(44) To Be Named

The Crusader Campaign (155-1123 to 156-1123)

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155-1123 : Adabicci / Lunion / Spinward Marches

   Nightshade has arrived in system at 20:20 in stealth mode to find four Sword World fleets facing off one and a half Imperial Navy fleets.
    The Sword World fleets are of course lower tech than the Imperial forces, but with elite training and crews.  Four fleets here is a significant committment for them, so this must be a high priority target.
    The Imperial fleets here are the Adabicci Fleet itself, and Grand Admiral Winchester's expeditionary fleet which is about half strength.  Fleet SP-X-1 was in refit at Lunion after a long tour in Foreven in the Spinward War against the cockroaches.  Even considering low strength, it's quite possibly the best fleet in the Marches.
    The only two sources of fuel in this system are the gas giant and the mainworld.  The Sword Worlds control the former, and the Imperials the latter.  Both sides would be fully fueled.

    The first order of business would, of course, for Robert to try to hack into the Sword Worlds fleet computers.  Robert's reaction is, "Of course, no problem, how difficult could it be?  At least they're not hivers."
    One thing Kalida is sure about is that these fleets are directly related to Santanocheev.  She recalls he sent three ships into the Sword Worlds from Dawnworld -- presumably they were involved in convincing them to take this action.  She says they would have arrived wherever they were going on 110-1123.
    The Sword World fleets are not doing the laser scanning that's become standard practice in Santanocheev's Imperial fleets.  That should make it fairly simple to move into position, especially as Nightshade has come out of jump near the gas giant -- exactly where Helia told Kalida they would come out.
    Shark checks that they have access to information on the Sworld World navies.  They do indeed have the usual Jane's reference for them, and can probably identify the flagships and primary capital ships.  They have maximum Jump-3 capability at their tech level, although some ships would be Jump-2.  They've always worked with the Zhodani before as members of the Outworld Coalition, but they seem to be on their own here.
    He considers what could be the Sword Worlds fleets' next move.  They could get to Lunion but presumably that system already knows they're here.  They've been here a while -- at least three days, since no other ships are popping in.

    Helia takes Nightshade in towards the Sword World fleets.  She says it'll take about an hour to get into position for Robert.
    On the way there, Mich runs a full diagnosis of the ship.  It's in perfect shape.
    Shark asks Kalida about the "black hole" she says exists here.  He asks her how she would describe what it is she does.
    Kalida says, "Everything is connected to everything else.  Everything you do affects everthing else.  It's like a giant spider web, when you pluck one thread..."
    "And all the lines here just disappear?" asks Shark.
    "I've seen it from two perspectives so far.  From outside I tried to approach it and it was just a giant black shadow that covered everything and I kind of got sucked into it.  Once inside all connections were gone, nothing was connected to anything else, which was disturbing.  Second time was recent, not involving klatrin.  We were in jump, and that's where was.  I was in the blackness.  But I could tell that Adabicci was as well, and also the place we jumped from.  You're there, and it's black, and nothing's connected to anything else, which is just wrong.  I want to take a look at it from here now too, but not right now in case you need a gunner."

    At 21:20, with everyone on the Bridge in sparkly pink, Robert hacks into a Sword World cruiser.  Getting in is straightforward enough.  It's new to him, of course, but it uses a lot of Imperial technology. What isn't Imperial components is probably copies of it, although they're put together in a different way.  There's more redundancy throughout with quite a few parallel systems.  That includes computing systems, which makes it a little more difficult.  Taking control remotely of one of these ships would be a lot harder, simply because it's not quite as high tech.
    The encryption itself is not that tricky.  After some work, he dives into the ship's data.
    This ship is a cruiser from the Durendal Second Fleet.  It's tech level B.
    "Aha!" says Kalida.  Durendal was part of the Trilateral Alliance 300 years ago with Sacnoth and Narsil, before Gram took over dominance in 848.
    Robert pulls up the fleet complement quite easily.  Standing orders are the usual Sword World stuff, nothing hidden or indeed anything but "follow the chain of command."  He then pulls up the command chain.  In those terms, the Second Fleet would take orders from the Durendal First Fleet if present -- which it is -- and from there back to the government of the homeworld.  Overall command of this operation is a unified command with the Sacnoth Fleets (First and Second) taking precedence.  Both Durendal fleets take orders from the Sacnoth First Fleet here.  The Third Fleet from both worlds is not here, and there is no information on the location of any of the other fleets.
    There is no indication that this is anything but a purely Sword World operation.  No fake Santanocheev, no INISO people on the bridge.
    Robert wanted to set up relays to the overall fleet flagship.  LImited communcation paths at this tech level, however, make it much easier and simpler for Helia to set them up directly at that ship and hack in again there.

