(25) To Be Named

The Crusader Campaign (107-1123 to 127-1123)

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107-1123 : Jumpspace (from Dawnworld / District 268 / Spinward Marches)

    Nightshade has just entered jump somewhat hastily, headed for Mithras / Glisten.  This time will again be a normal jump so they can come out in stealth at what is believed to be the destination of Santanocheev's fleets.  It is late evening.  They expect to beat the fleets out of jump by about three hours.

    Once they get settled in jump and they are sure the ship is fine, everyone starts work on their own pet projects.  Robert Morris continues work on the encryption scheme used by Santanocheev's fleets.  Mich Saginaw makes spare football sensors for Edward "Shark" Teeth.  Mich also works with Helia Sarina and Kalida Siena, Marchioness of Nakege on a simulation of Llannamith defenses.  Sir Misha Ravanos continues to practice his reading.

110-1123 : Jumpspace (from Dawnworld / District 268 / Spinward Marches)

    Robert gets frustrated at following a dead end for a while, and has to take a few steps back and start working on the encryption scheme again.

111-1123 : Jumpspace (from Dawnworld / District 268 / Spinward Marches)

    Soon after lunch, Helia asks the Captain for permission to leave the ship.  He asks her where she's going, and when she says "Just outside," tells her she can do so.
    Helia heads aft, dressed just in her zack, and leaves from the port airlock in Engineering.  She pushes off and heads out through the jump grid field.
    She's gone for three hours.  Sir Misha tries to track or locate her using the command console is sparkly pink, but can't do so.
    Helia comes back aboard quite subdued.  Rather than talking to anyone or heading forward, with a nod to Mich she goes straight to the Engineering console and into sparkly pink.  Mich goes into sparkly pink too, to observe her while she manipulates the jump grid to get readings.
    After a few minutes, Helia drops out of sparkly pink and starts rattling off equations and formulae at Mich, who nods and records it all but does not understand it at all.   She goes from there straight to the Bridge and spends several more hours in sparkly pink at her console.

    Helia does not arrive in the Lounge in time for dinner.  They eat without her.

    After everyone is done, Helia arrives in the Lounge and tells Sir Misha that there might be a problem.
    "What is it?" asks Sir Misha.
    "I tried to show Mich but he didn't understand it.  I can show you if you like."
    "I wouldn't understand it.  Just explain what the problem is."
    "Something's not right.  Jump is not right."
    "Our jump?"
    "Our jump is not right."
    "I guess that's the only one that really matters at this point."
    "Well... it depends.  It's possible that somebody else's jump could matter, but I don't think it does in this case.  I mean, really, everyone's jump matters to everybody else, if you actually look at it, but the effects are very small except in certain circumstances.  I could show you those if you like."  She smiles brightly and waves her puter.
    "So in what way is our jump wrong?"
    "I don't think we're going where we were planning to go.  And it might take us a little longer."
    "All right.  How much is a little?"
    "Oh... I'm not sure.  It's kind of like we're becalmed.  And sometime the wind will blow and we'll come out somewhere."
    Kalida says, "Could you force us out before then?"
    "I could," Helia says dubiously.
    "Do you have any idea where we would be?"
    "Do you have any idea where we'll be at the end of this long jump?"
    "Probably within... most likely within 40 parsecs of where we left."  There are cries of shock from the assembled crew, and Helia continues, "That's the top limit.  We might end up where we came from.  We might end up where we were intending to go, but if we do it's by accident.  Mich calls it a misjump, but that's kind of an obsolete term."
    "What caused this problem?"
    Helia pauses and says, "It looks like there might have been a mistake in the calculations.  Perhaps the presence of the other ships around us and the relative motion introduced nanogravity terms we did not account for correctly."
    Sir Misha says, "Are we more likely to end up closer to where we intended by kicking ourselves out now, or waiting?"
    "It doesn't matter, because we're not actually going anywhere, because we're in jump.  You don't go anywhere in jump.  Nothing moves.  We're more likely to be in the same shape when we come out, if we let ourselves come out.  And I mean that literally."
    Sir Misha wants to be sure.  He says, "You mean the word 'shape' literally."
    "Yes," Helia says with sickening cheerfullness.
    The crew is unanimous that they would prefer to be shaped the same when they come out.
    Helia adds more somberly, "The Doctor might want to be ready, though."
    Baron Bridgehead knows exactly what she means.  He's quite familiar first hand with treating jump sickness, and while he's not looking forward to it he is certainly equipped and ready to do so.  He also says he'll need some help, obviously first from Shark as backup Medical Officer.  He also asks Mich to check that the regular and emergency low berths are fully operational and ready to be used.

