02/09/2017 at 00:12 #26373Adele MundyParticipant
Personal Log, Lt.Sr. Adele Mundy, TSN Sabre, 2nd Flt, 4th Lt.Div.
“It’s not the coffee pot,” said Matsiyan’s voice in my head. I wondered what he meant, but it was time for the briefing, and since he’s a conscientious officer, he was paying attention to the Fleet Captain.
We were told that: the shipyards by Promethean Command are back in operation, thanks to the spare parts we recovered from the looters last shift; the Hjorden have returned to diplomatic talks with us about the Kralien intrusions, after our successful extraction of an asset and their information; the Zolmari believe that the Kralien Order is following some oracular visions about the damn Artefacts (he didn’t say damn, that’s my addition), and may be close to finding another damn Artefact (and dammit, how many Artefact are there? For reasons I can’t explain, other than Librarian knowledge of obscure works, I keep thinking of the Infinity Gauntlet and its Infinity Gems. Shall we call them the Time Artefact, the Space Artefact, the Power Artefact? The… Mind Artefact, dammit…
Let’s not. Let’s just not.
Where was I? Briefing. So: we were warned of the presence of a Unukalhai force in Arrin System, most likely the remains of the fleet whose base we destroyed, and the threat they pose to the Hjorden in their nearby system; our presence in Arrin would be a show of force in support of the Hjorden.
And, dulcis in fundo, we were reminded to offer all assistance and cooperation to the ONI agents with the blue badges who are currently on the station. I suspect an offer of coffee would be seen as the ironic question it actually is.
“It’s not the coffee pot, it’s Mundy.” Dammit.
Our first sim (on Raven, no, I mean Sabre, dammit, with the Fleet Captain taking SciComms as well as fleet command, Aramond as XO taking Engineering, Quinn on Helm, me on Weapons) was intense. Being short-handed on the bridge didn’t help. We felt the lack of heavy ordnance, with the Captain repeatedly ordering Echo 2 passes after we had used all our mines already. I barely managed to raise the shields in time as, of all people, Quinn flew us into the edge of a mine field… I was profoundly thankful we were flying a simulation!
I don’t know if the other ships in the exercise were similarly stretched, but for our missions the Senior Officers decided to consolidate our crews into Sabre, Horizon and Lancer only. Lt. Commander Aramond retired to MedBay, sounding relieved that he could do so without leaving the bridge short-handed, and as we welcomed some officers on temporary assignment I took Aramond’s place as XO, and my customary place on Science and Comms.
We headed for Sector 6 in Hjorden space, near the Cerberus Gate, with the task of picking up our Ambassador from station D46. And then we received a mayday call, as a Hjorden station in Sector 4 was under attack by Unukalhai forces – yes, Computer, the Unuk forces we had displaced when we destroyed their base.
It was a large force, and Sabre started running out of ordnance quickly, despite the fact that I had asked the stations in the system to start building replacements the moment we arrived. If I recall correctly, none of the stations were industrial or military, they simply weren’t set up to respond that fast. On the other hand, I did manage to obtain a good number of surrenders. It felt like pushing open a door that was already ajar. I wonder if it’s because they’re human… I don’t have the extra obstacle of talking in an alien language, and communication is faster. I suppose I also understand their psychological make-up better, and it’s easier to gauge the right moment to offer a cease fire if they surrender.
Our three ships coordinated beautifully against the Unuk forces: at one point, Sabre was leading a heavy cruiser around, keeping on the very edge of range, so that Horizon could engage her from astern, it was as pretty a dance as ever involved death and destruction… And of course all credit goes to our Helm (Beaumont) and Engineering (Quinn) officers, who made it possible, and made it look easy.
There was a moment when a Kralien fleet arrived and started moving towards our battle, when I thought we would end up having to fight on two fronts. Granted, the Kralien ships aren’t nearly as dangerous as the large Unuk dreadnoughts we were facing, but it was an unpleasant prospect, and I kept an eye on them. And then the sensor data updated, and it turned out that the Kraliens were Zolmari. Smiles of relief all round, and we went back to our battle, until a sudden spike in radiation brought us all into a higher state of alert, as I started scanning for Caltrons.
But no Caltrons turned up, which is just as well, as the radiation spike shut down systems all over the ship, including our sensors. I was staring at a black console screen, while Engineering was reporting a long list of systems failures. I can only surmise that what remained of the Unuk ships were as hampered as we were, and took the chance to steal away while we couldn’t track them.
We were invited by the Hjorden to dock at the Sector 4 stations to wait for the radiation to abate and to make necessary repairs, and we gratefully accepted. The newly arrived Zolmari were also invited to dock, with appropriate security protocols as established between the Zolmari and ONI.