    Helia sets Nightshade into position, and at 21:50 Robert starts to hack in to the flagship of the Sacnoth First Fleet.
    It doesn't take him long to find the orders from the Sacnoth government.  Sacnoth First Fleet is to take command of Sacnoth First and Second, and Durendal First and Second, Fleets.  Proceed to Adabicci / Lunion.  Maintain presence there until given further orders.  Do not let anything leave.  Avoid conflict if at all possible.  If conflict is unavoidable, fight for the glory of your world!
    In simple terms: Come here, stop, don't cause trouble, don't let anyone out.
    They arrived here on 138-1123, exactly on Kalida's schedule, and timed exactly to coincide with Santanocheev's arrival at Tussinian.

    The "don't let anyone out" part is the most interesting.  There are a lot of worlds within Jump-4 of here, including the subsector capital Lunion.
    Shark in particular finds that fascinating -- what do they not want to get out of here?  There aren't that many Imperial fleets here, and Winchester's force couldn't have been anticipated.  Santanocheev had to have pre-planned this.  Where did he not want the Adabicci Fleet to go?
    Mich asks the other question.  Who personally is here?  It might not be a fleet he wants to keep here, but a particular person.
    Kalida says that her original observation was that the Duke of Adabicci himself was under threat, not just the system.  She says that the Duke himself is a powerful influence, and although he technically is in the chain under the Duke of Lunion, in practice he is a stronger influence on the Archduke than any subsector duke.
    Shark wonders how the knowledge that the Sword Worlds were here would influence the fight at Mora.  Of course most of the Imperial fleets in the Spinward Marches have been pulled away from the border, mostly by Santanocheev himself.
    He says that when the Sword Worlds came in, the first thing they would do is tell the Imperials that no-one was to leave or they would be attacked.  The obvious Imperial response would be to send out ships -- scouts, couriers, whatever -- to get that information out.  If Mora didn't know there was an attack coming, they would have responded by sending their fleets out, leaving them weakened.  "Remember, he set all of this up before he knew we were involved."
    Kalida contradicts him.  "This is our fault -- my fault," she says.  She not entirely certain why, but she is sure it is her fault.
    Sir Misha wonders if the whole point was to get Nightshade here.  But then, he didn't know that they would be a factor in this campaign in time to get the Sword Worlds to come here.
    "Yes, he did," says Kalida.  "The Sword Worlds are here because of something connected to me and/or us."  She believes they are here because of the first time they came to Santanocheev's attention.  "We are the catalysts for everything," she says.
    Shark agrees.  It would have had to be something that happened around 080 probably.  Now how Santanocheev convinced the Sword Worlds to do this, he doesn't know, aside from telling them that he was drawing all the fleets away from the borders.
    Kalida asks Robert if they've done anything since they got here except refuel and sit, like preventing anyone from leaving.
    Robert says that they're on an orange alert, on a 12-hour readiness standby to move against Adabicci itself, but they haven't moved that up from an alert status.  There is a contingency that if they are attacked, they are to respond.  They are not to let anyone leave, and are set up so that within 12 hours of anyone leaving the system, they move to bombard the mainworld.  So far they have not had to prevent anyone from leaving.
    Shark points out that if a courier came in from their homeworld with the right security codes, they could attack within 12 hours.
    Sir Misha asks Kalida if she's convinced that these Sword Worlds fleet are here because Santanocheev found out about Nightshade.  He's responding to the first time that he realized they existed.
    Kalida is certain that he was responding to something they did.  What meets the timescale perfectly as a trigger is when they arrived openly in Adabicci.  They came here to join up with Marquis Crestworthy for the archeological dig on Victoria, and flew in and parked on Sir Geoffrey's field, partied, and played golf.  Nightshade was parked in the open for anyone to see.  News of that could have reached Santanocheev in exactly the right time for him to execute this response.
    Shark says that once the news reached him, he sent out the Sword Worlds fleets to keep them here.
    Sir Misha disagrees.  Those fleets could not possibly have reached here in time to keep them here.  They would certainly have moved on before the Sword Worlds could even mobilize.
    Shark suggests it might be to keep Nightshade here in case they came back.
    Again, the crew is unanimous in their belief that it was not to keep them here.  Why would they come back after 138?
    Kalida doesn't say she's already considered all sorts of bizarre possibilities.  She's rejected the chance that the Archduke himself might be behind this.  On the other hand, Eduard, Lord Adabicci is still on her list of "outlandish possiblity" suspects.
    Shark concedes they don't have enough information yet.  He suggests poking around in the Imperial fleets first, and then after finding out more about what might be going on, only then going on to talk to the Duke.
    Sir Misha agrees.  That will be their plan.
    Kalida reminds them what she'd also read in her crystal ball: "Whatever happens, and whether it was planed or not, the Sword Worlds are not going to be the same afterwards."
    Shark wonders what Santanocheev might have paid the Sword Worlds to get them to do this.  Two class A star systems and their technology, perhaps, Adabicci and Tenalphi, and presumably Zaibon as well.  As the ship's Paranoia Officer, he believes this is a personal insult to them.  If Santanocheev threatens Adabicci, it might draw them out from somewhere else.
    "Not necessarily," says Kalida.
    Shark persists, "To pull us out, make us less effective."
    Sir Misha reminds them that they need information from the Imperial fleet.  He tells Helia to take them there.

