(19) To Be Named

The Crusader Campaign (079-1123 to 084-1123)

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079-1123 : Mora / Mora / Spinward Marches

    Kalida, Sir Misha, Shark, Robert, and now Mich (staying with Shark) are settled in a business hotel waiting for the Archduke's people to contact them in the morning for a meeting.  Shark's pig is due to be picked up tomorrow at noon.
    Shark reiterates their plans for bringing the Duke of Rhylanor to Mora.  "Go get him, bring him back, at no better than three and a half days average jump time."
    Misha wants to arrive at Rhylanor in stealth, so the last jump must be a normal one.
    Kalida agrees; they can make the first jump immediately, and then take five and a half days on the second one.  The question is coming back -- do they at least want to arrive stealthily into Mora?
    Misha emphasizes that they should arrive stealthily back here too.
    At Shark's suggestion, Vonish considers whether he needs any supplies for carrying the Duke of Rhylanor as a guest.  He decides he is well enough supplied for the trip, at least considering the potential exposure of buying and delivering produce here.

    Kalida has recalculated her projections.  She has considered whether they could, after this mission, get to Dawnworld in time to find out more about Santaocheev's movements, but it seems like they will probably not have time to do that.  It's possible they are running behind her projections and could still be there, but they could also have moved on by the time they get there.

Kalida's Analysis (and local mirror of snapshot #3)
(Open to everyone)

080-1123 : Mora / Mora / Spinward Marches

    At 09:30 there is a call to Roger Jolly's room from the front desk, saying that his client called and said the meeting would be at 10:30.  He immediately informs everyone else.
    Shark then calls Helia to ask her what is the shortest jump time they can regularly make with no damage to the ship.  She says it's five and a half days, as you can't tell if the ship will take damage if you break the Quilton Limitation.

