Hull 721, plot arc the second

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Acero » 2012-07-04 08:56am

Registered an account and waited for a bump to this story (so I didn't get yelled at for posting in a dead thread! :p ) just so I could post this.

I cannot express strongly enough just how much I have enjoyed the first Arc and this second piece. You are an excellent writer and story teller Remnant. Thank you very much for continuing your hardwork on these stories and for giving them to us freely when I do believe you could be attempting to make money off your talent instead. Please, keep writing!

Eleventh Century Remnant
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Eleventh Century Remnant » 2012-09-28 05:57pm

Thank you, Acero- didn't want to post myself until there was a new story segment ready to go, and it now is. Another new experiment in formatting; soon I may resort to concrete poetry. Vianca, you weren't thinking big enough.

The room was full and noisy- most of the assorted members of the fourth estate still protesting over the way they had been treated to get in there. They could whistle for it, under the circumstances; the security screening had been entirely justified.
Four camera drones with gas dispensers, of various degrees of toxicity- they may have been emergency escape gear, trouble avoidance, intended for escaping a mob or ugly scene, but here? No. The legion's plan to inject the owners with the entire contents was vetoed- by the deck division who pointed out how much mopping up it would require.

All of this in full view and hearing of the journalists, of course. With troopers standing by who looked perfectly willing to do it, with the usual close quarters assortment of arc blasters, flamers, flechette guns.
There were enough assorted holdout blasters, weapons disguised as items of clothing, carbines hidden in cameras, assorted dirty tricks, to make the security detail seriously consider restricting the attendees to loincloths and stone tablets.
As tempting as that would have been, though, it was probably a tactical mistake to get on the wrong side of the media to that extent. Unless it could be disguised as humour.

After they had all been screened and treated, there were still enough journalists left to fill the chamber the press conference was being held in- one of the ready rooms in the starboard side hull extension.
Not the one they had spoken of the force in; that would have been far too creepy. Modular design being what it was, though, they were exactly the same layout, which was bad enough.
Some of the journalists were well known faces, others- well, various other semi- well known body parts were on display.

'I know the crew's been in longer than most, over the average age for the Starfleet, but not that far over- why do we have so many bathrobes lying around?'
'Remember the charity gig we did two years ago?' Iron man triathlonning had been a public relations stunt of the kind which Imperial vessels rarely did but Republic warships often, a community bonding exercise- the fact that it had handily covered up underwater salvage operations on a splashed- down Confederate battlewagon was just icing.
About half the journalists had been stripped down to their underwear- and there were still some security hazards there- and a bathrobe, and were drawing some comment from the rest.

'Yes, well,' the Boarding Batallion commander who was handling the business had told them, 'what do you expect for trying to bring concealed weapons on board like that? Did you honestly think that you would have to shoot your way out of a Star Destroyer? Did you even expect to succeed?
For some reason that passes my comprehension, though, the skipper has decided that you're going to have to try harder than that before we let you commit suicide by stormtrooper.

Legal? Of course it's kriffing legal- there's no such thing as press immunity, not under the Empire, and this is an Imperial warship, more or less anyway. If any of you really want to talk yourselves into the charges you could be liable to, feel free.
You screwed up. Learn from this, and don't do it again. Your stuff has been taken for forensic analysis- you might get it back, possibly a molecule at a time. You do get to keep the complimentary bathrobe. Now get in there and do your damn' jobs.'

There was considerable horse trading between the journalists, swapping of datapads, backup cameras- nervous humour. Could have been better, but well enough, Lennart thought. By picking up the guys who had screwed up, and them making them ridiculous, they took the sting out of something that could have ended in disintegrator booths.

Step up to the holotable. 'Welcome on board,' Lennart said- he had decided to do this himself, Severian being in hospital- he hoped she wasn't watching, it could cause a relapse.
'I'm probably recognisable; Captain of the Line- officially, still- Jorian Lennart, and a whole bunch of letters after my name including theoretically EW, which is either a very dark joke or the equivalent in prophecy, some day I'll figure out which.

