(16) To Be Named

The Crusader Campaign (072-1123)

This file has yet to be fully edited...

This file has yet to be fully linked...

Need to put travel time tables including 20g acceleration into library data.
Add Target number formula to character sheet?
Put AT roll somewhere more accessible?
Fill in individual details for Nightshade, including latest stateroom assignments and the climbing wall they built in the solarium.
Admiral Rikk Bainoi (retd.) to be Count of Fulacin on or after 251-1122
Issue release on Tussinian decision and Nakege investigation.
Retcon Sir Geoffrey of Adabicci's surname in Mora 24.
Add "potential sites of interest" that Robert might remember (log 23 ff.).
Update news items and timelines.
Fix Referee's In Game Reference and Referee's Timeline links in Library Data.
3 years ago, midnight Imperial was late evening local on Adabicci.  Figure out what it is now.
Add Mike's essay on black technology to the library data or log or both.
Add a library data entry for the Spinward Enquirer (ref.117-1119), later Galactic Enquirer (ref.198-1122).
Update Campaign Journey.

072-1123 : Trin / Trin's Veil / Spinward Marches

    It is about 10:00 Imperial time.  Nightshade is out of jump and stable.  They are not stealthy and the transponder is on.  They are now eight days ahead of the schedule laid out by Kalida Siena, Marchioness of Nakege.

Kalida's Analysis (and local mirror of snapshot)
(Open to everyone)

    As soon as the fog has dissipated, Kalida sends a message to the Duke of Trin that she's just arrived in system and wants to meet, perhaps for dinner?  She does after all have a standing invitation to visit him any time.
    The reply comes quickly, with a complete flight plan taking them to the Duke's estate on the outermost moon of the mainworld.

    On the way in, Mich Saginaw repairs the jump field emitters.  He'd like to double up on them to reduce the individual load, but that wouldn't work.  At least the emitters are all inside the ship, much easier to reach than a conventional Imperial jump grid.
    There is a lot of ship traffic in this system, military and civilian.  Everything seems to be normal here.  There is no sign of unusual activity.

    Robert Morris regrets not being in stealth mode, as they can't intercept any tight-beam transmissions.  The best he can do is to bounce through several relays on the way in to hack the Navy.  Since he has a couple of hours, this seems to be a good way to spend the time.
    He hacks into the system easily enough -- there are no new encryptions here -- but suddenly runs into a block.  A real person on the other end is actively blocking him, with very great skill.  This person tries to trace Robert's attack, but only manages to get through a couple of relays before losing the trail.  He knows he didn't trigger any alarms himself, and concludes that this person must have been actively looking for such an attack when he hacked in.  Whether this person is employed by the Navy, or is himself hacking in like Robert, he can't tell.
    Robert tells the Captain what just happened.  Misha Ravanos asks him to narrow down who it is.
    Robert is already doing so when Edward "Shark" Teeth expresses his concern that if they're discovered, their credibility will be severely compromised when they talk to the Duke.  Robert continues.
    Robert finds that the person opposing him is on board the Happy Fun Ball stationed in this system.  For a moment, that person's defenses slipped and left it wide open for Robert to find his way in.  Having discovered what he wanted, Robert backs out again quickly.
    He probes in again carefully to check the state of alert of the Navy.  They were not on any state of alert, in normal routine operations, until his hacking.  Now they've gone up just one level.  Apparently a talented individual happened to be on duty at the time, and did all the right things.
    Kalida, meanwhile, decides that if she went into sparkly pink on the command dias, she might be able to see the connections in this system.  Slowly, the other people on the Bridge notice that Kalida seems rather spaced out.  These days that doesn't seem so abnormal on Nightshade, so they leave her be.
    Shark checks his usual channels, such as the TAS postings, to see if there are any special alerts there.  Everything seems normal to him too.
    After a little while, Kalida rouses herself.  The patterns seem mostly normal, but the Naval ships are all tied back to the Duke's estate on the outermost moon, dependent on the Duke's estate.  She doesn't think that's worth reporting to the others.