    Helia moves Nightshade in towards the Imperial ships.  She says they'll be ready to hack into the Imperials in a little under an hour, at about 22:50.
    Meanwhile, Kalida would like to make another attempt at diving into the black hole, in Sick Bay again.
    Baron Bridgehead believes that provided no-one was hurt, she wouldn't be too bad.  She might want to avoid loud noises and so on, so they might be without a gunner, but everyone is unanimous that the Imperial ships are very unlikely to fire on them anyway.
    Kalida asks Sir Misha for his approval.
    He believes it's worth the risk for the chance for her to get more information from her crystal ball.

    Kalida is set up in Sick Bay, with Shark and Baron Bridgehead attending.  On previous attempts, they brought her out as soon as anything started moving around.  Since she didn't do much damage last time when she wasn't under klatrin, they agree to let her go a little longer.  Even so, if there's any risk to her, or dangerous object moving, then they'll bring her out quickly.
    By then, Shark has checked into a couple of things and realized that Zaibon was significant because of the Porky's Raid in 1107.  Kalida is well aware of this, as she was stationed on Adabicci then -- that was when she first met Sir Geoffrey, in fact.

    Kalida is in the black hole.  It's really uncomfortable.  Nothing is connected to anything.  But something is here.  She can't feel the edges from here, it seems like it goes on forever.  She's getting a strange sense of isolation and getting sucked into the middle of this.  She's definitely starting to get lost in here.
    In Sick Bay, things are starting to fly.  The footballs spike.  Things are starting to move around even more.
    Kalida starts to look at the other thing that's here.
    Everything is flying everywhere.  Shark waits, trying to give Kalida as long as he can.
    Bridgehead, however, rushes over and attempts to wake Kalida.  He fails, thrown back hard across the room and crashing into the cabinets in the corner.  He hit the wall hard.  He's hurt.
    Shark counts to three, shoots Kalida with the drug.  There are tinges of blue on her monitor, and she's stopped screaming.  She's showing stable, but Shark knows her best chance is under Bridgehead's care, so he rushes over to help the Ship's Doctor.
    Bridgehead is unconscious, but by Shark's diagnosis he's not in any danger.  Shark returns to Kalida.  There's not much option for him at the moment but to put Bridgehead on a Sick Bay station and call the Captain to tell him what happened.