Some of you have admittedly made yourselves more welcome than others; those of you whose recording equipment wasn't toxic or explosive, make sure it's in good order, we'll be covering a lot of parsecs.
The rest of you, and lucky to be here and breathing, consider this an experiment in pure, bare- bones journalism; no aides memoires, no imagery, nothing but raw memory and intellect. Be interesting to see what comes out the other end.'
The vibe was subtly wrong, though- I'm coming across as a man trying too hard, Lennart thought, watching their expressions. I'm not sure they want the real me- I did say that if I ever lost it and went berserk with a lightsabre it'd be in a room full of journalists.

'We've been making the news quite a lot lately- some of you are, or were, no doubt expecting the usual low- drag, politically customised, correctitude- infused zampolit- delivered buzzword bingo meaningless poodoo that usually gets trotted out on such occasions.
I was actually seriously tempted, if only for the challenge of putting what actually happened into appropriate New Orderspeak, but it proved effectively impossible- actually sounded worse.'

That got attention. It wasn't as if this was routine; none of them had come not expecting something to happen, all had expected something odd, or quite mad, but this amounted to an open condemnation of the Empire. What was about to happen?
The stormtroopers around the room were looking perfectly calm, as usual; the journalists perversely took comfort from that, thinking if they thought the situation was under control that probably meant he wasn't likely to do anything like run up the phoenix banner.
So what was he on about?

'Where's that agenda? Oh, yes. the first thing you've probably noticed is that my crew are mostly dangerous lunatics. There were a great many incidents,' the holotable started replaying the edited highlights, 'very few of which I feel inclined to apologise for.
This is what happens when you- when we- become appropriate to the situation, which is a good functional definition of sanity, and when the situation is that far from most people's normal.
There are a couple of events that don't seem to have made the news; the Transmetropolitan Bank of Corellia doesn't seem to have admitted yet that it's vaults were breached and the contents replaced with Oligopoly play- money, for instance.' A holocording of the incident was playing.

'The actual money is being held to ransom; the Level Nivelo Mouse Droid Collective's demands include the abolition of service charges and overdraft fees, and full collaboration with the Campaign for Clear Basic in all legal documents.'
More than a few journalists' jaws had to be scraped up off the floor. 'What, just because we've got turbolasers we're not allowed to resort to creative activism? They'll probably get it back eventually. Assuming they're reasonable about it. If not, well, watch out for unmarked drop pods.'
In fact, he had done it as a point of argument with his daughter- "Now that," he had said to her, "is how you are supposed to rob a bank. With Marines."

'So much for the business news. Moving on to crime- there's a long, complicated, ugly tale that I have to tell you, and you wouldn't believe it if I began at the beginning- don't bother fact checking any of this now, by the way; waveguides.
Oh, that's not the only galactic class crime happening, don't worry about that. Let's start with the fact that your planet is now more or less ISB free, thanks to repeated attacks culminating in total destruction of the 'liaison post' here.

Who was the conspiracy theorist that claimed it was an inside job? Not here? Think about this for a second; we're here. We're daft enough to do things like grav tank racing through the subway system. Your loading gauge is too narrow, by the way- always was.
Any rebel who could pull that off, under our noses and those of CorSec, and get clean away, would almost be obliged to crow about it- for propaganda if not ego purposes. They'd have more right than most to. Nobody has.
On the other hand, the ISB were probing Corellian Engineering's systems trying to get at us that way, spying on the work being done, following members of the crew- generally behaving as if they suspected us of something.

Which of course they did, so elements of the legion raided and eventually burnt down their offices. They knew too much so they had to be silenced...and I notice that some of you are now looking distinctly worried. It was a move, a play in the Great Game; you're not a threatened piece at the moment.
I'm no fan of- in fact, I have previous form regarding- the ISB, and if people beat them back into their ratholes like that every time they went too far the galaxy would be a better place; there are a few exceptions, who I won't name for their own protection- but not enough.

The various skirmishes that led up to the Battles of Ord Corban. Iushnevan and the Selezen Cluster are the immediate start of the story, if not the beginning.
They've faded from the headlines with little public aftereffect- so far. I hope you feel the weight of the fact that Corellia is one of the best worlds in the galaxy to come to for the news.
Since the nationalisation of the holonet, the webs of carried news, spaceport rumour and subspace repeater that replaced it at the demotic level are nowhere thicker than they are here. So I expect you to tell the galaxy.