    Robert again drives the gcarrier.  The trip is uneventful and pretty much identical to the previous one.  At the Archducal Palace, the gate guards and internal escort are identical procedures too.
    Archduke Norris awaits them at the round table.  The crew take their same seating positions, and Mich evens out the table beside the Marchioness of Nakege.
    They exchange greetings and pour themselves coffee from the pot on the table.
    To start out, Nakege clarifies some points from their previous conversation.  She assures Norris that Adabicci completely supports him.  In addition, since Lunion subsector is on the border, they are unlikely to send fleets to support Norris; they will, however, defend their own ground and are not supporting Santanocheev.  Also, one of her projections had a small sub-fleet moving in to attack Adabicci, and it can be expected that the subsector fleets would support them.  Lanth and Vilis are, of course, unknown in their loyalities.
    Norris points out that Vilis is sufficiently far away that it probably does not matter.
    Nakege says that Santanocheev probably tried to get Lanth, but she can't tell if he succeeded or not.
    Norris says that if he did, then that is a large number of fleets, but would be harder to coordinate particularly if Lunion is not sympathetic to them.
    Nakage says that Lunion primarily wants peace on the border, and would not achieve that under Santanocheev.
    Norris believes that if Santanocheev takes charge, there will be trouble whether he starts it or not.  He's moving a lot of fleets off the border, but there's not a lot of threat where he's pulling the fleets -- only the Sword Worlds really would present an issue.  He is inclined to agree that slowing down the rimward fleets from Glisten, and letting the Rhylanor fleets coming through as unimpeded as possible will be the best option.  Of course there will need to be some fleet realignment here too.  The only question is whether it's worth a second stage of delay in case something goes wrong at Tussinian.
    Nakage reiterates a point she made to Trin, that news of every movement will find its way back to Santanocheev.
    Norris says that they simply have to arrange it so that they have no choice regardless of the movements.  "If we have lost the element of surprise -- in so far as a defender can have the element of surprise -- then they might be inclined to put more effort into the required route."
    Nakage says, "If we do as you suggested last night, harrass them, they will know for certain and immediately.  By the time we get there, they may know from Trin's troop movements anyway."
    "By the time they reach Tussinian they will know.  There will be no question at that point.  And if as you say they have to come through there, whether they know or not does not matter."
    "They have to go through Tussinian.  After that there are alternatives."
    "Yes.  Far too many alternatives, unfortunately.  There are a lot of different ways to get here.  Once they get close enough it doesn't matter if they reveal themselves or not, because there won't be time to put up a response.  Once they swing into Mora subsector, they can do what they like, and we can't really respond.  Our options are much more limited than theirs at that point."
    "But simply marauding through Mora subsector is not what he's after, and doing so simply delays the inevitable."
    "Yes.  I'm sure he'll come here as quickly as possible, but that still gives him a number of options."
    "And as you said, as the defender you have a certain responsibility to minimize collateral damage, which he does not have."
    Shark says, "Yes and no.  If he's going to occupy, he does.  If he's only going to temporarily knock out the power base, he doesn't.  So on his long term strategy depends how much collateral damage he's prepared to inflict."
    "There is a limit," says Nakege, "But at the same level he can afford to inflict more."
    The Archduke then turns to Mr. Saginaw.  He tells him that they could not in fact successfully build on his work -- he seems to be a particular expert in the field -- and if he has any more papers or articles his scientists can work on, he would be grateful if Mich could arrange for them to be sent here.  The other issue of course is the interesting capabilities of Nightshade, and what would be the potential to retrofit into existing ships.
    Mich explains that retrofitting is impractical, as helpfully as possible but not giving away any proprietary information.
    Norris nods.  "If you could perhaps provide details as to what we could be working on so we could start laying down some test ships...?  Perhaps when you return with the Duke you could present me with details I could pass on."
    Nakege says slowly and carefully, "Our ship will be much more useful to you if our capabilities are not made public."
    "I have no intention of making those capabilities public.  I would very much like it if those capabilities were not public.  In fact, if you want some sort of note from me that you can wave at authorities if they get too curious, I would be glad to hand you something.  I'll have a package delivered to you at the hotel."
    "Also," says Nakege, "To make bringing Rhylanor here easier, could you provide a letter that we can give him?"
    "Certainly.  I will simply request his presence immediately by you on your ship.  The reason for bringing him here should not be said within the earshot of anyone.  It would be a good time for him to come down with an illness."
    Shark says, "In a similar manner to how we arranged our meeting with you, do you have someone we could speak with on Rhylanor that would make things easier?"
    "Nakege knows him personally."
    "If we went in public, that would be quite true, but if we went in without fanfare and... we were hoping to not be noticed."
    Nakege says, "It would be nice if nobody could correlate our sudden appearance and disappearance with Rhylanor's disappearance.  If not, we'll go in publically."
    Norris says, "Of course there are people there, but... the people there would be under the auspices of Naval Intelligence.  I'm afraid you'll have to figure out a way to do it yourself.  I don't think under the circumstances that any of my contacts on Rhylanor would be suitable."
    Shark makes a mental note that they might be able to go through the Duke of Trin's offices.
    "So, is there anything else you need from me?  No?  Well, if you intend to harrass the approaching fleets, I'll have a Letter of Marque drawn up for you when you get back.  When you come back, you can just show up at the door at any time.  There will be instructions that Roger Jolly and his party are to be escorted to see me personally."
    The crew thanks him, and make their goodbyes.  They return to the hotel.
    Shark mentions his idea that they could go through the Duke of Trin's representative, if he has a counterpart on Rhylanor.  The others think this could be a good plan.

    Shark takes a large sum of cash, in large denominations stuffed into several pockets, and sets off for Naasirka to pick up his pig.  It is exactly what he'd ordered, and fully operational.  It is delivered (at his option) in a durable metal case with a built-in grav unit.  He returns to the hotel.
    While he's gone, Kalida puts together a package with all her information on Nakege and sends it via xboat to her heir, Vanessa, on Jewell.  This includes notes about Tussinian decision and other relevant matters.  The message will take 19 weeks to get there.

    Shark returns to the hotel and checks at the desk to see if there's a package.  There is not, so he commdots the rest of the crew that he'll be doing that other errand now.  He sets off to the Duke of Trin's offices to see Bob Hackett.
    He has called ahead, so when he arrives at the office he goes straight in to see Mr. Hackett.  He mentions the letter of introduction that he had brought to him, and says he needs a similar one that he can take to Rhylanor.
    It turns out that the Duke of Trin has offices on Rhylanor, and Bob steps out for a couple of minutes and comes back with an envelope.
    Shark asks delicately if this person is in any way associated with the Navy.  Bob looks confused, so Shark says that it is likely that there are people in the offices who have "another" boss.
    "I don't think so, sir," says Bob.
    "You have no-one that you are aware of in the Intelligence branch?"
    "I don't think I would be at liberty to answer that question, sir."
    Shark smiles, "I very much appreciate this, and I am sure that you will be letting the Duke of Trin know that I asked this favor.  Thank you."
    Bob thanks him, and Shark returns to the hotel again.

