(40) To Be Named

The Crusader Campaign (140-1123 to 142-1123)

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140-1123 : Tussinian / Trin's Veil / Spinward Marches

   At Shark's suggestion, the third prisoner -- the courier ship's troop -- is moved into Low Berth from Sick Bay.  He still needs more treatment, as he's wounded badly, but he can be transferred safely.
    Shark still wants the ship's crew to be ready for battle.  He particularly checks with the Doctor, who tells him in no uncertain terms that he is not going to sleep right now, even if it was possible.  Most of the remainder of the crew can rest, although Vonish and Kalida have legal work to do.  He makes sure the Doctor is aware that the legal team might need chemical assistance.

    Sir Misha asks Jack and Mich if there's anything new they've found out about the brown box.  They don't really have anything new, they say.  They're working on figuring out the circuit, which is just kind of "wrong," but there are no new revelations.  It does have some sort of odd feedback into the ship it's mounted on, and they have it set up in an isolated virtual ship to give it the right environment.

    With that, everything is ready for the night.  Barring movements of the rebel fleets, this should be a normal night.  Their meeting the next morning is scheduled for 07:00, so Shark will call a meeting at 06:00 to find out if there's any new developments overnight.

141-1123 : Tussinian / Trin's Veil / Spinward Marches

    At 06:00, Shark checks on Vonish and Kalida.  They've done more work, and are as ready as they could possibly be.  Shark is amused that the legal machinations have delayed the rebels' progress as long as a good bit of the fighting.  In 6 hours, they will have delayed the fleets a whole three days.
    There has been no detectable movement from the rebel fleets.

    Shark heads down to the Gym to exercise.  As he passes through the Lounge, he sees Sir Misha having a little breakfast and coffee before the meeting.  He musesto himself, "He's never been in a real battle, just a few street brawls."  More loudly he says, "Full meal before battle, you never know when you'll get a chance to eat again."
    Sir Misha says, "What do you mean?"
    "You might just be too busy to eat."
    Sir Misha laughs, "On the street, you can eat your dead.  Out here... you can have the cook bring it to you in your chair.  You've never been in a real battle!  And if you're winning, you can eat the other guy's dead."
    Shark smiles and carries on his way.

    It's 07:00.  Shark directs that they should wait for the other team to call them.
    At 07:05, the INISO team calls Nightshade to resume the legal description.  Vonish, Kalida, and Sir Misha engage the other lawyer, who also has a couple of backup people too, in discussion.  Sir Misha maintains a convincing look of concern.
    At this point, the discussion is centering around the legislative procedure.  Rather than just look at the particular one that Vonish has brought up, the INISO lawyer suggests they go through every single relevant legislative action and make sure that they agree that all the others are valid.  He seems reluctant to do so, but it's also clear he considers it necessary to make sure that Sir Misha can be confident of the legality of Santanocheev's action.  Since it was all done with a great many apparently unrelated fragments of law, this will clearly take quite some time.
    While that is going on, Shark quietly contacts Callisto for her to make sure no-one slips away from the main rebel group by the innermost moon.  She assures him that while she can't resolve every single ship in the group, if one leaves she will definitely pick it up.
    After four hours of this, at 11:00, the INISO lawyer suggests an hour break for lunch.  He's looking harassed, but everything aside from Vonish's discovery seems to be completely in order.
    The Nightshade team agrees, of course.
    Shark, however, goes on high alert.  He checks again with Callisto to be sure nothing is moving.  He is not reassured when she says she is certain everything is normal.  Shark, as the ship's official paranoid, is expecting any break to be the time when talk turns into action.

    Lunch of course requires an alternate cook, with Vonish busy.  Mich volunteers to cook for the whole crew.  It's unexpectedly good considering Mich's love of MREs (of which he still has a substantial stash).  It's not Vonish's standard, of course, but on any other ship this would be considered very good.
    Shark suggests telling the defenders what they've been doing, to boost their morale.  Sir Misha, however, emphatically rejects the idea.  He does not want the slightest whiff of duplicity from what he's doing.  He wants neither side to doubt his sincerity and loyalty.

    At 12:00 the talks resume.  The fleet has been delayed for three days now.

