(5) To Be Named
The Crusader Campaign (027-1123 to 044-1123)
This file has yet to be fully
This file has yet to be fully
027-1123 : 0610
/ Lirian / Foreven
Nightshade comes out of jump at 03:00, not
accompanied by One Hole. Callisto confirms that they are
alone in this empty area, and that they are indeed in the correct
place. Edward "Shark" Teeth suggests that some of the caches
might in fact be in empty areas like this. Misha Ravanos wonders
if any of them would be in stealth mode, but the rest of the crew are
quick to point out that the ship's alarms would go off and lock weapons
on if there was anything nearby.
Fifteen hours later, One Hole arrives.
There is a brief discussion whether to leave it here, or whether to
keep jumping with it slaved to Nightshade, but it's quickly
decided that this is as good a place as any, and they don't want to be
restricted by having to keep to empty areas.
Mich Saginaw says that they should not power it down
completely, but to keep station and stay out of the way of anything
that approaches. It must not allow anyone to board it without the
correct passcode, and use any and all methods to prevent it.
Robert Morris immediately suggests the correct glyph meaning to use,
galanglic speakers point out that they need to be able to be recognized
too. Robert agrees to set up One Hole to recognize any of
this crew, and when the grunting chimps insist, he adds the galanglic
phrase "Open caraway" so that they can send someone to collect it if
they need to do so. All the arrangements are made, and the ships
The next topic is where to go to get news. Quorrn
is on their route, in the Hinay Protectorate. Of course the
Protectorate isn't friendly with the Imperium right now, but Nightshade
isn't an Imperial ship anyway, and it would be good to get the news
from Hinay's point of view.
That seems to be a good destination; Helia Sarina
jumps them for Quorrn.
032-1123 : Quorrn
/ Reidan / Foreven
While in jump, they've been thinking about stops
they could make on the way to Adabicci. Faldor is
an attractive idea, to pick up beans and some supplies for Grand
Admiral Baron Bridgehead's babble juice. One parsec from there is
Bowman, where they have a pre-Maghiz Darrian base being prepared
for them, and hopefully some income from lanthanum sources they've
They come out of jump in the Quorrn system,
in stealth mode, at 15:00. The intention is to pick up news their
usual way by piggybacking; they need no supplies here, being thoroughly
stocked up already.
Helia brings them alongside an 800 std freighter,
and Robert taps into their beam. They bring up news from the
Yonder Veterans Network.
Several items get their attention. The first
(112-1121) is the last echoes of the Spinward War, with the Imperial
Fleet that defeated the enemy finally leaving Foreven. Another
(255-1121) addresses news -they'd already heard in the Imperium, about
the destruction of Professor Farol's Research Station on Karma
in the Brod system. Of course, there is news (087-1122)
of the first battle at Hinay with the Tigress Battle
Group. There is also news (121-1122) about the world at which
they are claiming to be registered, Dulu, although the
reclamation of the system won't threaten their status as all the
records would have been lost in the destruction on the mainworld during
the war. Shark is pretty sure that the system denial left behind
by the Imperium would have been automated system defenses, not anything
exotic like a Star Trigger. Finally, there is news (243-1122) of
the second battle at Hinay, where the Imperials used nuclear
weapons that Mich is sure they picked up when they restocked at Zett.
Again they have a discussion of the best
route. They decide that they don't really have time to go to Faldor
and Bowman, and of the two Faldor is the more
interesting in the short term, especially when Mich reminds them all
about the GrandAm's supplies. To their surprise, the Baron is a
little reluctant, and when Shark reassures him he'll have an escort, he
brushes that off brusquely and says he'd rather go alone. He says
he had some personal business there, and is unwilling to explain.
Still, he wants the supplies. Shark wants the bean juice he's
heard so much about -- it can't be worse than fish oil, he says.
Their next stop, however, is definite. They
jump for Saxe/Five Sisters at 21:00.
Nightshade arrives at 09:00. There
seems nothing of interest here, and so they carry on to Karin
at 10:00. They briefly discuss going to Iderati to find
out about the Tigress battle group, relying on stealth mode in this
dangerous (for them) system. The appeal of the Imperial FarSpace
Service base attracts them, despite the prohibition on alcohol and
heavy restrictions that wouldn't let them spend fun time ashore.