    When Shark arrives at the hotel, he again checks at the desk.  There is still no package, but there is "A gentleman waiting for you, sir."
    The man has a totally non-memorable appearance.  He simply passes a small package to Roger Jolly, and leaves.

    Shark goes up to his room, telling the others he has a package in hand.
    The package contains an envelope addressed to the Duke of Rhylanor; and a document on Archduke Norris' stationary, personally signed by him, that is a waiver from inspection or detention of Nightshade by all Imperial authorities good until the end of 1125.  The latter also says that they are not required to file flight plans, or reveal port of date of last or previous call.

    Their business on Mora done, they check out of the hotel and take the gcarrier, with Robert driving, back to Nightshade.  They immediately take off, head out to 100d, and jump for 0409/Rhylanor.

080-1123(cont.) : 0409 / Rhylanor / Spinward Marches

    After about two hours, Helia pops them out of jump after shutting down all non-essential systems and shunting as much power as possible from the two cubes to the jump system.
    This time there is a noticeable and audible thump.  After a short diagnosis, Mich reports it'll take about 4 hours to get the jump field emitters back in line.
    The good news it that after the four hours of repairs, Mich reports that he thinks he's managed to work in some improvements.  It's now less likely that the emitters will be knocked out of alignment.

    Four hours after Nightshade came out of jump, they are ready to jump again.  This will be a standard jump to Rhylanor, expected to take five and a half days.

    While they're in jump, Shark works on his pig, and also sets up passenger security to the limited area on C deck.  The Duke of Rhylanor will get Korwin Vanderfield's room.  If necessary, the crew can double up if he wants to bring someone with him.
    The walk from the launch's bay would involve going through engineering, so that would be right out.  They can however bring the Duke in on the gcarrier to the main cargo lift, and take him directly up to C Deck.  Here they can restrict him to aft of the bridge bulkhead and forward of Engineering, that leaves the staterooms, the Lounge, the Galley, and the Gym.  B Deck would be needed if Sick Bay has to be accessed, but he obviously can't be allowed in the other areas of that deck.  Passengers -- even a Duke to a certain extent -- expect their access on board ship to be restricted, after all.

    Mich starts working on the papers requested by the Archduke.

    Shark scans the letter to the Duke of Trin's offices.  It's coded, just like the previous one, and he can't interpret it.
    The message to the Duke of Rhylanor, however, is not coded.  A quick session with the remote viewpoint sensors reveals its contents.

You are to leave immediately with Nakege.  Absolute secrecy is imperative.  Tell no one, bring no one, and make no preparations.  I suggest a convenient illness requiring confinement to family quarters.  Deneb.

    Kalida takes klatrin as her after dinner drink.  By now she relishes the taste and smell, although the oily rotten fish odor keeps the other crew members at bay.

084-1123 : Jumpspace (from Mora / Mora / Spinward Marches)

Kalida's Third Klatrin Experience
(Referee and Kalida's player only)

    Kalida comes out of her trance early in the morning, in Sick Bay.  It's been three and a half days since she drank the fish oil.
    Bridgehead grumpily tells her she's as fine as could be expected, and that she's just in time for breakfast.  He says he'll need to examine her again later in the day, but right now there's not a lot of point in it.  He says, "You don't expect me to be happy about it, do you?  You don't get bedside manner if you do it to yourself."
    The two of them walk to breakfast, as he informs Misha that his gunner has come around and is out of the trance, as normal as any klatrin junkie.