'The first ugly story I have to tell- although it does have quite a pretty end-' and several of the journalists were reeling in horror, imagining what their editors were going to make of Lennart's rambling and how in space to get it into a coherent form.
Keep whimpering, lads, there'll be more later, he thought. -'is that of the corruption and malfeasance of the Sector Moff of Vineland, and how the Rebels took advantage of it.

We begin in the early days of the New Order,' he started to lay out what had happened those twenty- some years ago, the three way struggle between the operators of Black Sun, the old entrenched power structures of the sector and the reforming zealots of the New order Party; the victories and defeats, the temporary alliances and permanent betrayals, and how in the end it had been core world operators and dirty money that had driven the old sector aristocracy towards the New Order Party.
Black Sun had been ahead of them, though- had enough power and influence to subvert the sector Party from above, purge and destroy the genuine believers and leave the old families with nowhere to go except varying degrees of surrender.

'The next decade and a half is fairly depressing for everyone except the gangsters, we can afford to skip forwards to the rise of the Alliance. They knew something that the criminals didn't; oh, and in passing Black Sun virtually is a political party- the Everything Belongs To Me, and Kriff You Party. That party has more adherents than it is good to contemplate within the supposed New Order, Vineland was a disgustingly bad but unfortunately not isolated incident.

The idealists who should, normally would, be counterbalancing and opposing them have mostly chosen to opt out of the system, or taken the hit and resorted to the comforting bath of cynicism- you may have noticed that the Imperial system seems to breed people who have given up on idealism, certainly nowhere near the hard tasks of understanding the world as it really is and, despite that burden of knowledge, setting out to make it better.

I can't really blame them, until recently I was more or less doing the same thing. I will say that I think we, the arms of the state and the court, are playing it wrongly. Some kind of practical compromise with the forces of organised crime is probably inevitable, as are diminishing returns in the field of law enforcement;
but intellectual compromise, accepting that they will always be with us, co- opting and being co- opted, as the Republic did, endangers all the moral principle of the law. There is no social contract, no civilisational unity, no purpose to it, only force and the avoidance of force, predators and prey. Even if that is true the state can't afford to be caught saying so.

Accepting them is to abdicate our responsibility to protect the people, and to destroy their respect for the law; and worse, tends to go to prove that the Empire is no more than the Alliance says it is, thugs, tyrants and frauds.
A galaxy cannot be run on such principles; if the centre is not sound, nothing can be. I recognise I am making an enemy of Black Sun in this; I was anyway, but consider this a formal challenge. Bring it on.

Oh, another matter; another purpose of this from my own personal point of view was to shake a few skeletons out of my cupboard. Starting with this one.' On the main holotable, the images played of the infamous yellow flour incident.
'That got blamed on everyone from a jedi order security probe gone too far to separatist assassins to a renegade cabal of dry- cleaners, before they decided it must have been a student prank after all.

The Flopdown Club- pun on standup, you see- had a few hundred fellow travellers and demonstrators, but the hard core was always small, and none of us all that obvious; we were trying to make an impossible revolution, utterly out of it's time- revolting in favour of humour and common humanity. A doomed effort; the tide of the times was against it and will be as long as politicians take themselves far too seriously, but it was right to try.

Impossible to push through, though- the law of unintended consequences worked for the authorities, everything we did gave them excuses to be crueller and stupider; we were trying to light a candle in the darkness, and all it did was make their fangs glitter.
I ended up deciding that if the universe really did function in that perverse a manner, if the law of unintended consequences has that profound a hold, the most anarchic thing I could do would be to join the forces of Order.'

He took a mouthful from the glass of water, waited for some of them to finish shorthanding, continued 'The story has of course a number of different versions, how I tell it tends to depend on my mood at the time, clearly I fit in here better than I had thought I would and things have got very strange since; but I was the ballistician and garbologist for that stunt.
One of the people they tried in absentia and sentenced to death, in other words- although technically the charges were voided when Bel Iblis withdrew us from the Republic, invoked hermetic contemplation.

Tactically, thanks mate, but in theory I think Palpatine was right to abolish it- choosing to step out and watch with varying degrees of smug as the rest of the galaxy goes to stang should not be an option. Trying to make a difference can lead you through some very curious places, though.
Anyway, yes, that was me, and others who I won't identify- let them come forward in their own time, at their own convenience, if they choose. And from wanted chromatic terrorist to setting the sky of Corellia ablaze isn't that massive a step, really- even if it is a definite evolution of technique.