    By 15:00, all the decisions except the one under dispute have been verified.  Both sides agree to their validity.  They return to discussion the disputed legislative session.
    What the other team has done is come up with all the legislation that was enacted in that particular session, and they go on to demonstrate that every other single item in that session has been held to be valid.  That puts the only point of dispute being this one single small item.
    This particular item is a little different.  A couple of members of the legislative body behaved questionably in this case that could be considered as invalidating it, but the INISO lawyer is coming up with a reasonable argument that no court would see it that way.
    They continue to discuss the details.  It is complicated in that different sources seem to have recorded slightly different accounts of the voting on this item.  Vonish and the INISO lawyer are working to reconcile the various accounts.
    The INISO argument is that even if it is not reconciled, it is effectively treated as valid because of the session that surrounded it.
    Vonish points out that this item has not in fact ever been tested, as each part of the law establishing INISO and its scope is individually insignificant.
    Both sides explain slowly and carefully to Sir Misha when he seems not to be understanding the finer points of the issue.  The question is whether the vote was conducted properly.  Vonish says that since the procedure was not followed correctly, no proper vote was taken on the item and therefore it is not law.
    Sir Misha insists that the other items in this session, and their validity, don't apply to this item because none of the others have been challenged on the same point of procedure, so there's no way to know how a court would react.  Vonish agrees, but in different words.  By now, the INISO lawyer really can't put forward a reasonable argument that it should be otherwise, and it's becoming obvious that he has lost this point.
    What it comes down to is the disputed behavior of Sir Willi Everett, and whether his actions at the time in his intoxicated state, invalidate the vote on the law.
    Sir Misha is surprised to hear that Sir Willi did not even have the deciding vote.
    The vote was very clearly in favor of the law.  The point, as Vonish says, is that his actions would have invalidated the vote, and they should have revoted even though it clearly would have been passed almost unanimously.  They should not have simply accepted the behavior and passed it through, no matter what the time of day or how much they wanted the extended legislative session to end.  The question is whether by not re-doing the vote, they invalidated it.  Vonish says that even if it would have passed almost unanimously, the vote should still have been redone in order for the legislative procedure to be valid.
    There are also of course separate accounts of Sir Willi Everett's behavior, and it is not quite clear whether he really did break procedure or not.  The sources at the time indicate he might have done, and both lawyers are agreed on that.  There are no witnesses available now after all this time.
    Sir Misha requests a break to "consult with his lawyer."  He is concerned that the INISO has shaky legal grounds, and given its actions it is unclear how a court might decide.  He requests another hour, to which the INISO lawyer agrees.  It is now 17:00, so they will reconvene at 18:00.

    Sir Misha calls von Krantzhoff.  It's now three days and five hours into the five hours the defenders were ordered to try and hold out.
    Von Krantzhoff says he has prepared the couriers to send out Sir Misha's message as soon as the opportunity arises.
    Sir Misha asks if he's considered falling back and regrouping at Katarulu.
    Von Krantzhoff agrees that Sir Misha has bought them a lot of time.  They're now over three days, and have inflicted a lot of damage on the fleets as well.  The combination of those is enough that he would consider withdrawing, although not until it becomes absolutely necessary.  While the current stalemate continues, he sees no reason to withdraw.  If it should come to military action, however, he is prepared to withdraw or simply step aside if the rebels would allow it.  If they could remain in the system, they could recover the survivors of the battle that made it down to the mainworld's surface.  Since the rebels don't actually want to occupy the system, just have the use of it for a few days, they may allow that.  In any event, von Krantzhoff is willing to avoid any further military action.
    Sir Misha thanks him, and terminates the call.