    Shark says brightly to her, "Good morning!  Do you speak galanglic?  I have to check, since Robert doesn't speak it anymore.  Do you feel ok?"
    "Sure," says Kalida, then asks, "Have you checked the footballs today?"
    He does so, and finds nothing unusual over the past few days.  He tells her that, and wonders aloud why she asked?
    "You just never know," says Kalida.
    Vonish comes around serving breakfast, asking, "Coffee?"
    "I don't know," says Kalida quickly.
    Shark stares at her.
    Vonish merely shrugs and puts the pot on the table.  "Perhaps a shot of whisky in it, would that be better?"
    "I don't know," says Kalida very quietly.
    Shark asks, "You want your usual breakfast?"
    "It's a dangerous question," explains Kalida.
    Shark looks at Sir Misha and says, "We have another ship on our hands: 'I don't know'.'"
    Sir Misha laughs and says, "This might be worse than not speaking galanglic."  He turns to Kalida and says, "'A dangerous question.'  Why is it a dangerous question?"
    Kalida says, "Because we just don't know what could come of it."
    The rest of the crew look at each other.  Sir Misha is the one who speaks first, saying, "Isn't that true of all questions?"
    "It is."
    Shark says, "But you answered that one."
    "Yes.  Of course that still might cause trouble.  I think I'm going back to my room.  I have some things to figure out."  Kalida stands up.
    "Are you hungry?" asks Sir Misha.
    "I am."
    Shark says, "Then take some food and eat."  Bridgehead nods in agreement.
    "Perhaps later.  There are more important things right now.  Later.  But that changes things too.  I don't know."  She walks away towards her stateroom.
    Bridgehead turns to the assembled crew and says pompously, "Well, I hope you're happy, allowing people to do this.  Now we've got a gunner who can't decide whether to have a cup of coffee or not."

    Back in her stateroom, Kalida seals herself in and starts running simulations.  She emerges for lunch and joins the crew in the Lounge.

What Kalida Did Before Lunch
(Referee and Kalida's player only)

    Shark reassures Kalida, "It took me a little while to settle down after my last trip.  Give it a little time."  He is, however, keeping a closer eye on the footballs.  They have registered the lightest hint, again, although this time Kalida was awake rather than in a klatrin trance.
    Vonish says, "I was wondering whether to ask you what to have for lunch, or just to give you something.  But I suppose asking that is too much."
    Kalida says, "I'll have whatever you're serving."
    Vonish does just that.  Lunch today is superb, one of the vilani's better efforts even by his standards.
    Kalida asks what day it is.  She's told it's 084, and she was out for about three and a half days, and they should be coming out of jump the day after tomorrow.
    Shark asks Helia if she's figured out how to repair the holes in the other ship.  She says that Mich knows how to do that, and they just need a shipyard to do it.  Shark says, "Do you know where a likely place for a shipyard might be?"
    "No," says Helia, "But if we find the rest of the library we might."  She turns to Kalida and says with interest, "So what did you see?  You can see things differently now, I'm sure.  It's very good stuff."
    Shark nods sagely, "I saw people chasing us, and I was right."
    "Yes, you are," says Kalida firmly, "But we're changing things and making a mess."
    "We're making a different mess that will be better for us."
    "Or not."
    "But fortunately I'm a First Officer and don't have to worry about that."
    "Everything you do makes a difference," says Kalida quietly.
    The Baron says, "I thought you had it all figured out."
    "Every time I figure it out it changes.  Every time we move, it changes."
    "It can't change that much."
    "Oh, yes it can."
    Shark agrees with her, and says, "I don't care what happens as long as They don't get us.  That's my job."
    "I worry about what we're doing.  Or not doing."
    "Whether eating a potato chip will cause a hurricane.  Or that's butterfly wings, right?"
    "Or mine?" says Helia, spreading her own wings.
    Kalida says with a smile, "Wave them around carefully, you never know what might happen."
    The Baron asks her if she's come up with anything?
    "Don't sweat the details," says Shark.
    Kalida says, "The details are very important.  Without details we don't have anything."
    "With too many details you have mud."
    "Very true.  But if you look carefully at that mud, it has details as well."
    The Baron says, "Now that sounds like someone who's taken fish oil."
    Shark says, "Yeah, maybe next jump I'll take some.  I can get away with it, I'm just First Officer and a commoner at that."
    Bridgehead explodes before he can notice Shark's evil grin.  He exclaims, "You can't do that, you're backup medical officer and there'll be a passenger on board.  You have a duty to the ship."
    Shark groans theatrically, "I have to keep him from going through the wrong doors anyway.  Because if he eats the wrong thing we could all die.  Or we could be hunted.  Even letting him on board this ship could be a death sentence, depending on how they interpreted it."
    Kalida says, "We were explicitly allowed to carry passengers.  We just can't let them see anything unusual.  They specifically addressed that."