Once the ships had been repaired and the radiation cleared to acceptable levels, we set out to assess damage in the sector. One Hjorden cruiser had been destroyed in our engagement with the Unuks — they bravely bought us time by standing between us and the USF ships — and part of our mission was to search the area for any remains or salvage, and collect them. After that, we were supposed to return to Promethean Command, while the Ambassador remained on the Hjorden base to liaise with the Zolmari recruits and to arrange and attend memorial services for the casualties.
We were in the middle of our search and salvage operation, when we received a garbled distress call from somewhere in Hjorden Sector 5. And one thing that struck me at the time was the way all three ships immediately communicated with the Fleet Captain. It was easiest for me, being on the same bridge, but within seconds both Horizon and Lancer called to report the distress signal. So the Division set out for Sector 5 at high speed.
We found that Sierra 12, the station where we had found refuge when we were trying to extricate the Fleet Captain from his so-called arrest (kidnapping by shadowy forces… every time I think about that it seems like an event that should only happen in a military spy thriller) was under heavy attack by Kraliens. It had been boarded, in fact — we found out later that the boarding had been effected with assistance from the Skaraans, who will do almost anything for pay. There were two transport ships already leaving the sector, and my sensors found anomalous energy readings around the station. And a Void-damned headache kicked in like a bad-tempered Skaraan…
Was there an Artefact on S12? I suspect there was. Lending more credence to my suspicion is the fact that Caltrons also turned up. We had our hands full dealing with all that: large Kralien fleets, the need to deploy marines on S12 to re-take the station, Horizon’s security chief suffering some kind of breakdown as the ship was boarded, Caltrons… It was intense and dangerous work. Lt. Quinn, in Engineering, kept us going though Sabre was heavily damaged — the smoke was so thick our emergency breathing masks were needed on the bridge, and from what I could see on internal sensors, DamCon techs were actually needed to supplement the automatic fire suppression systems.
We were limping at the end of it, but we made it. S12 is safely in Hjorden hands (well, chelae, I suppose) again, and undergoing repairs. A few of the Kralien ships changed sides, and came to help. More work for ONI, to find out if there are any double agents hiding among the defectors.
We returned to Promethean Station, left our ships in the capable hands of the repair crews — sometimes I don’t know if they’re happy for the work, which justifies their continued employment, of if they hate us because we keep breaking the things they fix — and went back to the sim suites to brush up on the skills we had found wanting in combat.
The Fleet Captain said he was busy, and left me in command of Sabre for the sim. With four bridge crew, that could have been difficult, but I was fortunate enough to have Wade as my XO and Weapons officer, Quinn on Engineering and Beaumont on Helm, so I was able to take Command, Science and Comms in the knowledge that they need no micro-management. They know what to say to each other, they know what to do; and I was happy to find that several times I noticed situations on the Science screen and was about to give an order to go and do something about it, and almost immediately received exactly that order from Capt. Verok.
I’m not ascribing that to reading his mind, Computer, I’m assuming I am beginning to learn to read the strategic situation.
What did, briefly, come to mind during that sim, was the Zig. The Ziggurat, was the colloquial name for the high security prison in Brickstown. Three concentric squares of high concrete walls, topped by wire fences, surrounded by cameras, overflown by PPD helicopters.
The briefest glimpse of something, I can’t tell if I imagined it: the Fleet Captain walking through a door, perhaps into one of the Briefing Rooms, I can’t even be certain of that. And someone walking in behind him, an unfamiliar uniformed silhouette. Then a flash like an alarm system going off, though without sound, and then a wall. High and grey and massive like the walls of the Zig.
The Fleet Captain came to brief us for a final mission, and was not quite himself. He seemed a little confused, unable to concentrate — as I said, Computer, not himself. Somebody asked how the interview had gone, and he asked, “What interview?” There is no record of the Fleet Captain having any meeting with anyone during that time. There is no record of anyone entering or leaving the room he was in. Dammit.
We were sent back to our ships for a final mission — and I took command of Sabre again as the Fleet Captain went to MedBay. What the Void happened to him? He was fine until the start of the sim!
We were sent out to repair sensor arrays so they could resume functioning in stealth mode. We had a few encounters with pirates, but we dealt with them well, and Sabre’s bridge crew performed as efficiently as they had on the sim, with Lt. Quinn also taking the shuttle out to perform the sensor array repairs, while leaving Engineering in the care of his techs.
We were back on the base, ready for debrief, reports, and finally a little off duty time. And then the full line came to me: “It’s not the coffee pot, it’s Mundy. Mundy is tainted by the planet of her birth.”
Now I have to go and do some serious target practice. Dammit.
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