Log Mundy, 9618-2237

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    Adele Mundy

    Personal Log, Lt.Cmdr. Adele Mundy, TSN Steadfast, 2nd Flt., 4th Lt.Div.
    Stardate: 9618-2237

    I’m not sure I should be back on duty yet. But we’re short of crew, so short of crew now, with even more dead… and if I didn’t take my place, what would it say about all those people who died getting us out of there? So many names to remember. I’ve been carving them on the monuments in the Salamanca cemetery, where the ghosts and the pumpkin-heads can keep them company at night. Or where they can be ghosts, in a ghost cemetery on a ghost planet. Perhaps they were the ghosts that haunted the place all along, when I was little and we told each other scary stories in school, when autumn came and it grew dark early. Ghosts of the future. All of us.

    … 3719172874677… dammit … 646575 …

    I’m back. I’m here. If only I can make myself believe it. And what if I’m not? What if they’ve got through the War Walls and I’m telling them everything they need to know?

    … 73962 … There’s Matsiyan, going over the Division shift report. That’s real. They can’t fake his mind. Oh dammit, are they listening? Are they still listening? Am I showing them just what they need to know? … 413890865 …

    But if I record the events in the log, then I could destroy the rooms the memories are in… I’ve never tried that before. I wonder if it’ll work.There were some moments there when I didn’t think we’d make it back. I didn’t have time to record this log before we were “required to take part in an Imperial enquiry”, and while we were detained, though I had, in theory, plenty of time, I didn’t want to formulate the log clearly enough to store in the memory palace, because I was building walls around my memory, against the Azure Legion. I built one set of walls with the memories of the volcano on Striga, and the mutated creatures on the islands north of Peregrine, with the tales of the cemetery in Dark Astoria and the twisting paths in Eden; and all around them, as the outer barrier,I placed War Walls, shimmering blue.

    Then I went walking along the endless Corridors of Pi.

    So, now I have a long report to make.

    Personal Log, Lt.Cmdr. Adele Mundy, TSN Sabre/ISN Whisper of Oblivion, 2nd Space Fleet, 4th Light Division
    Stardate: 21418-2237

    We gathered for a briefing secured by the 4LD protocol. The Fleet Captain commented on the suspicious timing of the smuggling op we had dealt with over the previous shift, pointing out that pirates aren’t the usual smugglers, and that they might have been specifically commissioned to carry this particular cargo. After the move to arrest Prefect Moritani, the TSN reported that the Antara System had quietened down; this was after the Kraliens had received their shipment of medicinal Hjocoa. And the TSN also warned us that a new shipment was on route to the Titan System, which might lead to another interception on our part.

    On the record, with security protocols off, we were briefed on the expectation we would act as QRF in Cronus System, since the earlier attacks had roused the Kraliens into retaliation for the destruction of their forward bases in the Neutral Zone. 1st BatCom were under orders to join us, and once they had taken over, we would return to patrolling the rest of the Spinward Marches for any more smugglers.

    After a couple of routine sims, Oblivion, Relentless and Invictus set out on patrol in Cronus, as ordered. We found a large number of Kralien ships between the Atlantis and Cerberus Gates, which we took as preparation for an attack, since it would be unlikely that the kind of destruction of Kralien assets in Cronus that we carried out recently would be met with equanimity.

    The Hegemony attacked the forward defence stations in Volantis System, and we held them until 1st Battle Command were able to join us. At this point we were ordered to go and escort a Griff, and I knew what was in store by the headache I got as we approached. “The latest advances in Imperial battlefield automation delivery systems”, I believe is the preferred term. Void-damned Caltrons. She actually opened up a rift, and the Caltrons came pouring out of it. Dammit. The Caltrons were horribly effective in fighting the Hegemony ships, especially as we were there to back them up.

    We had an odd situation on Oblivion, which I am certain contributed to our sense of being thrown off balance: other than the Fleet Captain, nobody on the bridge was on their primary console. Slate, still healing from her shoulder injury, was in Engineering; Xansta, as the most qualified pilot, took Helm; and I took Weapons, where I have been training in sims recently, but where I still feel to be lacking an intuitive understanding. We had a new Midshipman, Korelon, on the bridge. He has significant expertise in Comms, and he took the Science console too. It’s quite a task to take SciComms on for your first live combat, on the Fleet Captain’s ship; and he did well.

    We returned to base for the expected debrief, and to receive our orders for the next mission, which in theory was supposed to be a continuing patrol of the Spinward Marches to control any criminal activity. And that was where Commodore McCullough stepped in, congratulating us on our success in one breath, and in the next, intimating that 4th Hunter had been “involved in unusual situations lately” (little did he realise just how unusual), and telling us that the senior echelons of the Imperial Navy wanted to enquire into 4th Hunter’s behaviour. So all Commanding Officers and Executive Officers were ordered to report to ISN Vendetta.