    The Captain then asks Kalida and Baron Bridgehead if this stepping aside thing is reasonable.  If anyone tried that back where he came from, stepping aside would be followed by being shot.
    The ship's tacticians say that if it wasn't Imperial Navy against Imperial Navy, that would be the case.  If it was Zhodani they were fighting, they'd press home the advantage and make a full victory from it.  But all the rebels want to do is regroup, refuel, and leave.  They don't need the system, and they're dealing with Imperial Navy.  They've been straightforward with each other so far.  They've been clear and honest about their goals, and if the defenders say they'll step aside and let the rebels refuel, if they can then go in and pick up the survivors, then they'll expect both sides to honor that.
    Shark addresses Jack and the Grand Admiral.  It was clear they were going to fight in the beginning.  Then they reached the middle section, where it was clear they would win on the next push.  But they allowed themselves to be delayed by a day -- they really allowed it.  He asks if that's because their scheduled arrival time is far enough in the future that they could afford the delay.
    Bridgehead says they could probably still make it, but they have a lot of damaged ships and they don't really have the time to refuel and do much in terms of repair.
    Jack adds that perhaps they want to march on Mora with Nightshade with them, and the slight possibility of that is worth taking the risk of another day or so.
    Shark agrees that clearly they've shown their worth in this battle.  He doesn't think they chose to allow the delay based on that, but it must be on something else.  Why did they accept the excuse that was offered?
    Sir Misha and Jack think that Nightshade is enough to justify it, especially given their paranoia about this ship.
    Shark says he doesn't think they can take this deception any further, unless they take the last step -- to move into the fleet under a white flag, and then take that flag down.
    Sir Misha says he's not really a "shoot them in the back" kind of guy, except perhaps when it comes to the INISO.  Also, most of those ships are not INISO.  He says he's considered naming a price that is ridiculously high, and negotiating on that.
    Shark says that the person now in charge doesn't have the political standing to take something like demanding Duke.  They might just say yes and stab them in the back.  They might just say yes anyway to whatever they ask.
    Sir Misha says they could demand command of the rebel flotilla.
    Shark asks what would they do if they say yes?
    Sir Misha says they'd order them to refuel, repair, and sit.
    Shark refines that: order them to refuel and repair completely.
    Sir Misha thinks that is not realistic.  "Is it time to just cut and run?"
    Shark agrees as long as they can protect the defending fleet.  Anyway, if von Krantzhoff leaves he's not going to Mora, but to the assembly point at Katarulu.
    Sir Misha admires von Krantzhoff's valor, and is willing to give him more cover if he needs it.  Von Krantzhoff cannot break out of any action without going through the rebel fleets.
    Shark agrees: if von Krantzhoff opens fire at all, he will get almost total casualties in a matter of hours at most.
    Sir Misha points out his primary concern is that they have Santanocheev on board, and he wants to get him to Mora.  He doesn't want to do anything here that would jeopardize that.
    Shark has one more opportunity to gain a few hours.  If Sir Misha and Vonish stage an argument that gets cut off, perhaps Sir Misha could say they need until tomorrow morning, and they might buy it.  Then, tomorrow morning, they call INISO up and say goodbye.
    Sir Misha's concern is that INISO could just decide that they're faking it, and that would lead to the loyallist fleets not being given the opportunity to leave or step aside.
    Shark also mentions the obvious.  They might want Santanocheev back.
    Sir Misha makes his decision.  He will tell von Krantzhoff that the negotiations will probably break down.  If he wants to step out of the way, he can give him an opportunity to do that right now while Nightshade is still here.  If he wants to continue fighting, they can keep negotiating but they will probably break down soon, and the rebels will end it with violent action.  He'll ask von Krantzhoff what he wants to do.

    Robert opens a link with von Krantzhoff.
    Sir Misha tells him that as he might have guessed they had engaged the other fleet in negotiations, and they are about to reach their inevitable failure.  At this point, if von Krantzhoff wants to continue to fight to close to the last man, Sir Misha will continue the negotiations and allow them to break down whenever they do.  Now if he decided that he might want to step aside at this point, he can give him cover to do that.
    Von Krantzhoff believes they have done enough.  They've delayed them, inflicted heavy damage that will have to be repair, and made sure that they will need even more fuel now than when they first got here, so refuelling will take longer.  He believes the mission is essentially accomplished.  He'd like to stay in the system to recover his survivors, plus as many Imperial Navy survivors from the rebel side as well.  They are all Imperial Navy, after all.  And then continue to Katarulu.  If it's necessary to leave now, they can jump to Katarulu and come back, but they'd need jump tenders from the innermost planet to get some of the battle riders out of here.
    Shark steps in, and says that they should pursue those negotiations separately from Nightshade.
    Von Krantzhoff says he does not think that the rebels will believe that the negotiations would be separate.  He thinks that given what Nightshade has done to the rebel fleets, that they would assume Sir Misha is in command even if he is not, and would not believe separate talks.
    Sharks asks what if Nightshade was not in the picture?
    Von Krantzhoff says they would wonder where they were, then take that opportunity to get the loyallist fleets out of the way.
    Sir Misha asks him how he would like them to proceed.
    Von Krantzhoff says that if Sir Misha's intention is to take Santanocheev back to Mora, then if they negotiate Nightshade leaving and the loyallist fleets moving out of the way, that would leave no opportunity to misinterpret.
    Sir Misha nods.  "Good luck, sir," he says.
    "It's been an honor," says Shark.
    "It has indeed," says von Krantzhoff, and ends the call.

    At 18:00, Sir Misha tells Robert to connect him with the commander of the INISO flotilla on the flagship of the Mirriam fleet directly, rather than the lawyer.
    The woman appears on the call.
    "Good evening, ma'am," says Sir Misha.  "I have been considering your offer for some time now, as you know.  Unfortunately I am too gravely concerned by the legal uncertainties surrounding the INISO."
    "Well, as I said," says the woman, "We can simply clear up those uncertainties by declaring them certain.  We have the authority to do that."
    Sir Misha continues, "We will be leaving the system as soon as we can.  We have managed to convince the commander of the defending fleets to step aside, allowing you to refuel.  We ask that you allow him to do that."
    "What about Santanocheev?  Can we arrange a transfer before you leave?"
    "And what do you plan to do with him?"
    "He will be on Mora."
    "It seems we have little choice in the matter.  I hope you will take the time you have on your jumps to Mora to reconsider, and that when we arrive there you will allow Santanocheev to take command of our fleets.  I assure you, we will not be far behind you.  I trust that you will treat your guest properly, and that he will have the chance to convince you that his action is the correct way."
    "I'll give him his due."
    "Then we will see you in Mora."