    The whole thing took about three minutes.  While everyone is out, Shark reviews the situation.  The stuff that flew around was just random objects, no particular pattern as to what was tossed.
    The footballs on the other hand show a different pattern from last time.  There's an echo, a signal that followed Kalida's spike.  It originated from outside the ship somewhere.  He quickly passes the data on to Robert and asks him to do a signal analysis on it.  He wants to know if one is a retransmission of the other.
    Robert says the one outside the ship looks like a response to the one inside.  It's not strictly an echo -- it's not the same -- but it's clearly a response to the one from inside the ship.  He says it originated from the mainworld, and identifies a spot in an ocean there.
    Shark immediately calls the Captain in and tells him what they've found.  He says it could be someone like her, or -- being paranoid -- it could be White Tech, or perhaps there's a piece of Black Tech they don't know about yet.  He suggest Robert could ask the ship about it.
    Robert says that the signal that they received was in excess of that blocked by the ship's psionic shields.  In response to Shark, he says that without shields up it's only the passive protection, so it only blocked about 95% of it.
    Kalida says calmly to Sir Misha that Kalida's spike was enough to throw the Doctor across the room and knock him unconscious.  This "echo" was maybe a third of the strength of that, but they only saw 5% of it, at a distance from here to the mainworld.  He explains it wasn't really an echo, but a response, a conversation perhaps, or more likely interfering with it.  It was about ten times the strength of Kalida, he says.
    Sir Misha wants to know why he's connecting it with Black and White Tech.
    Shark's job is to be paranoid.  He says they're Black Tech, that's good tech.  Everything else is White Tech, which is bad tech.  If they don't know about it, it's bad.
    Sir Misha says that psionics are not tech-based, though.
    Shark bases it on the comparison between her levels and everyone else he's read before, hers are stronger.  They're strong, based on what he has from Crestworthy's data.  Not outrageous, but strong.  He says they should skip the Imperial ships and go straight to investigating the submarine, or whatever it is.
    Sir Misha has the bigger picture in mind.  He says that while there is no danger in messing with Imperial ships, the gunner and doctor are both unconscious.
    Shark says the ship has told them that its shields will be better if they're not in stealth.  They can then put up the active shields.  He insists that this is a danger to the ship.  He's more concerned about this than some submarine they can't see yet.  Perhaps they should all wear a tinfoil hat like Mich does.
    Mich thinks psionic helmets for the crew would be a very good idea.  He even has some in stock he keeps around for just this kind of eventuality.
    Shark says they should consider how they should approach.  They should enter the ocean in stealth, and come out of it underwater, like they do usually on Mora.  Regardless, they want the crew at full complement.  Bridgehead is probably waking up about now, while Kalida should be about ten minutes or so.
    Helia says they could get there easily in an hour.
    Sir Misha asks if them being in stealth increases the danger.
    Shark says that the ship has told them that active shields are much more effective against this kind of force.
    Sir Misha says they've been to this planet many times, and whatever this thing is, it's been here.
    Shark says that's possible, but they've only known that something was preventing Kalida's skills from working in this area for a short while.  Initially Adabicci wasn't in the black hole, but it is now.  It's mobile.  He suggests they keep going, don't rush things, and take the chance to get more information.