    Kalida asks who would like to accompany her to dinner with the Duke of Trin.  Misha should definitely go, because he was part of all the discussions and parties on Rhylanor.  Other than that, etiquette demands that only those whose input would be useful should attend.  Shark will come along on that basis, being the ship's official conspiracy theorist, on the pretense of being a bodyguard.  She makes it clear that this is not a social occasion, but a meeting at which dinner will be served.  That disappoints Helia Sarina, who decides to stay on board.  They do not invite Jack.

    The atmosphere of the moon is thin, and would normally require a respirator.  While there's plenty of water on the world, it's cold enough that there won't be any liquid in the open.  Severe cold weather gear would do the job.

    Helia brings them in to land perfectly on the landing pad.  As soon as they've settled, a hangar extends around the ship, enclosing them and soon bringing the environment up to standard.
    While Kalida prepares to leave, the others on the ship settle down to their various activities while they wait.
    Helia and Mich will work on a new jump drive simulation, which they'll have to do from scratch as the old one was based on "obsolete" physics.  The larian starts by trying to explain some of the equations to Mich.  In general he has no trouble with following the thread, except where she makes big leaps between apparently unrelated formulae, saying meaningless things like, "And here we apply a Forsythe Reduction" to justify it.  Mich's main goal was to get more of Helia's work recorded, but surprisingly Helia is showing more patience with him.  The enthusiasm for playing with the jump grid -- and being the first person to break the Quilton Limitation -- is overcoming her impatience with Mich's lack of basic knowledge.

