(7) To Be Named

The Crusader Campaign (044-1123 to 061-1123)

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044-1123 : Karin / Five Sisters / Spinward Marches

    Jack the Younger has been hired on to the crew of Nightshade, with varying degrees of enthusiasm or suspicion from the crew.  The first task it to get the gcarrier back on board in a fairly subtle but impressive manner.
    Marquis Korwin Vanderfield heads out to the "rendezvous" with Helia Sarina flying the ship directly over them until they're well beyond the horizon.
    On the way back, they discuss what to do next.  Jack merely listens.
    Kalida Siena, Marchioness of Nakege, suggests that they might want to look at Zaibon.  They know there was a cache there, but there's no information on what was found.  Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead reminds them that Zaibon is where they picked up Helen.  Both of them agree that it's more important to go to Adabicci at the moment than to get caught up in side trips.
    Edward "Shark" Teeth calculates that they do have 23 days to spare, although they do want to get there early.  They have plenty in hand over Santanocheev's battle groups even if the Imperial Navy ships were heading directly there themselves.  He points out that at quick military jump it would be 61 days before they arrrived.
    Kalida points out that they need to find out where Adabicci stands.  She assumes that he would stand with the Archduke, because he always has done.  They do, however, need to make sure.  It won't be a problem to talk with Adabicci, as they have several people who know the family personally.
    Shark and Kalida discuss the possible routes for themselves and Santanocheev's forces, and from that come up with a route to Adabicci.

    Korwin reaches the rendezvous and pulls up from the surface to a halt.  Helia moves the ship over the gcarrier to pick it up through the main cargo door.
    It's a spectacular view for Jack to see for the first time.
    "Welcome home," says Shark, "This is Nightshade."
    Jack mouths "Wow."
    Before the cargo platform has a chance to close, Shark leaps across the gcarrier and opens the door.  With space clearly visible around them, he steps out into the ship's atmosphere.
    Jack simply accepts all these new experiences.
    As Shark leads her to the bridge, he finally finds a way to get a major reaction from their newcomer.  He simply shows her the stateroom that's allocated to her, and while she's standing in obvious amazement tells her she's the final person in the crew of twelve.
    On the bridge, Shark introduces her to the rest of the crew.  Helia of course is hiding her wings, not sure about the new person yet.
    Shark of course is still suspicious, and surreptitiously checks the football sensors now that Jack is aboard.  He is a little relieved that there are no new readings.

    With formalities out of the way, the crew take up their positions.  Helia takes them out to 100 diameters and they jump for empty space at 0210 / Sword Worlds.

    During jump, Shark takes charge of showing Jack around the ship.  It continues to impress, from the vast open space and glass canopy of the bridge to the garden at the stern.
    Jack spends a lot of her spare time on the ship's computer, finding out everything she needs to know as a crew member.
    After a couple of days in jump, while hanging out in the lounge, Jack asks Robert Morris what language he is speaking.  "Script" is the translation of Robert's reply.  She continues, "You don't speak galanglic?"
    "Not any more," says Robert.
    "How'd that happen?"
    "Is there any information about this or your experience in the computer?"
    Robert silently walks forward to his room and returns with a tube of klatrin.  He hands it to her to sniff.
    Jack takes one whiff of it and recoils in disgust.  "I can see why drinking this stuff could make you forget galanglic."
    Shark grins and suggests she should talk to the Doctor.
    Jack holds the tube out to Robert.  "How about you take this back, you can smell it, and I'll talk to the Doctor?"
    Robert looks tempted to drink the shot of klatrin himself, but clearly has decided not to do so at this point.
    When asked, Bridgehead chips in that it does terrible things to your brain chemistry.  Of course, it's not obvious that it could do any further damage to Robert.