    Report we did. It was one of the times I’ve regretted my promotion, not merely out of a sense of self-preservation, but because if Matsiyan were with one group of officers and I remained in the other, we’d have had a chance at communication that couldn’t be intercepted… at least, not by tech means. The Hands of Blue are another matter, dammit. That’s what the War Walls were for.

    The Junior Officers were left to carry out 4HG’s patrol mission. We were shown to our “accommodations” on board Vendetta. Dammit.

    And it wasn’t too bad, at first. Confined to quarters, with the certainty that we were being watched at all times. Confined to quarters on Atlantis Command, when we got there. Formal questioning, strictly by the rules. There was just a sense that this was merely the beginning, and things were going to get worse. And they did, dammit.

    Admiral Mundy, on hearing the news of her great-niece being detained, unleashed the Trafalgar Tech corporate lawyers. From what I’ve heard since coming back, the Matsiyan trading empire did the same, and actually got Cmdr. Matsiyan out. But the other SOs were packed onto a ship and sent off to Fortress Fenring, while I stayed in the “comfort” of my quarters. Until they decided that the Hjocoa they had found in my cabin on Oblivion gave them an actual, legal reason to detain me; and that, plus the fact that the SOs were rescued, resulted in my transfer to Fenring.

    Which I really don’t want to remember. Dammit.

    … 832645 …99581 … 339047 … 80275 …

    There were no dates. There was no day or night. There were four lights. And there was floating in drugged weightless, bodiless emptiness, and questions, and numbers on the floor tiles. Such small tiles, it was hard to see them. I had to concentrate. Sometimes, I slipped into dreams, or I thought they were dreams. Some of them were. Probably. Some of them weren’t.

    Moritani wasn’t a dream, poor man. He was desperate to tell someone — someone who wasn’t in the Azure Legion — about Johnson, his ship Orson, and the Idol of Hyoko. He told me, though it was a foolhardy risk to take.

    Horatio seemed like a dream. He wasn’t, and he wasn’t Horatio. He’s Harold, Adelaide’s brother, the family member whose name they don’t mention, the reason Adelaide’s been under suspicion for years, and working extra hard to prove herself a loyal officer of the Empire. What else can you do when your brother is a defector from the ISN and a traitor against the Empire? Actually, you could realise he’s right, and defect with him. But that’s not Adelaide’s way. He was so worried when he thought I was his sister, being interrogated. And then he was, somehow, disappointed; and immediately ashamed of his reaction. Because I wasn’t Adelaide, and she hadn’t become aware of what the Empire is and does, and she hadn’t chosen to fight it; I was a stranger who just looked like Adelaide.

    He told me it was Cdt. Hamilton who tracked him down and convinced him that we really are from another universe. I’d like to talk to her, and hear her side of the story, when I feel better. She’s a bright young woman, with more of a tendency to speak her mind than is expedient in such a junior officer. She ought to do well, if she doesn’t get kicked out of the Navy for insubordination and going AWOL.

    So, the Division came to Fenring to get me out, and to get Moritani out so he could rally Resistance feeling around him, and the TSN sent a few ships to back them up. I haven’t had the heart to look at the recordings of the mission, the loss of our ships, those life pods floating in space, the wreckage. Dammit. I’ve read their names. I’ve carved each one. I owe each one something I can’t repay.

    And that brings us back to Stardate: 9618-2237. Back to Hjorden space, and debriefing Moritani, with medical personnel in attendance because he’s still frail. He’s going to be an important political figure in the Resistance, as soon as he’s up to speaking on camera. He had swayed an impressive number of people to his way of thinking, even though it was, inadvertently it seems, through the Idol of Hyoko. And through the use of Hjocaine, which was not at all inadvertent, as I understand. According to the doctors, the Azure Legion used Moritani’s addiction to Hjocaine in his questioning, administering an intense but small dose whenever he seemed to be about to come through the worst of his withdrawal symptoms. Oh, they didn’t tell me, but their meaning was clear from the questions they asked me and the tests they ran on me. There are still traces of the stuff in my system, too. I suppose it explains why I feel the urge to kill for a cup of Hjocoa… but let’s face it, I’ve felt that way ever since we stepped into this universe. And since the last supply of Hjocoa I know about was delivered to Oblivion, and therefore to oblivion, by Cdt. Hamilton, I’ll just have to spend some time in the training room and kill program-people as opposed to real ones. It’ll help me get fit again.

    While Moritani provided his information, we did some sims to familiarise ourselves with the ships the TSN – this universe’s TSN, the rebels, the Resistance – have put at our disposal. The only ship we have left, of the four we had as 4th Hunter Group, is Excision. The other three are Reliant, Vigilant, and Steadfast. Comforting names, after the Imperial ships. I’ll take the minor discomforts of the older bridge and quarters, to be out of the ISN.