    Surprisingly enough, Shark actually dresses himself appropriately for the occasion.  He trails Kalida and Misha as they step outside and walk across to the elevator that has just raised.  A servant invites them into the elevator, and they descend into the interior.
    Once the elevator stops, they are directed through a corridor into a lobby.
    The decor is functional, aside from the multitude of potted plants.  Everything looks comfortable, but there is a distinct lack of ornamentation.  A large picture screen on one wall shows an ocean view.  Chairs and tables are distributed around, but it's fairly sparse.  The floor is not even carpeted.  It would not be out of place as a common room on a noble's yacht.  There is a staffed bar in one corner.
    Except for servants, they are alone in the room.  No-one gives them any further direction.  Shark of course sees the plants as good places to hide all sorts of surveillance equipment.  Misha notes that the commdots are working in here.
    After about five minutes, the Duke of Trin appears from a section of wall that did not look at all like a door, and beckons them enthusiastically into a further room.  As they step through and the hidden door closes behind them, the commdots go offline.
    This room is a lot cosier.  It's about 10 meters square.  The furnishing is still functional in style, but there is a carpet underfoot and the bar is self-service.  There is no-one here besides themselves and the Duke.
    Trin offers them a drink, fixing himself his usual cosmopolitan.  Nakege accepts a glass of bourbon, which he pours for her.  Shark serves himself a scotch.
    Trin says, "I expect this is not a social visit."
    "No, it's not," says Nakege.  "We found a few things out since we left.  A little more data, a whole lot more conjecture."
    "First things first.  Did you find out what side Adabicci is on?"
    "I believe he is a loyalist."
    "And he believes, at least for now, that Norris is as well.  It will get uglier from here.  We were tracking down the fleet from Iderati.  As of now it is the center of several fleets.  It is gathering with fleets from Jone, Wonstar, and Raweh.  We know they are gathering together around Faldor, and then moving on together towards Dawnworld.  We know that for a fact.  Everything else I have is our best guess."  Nakege shows him her analysis, of course with Nightshade's own movements omitted.  She continues, "From Dawnworld, they are about five jumps away from Mora, and they can get there through ports that aren't on the TNS grid.  From Adabicci, he says it's not just Five Sisters and District 268, they also have Glisten.  So I believe they'll be coming through Glisten towards Mora.  They also have the fleets of Rhylanor, of course, so that sets up a possible pincer movement."
    Trin grimaces.
    Nakege continues, "We don't know anything about Lanth or Vilis.  We have no idea where they stand.  We have conjectured that is why Aramis took off for Core.  He's staying neutral and getting well out of the way."
    Trin says, "That doesn't add up extremely well in terms of the force balance.  Then again, District 268 doesn't have a whole lot, so it's not quite as bad as it looks."
    "I don't know however what they'll be gathering from Glisten on the way through."
    "Probably significant forces.  Your map shows Regina blocked off, particularly if Lanth is anything but loyallist, and it's a long way off too."
    "Our projected timeline is absolute worst case.  It will most likely take longer than what I have here.  As you can see, I'm projecting that they're probably going to cut through Trin's Veil.  That's just a guess."
    Trin sighs.  "So through Tussinian," he says.
    "Because of the wide open space and the corridors through Mora and Lunion, that seems to be the best way for them to go.  It keeps them off the radar."
    Trin nods.  "What about Lunion itself?" he asks.
    "Adabicci thinks it will not run off to Mora's defense, but it will certainly defend itself against anything that comes down.  With the border with the Sword Worlds, Lunion is a sensitive area.  So to counteract them, we really only have your troops and Mora's troops available."
    "So I see.  So that's two against three and a half.  That's not good if it's an even fight anywhere.  The trick is in avoiding an even fight.  Of course actually attacking anywhere, you pretty much need a five to one advantage."
    "I'm guessing their plan is to move as quickly as possible and not get involved in any fights along the way.  That's why I figured they would say out of anywhere important as long as possible."
    "To maintain a five to one advantage, you want to make sure you don't increase that one anywhere along the way, and anything you do to delay yourself is going to hurt."  Trin pauses, then says, "So you're looking at 160 coming into Mora."
    "That's the earliest possible.  It will almost certainly be later than that.  But it's nice to be prepared for the worst.  Assuming they're planning on a joint arrival with troops from Rhylanor getting there at the same time, even a delaying tactic would be to our advantage."
    Trin nods his agreement.  "There's going to be at least three fleets sitting at Mora anyway, which means they'd have to come in with fifteen to have a reasonable chance."
    Shark says, "Is that counting Happy Fun Balls?"