    Kalida has lots of threads to track down now.  For one thing, being somewhat paranoid, she wonders if something she did in the klatrin trance directly or indirectly caused this.  She also wonders if she can figure out where and when they might come out of jump.

112-1123 : Jumpspace (from Dawnworld / District 268 / Spinward Marches)

    Mich and Bridgehead conduct training sessions on the use of the low berths, including the emergency ones.  If there are no medical crew or facilities available to treat the crew, they are to put themselves into emergency low berths to survive as long as possible.  At least on Nightshade they are assured that the ship will not run out of power or life support.  Personally, Robert is confident that should he go into low berth, the ship will wake him again when everything is safe.

    Helia spends a lot of time working on the jump calculations, trying to figure out exactly what the problem was, what factors had been misrepresented or not considered.  She has an air of blameless investigation, as if mathematics itself was responsible rather than it being her own mistake.

113-1123 : Jumpspace (from Dawnworld / District 268 / Spinward Marches)

    Nightshade would be due to come out after breakfast.  Even though it does not, at least Helia is happy -- she's found the problem and is sure it will not happen again.
    Kalida has been trying to follow the problem of the misjump, but not only has she not been able to guess when or where the ship might come out of jump, all threads are starting to get a little faint and hard to follow.  She can see where the threads were, but she can't really tell anything since they left.
    Robert still hasn't figured out the encryption, and has stopped talking about it at all.

    Strangely enough, after lunch, Jack knocks on Kalida's stateroom door.  Kalida invites her in.
    Jack hesitantly says that she knows Kalida's been thinking about the fleets, and she has a hunch that perhaps the Marchioness might like to hear.  It's not anything
    She tells her that she thinks the Wonstar fleet might wait a couple of weeks and jump to Caladbolg / Sword Worlds, probably arriving about three weeks from when Nightshade left Dawnworld.  She apologizes that it's all she has, and asks Kalida to keep her source quiet and not tell anyone.
    Kalida promises to do so and thanks her.
    Jack offers her help with anything if Kalida wants it, and leaves with a friendly smile.
    Kalida starts puzzling over this new hint.  She really can't see any reason why the fleet would want to go to Caladbolg.

    Later at dinner, while chatting with Sir Misha, Kalida mentions that Santanocheev's fleets would just now be starting to come out of jump at Mithras.  She adds that she is sure that the fleet at Dawnworld would have sent a courier there after their encounter, and that would be arriving in a day or two.
    Robert looking just a little pale and unwell, just picking at his food.  It's not too noticeable, however, as most of the crew is being uncharacteristically quiet.
    Kalida has dropped into a reverie, considering the Porky's Raid.  Most of that action was in Zaibon / Lunion, with a military raid on Bronze / Sword Worlds.  Of course she knows more about that than the general public, but even that doesn't seem to help her figure out what on earth Santanocheev might be thinking.  Caladbolg has three suns, a Scout Base, and a whole bunch of farmers.  She has worked out that Santanocheev's decision to send the fleet there resulted from her own unintended consequences.  Although it had nothing to do with their own military action, it was more likely a result of them being seen on Adabicci.  The timing works for that.  That might even be the threat to Adabicci.  From Caladbolg they can get to Iron, Biter, and Bronze, all three of which are just one jump from Adabicci.

    After dinner, there is another knock on Kalida's door.  It's Jack again, with another hunch.  She says the fleet that is going to Caladbolg will stay there for several months.
    "But they don't matter, not immediately," says Kalida.
    "And the other thing is, I have a feeling that Lanth is Santanocheev's," says Jack.
    "I've been wondering about that for a while."  Nevertheless, she believes that the threat to Adabicci is not from Lanth.
    Jack says that's all, and that she's not expecting any more guesses.  She bids Kalida goodnight, leaving Kalida wondering where she gets her ideas.

114-1123 : Jumpspace (from Dawnworld / District 268 / Spinward Marches)

    Robert's looking a little better at breakfast.
    Kalida is still very preoccupied, trying to figure out several large knots.  She reflects that the bulk of Santanocheev's fleet should be coming out of jump at Mithras right about now.

