(27) To Be Named
The Crusader Campaign (130-1123 to 131-1123)
This file has yet to be fully
This file has yet to be fully
It is 12:15. Nightshade has just
jumped for 0305
/ District 268.
Kalida Siena, Marchioness of Nakege, is frustrated
that they're now getting so close to the important part, and so far
they've managed to be almost completely ineffective. Tussinian
is inevitable, as is the threat to the Duke of Adabicci.
Helia Sarina still has no idea what caused the
second misjump. She hasn't had time to investigate it in detail,
but she believes that there were no unaccounted factors and that her
calculations were correct.
Robert Morris is still in a low berth, where he
medical attention for his jump sickness. This at least gives
Bridgehead a chance to rest at last.
As soon as the ship enters jump, Mich Saginaw starts
work in the heavily damaged section 1 of E deck.
He spends an hour on diagnostics. The stealth systems he
estimates will take 13 hours to repair, while the shields will take 27
work. Those estimates assume that he'll have people to help him
with cleanup and hauling and so on, and Teri has promised to make
herself available for that. He informs the Captain and crew, and
the decision is that he
should work on the stealth system first.
Mich now is beginning to get an understanding of
what Helia is doing with her jump calculations, and in bypassing the
Quilton Limitation to force the ship out of jump early. After
all, he's actually done that part himself now on the misjump, and
that's increased his feel for the new science of jumpspace.
Kalida seeks out Jack. She finds her in the
Lounge enjoying some coffee. Baron Bridgehead is the only other
occupant, with most of the crew still at their stations or engaged in
The coffee is Vonish's, not Mich's, so it's
drinkable by non-Engineers. Kalida pours herself a cup and sits
down with Jack. She asks her if she's found anything interesting
in that data yet.
Jack says she hasn't really had a chance to look at
it yet. She says quietly that there's not a lot more to get from
hunches that doesn't match up with what Kalida has. Somewhat
hesitantly, she adds that Santanocheev and his people don't tell the
people under him much about what's going on or what they're
doing. She says that if she had to guess, she would say that
there might be a whole bunch of fleets leaving Bicornn
tomorrow, just a hunch of course. She has no hunches at all
beyond that, there's not even something anyone could gossip
about. Santanocheev probably hasn't even told the people under
his direct command anything beyond that. She says that she
believes his fleets have been leaving on the fifth day after arriving
in a system so far, and that once they clear Bicornn they're
going to tighten that up to the fourth day.
Kalida says that she thinks the main action at Tussinian
would be about 140.
Jack nods, and says that it would put the bulk of
their fleets coming in on 138. They'd have to be planning to
leave on 142, which doesn't leave them a lot of time there.
Kalida agrees. If they're moving that quickly,
the greater the impact of a small delay.
Jack says that the closer they're getting to Mora,
the tighter the schedule, and the less variation they're permitted in
Kalida asks if Nightshade is heading in the
right direction to Tussinian.
Jack is noncommitted on whether that's the right
place to be, but she backs up Kalida's assessments of the schedule and
says she's made a good case of it. Now what the other fleet might
be doing, that's another matter and she can't even guess at it.
They're going to sit for at least a month, possibly more. Just a
hunch, of course. She glances over at the Baron, who hasn't been
paying much attention but might have overheard some, and says,
"Feminine intuition, you know."
The Baron nods and pours himself another Irish
Jack turns back to Kalida and asks if she's come up
Kalida says she hasn't, and isn't sure she wants to
go back to her source right now. If her hunches are right, the
fleets in Rhylanor subsector will already be on the move, or are about
to do so.
Jack agrees. If they're synching up their
jumps, some of them will have to start moving tomorrow. That
means they probably have control of them by now. She doesn't
believe they would have taken over before it was absolutely
necessary. Maybe a few days before they leave -- early enough to
prepare, but not enough for anyone to think about it too hard until
Kalida changes tack and asks Jack what she thinks
about the Sword Worlds, since the IFSS keeps an eye on external rather
than internal threats.