    When Kalida comes around, it's with a splitting headache.  Somewhat dazed, she tells them that the hole is indeed bigger than when it used to be, and that there's something inside it.
    Shark tells here that there is, and it's much more powerful than she is.  His assessment is that it sounds like there's someone here with Kalida's abilities, making a smoke screen.  Either hiding something, or making a smoke screen to attract her attention so she wouldn't notice something else they were hiding.
    Sir Misha asks if the hole is centered on the ocean.
    She says the hole doesn't have a center, it's just a hole.  She tries to explain how a hole doesn't have a center, but conveying her klatrin-based perceptions isn't easy.  Before it was just near Adabicci, now it encompasses it.  She asks about the shields, and the ship tells her it will block that signal but allow her to do stuff outside.  She agrees with Shark, that they should definitely go with the extra protection rather than stealth.  But right now, she has to deal with this massive headache.
    Bridgehead has been around for some time, and he gives her something to help with it.
    Shark adds that they don't know if being closer to the psionic source would change the intensity.  Psionics works in strange ways, not well understood, and range is not necessarily the same as with other forces.  The shields don't show up on Imperial technology, so while they won't be in stealth mode they are still military black.  There is a chance they wouldn't be detected, but right here close to the Imperial ships on alert is not really the place to do it.
    Kalida agrees.  They'll be on high alert for anything here.
    Sir Misha says it would probably make more sense to stay in stealth until they get to Adabicci.
    Kalida says she'd really like to see the Duke, but Shark points out that to do so they've have to leave the psionic protection of Nightshade.  If this is an intelligent thing and not just an automatic response, that could be very dangerous.
    Kalida adds that she'd like to find out what this was before they exposed themselves.
    Sir Misha asks what the dangers would be of coming out of stealth right now.
    Shark says that every fleet in the system would know where they were.  They'd just pop into existence.
    "Then tell them all who we are," says Sir Misha.
    Shark reminds them that the Sword Worlds have traditionally allied themselves with the Zhodani, who have an openly psionic society.
    Kalida states definitely that there was no connection between this and the Zhodani.
    Shark says, "Except that the spider web doesn't work here.  It's clear that an external force could impact it, why couldn't...?"
    Sir Misha says the reason he was asking was because he has to make a judgement call.  Is it safer to come out of stealth here and put up the shields, or go all the way down to the mainworld's ocean and switch there?
    Shark votes for the ocean.  It hasn't impacted them yet.  But they should be ready.
    Sir Misha agrees.  They should skip the Imperial fleet and go straight for the ocean.

    On Adabicci of course, it's more a large lake than an ocean.  Still, it's clearly large and deep enough for the purpose.
    Helia sets course.
    Kalida is now capable of functioning, but not well.  Bridgehead says she'll probably be good in about an hour and a half, so she goes to lie down for a while.
    They head for the mainworld, not in any hurry so the crew have a chance to recover a little.

156-1123 : Adabicci / Lunion / Spinward Marches

    About 10 minutes out from the Imperial Fleets, all heck breaks loose.  Nightshade drops out of stealth mode and shields go up.  Alerts sound out across the ship.  Targetting systems are looking for something coming out of the ocean.
    The crew rush to battle stations and go into sparkly pink.  Shark remembers that the relay station back in the other system triggered this too, labelling it as a spatial anomaly.
    Sir Misha's tactical environment labels the object simply as Hostile.  The ship doesn't have a reason for that, it just knows it's hostile.

