Hello, Computer. I’ve been trying to get back to sleep for the last hour with no success and there is another hour to go until my alarm. I would ask you not to rat me out to the Chaplain but I know he has override access for counseling. Hello, Father. Sanctity of the confessional and all that. Yes I know neither of us are Catholic. It was a joke. I could use a few of those or maybe I have just taken a step towards exorcising a few ghosts.
I woke up seeing the intense white and orange glare of the plasmas exploding from the surrendered Kralien near that last Comms Relay deployed in the Cronus system. On its heels came the blue flash of the warp containment failure. My perception wavered like a poor holoflick. One second it was zoomed out, seeing a mental map of all the family and friend relationships of both sides webbed across the stars, the next snapped all the way in a few moments before to the voice over the com that had questioned the order. And I knew who it was. At the end of last shift I got permission to jump ship as soon as we touched and visit Hawk before debrief. Nobody remembered saying it, though they remembered the moment. It was kind of hazy with intensity. But it wasn’t until Chuck Finley spoke again seriously about that moment that his voice changed, became more resonant. And when I woke up, I knew that was the voice. He had the courage to stand up for ethical conduct in the service and question whether we should deliberately open fire on surrendered vessels. So I just recommended him for the Distinguished Service Medal. I hope there is adequate testimony. That kind of attitude is what keeps the monsters at bay.
You know. I may as well get started on some coffee and then record yesterday’s shift since I just collapsed as soon as my cabin door shut last night.
Resume log entry.
Computer, it isn’t just the caffeine or even the admittedly heavenly aroma. Partly its the ritual, unscrewing the two halves of the the machine, pouring the water, grinding the beans, spooning the grounds, carefully wiping the thread clean and reassembling it ready for the heat. This one I have is antique, an heirloom from my grandmother. I have had the screwthread re-machined. Without a perfect fit it loses the seal and then the pressure is all wrong. Anyway my head it getting less wooly by the second, so lets wrap this up before the shift starts.
The briefing at the start of the last shift was unusual in that all the senior officers were absent: training for the next operations mission. The rest of us were scheduled for a series of simulations. In my new berth aboard TSN Hunter I was sharing the bridge with Ens. Aposine at the Helm, Lt.Jr. Roshin Das taking the weapons console in the absence of Morlock, our rock steady XO, Lt. Cdr. Del Pino and the reassuring presence of our Skipper, Cdr. Jemel. We spent most of the sim time working with TSN Phoenix to practice the new Fleet attack pattern Kappa, where the support ship is supposed to keep drones and fighters off the lead vessel. Hunter is somewhat familiar with this from working with the Hydra missile cruiser. Lets just say that This was new to Phoenix and it’s a good job Hunter is a nimble scout that can keep ahead of large packs of drones. Aposine did some sweet flying and Roshin pulled some sharp shooting. Shame that Hawk wasn’t quite as accurate with her nukes. Thanks for turning almost every node on the damage schematic to red.
We played red rag to the bull of many swarms of fighters. The tough one was a pirate transport with anti-mine, anti-torp and shield-drain. We dragged it through overlapping minefields to no effect. So in the end we went in and took it out with beams even if we are a bantam weight. That’s ma wee lassie. Not a system that wasn’t glowing by the end of that scrap.
Zargon must be bucking for Flag Lieutenant since he was in on the councils of the mighty and entrusted with the mission briefing. Objective: deploy marines to recover our occupied stations in Cerberus Sector VI where we have been having success in pushing back the coalition. Expect a Torgoth command vessel, maybe asteroid kinetic strikes.
We started out from Arden where we had finished that initial successful pushback. Marines to deploy eh? It would be hard to miss them on a scout ship. Hulking great ogres clogging up the galley at all hours, hot bunking with regular crew and with their personal gear intruding into any space where no one was standing. What the hell do they think troop transports are for? This navy needs assault shuttles I tell you.
Somewhat mysteriously Hunter was ordered to check out station Quesenc. They answered hails by the book and docking for a courtesy call showed nothing amiss. Same routine at Scolcha station. It makes you wonder what command was actually concerned about.
Rejoined Phoenix and entered the sector. Screwed up realizing engagement was starting. No beams powered up because I still had us in efficient cruise mode. Down in Engineering we don’t have pretty little tactical plots that show projected enemy beam ranges, not even on secondary monitors that give us a strategic overview. If you want me zooming in over there, you are going to have to accept it will takes me seconds longer to get back to those important little energy sliders. Talk to me Helm!
We reached KB-115 and deployed our cadre of malodorous marines under the beams of the station. Then we executed a textbook perfect piece of doctrine. The Captain had us clear a space for other deployments. Aposine decoyed a whole gaggle of fighters away and Roshin took out every single one with a single perfectly placed mine drop. It was beautiful.
Then we were busy running interference skimming other fleets to draw off fighters and drones. At that point we were really busy so I did not see what happened to take the feeds from the Raven and Hawk offline. I did notice afterwards that Hawk had a damaged IFF transponder. She was squawking a distorted version of her usual callsign. We ended up combatting a lot of pirate hulls at that point. At least the Hunter can go toe-to-toe with them. Then we got the call for emergency evac of the marines from some of the stations; booby traps I think.
We proceeded to DS-67 and KB-155 where after dancing with more Kralien drones and hearing Hawk called to investigate DS-31 we picked up our marines. KB-155 systems had not yet been successfully reset by the combat engineers. So we were picking up our marines while fending off the beams of our own station which ID’d us as hostile.
The stress must have been getting to us because as we fought our way out we suffered a humiliating premature mine ejaculation and completely missed the target.
But then we transitioned out of sector and headed home. Commander Expree’s familiar aristocratic drawl came over the com. His Phoenix was leading our battle group and he asked us to detour to Quesenc station where we dropped off a single marine. Turns out he is the Son of the station master. Rank hath its privileges. Must be nice.
Then we made our final transition and returned to Arden. Again helm with the secrecy. On my secondary plot I could see the still mis-squawking Hawkk take off like a bat out of hell for Arden. I could just feel helm flooring it, so I used Engineering’s discretion to boost warp. Hawkk slammed on the brakes too late and went sliding wildly past the station. There was a whoop of laughter across the bridge followed immediately by groans as Hunter also missed engaging the docking sequence. My brain was running on tachyons at this point and without thinking I shunted all power to the lateral thrusters before Helm even started the turn as warp throttled back to idle. Hunter spun about and surged for the station before Hawkk even halted. This time we did not miss and we claimed the prize, the honour and the glory!
During debrief before disembarking we had a good discussion about having other crew call out drones and surrenders to help weapons react faster, especially while stuck in the manual targeting screen.
Oh look. Time to get up.