Jack replies that the Sword Worlds are right on the
border, a traditional ally of the Zhodani, and are really the
responsibility of conventional Imperial agencies. The IFSS
doesn't really consider anything unless it's outside the Spinward
Marches. "They're still in the driveway," she says.
Kalida looks blank.
Jack explains, "That's how we like to put it.
The Imperium stays inside the house, the Scouts go down to the end of
the driveway, and we have left the driveway and are roaming about the
countryside. The Sword Worlds are still in the driveway.
Our base on Karin is deep in the Imperium by our standards."
Kalida doesn't have any more questions. The
two women settle down to wait for the announcement of jumpspace
Mich has barely had time to start repair work when
Helia and Callisto announce that the jump is stable, 1:20 into the
jump. Everyone goes to their station to emerge from jump.
(still) 130-1123 : 0305
/ District 268 / Spinward
At 13:50, they come out
of jump at 0305 / District 268.
It takes 25 minutes for space
to stabilize, and another hour for Callisto to verify their exact
Mich's Engineer board is all red, but there are a
couple of emitters he could realign to make them perfect, and in his
opinion that takes priority over repairing the stealth systems.
Nevertheless, he manages to squeeze in some work before the next jump,
leaving 12 hours of work left on those systems. He tells the
Captain that this stopping and starting will extend the length of time
While they're waiting, Kalida and Shark discuss
strategy in the
Lounge. It's decision time: while they could put off the choice
another jump, since they have at least an hour they'll talk about it
Shark says that at Tussinian, provided they
can get their shields up, they can be an effective fighting
force. They can certainly mission kill a Happy Fun Ball, he
believes. And they didn't hurt them last time, and they will be
very busy with other stuff. Even if they don't take out one of
the flagships, they can kill twenty or thirty screening ships, which is
certainly a significant impact. Now if they do either of those
two things, they are likely to be ineffective in any other battle
because they'll have used up all of their missiles. While it's
very quick to rearm by warship standards, the 30 days it takes is very
slow by the standard of their current travel time.
Kalida smiles that they don't have to rearm the
expander -- it has a fire rate comparable with a spinal mount weapon,
and a comparable range as well. It'd be ready to fire about a
minute or so after dropping stealth, she says.
Shark is happy that they present a small target,
while their own targets will be large. And they can fire the
expander while jinking.
Kalida points out that they're not going one-on-one
with the happy fun ball. Also, any of the capital ships will be
carrying spinal mount meson guns, which they do believe might have the
potential to damage Nightshade.
Shark says that their next jump is obvious, but
after that they'll have the choice to go coreward towards Adabicci,
or trailing towards Tussinian.
Kalida agrees. They don't know what is
happening in Adabicci, and they don't know anything about what
they could do.
Shark adds that in Tussinian, they know
they'll be jumping into a battle. If all they do is show
themselves and cause Santanocheev's fleets to start randomly firing
again, they they'll have impacted the battle just from that.
They'll be wasting their resources on something that they can't see but
might be there. When Kalida drops the tidbit that the fleets will
be leaving Bicornn tomorrow, he wonders what would happen if
they popped in there and blasted their presence into their
attention. Of course they would have neither shields nor stealth,
and that would make it quite dangerous.
Kalida adds that if they don't come in all red, they
might well be a sitting duck for a while.
Shark wonders if that would even slow them down at
Kalida says that they are going to Tussinian,
and they will get there about 140-ish. They can make little
disruptions, but they aren't going to change that. She goes on to
say that they could conceivably leave on a long jump for Tussinian
tonight, which would get them there on a long jump on 136. So
they will beat even the first part of the fleet that's jumping now,
which would get there on 137. They'd beat Santanocheev's first
ships by about a day.
Shark says that if they did a short jump in, the
extra four days wouldn't really help them. They could talk with
the defenders, but there isn't a lot that they can impart.
Kalida says that personally she wants to go to Adabicci,
and if she doesn't she knows she'll regret it, but strategically they
need to go to Tussinian. She pauses to consider.
Mich has about 40 hours of work left to do. So if they wanted to
short jump the whole time, they need a couple of days pause for him to
fix everything. That would therefore only save them three and a
half days anyway.