    "Yes.  There'll be one at Mora, Strephon's Hand.  They have more than that."
    Nakege says, "It will be ugly."
    Trin says, "Yes, it will.  So how many fleets are we talking about here?"
    "Four from Five Sisters, plus whatever they might pick up along the way through Glisten.  I conjectured that they might send a small force towards Adabicci, but I don't know that they will."
    "I could definitely see something going into Lunion, just to distract if nothing else, to hold everything off Mora.  That's if they have anything to spare.  We've got Rhylanor coming in as well, that's a lot of fleets that could be in Mora anyway.  They could hold some back."  Trin looks at Nakege's analysis again, and says, "You're thinking Meleto or Tivid, and Grille.  And they're going to come from Tussinian."  He stares at the astrographic chart for a while.  "It's going to be messy.  But you're right, just delaying them somewhat is going to help a great deal at Mora.  Twenty years ago this would have been a lot more mess, because you could pretty much guarantee Sword Worlds and Zhodani coming in from the other side, as soon as everything opened up... but it's not twenty years ago."
    "The trick is to come out of it strong enough to maintain the treaty."
    "That shouldn't be too bad.  The Zhodani have settled in very nicely to a peaceful situation.  Stability is not a bad thing.  It's not clear that they ever wanted to conquer the Imperium -- they could probably bring more resources to bear in this area than we could.  If the goal was just preventing expansionism, then that's been achieved diplomatically this time.  Norris isn't expanding anywhere, I think that's pretty clear.  Of course if somebody else was in charge, that might change overnight."
    Trin looks around at the others in the room.  To Misha and Shark he says, "So what about the rest of you, what are your thoughts, anything?  Anything that could possibly be relevant."
    Shark says, "There was a thought that putting some ships in the field at one of the smaller systems as a surprise along our assumed path..."
    Trin says, "The place under my jurisdiction would be Tussinian."
    "We're making the assumption that they're going to avoid any standing fleet and try to make a quick strike.  They're clearly not large enough for any pitched battle yet, although as they roll along..."
    "They're certainly capable of overwhelming any standing fleet, but that would take some time and weakens their strength."
    Nakege points out that it would also reveal where they are.
    "So," says Shark, "I hate to be the uncouth one, but is there any chance of any of your fleets turning?"
    "Not any more," says Trin.  "First move when I got back here.  There are no INISO people in operation in this area."
    Nakege says, "We believe Santanocheev is INISO, and is in charge of the fleet out of Iderati.  Everything is gelling now."
    "The catch there is that based on what Fulacin said on Rhylanor, he probably has a legal right to move and attack Mora.  Tricky.  Interesting.  That really does kind of turn the tables, doesn't it?  Not that it changes anything I'm going to do, you understand, but it really means that the victor is going to write the history here.  There is no pulling back on this."
    Shark says, "That makes the point that once this becomes public, he is attacking or has attacked Mora, it will become public that he is in charge of this and has legal right, and therefore will cause even more dissention."
    Nakege says, "It would have a very long shadow, yes."
    Shark says, "There's no way we can get to him at this point, but a simple assassination of the figurehead would go a long way towards..."
    Trin says, "Technically if there were any INISO people there, they would be capable of carrying it on."
    "But would they have the legal right?"
    "Yes.  Like the person who abducted you could have called down an orbital bombardment, they have the legal right."
    Nakege says, "At this point removing Santanocheev does not remove the threat."
    Trin adds, "Although it would be a great service to the Imperium.  It's a shame Norris was so principled back then.  This has clearly been building for about sixteen years.  Fortunately the size of the Imperium is working for us here.  By the time anyone else could get involved, this will all be over."
    "Whoever wins will be able to explain what happened."
    "And INISO is a kind of secret organization.  They won't want to publicize it, I'm sure.  To stake their legal claim, they'd have to demonstrate to someone in charge that they have that legal claim.  Until they actually do that, they don't.  So unless they actually present it to some archduke other than here -- because they'll have removed Norris -- then they dont' have a claim.  So we have plenty of time to deal with this on a local level."
    "Except that if as you say it's been going on for such a long time, he might have another archduke already."
    "Well, there are archdukes who would take advantage of this, for sure."
    "But even so, it would take time."
    "And the impression I have -- correct me if I'm wrong -- this was a spur of the moment thing.  His choice of acting now was not according to some great plan but trigger by some event."
    "We believe that is possible, yes."
    "You want to expand on that?"