    Sir Misha asks Mich where they should be when they jump, and what the danger is on jumping from here.
    Mich says that as long as they want to take a regular 6-day jump, then it's risky but he would say to do it.  If they want to do a fast jump, then it would be dangerous.
    Sir Misha asks if the time it takes to move to 100d at a reasonable acceleration is long enough to be able to see the defenders begin to get out of the way.
    Mich assures him it will be several hours.  If they do something like 3g it would be about four hours.
    Sir Misha considers that acceptable.  He gives Helia the order to plot a course out to a jump point at 3g, and start them moving.
    Once Helia has laid in the course and taken them out of orbit, Vonish takes over so that the larian can get some rest.  She flies up to one of her hammocks on the aft wall of the Bridge while Nightshade cruises gently away from the mainworld.

    At 19:00, about an hour after Nightshade left orbit, the defender fleets start moving out.  They take up a course for the innermost world.
    The Battle of Tussinian is over.  History will record that it ended at the moment the loyallists left orbit.

    It's time to jump.  They are planning a short jump this time, heading directly for Mora.  By going through an empty hex, they can do it in two jumps.  From here, they'll jump to 0607 / Mora, one parsec rimward of Grille.

    Before they jump, however, Kalida takes Sir Misha aside.  She tells him that Jack says there was maybe a trick she could try as a last ditch effort.  It might sort of scramble the enemy ships out there, but exactly what happens is completely unknown.  Whether Sir Misha might want to try this or not, she doesn't know, as there's no telling what might happen.  Jack was very vague about the whole thing.
    "Vaguer than you are?" laughs Sir Misha, "Because you're being pretty vague."
    Kalida admits that with a smile.
    Sir Misha says if she wants to do this thing, he'd be ok with it.
    Kalida says she doesn't think she'd recommend it.  She just wanted to give him the option, as he's the Captain.
    Sir Misha decides not to put it into action.

    At 22:00, Helia puts them into jump from Tussinian.  Mich and Robert follow along with her calculations; Robert doesn't come up with the same answer, and Helia promises to explain it later.

    Now it's just a matter of waiting for jumpspace to stablize.
    Shark tells the Doctor it's time to come down off his chemical support.  When Shark volunteers to monitor their patient, Bridgehead agrees.  He says it might be rather difficult to wake him.
    On the way out, Shark calls after him and asks where his babble juice beans came from.  Bridgehead tells him Faldor, and Shark realizes that's just one parsec from their base at Bowman.

142-1123 : Jumpspace (from Tussinian / Trin's Veil / Spinward Marches)

    Helia reports that space stabilizes after six hours at 04:00, while almost everyone is asleep.  She herself had a good rest on the way to the jump point, so she stays up to monitor the state of jumpspace around them.
    Robert has been trying to play the old messages they intercepted through the brown box to translate them.  He finds that it's hooking into a lot more (simulated) ship systems than they had thought at first, and adjusts the ship simulation accordingly.  He plays the old messages at it, and it responds ("transmits") something without talking to the "ship" but nothing happens.  What it transmitted is more gibberish.
    Shark wonders if all the brown boxes in the system are required for the encryption to work at all.  It will clearly need a lot more experimentation and work to find out more about it.

    Shark waits to wake the Captain until at 06:00, almost a normal night.  He tells Sir Misha that space has stablized, and that Helia is ready for them to exit jumpspace.
    Sir Misha tells him to make it so.

    Helia does her thing with the jump drive system, with Mich in the loop as well.

still 142-1123 : 0607 / Mora / Spinward Marches

    At 06:05 they exit jump at 0607 / Mora.  It takes 1:05 for normal space around them to stabilize, and then Callisto takes another hour to confirm their location.
    While she's doing that, Shark runs a sensor sweep of the area looking for anything unusual.  Black tech would have sounded the alarm immediately, but it won't hurt to look for something else odd.  He finds nothing.
    Shark suggests that Vonish should take a day off cooking, after all his work on legal matters back in Tussinian.  Vonish readily agrees.

    They are ready to jump again at 08:10, and do so immediately for Mora itself.  This will be a slow jump so they can come out quietly.
    Mich and Robert again follow along with Helia's calculations.

    They'll have about five and a half days now to plan, to gaze into crystal balls, and to absorb everything that's happened the last few days.