050-1123 : 0210 / Sword Worlds / Spinward Marches

    In the morning 5-1/2 days later, Shark organizes a Coming Out Of Jump party.  She's surprised they start partying so early before coming out, but Shark's countdown corresponds exactly to the time in jump that is normal for Nightshade now.  Jack is definitely learning quickly about the ship.
    It's a routine matter for Callisto to confirm that they are in the correct place.
    Jack asks how many jumps it will be before they refuel.  Misha gives her an obscure cryptic answer about refuelling constantly, all the time.
    Mich Saginaw says that's kind of right, in that they're consuming the power as they create it, pulling energy out of unspace holes.  He offers to show Jack the power supply, since he has to walk down to Engineering anyway before jump.  He points out the small cube that is the whole power supply for the ship, a metal cube a meter on a side.  He explains the analogy: to start the ship, they used several batteries.  These batteries powers the boom box for the gnome, who then pedals to the music and generates enough power to run the boom box himself with plenty to spare.  He then goes into a discourse about how the power supply really works with unspace holes.  It's a fundamental result of the layout of particles in the box.  Power transmission through the ship and for all the equipment is through linked unspace holes.  Another analogy: they pull the power they need out of a magic bag, and put back what they don't need; through the infinite probability of alternate universes, someone is pulling out at exactly the same time the exact amount they put in.
    Shark mentions an old work of Earth literature, about an infinite improbability drive.
    Jack thanks Mich.  Yet another thing to look up and study in jump... and as soon as they are in jump, Mich shows her the virtual jump grid, and the vortex generators that reduce the effective viscosity of jumpspace so they fall through in just five and a half days.  He explains that Helia is a very good astrogator, and could jump a normal ship consistently at six days.  As Mich says, Helia explains it simply as "that's how long it takes, six days."

    They have jumped again for Bronze half an hour after they arrived.

055-1123 : Bronze / Sword Worlds / Spinward Marches

    5-1/2 day later, in the afternoon of 055, they arrive at Bronze in stealth mode.
    Jack announces idly that this is where a Fifth Frontier War was averted in 1107.  Kalida nods.  An Imperial raid was conducted here in retaliation for Sword World activities in Zaibon, an asteroid derived ship.  Jack adds that from her point of view what was interesting is that the ship had some strange guns, derived from non-Imperial technology.  She goes on to say that Delaney, the late Captain of Anastasia, knew about it.
    The system is pretty much empty.  There is no Imperial presence.  There is a small group of about a dozen Sword World ships of varying sizes, some in the 1-2000 std range.
    Robert wants to know their orders.  This is Jack's opportunity to observe another standard Nightshade maneuver, closing on and hacking into other ships.
    Helia takes them close to the largest ship and locks them alongside, while Robert goes into sparkly pink himself and enters their computer.  Kalida goes sparkly too, just in case.
    This is the first Sword World ship Robert has broken into.  It's really easy.  They have practically no useful encryption.  On the other hand, the technology is low enough that they would be hard to bring down with a Blue Screen Of Death Ray -- there would be human factors to consider in the loop.
    This patrol group is on outpost garrison duty.  They get three months on station, then are rotated out.  There is nothing going on here, and nothing has gone on here.
    They decide not to interfere or cause trouble, and just continue on their way.  As Kalida puts it, they don't want to leave breadcrumbs of destruction everywhere they go.
    Helia flies them out to 100d.

056-1123 : Bronze / Sword Worlds / Spinward Marches

    It's early morning of the next day that they jump directly for Adabicci.  They're be arriving openly, not in stealth mode for once.

061-1123 : Adabicci / Lunion / Spinward Marches

    Nightshade comes out of jump early in the afternoon.  Marquis Marc should be here by 085.
    They are not in stealth mode, but are running the transponder with their Dulu registration, and showing the maltese cross color scheme.
    Helia has brought them out 100d from the mainworld.
    Marquis Marcus Crestworthy's ship Witchhunter is due on 085-1123, but has not arrived yet.  They are here 22 days before their rendezvous, so it would be unlikely that they'd be here yet.
    System radio traffic indicates nothing out of the ordinary.

    One piece of notable news that has reached there is dated 033-1119.  The line for sentient intelligence has been lowered, and chirpers and other semi-intelligent races are now considered sophonts.  The crew consider that this will also affect the bassalope, possibly, and definitely the two races they investigated on Gorram.  The snow spiders on Jax where Anastasia found Jack the Elder were certainly considered intelligent already, muses Bridgehead.