    Nightshade is approaching the mainworld.
    The object is heading rapidly towards them from the ocean, pulling 30g.  It's a ship, pulling more than they can.  They can't outrun it.
    Suddenly whatever Imperial ships were in orbit between the two of them are destroyed in a pattern of four enormous fireballs.  Their displays show weapon tracks coming from the Hostile.  It's almost as if it was clearing mines, or as Shark puts it clearing the noise out of the way.
    Kalida says, "You know how Black Ships fight, right?"  It's a rhetorical question.  With the enemy ship targetted, she fires off the ship's entire complement of 720 nuclear missiles.  For 7.2 seconds, Nightshade spits missile after missile from the dorsal launcher.  They spread out, on their own AI for a time on target simultaneous delivery to overwhelm the shields and allow an expander shot to get through.
    The crew have practiced this well.  They have a slight edge over their opponent, getting the first shot.
    With the missiles on the way, Kalida hovers ready to twitch the expander as soon as the enemy shields clear.
    Mich gets ready for a zero jump the instant the shields go down.  He makes sure Helia is ready to do that, trigger it the moment it's necessary.  It'll be pretty much an impossible task to do those calculations while evading, but Mich figures better to make a bad jump that die in a fireball.
    Shark checks that Callisto is on it with full sensors.
    Callisto is on it.  It's hard to get an image.  The silver object shimmers, distorting the view.
    Shark muses that the Duke of Adabicci is about to have a fireworks show.  Of course, he's had one already when the silver object eliminated a bunch of Imperial ships cluttering up the battlefield, but it's likely to get even more exciting in the next few minutes.
    Robert checks on the mystery box from Goose.  It's still transmitting on a low bandwidth, but it's changed its signal to a short repeating pattern.  He is sure it's sending out a Mayday to whoever is at the other end.
    The silver object fires something.  Small energy bursts scatter out at the incoming missiles, something very bright, short pulses.  Missiles flare where the point defenses take them out.
    The hostile ship fires again, this time one large object pulling 40g, taking evasive action on an intercept with Nightshade.  Displays label it as possibly a missile.  Kalida is ready to switch to the lasers when it gets in range.
    Kalida slams the missile with Nightshade's lasers even though it's taking evasive action, but it is shielded and the laser has no effect.  Perhaps the expander could take it out, but it takes ten minutes to power the weapon back up and so she only has one shot, choosing the silver ship over the missile.
    Her missiles will land before this one arrives.  She'll have time to make her expander shot and for Helia to get them into jump to avoid this rapidly approaching threat.  It'll be one heck of a jump, though...
    Helia's flying the heck out of the ship, and Shark's footballs are registering her higher than she's ever shown before.  She's bought them some more time until the large missile's arrival, room to take action.
    Kalida's missiles close in, only about 40% of them being eliminated on the way in, well within the parameters of a successful attack.
    Something is powering up on the silver ship.  They don't know what, but they can't do anything about it anyway.
    To have any chance at a successful jump, Helia will have to stop evading briefly.  She's bought them enough time so she thinks she can do it, although it might be more by luck than mathematics.
    The incoming missile is predicting Nightshade's movements and adapting an efficient intercept, but it's not quite as effective at that as their own missiles.
    Kalida's missiles impact in a synchronized nuclear fireball, over 4 megatons in a directed blast at the silver object.
    The explosion starts to clear and the hostile emerges from the fire.
    The two ships will be firing at pretty much the same time.
    Kalida nails the object with the expander.  The shot strikes home, the ship's own mass fueling the destruction, scattering a cloud of debris and vapor.
    But the other ship managed to get its shot off too.  Something streaks towards them.  It should be impossible to avoid it, but Helia does something and shifts just barely clear of a green energy thing that flies past them a few meters away from their shields.
    In the heat of battle only Helia realizes where they really are and how hard the jump will be.  They're barely outside 10 diameters.  She instinctively sets the jump parameters, not even she having time to do the full calculations, and signals to Mich to trigger it.

    Nightshade is in jump.

    There's a collective sigh from the crew as they realize they've survived both the dogfight and the jump entry.
    They have time now to decide when to go back into the system, how long to wait before trying to come back out.
    Mich points out that they don't know anything about the enemy missile's AI.  For all they know, it might loiter waiting for them to emerge, and retarget them and attack again.
    At that point, however, Kalida could use the expander against it.  She believes that it wasn't heavily shielded enough that she could take it out with that.  When they do come out, it'll be with the expander, laser, and a couple of missiles that the ship is rebuilding at one per hour.
    Mich has several blue spots on his board.  The ship took no hits, but battle stresses overloaded some minor systems and knocked some out of position.  He has about four hours of work ahead of him.
    Shark now reviews the sensor readings.  Internally, the footballs sensors showed Helia flying a lot harder than she's ever done before.  Silently he wonders if she added thrust to the ship to avoid that weapon burst.  He is relieved that there were no psionic attacks on the ship.  He starts work, with Callisto, on extracting as much as possible from the logs.  He wants to build a full military capability report on what they faced.

