(16) To Be Named
The Crusader Campaign (072-1123)
This file has yet to be fully
This file has yet to be fully
Need to put travel time
20g acceleration into library data.
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.
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
Retcon Sir Geoffrey of Adabicci's surname in Mora 24.
Add "potential sites of interest" that Robert might remember (log 23
Update news items and timelines.
Fix Referee's In Game Reference and Referee's Timeline links in
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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."
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"They're certainly capable of overwhelming any
standing fleet, but that would take some time and weakens their
Nakege points out that it would also reveal where
"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
Nakege says, "We believe Santanocheev is INISO, and
is in charge of the fleet out of Iderati. Everything is gelling
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.