115-1123 : Jumpspace (from Dawnworld / District 268 / Spinward Marches)

    In the morning they're already well into the eighth day of the jump.
    At breakfast, Kalida has started talking to herself.  Staring at her computer she says aloud to herself, "Unless something absolutely humungous happens, the fleets are going to Tussinian, and I'm assuming Santanocheev himself is going with them, but there's something else going on, so what am I missing?"
    Bridgehead says, "You're probably missing enough coffee.  Here."  He pours her a refill and adds, "Aside from half your brain from all that fish oil stuff."
    Kalida nods her thanks for the coffee and looks up.  She says, "Fish oil is why I know as much as I do."
    "Well, I wouldn't recommend that during a misjump."
    Kalida agrees.  "We could come out at any moment, and I wouldn't want to miss that.  Although if it comes down to an emergency low berth, the klatrin looks better."
    Here Bridgehead disagrees.  He is certain that the low berths on this ship are definitely safer.
    "I didn't say anything about safety," smiles Kalida.
    "In theory we could probably sit around in a low berth on this ship for hundreds of years.  Not that I'm suggesting we will, you understand."
    Sir Misha says that since he suggested it, if it happens then it will be the Baron's fault.
    In turn, Bridgehead suggests that it was Mich's fault.  He was probably messing with something.
    Sir Misha asks, "Would you like it better if it was my fault?"
    "Much better, yes.  I'll accept that.  You should keep a better handle on your Engineer and your crew.  And you shouldn't let them drink fish oil."
    "I probably shouldn't let them whine at the breakfast table, either."
    "Absolutely not, I quite agree."  The Baron looks around, puzzled why everyone else has just burst into laughter.

    By tonight, not only would all of Santanocheev's ships have reached Mithras, but so would the messenger from Dawnworld with the news of the battle.

116-1123 : Jumpspace (from Dawnworld / District 268 / Spinward Marches)

    At breakfast Kalida is talking aloud again.  She is now wondering again if the threat to Adabicci might be internal.  Shark would certainly agree with that.
    Back in her stateroom, she starts concentrating on the link between Santanocheev and Adabicci, trying to figure out what the link might be.  But it's all rather fuzzy, and the blackness has started floating around there too.  The threads are definitely getting fuzzier as this misjump continues.
    Still she continues examining the threads.  She wants to see if their action against the Wonstar Fleet has changed anything.  Of course everything has unintended consequences, but Santanocheev's momentum is heavy.  It's going to be hard to adjust anything about his path.  Amid the fuzziness she is sure that there's going to be a small change, but she can't see any sign of anything rippling out from there.
    Kalida tells Sir Misha that their poking about with the Wonstar Fleet hasn't done a lot to change anything.
    Kalida now resolves to spend the day not thinking about the wider issues.  She'll need to occupy herself with something else, of course.  Sir Misha has already switched from reading to practicing his sword and zack, and Kalida joins him.  It's a very effective distraction.  A glass of whiskey rounds out the night and helps her sleep.  She is glad the ship is well supplied, although sooner or later they'll have to restock the whiskey.
    Now that Jack has drawn attention to herself, Kalida keeps an eye on her to see what she does during the day.  Jack is dividing her time between the Lounge, her stateroom, and a considerable amount of it in the conservatory.

    By dinner, Nightshade would now be officially thoroughly overdue even if they were a normal ship doing the usual 6-8 day jumps.

117-1123 : Jumpspace (from Dawnworld / District 268 / Spinward Marches)

    On the tenth day of jump, Baron Bridgehead says he is starting to show slight symptoms of jump sickness.  He reassures everyone that if the time comes when he is unable to attend to his duties, that Shark is fully qualified to act as backup Medical Officer.
    He adds that anyone who notices themselves showing any symptoms should come down to Sick Bay.  He says that they might well have something that could help.

118-1123 : Jumpspace (from Dawnworld / District 268 / Spinward Marches)

    Bridgehead's condition is unchanged, still showing only slight symptoms.
    Today, however, the eleventh day of jump, Kalida starts to pick up headaches, a touch of nausea, and slight problems with balance.  Zack training will have to stop.
    Now that the second crew member is showing symptoms, Captain Sir Misha commands that everyone is subject to mandatory daily examinations.  Bridgehead approves thorougly.  Sir Misha says they are to be especially careful about Helia -- she's their highest priority.
    When Kalida reports for her examination, the Doctor confirms that she is suffering from the first stages of jump sickness.  He gives her some pills that should alleviate the symptoms, but warns her to avoid anything strenuous.  Kalida asks him if tactical thinking is ok, and he says it is as long as she doesn't stray into paranoia.  At the slightest sign of paranoia, she is to report to him immediately.
    The pills do help, and Kalida is grateful.