Where were we? Oh yes. Vineland. Black Sun. Our previous deployment, the one that landed us here, got very political. It ended according to the public version with the Sector Governor, Moff Edro Vlantir Xeale, being shot for negligence after letting the Alliance essentially run a navy yard under his nose.
Which was bad enough to count as a useful cover story- but it gets worse; the full truth is wrinklier yet, and the part of it it would be good for you to know is that the rebels had a hold over him, they could prove he was already running the yard entirely for the benefit of the criminal organisation to which he belonged- Black Sun.

We have the Alliance documentation relating to this, and will give you, well, there is another ugly story behind that which concerns why there was essentially a spare navy yard lying around in the first place, and what they had to blackmail him about. I'll tell you about that if and when I have to, but don't expect to win prizes not made of tibanna gas for it.

The sector is now being purged and reformed, and corruption- theoretically- rooted out, on the second attempt. There was another death; the special agent of the privy council- yes, an emissary from the Court of Courts- sent to sort it out.
He turned out to have largely picked himself for the job and be part of a faction at court that had a use for the skimmings off the back of the sector, and for a construction facility.
The hole in the upper bridge tower as we came in was caused by another ship in the temporary squadron firing on the flag bridge. The gunner responsible was the same man who blew a hole in the roof of one of your most expensive restaurants with an atomic lance; a minor element in his charge sheet by that point.

I think the only person in the fleet with the same number of Judicial Action Stars is Gunnery Sargeant Jixton; they're now tied on four. For the ignorant, you get a battle star for surviving an action; you get a justice star for surviving being court martialled. I think it originally began as a lower deck jest, but somehow became official during the years of the republic fleet.
Two of the court did try to kill him,' the climax of the trial played on the projector, including the words, 'but the surviving majority decided what he had done was in the best interests of the Empire.

Then things got quite interesting. The court faction and Black Sun both sent an agent to oversee our destruction; unfortunately they both sent the same person, one Inquisitor Lanu Pasiq- several of whose molecules I have in this sample jar.' placing it on the lectern.
'She was to all intents and purposes acting as an agent of Black Sun generally and of Xizor specifically- and yes, for once there is definite proof that he was personally involved.

Pasiq kept stone buckets, you see; collections of copies of documents, recorded conversations, useful facts and admissions- things that would help her defend herself against whichever of the two masters she served turned on her first.
As she no longer exists in order to defend them, they fell into our hands and those of CorSec, and you will be getting selected highlights; remember, I expect you to tell the galaxy.'

That was when, as expected, one of the journalists tried to kill him. One of the numerous reasons for doing this on board had been internal systems control. Mirannon had been practising, too. They were waiting.
Flash and fainter corona of activating ray shielding, initial relatively broad focus narrowed down, to contain one individual who was suddenly moving in terribly slow motion- reaching into his jacket, for the detonator of a bomb.

'Oh, we also have a practical advance in force field technology to announce. Right, got the ID, T-fields cycle down.' The stasis fields, time fields, held the victim in slow time long enough for everyone to get a good look. 'No, we didn't stage that. Actually we knew we didn't have to, something of the sort was bound to occur; do you think we searched you on the way in for the fun of it? Well, knowing the boarding batallion very possibly, but-
Twenty- eight of you turned up with some kind of personal defence device, and for three of you the paperwork was actually in order. The same number as have suspected ties to the Alliance, in fact.'

That was when Mirannon stopped meddling with time and let the bomber blow himself up. Within the containment cone of the tensors and dampers, of course. The flare filled out the shape of the cone, eyeball- loading flash of light; a relatively light hand on the dampers this time- he wanted them to be literally shaken by it.
The punctuation of the suicide bomber detonating did make most of them jump. 'Fear's contagious, isn't it? You weren't the targets- but without a little force field engineering on our part, you would now be painted across the walls of this room. Makes you wonder about which side you're on, or at least it should.

Pasiq betrayed the law, such of it as is recognisable in the operations of the Inquisitorius anyway, apparently out of love- chemically induced, and desperately one sided.
Her record of her own crimes, and those of her associates, well, retribution could not be adequately served- there was only one of her, and she died relatively quickly- but I believe prevention has been enforced. You don't come back from being part of an auroral display.
Most of the people who have even heard of the Inquisitorius think they're some kind of wet branch of the Ubiqtorate; not quite. They actually answered to an oversight committee of the Senate, and they were founded very shortly after the dissolution of the Jedi.

