17/08/2017 at 16:58 #26083Matthew VajParticipant
Personal Log, Lieutenant Matthew Vaj, TSN Horizon, 2nd Space Flt, 4th Light Div.
I’ve been in sickbay for the past half hour. Lieutenant Commander Dante Zelreich has been unconscious for several hours now, and his prognosis isn’t good. Although he’s stable, there’s no indication for how long he’ll remain unconscious. He was on the Horizon with me for our opening sim, but reported to sickbay when he began to feel ill. It has to do be that voiddamned artifact! ONI has been putting a lot of time into researching this artifact, and Dante had been in close contact with the artifact for minutes at a time during some of our tests. I suspect the prolonged exposure had caused him to become sensitive to its effects. It only became noticeable when a freighter and its escort came to transfer the artifact to Atlantis Command. During transfer, the artifact’s containment must’ve been less secure than it should’ve been, because it was then that Dante’s headache became unbearable. He stayed in sickbay throughout the first mission with a migraine. If only it was just a migraine.
I was in CIC for Horizon and Viper, while Lt. Sr. Hall took CIC for Sabre and Lancer. Our mission was to split up and reacquire some components stolen by pirates. The damage to the weapons platform and a couple shipyards near Promethean Command left a significant amount of debris, and pirates scavenged a significant portion of the components. We followed the trail of several pirate ships into Cerberus, where we found a fairly large pirate fleet. From CIC, it was very difficult to watch the two ships in the battlegroup repeatedly go in to take out a ship or two, take significant damage, call for help, and somehow manage to get out before the damage became permanent. At more than one point I was convinced one or the other was done for. Viper lost all her DamCon teams and maneuvering after one engagement, and was forced to send a shuttle to the station nearby to pick up more DamCons. I sure hope there were no fatalities among Viper’s casualties. Unfortunately, SY-14 in Cerberus took significant damage during the battle. I am somewhat consoled by reminding myself that SY-14 had only a skeleton crew, most of its operations being robotic. The battlegroup managed to hold off the pirates, and eventually subdued them. Two of the pirate ships were boarded in an attempt to find or stolen components, but to no avail. Our only reward was one container of components which was recovered from a wreck. Fortunately, Sabre and Lancer were far more successful in finding our stolen goods. In fact, I heard afterward that they found a pirate station which contained most of their… loot. I wonder if the pirates intentionally split up to divide our forces. We managed to handle them, despite an ion storm that kept us at or below warp one, but the Horizon and Viper might need a good bit of repair work before our next major deployment. I just find it curious that with their base in Volantis, so many ships were sent to Cerberus….
During a break after that mission, most of us were in the galley watching WTSN’s broadcast when it was hijacked by a group called Radio Free Humanity. They were very… displeased about the TSN’s assistance of the N’Tani and attempted to encourage their listeners to put (who would’ve guessed it?) humanity’s interests before other races. Fleet Captain Xavier ordered a copy of the recording and an analysis of how they managed to hack into the Fleet News Service’s broadcast by the end of the day. The only thing we’ve come up with is the possibility of an Unukalhai spy. A much better one than del Pino and Cessna reportedly were, since this one’s been completely undetected until now, and we don’t even have suspects! NSD has its work cut out for it, if a spy is responsible.
We’d just finished poking our fun at the Radio Free Humanity newscast when we received word that the convoy transporting the artifact had issued a distress call. The division scrambled to their ships and fired up the systems while I headed to the Command & Control deck. I was briefed on the situation once I got there via ship-to-station comms, and briefed the rest of the division while we cruised to Cerberus on autopilot. Apparently, the convoy had been cruising along in Cerberus when a group of pirates attacked. We were ordered to defend the convoy, especially the freighter carrying the artifact. Unfortunately, just after we got there, one of the pirates got a lucky hit on the freighter. It caused an overload that damaged the artifact’s containment field.