Bridgehead adds that the Scout and Naval Bases are in orbit where the
prohibition doesn't apply, and he says it's an excellent place to sell
booze. Still, they weren't planning to be exactly obvious anyway.
At 22:00 they come out of jump in the Karin
system in stealth mode. Shark has been spending the jump
continuing to teach his robot dog to fly, since it has proven useful
This time they want to get to a military ship, and
there are certainly plenty to choose from. The Imperial Navy is
extremely active here, patrolling the system extensively. It's
much more activity that anyone on the crew had expected. Only
Imperial Navy ships are moving around, although there are civilian
ships in orbit.
The system is pretty small, just two worlds and an
asteroid belt. Shark says wryly that they probably shouldn't do a
detailed scan right now.
There is, however, no Happy Fun Ball here with or
battle group. Shark tries a passive scan on the repair
facilities, but can't make anything out of it. He smiles and says
that it was only really for practice, because Robert will get any
information they really need.
Robert selects his target. This presents a
much harder task for Helia to match, as the ships aren't being as
predictable, but she manages it just fine.
Robert breaks into the Imperial Navy ship's
systems. The first tidbit he finds is that this ship has been
reassigned with its fleet from Raweh. It is under the
direction of Imperial Navy Intelligence.
Shark says in astonishment, "They're withdrawing
from the border?" He answers his own question, observing that it
would not be easy for the Hinay Protectorate to come around from
rimward, and so that would not be a credible threat. He adds that
the lady who detained him on Mora could have taken control of a fleet
with whatever equivalent she had to an Imperial Warrant.
On the other hand, there is no news. Under
direction of Imperial Naval Intelligence there is no news being
reported or disseminated. The ship still has the same standing
orders, to defend Raweh, but this fleet has been overridden and
is under the direct command of INI whenever such orders are
issued. Right now, this ship is on patrol, and is to be ready to
leave at short notice. Robert pulls out the battle group
complement for this ship's unit.
There is more than one group here; two of the three
battleships insystem are not attached to this group, while the other is
the flagship. From the transponders they can tell that there are
ships from Raweh, Wonstar, and Jone. All
have clearly been pulled back to Karin for some unknown reason.
The two next possibilities discussed are to go to
the IFSS station or to hack into the battleships; they choose the
Helia disengages them from this ship, and heads over
to match closely with the flagship of the Wonstar group.
She holds them in place while Robert breaks in.
This group from Wonstar is also under the
direction of INI.
With some careful and more adventurous work, Robert finds some secure
orders. In 72 hours, this fleet will jump to Iderati.
It will then refuel and move on to secure Faldor.
The crew stares at Robert in stunned shock.
Fragmented sentences burst across the bridge.
Kalida Siena, Marchioness of Nakege, and Shark are
the first to break out with coherent comments. Shark points out
that Nightshade can easily outrun this group and be done on Faldor
before the Navy gets there. Perhaps they can figure out why they
are moving on Faldor. On the other hand, they will know
that Nightshade was there, because they have to go in
Shark is eager to know why they are retreating from
the border. Kalida wants to know what importance Faldor
Shark turns to the Baron to ask why they want that
Bridgehead counters immediately that they must deem it strategically
important. Shark says it's not strategically important.
Kalida answers that one: maybe they're planning to
go through Faldor. It's jump-4 from Iderati,
which is jump-4 from here. They are to secure it so other forces
pass through. It avoids the Sword Worlds, and it also avoids the
Imperial worlds in the area.
Shark sees conspiracies everywhere -- this is
forming another splinter Naval force.
Kalida asks whether they are with, separate, or
against the Tigress battle group.
Robert suggests that the answers might be found in
the flagship of the third group.
As Helia repositions Nightshade, Shark gets
back on the
sensors and checks to see how many Scout ships are insystem -- there
are plenty, they just aren't going anywhere.
In this third flagship, Robert digs deep and finds
orders that haven't yet been released to the captain of the ship.
say that in about three weeks, this fleet is to jump to Iderati,
on to Faldor, and then to secure Dawnworld.
From there, Shark says, the next obvious move is
coreward to Olympia. He breaks into that train of
thought, and says, "We have a problem. If we go into Faldor
publically... One, they will know we were here. Two, they will
eventually get the information that we ended up at Adabicci
in twelve days, which is impossible. Either we go in stealthily
is an E class starport -- and walk into town on foot, or gravcraft into
town, or we don't go there at all."
