03/02/2018 at 07:26 #31746Adele MundyParticipant
Personal Log, SubKommandant Adelaide Mundy, ISN Oblivion, 2nd Space Flotilla, 4th Hunter Group
So, here we are, back in the Empire proper… and in self-imposed quarantine, in case we say or do anything that gives us away. In theory, I should have more time to try and crack your encryption protocols so that I know more about how not to give myself or anyone else away. In practice, I’ve been monitoring comms, both on open channels and on channels that we shouldn’t be accessing. I think I’ve bounced transmission around enough times that our listening in won’t be noticed. You can’t stop the signal, as a wise dead man said.
I suppose I ought to start at the beginning of the shift, when we were still on Stormhold Station, quite unaware of the Balrog that was about to hit it. We were still working on the station, and happily reporting on the progress our teams were making. Stellar Cartography reported we had detected gate emissions; the negotiations with the Heptanites in the Neutral Zone were continuing, and we might be able to offer our ships as protective escorts, in exchange for some denabite crystals. Oh, yes, because some of our denabite crystals are degenerating, which might explain our energy shortfalls, particularly the sudden drop that happened just before Invictus was hit. There were hopes of continuing to manufacture ordnance to bring us up to a full complement… The best laid plans of mice and men.
We also had Invictus to repair, after her too close encounter with
Skaraans. While repairs were continuing, we spent some time on sims, with Kommandant Aramond leading the exercise while the Group Leader remained on TSN Grant, negotiating with representatives of some of the local population. This meant I was in command on Oblivion, with Graybeard on Weapons, Ironclad in Engineering, Quinn on Helm, and Midshipman K joining us on the bridge and taking SciComms.
We had a short break to listen to the news: it seems that through some anomaly, we were able to receive a transmission from our universe, however crackly and disturbed. According to that, we are still Missing in Action. That means you haven’t made yourselves known yet, or you haven’t found your way to a Terran system. Or you’re dead. Or our whole universe has changed, except for our memories. I would like you to be real, so please keep that in mind, Adelaide. Look after our bodies and our ships. We’re trying to look after yours… honestly, we are. More damn casualties, but we’re trying, dammit.
The Group Leader joined us on Oblivion for one more sim, so I took Comms, Graybeard stayed on Weapons, and the rest of the bridge crew switched stations: Quinn in Engineering, Ironclad at the Science console, K at the Helm. All went smoothly.
And then we got our briefing. In itself, it promised a quiet, almost routine shift: the local human population had offered to send us some denabite crystals and medical supplies, in return with some assistance for manufacturing supplies to be sent to some of their bases. Invictus, still damaged and on light duties, was to remain at Stormhold Station to meet the arriving transport vessel and escort it in and back out with its supplies. Meanwhile, Oblivion, Relentless and Excision would provide escort to trade vessels in Sector 6, where there had been a spate of pirate attacks.
OverKommandant Jemel was not available to command Excision, (he had been on Grant – fortunately, he made it to a life pod) and she was short of bridge crew. Matsiyan pointed out to the Group Leader that there were two SubKommandants and XOs on two ships with six bridge officers each. And I happened to be on my way to Excision with a message as the Duty Officers were reassigning crew members… and that, my Lords and Ladies of the jury, is how I came to be in command of Excision during our missions.
Donovan was at his post as XO, and Scicomms; Subaltern Starry was in Engineering, Subaltern Xansta on Helm, Midshipman Avirson on Weapons. The escort mission started relatively quietly, then a number of pirates appeared and tried to take the convoy, so we were kept busy defending it. I was in command of an unfamiliar ship, with an unfamiliar crew – I know Donovan best out of them, and even so, we always serve on different ships – and I heard Matsiyan talking in increasing agitation, so my personal notes of event are sketchy.
What caused Matsiyan’s agitation was, at first, the appearance of a number of Kraliens ships just after the transport convoy made comms contact. Invictus went to defend the convoy, of course, and because of the number of Kraliens attacking, used all her ordnance, so she had to return to the base to resupply. The Heptanite transport ship was docking, Invictus was also on approach, and there was an explosion. Stormhold was destroyed. Grant was destroyed. One of the Heptanite escort ships was destroyed. Invictus was close enough to suffer serious structural damage, as well as a widespread systems blackout.