    "Okay.  So how many jumps is it for you to Mora?"
    "I believe we could get there in about three jumps."
    "Well, that's as fast as I could send a courier, and there's a lot to be said for having a noble present the message -- if you'd like to take a message from me, that might help."
    Nakege says she would be happy to do so.
    There is a long pause, then Trin says, "So what are your plans?  You're headed to Mora, then presumably somewhere out of the way?"
    Shark says, "What occurs to me is we've been thinking on this side of the world.  Is there any possibility that he has mobilized the other side of Mora?  What about Deneb?"
    "Probably not.  The majority of the moveable fleets are here on the frontier.  Aramis could be out stirring things up, but unless he's already set some groundwork.  I would consider it unlikely.  As soon as you move across into Deneb, you start moving into areas which are a lot less strong militarily, except to coreward.  You simply won't be able to pull anything off the coreward end of Deneb, because the Vargr will come in.  We've had enough trouble with them before, and they would be quick to move in.  The rest of Deneb to trailing is the Rift, and there's no resources there."
    Shark accepts this.  He continues, "So who else are our allies and might need to be informed?"
    "They're all too far away, really.  It would be nice to know where Lanth stands, but there's no chance of getting over there, not in time."  Trin says to Misha, "So what's Santanocheev thinking?  He's a warrior, you're a warrior, he's got this goal of taking over."
    Misha says, "I've been assuming Santanocheev was doing this because he has political aims of his own.  How does this legal claim work?"
    Shark says, "If in fact Santanocheev is the head of INISO, then that explains how he could walk up to a random fleet and take it over."
    Nakege says, "And there's also the fact that right up until he retired, he was the head of INI in this area.  So he has very strong ties to INI, which means he could very easily be part of INISO."
    "So how does this make it legal?"
    "INISO itself, it's charter is to do whatever it takes in defense of the Imperium.  Whatever it takes, as defined by them, to forestall any danger that they define.  Which means if they define Norris as a danger, they can attack him and be perfectly legal.  It doesn't really matter what their pretext is.  If they see anyone as a threat, it's perfectly legal to take them out in whatever way they deem necessary.  If they decided the Emperor was a danger to the Imperium, they could take him out."
    Shark says, "Their charter is to the Imperium, not to the Emperor."
    "Right.  And again, that's filtered through themselves.  They are the sole arbiters of what needs to be done and for what reason."
    Misha says incredulously, "And who gave them this power and why did they do it?  I've been assuming that Santanocheev was doing this because he had political aims of his own.  Is that right?"
    Trin says, "He was known to oppose the peace treaty with the Zhodani very strongly."
    Nakege says, "If you go back and read the news reports right around that time, it's very obvious that there was a power struggle between Norris and Santanocheev, and Norris came out on top."
    Misha says, "So Santanocheev is nobility?"
    "Very minor.  He is an Admiral."
    "If he were to take out Norris, could he declare himself, or have somebody declare him, archduke?"
    "Yes.  It would be a fait accompli.  He would be sitting there with the power.  All he would need is for someone to say he could keep it."
    "There aren't built-in laws that would cause the other Archdukes to oppose him if they didn't want to?"
    "No, not really."
    "So to get back to the question... it seems that simply replacing Norris with himself is motive enough.  Is there something larger going on here?"
    Trin says, "There's whatever triggered him to make his move now.  I don't know how big that might be.  Here's another question: is he going to stop at Mora?"
    Nakege said, "We discussed that with Adabicci.  There's a long history..."
    Shark points out that it will take time to rebuild his fleets after the fight.  "He won't have enough to maintain control here and keep going.  He probably won't have enough to keep going."
    Misha says, "My counter-question is, does it really matter to the situation at hand?  The Emperor has to assume he is going to move on.  How would it change our plans knowing one way or the other?"
    Trin says carefully, "It would change my plans because that would lead to a really nasty mess, and I have a responsibility to the people of Trin's Veil to get them through a civil war without as little damage as possible."
    Nakage says, "Adabicci believes that Santanocheev would stay put, at least for quite a while, consolidating his position.  Eduard, however, thinks he could consolidate as quickly as possible and move on.  It depends directly on what kind of support he could expect from the other Archdukes.  By himself he would stand no chance at all."
    Shark says, "It could be that he's just the first domino, and he's working for a bigger fish down the line."
    Trin says, "That's starting to sound like a Gavrolovitch novel."
    Shark smiles.  He continues, "We don't have enough information now.  I think we should operate as if he's going to stop and take control of this region."