Mich says they have enough time to get to Adabicci.
It is 044-1123 now, and they need to be there on 085-1123.
Shark butts in, saying they have forty-one
days. It's three jumps, meaning a few hours less than eighteen
days of jump. He continues, "My whole point here is that they
will find out eventually. Second point. I'm going to ship a
fleet in in three days to a system. It's an independent system,
there's no reason for anyone to know I'm going to be there, there's no
reason for people to worry, I'm going to have a scout there."
Kalida nods in emphatic agreement, "Absolutely."
"So that system will not be a basic empty
starport. It will be an E class starport with a military presence
somewhere insystem. If I were planning this, I'd have a scout
Again, Kalida nods, "I agree."
"So there's going to be someone there
watching. Another point. This operation is military
intelligence. They'll have someone on the ground there, just
because they have manpower to waste."
Robert points out that if there is any other ship on
Faldor, they can make it look like they're part of that ship's
Kalida checks her notes and figures out that they
are supposed to be at the dig on Victoria around
110-1123. That won't leave them a lot of time on Adabicci,
but Marquis Marcus Crestworthy should have set everything up so it runs
They quickly arrive at a consensus: they will skip Faldor
this time, and come back to it later.
Next is the matter of the IFSS. When Mich and
Bridgehead met with Jack the Younger here, it was in a bar, and led to
the actual hidden base on the other world in this system, Lianne.
That settles it. Misha tells Helia to get them
there quickly and quietly. She does both.
Shark looks around for the base, assuming it is
pretty obvious. It's not visually obvious, but he can pick up
power signatures and so on. There's very little here, apparently,
except a few scout ships in orbit. He suggests they try to
intercept a communications beam between them and the base. He
does warn Robert that some scouts have nothing better to do than put
booby traps in their computer systems; Robert is not sure whether he's
being serious or not.
As they get closer, they realize that these ships
are unmanned, and find out that they are parked until further notice.
Robert points out it would be rather obvious if they
tried to commandeer any of these comm links for their own
enquiries. Piggybacking on a ship's communications is one thing,
doing so to an unmanned ship is something else entirely.
Shark considers that there are unlikely to be alarms
on these ships. Robert agrees they're probably just assuming
nothing's going to happen.
Bridgehead begs to differ. This is not a scout
base. If Jack the Younger is still there, they're not expecting
nothing to happen.
Shark says that if the base itself is empty, they
can query it and find out what happened. He does add that might
be better done in person.
Robert says there should not be too much difficulty
in breaking in physically, aside from working in vaccsuit since there
is no atmosphere here.
Misha agrees. "Do it," he says.
Callisto says that the station is pulling enough
power to be running full life support, so it is probably manned.
Shark asks the Baron, "What if you walked up to the
door, knocked, and said 'I want to speak to Jack'? Would they ask
too many questions."
The Baron shrugs. "Somewhere along the line
someone would probably ask how we got here, through the military
patrols." He adds that back then they trusted everyone and told
the IFSS anything they wanted to know.
Mich says they could drop the ship away, and take
the gcarrier into the base.
Shark says that surely they'd have sensors that
would detect any normal ship approaching.
Meanwhile the Baron, Mich and Teri are reminiscing
about the fate of Anastasia's crew. Chiang Ho left with
NoName, who eventually turned up in the newd of the Ianic
crisis. Those two left before the loss of the ship, along with
Avon and Alice, and Fostriades and Lia who were later supposedly
assassinated by the Arden Society. Many bodies were simply never
found after the misjump disaster (notably including Brock, Joe, and
Jill), and others died in the approach and landing on Pimane.
Kalida mutters in the background that she would
really love to know where they're going from Olympia.
After a short discussion, she and Shark agree it looks like they're
preparing to attack the Imperium. He then suggests that Adabicci
might well be the target, stronger than Glisten perhaps.
On the other hand, if they go from Dawnworld to Paget,
they're just one jump-4 from Glisten. Kalida adds that Olympia
is jump-4 from Adabicci.
Mich brings back up the matter in hand: do they want
to knock on the door of the IFSS station, or continue on? He
calls on the captain for a decision.
Shark and Kalida ignore him. They are settling
on Adabicci as the more politically valuable target.
Finally Mich gets Shark's attention. Shark
says that the only way to talk to the IFSS is for Mich and the GrandAm
to walk up to the door and say they want to speak to Jack again.
