. Damn. Headache… I’ve been going over recordings of everything that happened on the bridge to double-check whether I did anything that might have harmed the ship, or the division. I can’t find anything. I hope I’m not fooling myself.
Medical personnel is researching the possibility of some kind of inoculation to counteract the field, we are told, with Expree as their chief patient and guinea pig. Meanwhile, Command engineering crews are working on measuring the range of the psi field, and recalibrating our shields to try to interfere with it. We’ll be kept up to date on progress in both areas. Right. And if I go and tell Doc of my suspicions about my headaches, do I end up locked up in MedBay next to Expree? Take two of these and call me in the morning, right. Dammit. Maybe I’ll take four.
On top of that was the report about the autopsy of those prisoners: they died from plasma shock, and examination of the shuttle determined that the plasma gas was deliberately vented into the craft. And that the protocols were transmitted from Hydra. And that one of the USF officers who died was high ranking enough to have most likely had information that our intelligence officers would have found of interest. So, more cheerful news. And now that we’re all being reassigned, who is keeping track of what personnel was on Hydra when the murder happened?
The sims that followed were supposed to have us settle down again, but they did the opposite, as far as I’m concerned, as both my consoles disconnected within minutes of the start, and I hate fighting our own electronic gremlins significantly more than being in actual combat. Maybe those MREs that disappeared have been feeding the gremlins after midnight?
31/01/2016 at 18:51 #4307
- This topic was modified 5 years, 10 months ago by Adele Mundy. Reason: Retcon
//OOC game: spot the Earth cultural references in Mundy’s log.02/02/2016 at 14:06 #4371MatsiyanParticipant
// “cried out in anguish and was suddenly silenced” Star Wars?
Feeding after midnight, Gremlins (Mogwai!)02/02/2016 at 15:15 #4373
//No-Prize for Matsiyan!
Del Pino also gets a No-Prize for the Star Wars reference, he got it first, though he sent the answer in a private message.
There is one more, non SF reference. Book and black-and-white film with earworm soudtrack…02/02/2016 at 17:29 #4378MatsiyanParticipant
Greek earworm. Not a lot o’ people know that. More than the second adult male.02/02/2016 at 18:10 #4380
// You fiend, Matsiyan, you get another No-Prize. But I think you should be banned from the contest. Psychic link is cheating.
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