    Misha says, "We don't have to guess about this.  He will move on if it's tactically to his advantage, and that's the only factor.  What's his relationship with the Emperor?"
    Trin says, "Norris is favored by the Emperor.  Santanocheev has been out of the picture for a long time.  The Emperor appointed Norris Archduke for the actions around that period."
    Shark says, "So he doesn't like Norris because he screwed him over, and he doesn't like the Emperor because he rewarded Norris for screwing him over."
    Nakege adds, "From the reports of the time, he also genuinely believes that the peace treaty with the Zhodani is a bad idea, because it allows them to strengthen themselves for a possible much worse strike later."
    Misha says, "So the Emperor has to assume that he could move on as soon as he can.  Santanocheev needs to assume that the Emperor will protect himself, and in order to do so has to strike against him, at least in a little way.  So Santanocheev must move on.  His only moves are to go to the Emperor and say, 'Yes, I blew out Norris but I''m not going against you,' and the Emperor has to believe him, and given their history that's not going to happen.  Now if the Emperor is powerful enough that Santanocheev can't touch him, then the Emperor can decide if he cares enough about what happened to do anything.  But if Santanocheev is powerful enough to actually make a move against the Emperor, then he has to go.  So the question is, how powerful is the Emperor compared with how Santanocheev would be after taking out Norris?"
    Shark says that would depend on how much support he could get elsewhere, and he simply doesn't know enough to guess that.
    Trin says that it might depend on whether Sanatanocheev insisted on being Emperor himself or whether he'd support another candidate for the Iridium Throne.  He adds, "Gavrolovitch was right, Dulinor is crazy."  Certainly the Archduke of Illelish has been outspoken in his criticism of Emperor Strephon.
    Shark says he wouldn't want to be under a crazy man as emperor, but he could be used and then come to a convenient sudden death soon after.  He points out that it would take a lot of planning to coordinate a move on Capital with another Archduke.  Clearly Santanocheev would want to be Emperor himself, but that isn't of course what he'd tell his stooge.  "Make the crazy man think he's going to be Emperor, so he'll throw everything he has into it.  When he succeeds, stab him in the back."
    Trin agrees.  What is more, it could well lead to a repeat of the Civil War era and the Emperors of the Flag.
    Shark says that the best way for them to win the campaign is to have a decisive first battle.  If they stop Santanocheev now, there won't be a problem.  If they fail to stop him now, they need to worry.
    Trin says he has five fleets at his disposal.
    Nakege says they know they're starting off with four of the seven Five Sisters fleets before they even hit Glisten, and there are eight fleets there.  Three in District 268 means a total of 18 fleets.
    Shark is sure that they won't commit all of those to the attack, but keep some in reserve.  He thinks there would be around twelve fleets coming through Tussinian.
    Trin says that eleven is enough to guarantee a decisive victory against two.  Beyond that, it starts to leave the realm of statistics and enter that of talent.  He has two at Trin, one at Katarulu, one at Hammermium, and one at Murchison.  Three other units are based here but out in Reft sector and not available.  He has ensured that their readiness is maintained, but done nothing to raise suspicion.  Within two jumps they could all be at Tussinian.  Norris has eight fleets in Mora, but Trin is not sure where they are currently located.
    Shark says, "It seems you have two choices, your Grace.  You can try to delay, or you can try to reinforce Mora.  It's possible you could do both, but that would reduce your chances of success."
    Trin says, "Of course that is pretty much consigning the fleets in the delaying action to be wiped out in the process."
    "I'd like to come out of it with enough to pull back and hold the border, so if he did take control he'd have a flank to rimward to worry about."
    "So the chances of him coming here if he doesn't want to be shot to pieces on the way to Mora are very small.  But if he win at Mora, he can come back here."
    "That's why I'd like a reserve.  I don't mind fighting a delaying action and then pulling back."
    "You do have system defence forces as well."
    "Tussinian doesn't have anything.  There may not be any resistance there right now, but he is actually going to have to take it in order to refuel."
    There is a brief discussion on Happy Fun Balls and their use.  They are a valuable asset, but also a liability in that they are too valuable to commit without requiring a lot of support.  They make a fine flagship, but Shark of course wonders if Santanocheev would actually be on board his own flagship.
    The meeting tails off.  Trin thinks that perhaps it might be time for some military exercises in Raydrad, and perhaps keep the fleets moving around so they can't be tracked easily.  Nakege tells him that he should have until at least 120-1123 before any fleets arrive in Tussinian.  Trin muses that he might post someone in Bicornn too.