119-1123 : Jumpspace (from Dawnworld / District 268 / Spinward Marches)

    The Baron is much worse today and has checked himself into Sick Bay.  Kalida is unchanged, however, and quite comfortable with the medication.
    Bridgehead informs Sir Misha that Helia is starting to show symptoms.
    Immediately Sir Misha goes to see Helia.  He asks her what she thinks about precipitating out of jump at this point, and she reiterates that it's more likely to be a disaster than not.  She adds that candy helps with the jump sickness, but admits that no-one else on board could kick them out of jump if she was too ill to do so.

    Sir Misha calls a ship's meeting.  He says that they've been in jump for twelve days now.  He says that Helia says they'd be better to come out naturally, but she could kick them out, but they are likely not to come out alive.  He adds that the larian is starting to suffer from jump sickness, and if she gets too ill they'll just have to come out like any other ship, when chance takes them out.  He asks for opinions.
    Mich points out that they have unlimited life support and power, and are well stocked on food.  Normal ships would run out of air in a few weeks, and run out of fuel too.  Neither of those will happen to Nightshade.
    Kalida says she thinks they should wait for at least a day or two.  The crew look around in silent agreement with her.

120-1123 : Jumpspace (from Dawnworld / District 268 / Spinward Marches)

    Bridgehead has stablized, but is still only capable of very light duties, acting in an advisory capacity to Shark.  Helia is unchanged, kept under control with her candy supply and some medication that Shark insists that she takes.
    Kalida is a little weaker.  The medication isn't completly controlling the symptoms now.
    There are, however, five new cases: Sir Misha, Teri Cralla, Vonish Kehnaan, and Jack are showing slight signs, while Shark is decidedly worse than those four.

121-1123 : Jumpspace (from Dawnworld / District 268 / Spinward Marches)

    The ship has now been in jump for two weeks.
    There are two new cases today, with Mich and Robert both starting to show symptoms.  Teri and Sir Misha are still only lightly affected, while Shark remains the same as the day before.
    Then the bad news starts.  Jack and Helia are both weaker than the day before, while Kalida and Baron Bridgehead are worse.  Bridgehead is incapable of even light duties now, and has put himself under full medical care in Sick Bay.  Unfortunately Vonish has crashed badly, and he too is confined to medical care.
    Rather than clutter up Sick Bay even though she is quite ill, Kalida rests in her stateroom.  That doesn't stop her pointing out that they are only about 20 days from the crisis at Tussinian.
    Callisto is the only crew member currently unaffected by jump sickness.

    Sir Misha calls another meeting of the crew.  Baron Bridgehead and Vonish are, of course, unable to attend.  The Captain asks if anyone thinks they should change their course of action.
    Helia still stands by her opinion that they should just ride it out.  Callisto is feeling fine and backs Helia up enthusiastically.  The rest of the crew don't see to have an opinion.

121-1123 (cont.) : Somewhere / Somewhere / Somewhere

    Around 21:00, about halfway through the fifteenth day of the jump, Nightshade emerges into normal space.  There is widespread rejoicing by those who are not too sick to rejoice.
    The ship is in stealth.  Mich reports that everything is in fine shape.
    Callisto says she's going to need some time to figure out where they are.  There is no system in the immediate vicinity, although there is one about a parsec away.

    It doesn't take long for Callisto to report that she thinks the nearest system is a trinary, with a white main and two red dwarfs.  If they're within 40 parsecs of Dawnworld, that limits it to only a few system.  Off the top of her head she recalls Regina / Regina and Caladbolg / Sword Worlds (wouldn't that be coincidence?), and a few taps at her console quickly adds Toroska / Reidan and Jusk / Scorpio to the list.
    Another two hours, and she still can't narrow it down to one of those, and after another hour and a half she reveals why.  With embarrassment she admits a mistake in her initial observations, and that she'd mistakenly added an extra red dwarf to what is actually just a binary system.  With a sigh she adds that it will take a while to figure it out.  Fortunately Callisto is the one crew member in perfect health, so she can put her full efforts into it.

122-1123 : Somewhere / Somewhere / Somewhere

    While most of the crew are not any better, Sir Misha recovers his full health, while Kalida is capable of light duties again.  Bridgehead and Vonish are improved too, but still remaining in Sick Bay.