Shark understands what she's thinking. He says
that they could short jump and get to Adabicci and on to Tussinian
in one quick day. They need to be at Tussinian by 137,
and it's 130 now. So they could spend three or four days in Adabicci.
Kalida says that they need some time in system
before Santanocheev arrives, and Mich will need a few days to finish
Shark says firmly that if she wants to go to Adabicci,
they could spend two days there, 48 hours, maybe a bit longer, talking
to him. They would have to make a quick jump into Adabicci
and a quick jump into Tussinian. Of course they don't
know what they look like when they come out of a quick jump. They
might even be able to spend three days at Adabicci, leaving
there on 133 and arriving at Tussinian on 134.
Shark has been doing a fine job of talking Kalida
into exactly what she wants to do. Her concern is their chance of
a misjump. She quickly checks with Helia, and while the larian is
her usual confident self, she still doesn't know why the last misjump
happened -- it could even have been pollution, she says.
Shark says that he wants to do this, if for no other
reason than it will clear the mind of their chief tactician. And
they can find out what a quick jump looks like.
The First Officer has convinced her. As long
as Captain Sir Misha will go along with it, says Kalida, they can go to
When his First Officer and Kalida agree, Captain Sir
Misha sees no reason to disagree. He approves the itinerary to Tussinian
At 15:15, they jump for 0102 /
Glisten. Mich checks through Helia's calculations, not just to
double check them after the misjumps, but to improve his understanding
now he's getting closer to her concepts.
It takes 45 minutes till space stablizes, and Mich
puts in a quick few minutes on the stealth systems.
(still) 130-1123 : 0102
/ Glisten / Spinward
They come out of jump at 0102 / Glisten, with the
ship in perfect shape: red across the
board and not a single thing to adjust. It takes 20 minutes for
stablize, another hour for Callisto to confirm the position, and
they're ready to jump at 17:20. By that time, Mich has 10:10 left
to finish work on the stealth systems.
At 17:20, they jump for 0207 / Lunion. It
takes 20 minutes
for jump to stabilize, and they're ready to come out at 17:40.
(still) 130-1123 : 0102
/ Glisten / Spinward
It's a perfectly
smooth transition again. This time, though, it takes 4 hours for
space to stabilize, so at
21:40 Callisto starts verifying, and they're ready to jump again at
22:40. In the meantime, Vonish has served dinner and everyone has
taken a well-deserved break.
Mich uses the extra time well. There is now
only 7:10 remaining on the stealth system repairs.
At 22:40 they jump again for Adabicci /
At 00:40 they are ready to come out, after 2 hours of
jumpspace stablizing. Just five and a half hours now remain on
the stealth system repairs.
Robert, on the other hand, has not improved.
Bridgehead is keeping him in low berth for the time -- he says that
jump sickness can still heal in low berth. He wants to keep him
there until they reach Adabicci and he can dedicate his
attention to him full time.
Last time they were on Adabicci was on
063. While Shark is still concerned that they have not taken
enough time to get back there, Kalida reassures him that it is feasible
that they could have done the trip.
(still) 131-1123 : Adabicci
/ Lunion / Spinward
This jump transition is not smooth, however.
There is some vibration and shaking, and two jump field emitters go out
The crew are much relieved when Callisto tells them
that the system looks at first glance to be consistent with Adabicci.
They are not really close to anything; they are nearer the inner orbits
than outer, and there is a gas giant fairly nearby.
Shark tries to pick up anything from the system as a
clue to where they are and the state of things here.
Unfortunately all he gets is noise, and he'll have to wait for space to
stabilize before picking anything up he can interpret.
An hour and a half later, space stabilizes.
They pick up the standard navigation beacons for Adabicci.
Shark immediately asks Callisto to find anything
heading towards them, any transmissions referring to them (like "What
the hell was that?"), and anything else that the official paranoid of
the ship might consider a threat.
Callisto reports that there is a Close Escort
heading towards them, probably a System Navy ship. It's about six
hours out at the moment, and wouldn't appear to be a threat because
it's a lot smaller than them.
Now that space has stabilized, Nightshade is
running with the transponder. They're about 12 hours at 6g from
the gas giant, and the mainworld is a few more hours away than that.
