Meanwhile, in the TSN…

Terran Stellar Navy Forums Commissioned Officers’ Galley Meanwhile, in the TSN…

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    Harriet Hamilton

    Security Recording, TSN Liberty,
    Stardate: 30418-2237

    Lt.Cmdr. Harold Mundy is sitting in a small cabin, at a desk, reading a datapad. A chime sounds, and he swipes his hand over the corner of the desk. The door slides open, and a Marine ushers in Harriet Hamilton. Hamilton is wearing fatigues, slightly too big for her. The Marine is armed.

    Lt. Cmdr. Mundy waves a hand towards a seat facing him at the desk.
    Sit down, Hamilton.
    To the Marine, he nods and adds,<
    You may go, thank you.
    He waits for the door to close, looking at Hamilton.
    Midshipman Harriet Hamilton, ISN Whisper of Oblivion, correct?

    Not any more, Sir, she replies. And actually, none of 4th Light are ISN. Never were.

    He raises a sceptical eyebrow.
    And yet, the ships of 4th Hunter Group have been seen taking part in numerous engagements following ISN orders. Orders that included destroying civilian stations, I may add.

    But we were trying not to follow those orders, Sir! Hamilton’s voice rises a little. The Fleet Captain had the Comms officers disrupt recordings and transmissions to cover up…

    Yes, we have data on that. Why would he do that, Midshipman?

    Because we’re not war criminals, Sir. And we don’t belong in a navy run by war criminals.

    Clarify this statement, Midshipman.

    Hamilton takes a breath. This is more difficult than I thought it would be… We’re not 4th Hunter Group, we’re 4th Light Division, in the 2nd Fleet of the Terran Stellar Navy.

    Lt.Cmdr. Mundy laughs. If you’re going to make absurd claims, Midshipman, you could at least try to get the name of the Navy right.

    Hamilton sits up straighter. It is the right name, Sir. It’s not your TSN. It’s ours. From our home… she takes another breath … universe.

    Lt. Cmdr. Mundy laughs again. Are you trying to sound insane for a specific reason, Hamilton? Because so far I fail to understand what it could be.

    Sir, are you aware of the Caltron Artefacts?

    What are you talking about, Midshipman?

    The Artefacts, Sir. The ones that make Caltrons, and control them, and link them together. I don’t know all the details, it’s one of the things Lt. Cmdr. Mundy and the other SOs…

    He interrupts her. Who are you talking about?

    She replies, Lt.Cmdr. Adele Mundy, from the colony of Paragon, in the Rhea galaxy, in Titan System. Sir.

    There is no such person.

    Not here, Sir, no. There’s a SubKmdt. Adelaide Mundy from Nova Praetoria, according to what’s accessible in her records.

    Midshipman, what does all this outrageous nonsense have to do with…

    This time, Hamilton is the one who interrupts. Sir, it’s all connected, and if you don’t let me explain it all from the beginning it will take much longer. You are aware of the Caltrons, because we dropped a Black Box with all our available data for you to pick up. So you know that the ISN is manufacturing them, and has already deployed them at least three times. I don’t know if you are aware that Caltron technology is so immensely old, that it’s related to the Kralien Precursors, the ones they call their gods. And that the Caltrons are controlled by five Precursor Artefacts, which basically makes them an inorganic, artificially intelligent army. But from this, you can infer that the Empire wants to continue to develop Caltron technology in order to give them superiority over any other spacefaring nations’ navies. They could wipe out whole multi-system races, Sir.

    And why would that bother you, or your Senior Officers, Midshipman?

    Because they’re sentient beings? Hamilton looks uncertain about why the question was even asked. I mean, we’ve fought Kraliens and Torgoths and Skaraans plenty of times, Sir. It doesn’t mean we want to wipe them off the face of the universe, we just want them to stop attacking our Systems.

    If you’d ever had a talk with my sister, you’d know her opinion is quite different, Lt. Cmdr. Mundy says. His tone is flat, and his words snap.

    But that’s the point, Sir! I haven’t ever spoken to your sister, I’ve spoken to Lt. Cmdr. Mundy, who, in all confidence, Sir, agonises so much over killing people, it makes her a terrible Weapons Officer… her real station is Science, and Comms, sometimes together, because she can talk people into surrendering. You should hear her threatening the Kraliens, Sir, I don’t know how she makes the clicking noises, but…

    Lt. Cmdr. Mundy sounds annoyed as he retorts, My sister doesn’t speak Kralien. She hates sitting at the Science console. And she’s an outstanding Tactical Officer.

    At this point, Hamilton is exasperated. But Sir, I’m not talking about your sister, I’m talking about Lt. Cmdr. Mundy! She speaks Kralien, she loves drinking Hjocoa, and she runs the fencing program when she wants to tire herself out, and she likes the smell of gunpowder…

    Midshipman, you can’t go around making up total nonsense and expect me to believe you. Lt.Cmdr. Mundy is clearly restraining his anger.

    No, Sir, I can’t. Hamilton sounds a little tired at this point. I don’t know why I expected anyone to believe me. Just because it’s true, doesn’t mean it’s believable. I just hoped somebody would. But I suppose, as long as you’re not actually Azure Legion in disguise, all 4th Light have lost is a cadet. Which isn’t much, even when there’s so few of us.

    Putting a calm surface onto his words to hide his irritation, Lt. Cmdr. Mundy says, Be reasonable, Midshipman Hamilton. If you were sent to me by SubKmdt. Adelaide Mundy with this outrageous story, she would be the perfect person to tell you what to say to me. To describe her as the opposite of who she is.