    Their opponent was pulling 30g at peak, higher than their own potential, but showed somewhat less manoeuverability.  The rate of change of their force vector was not as good as their own.  The ship was about 1000 tons, smaller than Nightshade.
    The large missile was about 20 tons, about the size of a ship's boat or pinnace.  It was flown either by a not very good pilot or a sophisticated AI; analysis of its maneuvers indicate the latter, not a live pilot.  It's a good advanced missile control.  It was maneuvering comparably with their own missiles, but not quite as effectively.  And it had its own shield generator.  It was mostly cylindrical, with a large cone on the front.
    The silver ship must have some sort of power source similar to their own.  It was using far too much power for anything else, and emitted none of the signatures of conventional technology.  It did have some form of shielding, which their missiles did take down.
    The point defense was not lasers.  It was some other sort of energy pulse, bright white.
    The energy blast that Helia dodged, interrupted by the destruction of the ship, was distinctly green.  It travelled very quickly, but enough sublight to be just barely capable of being dodged by a psionically assisted larian.  It stayed in a straight line, not actively guided.  The pulse, a short pulse, lasted until the ship blew up -- there's no way to tell how long it could have persisted.  Perhaps the silver ship could have tracked it on to them with continuous fire, but there is no way to tell right now.
    Shark asks the ship if the energy pulse would have hurt them.  It does not know.  They'll have to do a full black tech analysis of it to find out.

    Time for a break and some coffee.  Vonish is well up to the task, and is perhaps the one person on board who doesn't realize quite how close they came to being hit by unknown highly advanced weaponry.
    Kalida sits quietly, feeling rather unwell now that the adrenalin has worn off.

    Some hours later, Mich finishes his work to find that Shark has left him data on the energy pulse for him to analyze.
    It's green.  It's pulsed.  The leading edge is a rapidly rotating rectangular plane, making the blast itself a spiral of green.  It's circular polarized.  Within that, it's pulsed, so it would be delivering rapid pulses in a rotating pattern.  There's a lot of plain energy in it, but there's some spatial distortion component to it.  It's not anything that Mich or the ship has any idea about.
    Shark muses that it would produce a 2-meter perfectly circular hole through the ship.  "Sound familar?" he grins.
    "Yes, it does," says Mich.  "Swiss cheese ship."
    Shark says, "We wouldn't have died unless it hit us or the energy system directly, but it wouldn't have been good, because we can't repair ourselves from that damage yet."
    Mich nods.  Unless they could locate a shipyard... and Mich knows how to build a shipyard to meet those requirements, although it would take perhaps five years to do it.  On their own asteroid hotel might be a good place for that, he smiles.
    Shark reminds them what they'd found and later liberated from the station at Zett.  There was Nightshade, one identical to it but with one hole passing through the bridge and immediately underneath it, and a larger ship that had so many holes it was more like a swiss cheese.  The other ship like theirs was the scene of Marquis Crestworthy's and Sir Geoffrey's incident with psychic feedback when INISO tried something with psionic booster equipment.  So now he believes they know what made the holes.
    Shark wonders how is pulling these strings, but he's personally convinced there can only be one answer.  He has suspected for some time now that Santanocheev had access to some alternate tech.
    Sir Misha says that pulls together some answers.  He suggests the fleets were here to draw Nightshade here, so that alternate tech could shoot at them.
    "See, boss?" says Shark, "It pays to be paranoid!"
    Robert says that Santanocheev himself could have been on that ship, while he clones are running the attack on Mora.
    Sir Misha doesn't think that's likely, that Santanocheev would lead from the rear, but Kalida says that she thinks he'd be at the front of the operation.

    As for where they will come out of jump, Helia for once has no idea.  Her priority was making sure it wasn't a misjump, and that they'll come out of jump somewhere in Adabicci.  As for when, they can decide that when jumpspace stabilizes.