They talk to traffic control and set out on a flight
path to the mainworld at 6g. The Close Escort alters course to
match with them anyway, and asks if they're OK.
Shark replies that their engineer says he can fix
their minor glitch on that last jump, if they pick up a few spare parts.
The Close Escort welcomes them to the system and
There is some news here, of course, but remarkably
little is going on in the grand scheme of things. Kalida even
trolls the gossip columns to find out what's happening with Adabicci --
that would be the best place to find it.
Biggest social news is that Sir Geoffrey has gone
off on an academic expedition with an old friend, and is expected to be
away for some time.
Baroness Arahani is on Ianic and is expected
to be there for about three months. She's on a diplomatic
mission, liasing with the local government and the Marquis of Ianic.
The Duke himself is in residence. He's had a
few garden parties, nothing out of the ordinary. His calendar is
less full than normal -- he seems to have limited his personal
appearances recently, over the past month or two. On the other
hand, instead of the social occasions, he's done a number of
inspections of the Imperial Navy fleet that is stationed here.
He's been spending time with the officers, and also inspected the
various Naval facilities in the system. He's expressed an
interest in a deeper knowledge of the Naval forces who are protecting
them in their patriotic duties here on the Imperial border.
Of Eduard, Lord Adabicci, there is no news. He
is completely out of the news. He was at a garden party 22 days
ago and hasn't been mentioned since.
The press is remarkably kind to the Ducal
household. There is no malicious gossip at all. The media
here is generally quite favorable to the local nobles, particularly is
this is not a major world. Even Sir Geoffrey has his social
abilities described as a virtue rather than as a local playboy spending
all their taxes. Clearly they actually like the nobility here.
In more general news, there is word that the
expeditionary fleet under Grand Admiral Winchester is planning to be
here in about a week or so. The fleet is in refit, but the
operational ships have been taken out of that status for
exercises. They are still considerably under strength.
Kalida notes that puts about a fleet and a half here
in addition to the System Navy, including a very good strategist.
The local economy and trade seems perfectly
normal. No strange rumors, no prophecies of gloom and doom, no
conflict on the horizon. Unless, of course, you're a dark-haired
Gemini in which case your horoscope for the week is not looking good.
There is one TNS entry, however. The notorious
pirate Robin Sherwood is active again in Vilis subsector. The Berlin
is on the rampage again.
Kalida sends a simple message to the Duke saying
she's here. The Duke says he's the only one in the palace at the
moment, but she is welcome to land at the palace and visit.
Helia says that the whole trip, including landing,
will take about 15 hours from when they started. Well, that's 14
hours with her superior astrogation. It'll be 16:30 when they
land, which will be about 8:30 am local time.
Mich takes the opportunity to sleep on the way in,
in preparation for the long hours of work he'll be doing here while the
ship is on the ground.
On the way in, Robert is woken and transferred to
Sick Bay. Bridgehead asks Shark if he wants to brief him on the
situation including the misjump. Shark is sure that the ship will
update him far more thoroughly that he could. He is even sure
that the ship will show him anything he wants, including everything
that's gone on in the privacy of the staterooms. Even though the
ship refuses to tell anyone what goes on in staterooms, he believes
that Robert has too tight a connection for that to apply to him.
As soon as the ship has settled on the pad, a large
limousine heads out rapidly towards them.
Shark suggests that he should go with the
Marchioness just in case something happens. He believes they
should leave Sir Misha and Teri here as backup, with the pilot (and in
her role as backup gunner) to handle anything else. If Sir
Geoffrey were here, Sir Misha would be required to attend, but it is
not socially necessary that he attend an audience with the Duke.
The ship is going to be here for 48 hours, says
Shark, so Vonish will arrange restocking the ship to maintain the level
of the cuisine.
Sir Bridgehead, for his part, is insistent that
Robert will be able to resume his duties by the time they leave
here. In fact, he's so sure he says that if Robert is not ready,
he's willing to go teetotal for a week.
While the limo pulls up, Sir Misha ponders Shark's
suggestions of who will go ashore.