    Callisto announces that she believes they're in 0601 / Tardele / Foreven, one parsec away from Jost.
    Kalida says that they are 5 jumps from Mithras, their original destination, and 6 jumps from Bicornn / Glisten.  She points out that once everyone is well, they can do quick jumps again.  They can also make the first four jumps They are also four jumps from Caladbolg, but she doesn't think that matters and so doesn't mention it.
    Sir Misha says that before leaving here, they must wait until everyone essential to travel is at full health.  He adds that Kalida is to decide what jumps they will need, and whether they'll be short or slow.  He says he would prefer slow, given a choice.
    Kalida says that she doesn't think they can afford any slow jumps until the last one.
    Mich says he wants to be completely recovered, and spend a day checking the ship, before they do any short jumps at all.
    Sir Misha and Kalida agree that's a good idea.  The Captain also adds that Helia should take extra time to check her calculations.

123-1123 : 0601 / Tardele / Foreven

    Teri is now full recovered too, while Vonish is discharged from Sick Bay.  Jack, Shark, and Kalida are feeling comfortable under the magic medication.
    Bridgehead himself, however, is still confined to Sick Bay.  Helia, Mich and Robert feel no better either, so the waiting continues.

124-1123 : 0601 / Tardele / Foreven

    Jack, Shark, and Kalida have now recovered, and while Bridgehead is still feeling bad, Vonish, Helia, and Robert are able to resume duties under medication.  Mich remains a little under the weather.

125-1123 : 0601 / Tardele / Foreven

    Vonish and Helia recover today.  Bridgehead has resumed his duties as Medical Officer, while not fully well yet.  Mich still hasn't improved, while Robert has suddenly taken a drastic turn for the worse and is now confined to Sick Bay under the Doc's care.

126-1123 : 0601 / Tardele / Foreven

    No-one is feeling better today, although Robert at least is no worse.
    Kalida has turned her attention to considering what Trin and Norris might be doing, and concludes that they're probably all ready and just waiting for Santanocheev's advance.

127-1123 : 0601 / Tardele / Foreven

    Finally, Mich and Baron Bridgehead recover their full health.  Robert still hasn't improved, and is remaining stable in Sick Bay, but he's the only crew member who's ill.

    Mich immediately starts checking the ship.  By 21:00, he declares Nightshade is all red and ready to go.
    Kalida says they'll have to change their plans.  Assuming they do four quick jumps and a regular jump into Mithras, they'll be long gone.  If they do five quick and a slow into Bicornn, they're probably going to be gone.  She believes everybody is going to be well on their way to Tussinian by that time unless they forgo stealth and go in with a quick jump.  So they can do all quick jumps and within a day or two catch up with them in Bicornn, but they would be seen coming in and vulnerable for anything from minutes to hours.  Alternatively, they can bypass that and head straight into Tussinian, where they don't know anything additional to help anyone out, and have effectively discovered nothing.  And then there is always Adabicci -- they could get there well before 140.  "But everything affects everything else," she concludes, "And I still don't know what the threat against Adabicci is, so I don't know what if anything I could do."
    After a pause, she adds that they do have time to make choices.  Their first few jumps will be the same no matter where they go in the end.  It'll take a couple of jumps just to get back into the Spinward Marches.
    Sir Misha asks for other opinions.
    Kalida turns to Jack and asks what she thinks.
    Jack looks embarrassed and gives a friendly shrug.  "I don't have any opinions," she says.  To Kalida she adds, "I don't know any more than you do.  At this point.  Until someone breaks their encryption system or something, we're not going to have any more information than we had when we left Mora."
    Kalida sighs, "I would have to say our mission so far has been an utter failure."
    Suddenly Jack asks, "How much would it cost us to stop at Karin?"
    Kalida ponders this.  "It might not hurt anything," she says.  She fiddles with her puter for a while and says firmly, "It won't make any difference."
    "Then I'd like to request a brief stopover in Karin.  A few hours.  Half a day would be ideal.  I'd like to check in at the base there, use the systems, grab a few resources, and leave."
    Sir Misha asks, "Why?"
    "Because there might be something that will help.  The FarSpace Service gathers data, and there might be some data they've seen that can add to what we have."
    That's good enough for Sir Misha.  "All right," he says.
    "Three jumps to Karin," says Kalida, "However, for it not to make any difference it'll have to be a quick jump in, which means no stealth.  We will be seen."
    Jack says, "My people aren't going to care, and everybody else is not going to worry about it."
    Kalida and Sir Misha agree that it won't be a problem.

    At 21:30, Nightshade is on the move again.  They jump for 0401 / Urnian.