    Back on Nightshade, the conversation takes a different turn.  Shark says they need to know what Jack really wants to do, who she really wants to give information to.  Maybe she does have an in with the Emperor which would give them an idea what the next move is after Mora.  If she really does work for the Emperor as she has sort of implied...?
    He goes on to say that there are INISO operatives in Mora to worry about.  There are operatives here too, of course, although the Duke has cleaned up some of them.  Shark guarantees that he will lose some ships in this battle -- there will be turncoats among his forces.  He hopes the Duke is planning for that.  There will not, of course, be many turning from Santanocheev's forces.
    There will be a lot to concern them when they get to Mora.  They don't have a base to operate from with Marquis Marc gone, and they'll have to go in very publically in Nightshade in order to talk to the Archduke.
    But returning here... They arrived here sometime this afternoon.  Sometime this afternoon, says Shark, a message saying they've arrived has left the system headed directly for Santanocheev, as fast as ships can travel.  The information that the Black Ship arrived here, and its date of arrival, is on its way.  The information that the Black Ship left Adabicci, and its date of departure, is also on its way.  He will know their rate of travel.
    Kalida smiles that they have to take him out no matter what.
    Shark continues that as soon as they arrive in Mora, that information will also be on its way to Santanocheev.  Very soon now, he will probably already know that Trin is up and ready, and he will be changing his tactics based on that.  They need to remind the Duke of Trin of that.  Nightshade is not stealthy in terms of espionage -- it is instantly recognizable wherever it goes.
    Misha suggests that Santanocheev will therefore be heading for Mora as fast as he can.
    Shark says he might try to avoid the most obvious trap point.
    Kalida points out that is very hard to do because of the astrography of the area, and the need to avoid the news routes.  Bicornn could be bypassed, but Tussinian really can't.  He does of course already have scouts all along the way.
    Misha wonders what would happen if the Duke of Trin simply didn't do anything.  What if he just kept his forces here, left an open path for Santanocheev to get through.  If he resisted, could he even slow down Santanocheev enough to make any difference at Mora?
    Shark says that if the Duke of Trin put two fleets at Tussinian, it should slow down Santanocheev by at least a week.
    Kalida says that could disrupt their rendezvous with the fleets from Rhylanor.
    That would be particularly true, Shark observes, if they were not going to meet up beforehand and were planning to jump into Mora together.  The Rhylanor fleets would get there and be defeated, and Santanocheev would either also not have enough strength of force to win, or just not go there.
    Misha says that Santanocheev knows their movements and is planning for that.  Now he's planning for whatever he thinks the Duke of Trin is going to do.  "What I'm suggesting," says Misha, "Is that Trin not do what Trin wants to do."
    Shark suggests he could just put his scouts there, and send whatever fleets he can spare to reinforce Mora.  "Of course it might be that Santanocheev is completely off his rocker and isn't going to go after Mora at all.  On this path, could he be moving to start a war on the Zhodani?"
    Kalida says it's possible, but he'd have to be moving up through Lunion, Lanth, Vilis, and Jewell.  It's possible, but it's a long way.  Instead of moving into Glisten, Glisten would come to him.
    Shark says that with the fleets he has, he could hurt the Zhodani enough that they'd have to go to war before they can build up, and thus he'd save the Imperium.  "I mean, I don't know if he's that crazy," he concludes.  "About the only thing we'll be able to tell is once the scouts tell us which way he's going.  We can sleep on what we're going to do after Mora.  But the cat's out of the bag as to our speed."
    Misha says, "What if we go to Mora on this ship in stealth, acquire a ship there, and come in publically on that?"
    Shark says they could just jump one parsec away from Mora, get a ship there, and jump in with Nightshade following in stealth.  That would be easier, as they wouldn't have to do any transaction in Mora.
    Robert suggests landing on Mora and falsifying passenger records of some arriving liner.  It'd be a lot less costly that way, certainly compared with buying a ship.
    "I wasn't imagining buying one," says Misha, "But I like your idea much better."  He adds, as a further complication, that they'll have a letter from the Duke of Trin, and that will have a date on it.  They will simply have to avoid talking about the subject.
    Shark says that if they get to Mora too fast and present the letter early, it would hurt the credibility of the message because of the impossible date.
    Kalida points out that the Archduke knows they have Mich on board, and anyway this particular mode of travel is not actually black tech.
    Mich says it does rely on the dynamic jump grid, though, which is black tech.  Privately he's scared to death of what Helia's been doing, and would much rather keep it for emergencies.  He'll be a whole lot more comfortable when it doesn't require repairs to the ship afterwards.
    Shark's final thought to share for the evening is that he never expected their enemy to be the only one who knew about their real travel.  He may not know who is on board the ship, but he knows where the ship appeared and when.
    Misha suggests they could simply pose as the Duke of Trin's courier.  They could deliver the message to his agent on Mora, and that agent could pass the message on.  That way they could remain out of sight.  The idea certainly has promise.