From what the doctors tell me, it was right about then that Dante started to lose it. Was it reacting to its isolation somehow – lashing out once it was freed? Surely not – that would imply some sort of sentience, and there’s no indication of that. Maybe the containment field, or the breach, caused a buildup of energy somehow. And, going under that assumption, Dante’s recently developed sensitivity and proximity to the artifact caused its effects to target him. Or maybe…. Dammit, I don’t know what the hell happened. No one does, yet. All we know is that when the containment field breached, Dante had a seizure and lost consciousness, and hasn’t woken up since. He was moved to the station’s medbay for long-term treatment.
You know, when my screen in CIC showed the containment breach on the freighter, I wondered what would happen. To date, an uncontained artifact has only caused hell to break loose in some form or other. The incident with Expree some time ago, the Caltron attack during the MOONSEC conspiracy, the destruction of the Raven and adverse effects on certain individuals – none of it could be considered “good”. So, fully expecting the worst, I was not disappointed when my friend nearly died, radiation was detected and a Caltron-sprouting singularity formed. If I recall correctly, four Caltron fleets of various sizes came through the rift before it collapsed. We got lucky, though – the freighter managed to repair the containment field quickly, and since no more singularities formed, I think we can safely assume they (or whatever controls them) were not able to maintain a lock. While they may have a rough idea of where the artifact was at the time and might send some more scouting groups into Cerberus looking for it, I think we are probably safer now that they don’t think it’s at Promethean. So long as they’re careful over in Atlantis, they should be safe there too, at least for the time being.
With the Artifact’s convoy safe and continuing to Atlantis, we set up autopilot to take us back to Promethean Command. Back on station, we all got dressed in our finest for an awards ceremony. Far too many Purple Hearts, and Meritorious Commendations for Phoenix, Viper, and Raven. Lts. Nhaima and Quinn both received Advanced Practical Proficiency ribbons. Lt. Sr. Hall was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal. There were several more, but I couldn’t keep track of them all. It was great to see my friends and colleagues rewarded for their hard work and dedicated service, although the mood was somewhat dampened for Dante’s friends.
Our merriments were short lived. We received word that a Zolmari agent had been exposed and was fleeting from Hegemony forces, and we were ordered to rendezvous with him in the Hjorden sector. I had spent several months in Hjorden before I joined the 4th Light. While the 4LD was… hiding there, I met several TSN officers, and eventually decided to join them. I was looking forward to returning, and hopefully seeing a few of the friends I’d made in the area. Our return to Hjorden wasn’t exactly ideal, however. Being neutral space, the TSN really doesn’t have the right to barge through without leave from the local government. I was a bit disappointed that the fleet captain ordered us to ignore the requests from Hjorden forces to hold position. I understand his urgency, though. The agent we were recovering likely had valuable intel for us, and getting that intel could be critical. I’m concerned that our intrusion doesn’t turn into too much of a political ordeal – not to mention I’d like the freedom to visit my friends in the sector.
Anyway, the division ignored Hjorden orders, we blew past them, and rendezvoused with the Zolmari agent’s ship. And guess what also appeared? More voiddamned Caltrons. Why they came to Hjorden, I’m not sure, and the only ideas I have so far are related to currently classified information. Regardless, the division destroyed all the Caltron ships and rescued our agent in short order. We were a bit surprised to find that our agent had brought along a captive – one of the Kralien oracles. It seems that she may be of importance to us somehow. As we headed back to Promethean, sensors showed that the agent’s transport had self-destructed. Presumably he was just covering his tracks, but I wish we could’ve saved the crew first.
One more thing: while en route back to Promethean from Hjorden, Lt. Vimes swears he saw a blue ship. I’ve only heard of one group who uses blue ships. I don’t know what they might’ve been doing in Hjorden. But there are a couple of ONI higher-ups on station right now, and that makes me curious….
I’ve got to get going. We have a more in-depth debrief with our Zolmari agent and his… friend. Maybe we’ll learn why he deemed it important to capture a Kralien religious and why Caltrons appeared in the sector where we rendezvoused with him. And I’m not holding my breath, but maybe, just maybe, he’ll be able to shed light on what might’ve happened to Lt. Cmdr. Zelreich.18/08/2017 at 17:40 #26098MatsiyanParticipant
// very, very nice. Love the mix of facts, story summary, broadening speculation and personal perspective. Very effective.
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