    Moritani reported that he had given the Idol (which is this universe’s version of the Second Artefact, the psychic control part of the five) to Capt. Johnson to hide. He told us about Johnson’s usual smuggling route, and suggested we hurry, because the ISN was likely to be looking for him. Computer, this is my “I may die of Not-Surprise soon” expression. You aren’t the Computer I’m used to, but if the TSN is going to keep using this ship, they may as well have a computer on it who has an inkling of sense. So pay attention, and learn, you barely flickering heap of circuitry!

    If I had been given a crucially important alien Artefact and told to hide it, I would probably not have taken my ship on her usual smuggling route. Correction: I’d have sent my ship on her usual smuggling route, with my First Officer in command, and I’d have taken a different, preferably faster vessel, on an entirely different route to go and hide the damn thing. But Johnson was somewhere between Hjorden and Euphini, and we had to find him before the ISN did.

    The Fleet Captain took command of Steadfast, Matsiyan was his XO, and took the Comms console too (which I know is not his favourite thing to do; I think he wanted to keep an eye on me, and make sure I wasn’t overtaxing myself. Much as I hate to admit it, he was probably right.) Wait, or was that during the sim? Because I thought he had Vigilant during the mission … or the other way round … dammit, I don’t know! I took Science, Beaumont was on Helm as usual, Xansta on Weapons, Ens. Bubba on Engineering. Capt. Jemel was in command on Excision, Cmdr. Aramond on Nemesis, the Retarius class the division captured last shift; that meant she had fighters, with Nhaima, Ironclad and Starry to fly them.

    We went searching along the route, but were informed by CIC that Johnson had been captured by the ISN. So we searched among groups of ISN vessels in the system for the one carrying Johnson, engaged her, and got her surrender. We sent Marines aboard to retrieve him… and found he wasn’t aboard after all. Her captain had dropped a stealthed life pod some way back, with Johnson in it, guarded by some Imperial Marines. That made our life more complicated, but I admit to liking the way that captain thinks. We found the life pod hidden in a nebula while Excision and Vigilant kept the ISN ships busy; we recovered it, and secured it in the shuttle bay. The Fleet Captain suspected the Imperial Marines aboard might have orders to kill Johnson rather than allow him to be captured, so Ironclad suggested hacking the pod’s life support system to disable the atmosphere contamination alarms, then flooding the air with morphozine. The plan worked, the soporiphic put everyone on board out too quickly for Johnson to be harmed, and once our Marines had opened up the pod doors, all the sleeping occupants were taken to MedBay – the Imperial Marines under restraint, obviously.

    And then it was more sims, while Johnson was being looked after and debriefed. He confirmed what Moritani had already told us; and he gave us the location of the Artefact’s hiding place, in a nebula in Hjorden Sector 5, further obscured by a scattering field. We were to find it, bring it aboard via shuttle and retreat to a secure area. The Hjorden were somewhat nervous about the whole enterprise, fearing that if the ISN sent forces to find and arrest us, those forces might just decide to secure some territory by destroying Hjorden bases; so they offered to provide us with early warning of any approaching Imperial ships, but would not stand between them and us. Which seems reasonable to me.

    We travelled from Hjorden 6 into 5, searched its nebulas and asteroid fields, and found a docking port among a cluster of asteroids. At that point, ISN ships came into the sector, and Excision and Reliant were sent to hold them while the Artefact was recovered. With many Imperials surrounding her, Reliant found herself in trouble, and all ships closed in to rescue. Unexpectedly, Hjorden ships did come to help too, and that turned the tide against the ISN.

    We docked at Station S-12 to refit — dammit, they serve the best Hjocoa back home!— but we were requested to return to Alpha Station in Sector 6, near the Cerberus Gate, because ISN ships were coming through the Gate in waves. It was a long slog, engaging Nightmares and Griffs as they came through, until the Hjorden were able to lock the Gate down. It was worth it, though, because that meant we didn’t have to evacuate the System.

    So, once we were secure on Alpha Station again, it was time to hand over the Idol to be studied, and to return to a semblance of normality. Capt. Jemel promoted Act.Ens. Ben to full Ensign, Cmdr. Aramond made routine duty roster announcements: it was almost like being home. Not yet. Not yet.

    With the Idol in such close proximity, and Moritani, and Matsiyan… my brain feels a bit crowded. I’m even getting glimpses of Harold, and he’s back with the TSN rebels for now. I’m going to go and get physically exhausted with a sabre program, so I can go to sleep. I think that’s preferable to reading numbers off the floor tiles.

    Computer, end log.

    [end log]

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