Misha asks Mich if he wants to do this. Mich
replies that he'll do it if Teri will come along too. Even though
she joined Anastasia after their visit here, she has been with
them for six years and carries a big gun. Misha tells Mich to
take whoever he wants.
Mich picks Teri and the GrandAm. He points out
that his main role is to be recognized, and they could use someone else
along to do most of the talking.
Shark and Misha have a brief conversation and decide
that Misha will accompany them.
Shark summarizes what they want to learn from the
IFSS. They want to find out if they know anything about the
fleet, or have any suspicions. Unless, of course, they're a part
of it -- which Shark believes they are not, and have pulled themselves
under their shell and are playing mouse to be ignored. They
should ask them what they know about these fleet movements.
Shark points out that there is a slight risk that
this is where Imperial Navy Intelligence is operating from, but they
haven't seen enough communications to indicate that.
Mich would feel more comfortable if they land some
distance away and come in with the gcarrier. Everyone is very
happy with that idea, as it doesn't involve the away team appearing out
of nowhere in front of the security cameras.
Robert suggests heading back to one of the ships and
using their communications system to ask if Jack was around. This
would be a little more plausible that they've docked with one of the
Misha likes this idea better.
Helia takes Nightshade and matches with one
of the scoutships, while Robert opens a comm link through it.
He'd like it to seem like it's coming from somewhere else, in case
there are meson guns to open up on them, but with the tight beam link
that isn't really going to work.
The initial message is that Grand Admiral Baron
Bridgehead, Imperial Navy (retd.), formerly of Anastasia, would
like to know if Jack is around, and requests a meeting.
There is no response.
"WHAT?" suddenly comes the response. "What are
you doing? Who is this?" It's a man's voice, obviously not
the Jack they knew. "You can't talk to us, we're shut down.
And what are you doing up there? Who are you?"
Mich says, "Is Jack around?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about. You
can't talk to us over the radio. We're not transmitting.
You can't talk to us on the radio."
"Well? Is Jack around?"
"I don't know what you're talking about. I
can't possibly answer that. I can't talk on the communications
"Would you prefer us to meet face to face?"
"I'm sure that you aren't supposed to be anywhere
near here, but we certainly can't talk about it over communications,
because I'm not supposed to be communicating."
Shark whispers to Misha, "Captain, I think he's
inviting us down." Misha nods.
"In fact, I'm going to turn this link off right
now. If you want to communicate with us, you'll have to find some
other way to do it."
Shark asks if the gcarrier would be visible from
space. Bridgehead says that if they stay low, they'll be
indistinguishable from the ground clutter, given how far away the
Imperial Navy ships are from here. Then that's what they'll do.
Helia swings Nightshade around and brings
her down to the surface over the horizon from the base entrance.
Marquis Korwin Vanderfield fires up the gcarrier,
and Mich, Teri, Bridgehead, and Misha pile into it. They leave
through the main cargo lift and head off towards the entrance in
terrain following mode. Teri is well equipped with battledress
and FGMP-15. Bridgehead has his own battledress, while the other
two suit up in vaccsuits.
Shark and Kalida join Helia in sparkly pink.
Helia pulls the ship up to give clearance for Kalida to operate the
missile launcher if needed. She keeps them positioned between the
gravcraft and any possible spaceborne attack.
Korwin brings the gcarrier up to the entrance.
The other four climb out and walk towards the door.
The door opens. A figure inside is waving at
them. As they walk towards him, the figure points at the gcarrier
and waves. The four of them climb back into the gravcraft and
Korwin pulls them into the bay. The door closes behind them.
Shark follows them in with remote viewpoint, while
Callisto concentrates on the system in general. Whatever happens
now, they want to watch it...
Kalida, however, goes back to the strategic
discussion with Shark. While Adabicci has the influential
Duke and is important for all sorts of reasons including the Naval
Base, Glisten is essentially three asteroid belts. It has
shipbuilding, a connection to the IISS for Scout Service
training. That would be the surprise attack, and have more
resources to support the fleet for future operations.
Shark adds that attacking Adabicci would
significantly weaken the Imperium's border with the Sword Worlds.
Kalida nods. She continues, reminding him that
the Duke of Adabicci played a significant part in discouraging Sword
World military activities in 1107. He's also known for being
extremely loyal to the Archduke.