    Cadet Hamilton’s reply starts off resigned, and increases in urgency as she speaks. But Sir, she hasn’t. She couldn’t have. She and the other Senior Officers were ordered to attend a security conference, and were taken off the base in an Azure Legion ship, two shifts ago. We don’t know where they are. We don’t know how soon the fiction about the conference is going to collapse into actual arrest. We have to find them.

    Again, Lt.Cmdr. Mundy sounds calm and rational: Listen to yourself, Cadet. I’m supposed to believe you and your fellow officers in 4HG are from a different universe, and I’m supposed to care enough about this Adele Mundy who is not my sister, to risk, what? my ship, my crew, maybe more, to go and rescue her from the clutches of INI? Anyway, if you’re from a different universe, how did you get here? Through a door in the back of a wardrobe?

    Hamilton sighs. We got here though a rift in space, Sir, that the Kralien Forerunner Artefacts opened up somehow when they were all brought into close proximity in the Poseidon Rift.

    And you want me to believe that nobody noticed any difference. As well as believe all the other impossible things. How many is it now? Six? He adds in a quieter voice, I haven’t even had breakfast yet…

    I wasn’t counting, Sir. There’s a little annoyed sniff. Then Hamilton continues, Really, Sir, if I was a fake or a spy or something, I’d come up with a much more believable story than this, you know. I’m an officer of the TSN, but I’m not a bloody Paragon Librarian like Lt.Cmdr. Mundy. I don’t have her ridiculous compulsion to tell the truth all the time, you know. She adds, suddenly aware that she’s forgotten who she’s talking to, Sir. He stares at her. She looks back at him, confused. She asks, What did I say?

    She’s a librarian? He sounds even more incredulous than he did about the alternate universe.

    Well, not any more, Sir. She resigned and joined the TSN years ago. Why, didn’t…

    Tell me, does she have a brother? He interrupts, Is there an alternate-universe me you’d like me to rescue too?

    Hamilton shrugs. I don’t know, Sir, she doesn’t talk about her personal life to us cadets. I only know about the librarian thing because people were talking in the galley about the spoof Gilbert and Sullivan thing she wrote.

    Lt.Cmdr. Mundy has given up on surprise and is forced to resort to astonishment. Gilbert and Sullivan?

    Adam Parra

    Lt. Parra walks in, looks at both Hamilton and Mundy.
    I have some info that should clear this all up. I, too, am from the same universe as Hamilton.
    Parra rips off his goatee, not realizing it would hurt as much. With his left hand rubbing his hand says
    We have all been stuck here all a long.

    Harriet Hamilton

    Lt. Cmdr. Mundy looks non-plussed.

    Parra, what are you blathering on about?

    Sir, that bout of Arvonian flu I had a while ago? And Capt. Verok? Neither of us had Arvonian flu. We were trying to understand what was happening. It was when the switch happened. We were in the Poseidon Rift with 4th Light and TSN Grant, we came across the Caltron formations as the science ships brought the Forerunner Artefacts together… and then we were here.

    Parra, if this is some sort of joke, I swear…

    Not a joke, Sir. Capt. Verok and I were wondering if we were going mad, and trying to act as everyone was expecting us to. We had no idea where the rest of 4LD were. But now the Cadet is here, and says she knows.

    Harriet Hamilton

    //Does anyone mind if I skip any more explanation? It doesn’t feel right to write the Verok and Parra side of the dialogue. Verok and Parra switched with their Mirror-Universe selves, who were not with 4HG at the time of the switch. They were, in fact, with the Mirror-TSN. Why? Well, that’s another story… and may be told at some more appropriate time. (Flashbacks! We could do flashbacks!)

    Parra, Verok and Hamilton will corroborate each other’s story, hence the message 4LD received from Hamilton.

    Harriet Hamilton

    // I changed my mind. Brief explanation.

    All right, Cadet Hamilton of TSN Sabre, Lt. Cmdr. Mundy looks at her, sounding resigned. We’ll accept your preposterous story, for now, and act as it it were true. You shall remain under surveillance, of course. But we’ll allow you to contact your officers, and we’ll keep an eye on their actions, too. If you’re telling the truth, it might explain 4th Hunter’s recent behaviour.
    He shakes his head, and adds,
    It says a lot about a culture, when the best explanation for not destroying civilian habitats is that the people involved came from a different universe…

    Parra hesitates a moment, then adds, And, Sir? This may sound strange… this universe’s Capt. Verok and Lt. Parra joined the TSN after defecting from the ISN, correct? We only know that from looking at our records, but…

    But what now, Parra? Lt. Cmdr. Mundy braces himself for more bad news.

    But, Sir, I think they didn’t really defect. They were actually spies. The Captain and I received transmissions from sources we couldn’t identify. We didn’t like the sound of those orders, so we disabled the comms equipment. He concludes, with pride, They haven’t been getting any intel from us.

    Now you tell me? Lt. Cmdr. Mundy is having trouble remaining calm. We could have used that to feed the ISN disinformation!

    But Sir, how would it have looked… Parra tries to interject.

    You people really must be from a different universe, Lt. Cmdr. Mundy concedes, you have no sense of political intrigue. Do you still have that covert comms equipment? Take it to Lopez in Engineering, let’s see if we can get it working again, and how we can put it to use.


    // FWIW, read and enjoyed — damn, you write well!

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