We found out later, when there was time to analyse the sensor data from Invictus, that the explosion was caused by large quantities of munitions grade explosives on board the Heptanite transport. Explosives which the Heptanites had certainly not mentioned in the agreement to bring supplies… and which nobody with any sense would carry on the same ship as a quantity of denabite crystals. At least, not unless they were planning a large and deadly explosion.
The surviving Heptanite escort ship immediately showed as hostile, and was destroyed by Invictus and by Grant’s escorts. There was a race against time to pick up all life pods from the station and the destroyed ships. We can be thankful that a good number of our people managed to make it to life pods, but dammit, there’s so few of us to begin with, how many more are we going to lose?
What happens when one of us dies over here? Is there any consequence on your side, our side of the mirror? Or will we only know when we find a way to switch back again? How many of us have died on your side?
[sound of something thumping on desk]
Dammit, Adelaide, I’m in your brain, you’re in my brain, can’t you find a way to answer me?
[pacing up and down]
Matsiyan reported the situation to the Group Leader, of course, and was ordered to form up with all remaining ships and join us as swiftly as possible. When they did, all the stations in the sector turned hostile. A wonderful way to show their gratitude for us keeping the pirates at bay, dammit. We headed for the Hjorden Gate, and tried to keep enemy ships clear of it until Invictus arrived. Excision is fast and nimble (reminds me a little of Lancer), so we were running interference. She has great beams, but they draw a lot of energy, and we didn’t have many lulls in combat during which we could engage the fuel collector systems. At one point, as Oblivion came and joined our operating area, we had to limp away from combat with 4% energy remaining, and dammit, I don’t want to find myself in that position again. But Starry managed to cool down the engines, repair damaged systems (we did have some damaged hallways, but hell’s bells, we just directed crew around them), collect fuel and rebuild our stock of torpedoes, and we barely kept the fleet waiting.
We retreated through the Hjorden gate, into Horden sector 2. And found that the Hjorden are not allied of the Empire: they sent battlecruisers after us, and they were backed by N’tani ships too. Now, we remember the N’tani beams, and we did not want to engage with them. They have such long range, and they strip away shields at an alarming rate. Even the Hjorden ships were more heavily armed than the ones on our side of the mirror, dammit. So we headed for the Cerberus Gate with all possible speed, trying to avoid N’tani ships – we did have to destroy some before we could make the jump, and it still feels wrong. We’re used to defending the N’tani, dammit, not killing them.
In Cerberus we found more Hjorden attempting to engage. The side of me that hides behind flippant remarks would like to point out that this makes the presence of Hjocoa in the Empire a remote possibility at best. Expect to find frequent and elaborate lamentations in future logs, because what good will it do us to reach human settlements, where we might give ourselves away, and not even have Hjocoa to drink as a reward for the danger we’re in?
There were ships from the ISN Second Space Flotilla, First Battle Command, 3rd Assault Group on patrol in Cerberus. Oblivion’s Comms Officer contacted them, and they came to our aid against the Hjorden ships. More disturbingly, they commandeered Serena Civilian Station and ordered them to resupply us; and when we moved on towards the Promethean Gate, they disabled key systems on the station.
And here we are. Promethean Station. Not our Promethean Station, and we’re not to go across to the station itself yet. Invictus has placed itself on quarantine, citing the radiation on Stormhold as a pretext. Excision is claiming a virus. Meanwhile, we are all striving to learn as much as possible about our mirror selves – about you, Adelaide, damn your paranoia. Though as the saying goes, you’re not paranoid if they really are after you. We really need to find out what the Fourth Hunter Group’s original mission was, and why we were in the Antara System, in order to explain why we were aboard Stormhold at all. I caught one snippet of conversation over comms from the 3rd Assault Group: “Leave it to the 4th Hunter to escape from the jaws of death…” Flattering, in its own way. Does it mean we were reported killed in action? Missing in action? It’s quite an achievement, I suppose, to be missing in action in two different universes.
So, as I said at the start of this, it’s back to trying to find out who you are, and what your place in this universe is, so that I can fill it with some degree of credibility. We’ll be meeting with your superior officers some time soon. Dammit. I mean, of course, hell’s bells and buckets of blood.03/02/2018 at 16:02 #31749Matthew VajParticipant
Mundy, I just want you to know that reading your log is always one of the highlights of my week.10/02/2018 at 05:02 #31794Adele MundyParticipant
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