The old Jedi order was at somewhere between a third and a fifth of it's nominal strength at the end of the war- the figures are vague for several reasons, mainly their secrecy about who they had actually lost and how well they were replacing their losses.
When the word came through of the cloister coup and that they were to be put down, a fair proportion- perhaps a tenth- survived the purge due to being out of contact, in transit, in medical care, on meditative leave, some such.

The Inquisitorius was formed essentially from the rejects, renegades, dropouts and defectors of the Jedi Order, to hunt down the survivors of the purge.
Makes sense, in theory- similar powers, abilities, training- but it didn't quite work out in practise. The overwhelming majority of their work was done for them by the single most famous renegade, Lord Vader; he accounted for something over two hundred and fifty of them, leaving the Inquisitorius with barely a sixth of a kill each. We've done better than that ourselves.

They could have evolved into something like a dark mirror of the old order, intended to do the same kind of police/special- operations work on behalf of the Imperial state, but I think the present case shows how well that was ever likely to work. In theory they may actually have been supposed to, but many factors- mostly their own natures, we are talking about misfits and failures here- worked against that.
They are a group with considerable power and authority but no real purpose, and it's more surprising how few of them drifted to the criminal. Their office politics defy description, though- the closest equivalent I can think of is snuff horror. The overwhelming majority of them are psychotic, half- witted clowns who do very little other than threaten the honour and legitimacy of the Empire.

I play fast and loose with the system, that much should be painfully obvious; I've certainly never felt any desperate, pressing personal need for dignity and decorum. It is however part of the system, and a line exists.
You do not betray the trust placed upon you, you do not disown your own word, you work for a better world- you do not turn against the people who think they are on your side-well. we all draw the line in different places. We don't all agree on the shape or the curve or the angles of it, but dividing line there is, there has to be if we are to call ourselves sentient beings instead of instinct- mechanism.

Other people, other professions draw their line according to their own personal standards, their own civilisational standards, and there is no absolute light to steer by- but there has to be something, your own personal guiding star which you choose to live by the standards of- and must live with the consequences of.
If you have enough wit to look back and remember how you used to think, you'll realise that there has been change, and it comes with the change of environment; ideas, standards, sense of morals are informed by circumstance to a greater degree than we usually like to admit.

The navy certainly does apply pressures- a push and, yes, a pull, towards good spacemanship and being around the enormous energies of a warship, towards attitudes fit to live with your comrades and understand- and hopefully, survive- what you've got yourself into.
I approve, and sanction and encourage in my official capacity- but personally I was always a bit of an oddball. Even so, as much as I mock and play fast and loose with the system, I'd still prefer it to be there; rather have it that Service, Fealty, Fidelity actually meant and continue to mean something instead of a galaxy where the only definite law is that power makes it's own rules.'

Long pause, then they realised it was over- burst out with questions; subsided when they realised he was answering none of them. 'I've said as much as I intended to, and given you quite enough to be getting on with. Collect your press packs on the way out.'

Back up to the bridge, then, hopefully to at last starting sorting out the one massively flapping loose end in all of this; family. There was, as he had been more than half expecting- the force or just good instincts?- a note from his father. As he had also been expecting, it was not good news.

Dear Jorian, it began and he could feel the sarcasm dripping off it already, I'm sure we told you something about picking your enemies while you were growing up, and I'm fairly certain this wasn't it. In view of recent developments, your mother and I have decided it would be healthier to go on a discreet holiday.
Retirement was proving to be a bit of a rut, and the frantic, penniless life of a fugitive might prove to be a pleasant diversion. The tools I have to object to this are those of my former trade, and I have several tailored plagues that in the course of events may be able to ransom some form of tranquillity. If you have any actual Falleen friends, I'd advise them to update their health plan.

Oh, joy, Jorian Lennart thought. If he is bluffing, and I really hope he is, it's at least a credible bluff. My father, the octogenarian genetic engineering terrorist.
If these tailored plagues exist at all, he'll have to rig them on some kind of legal dead man switch- open this petri dish in the event of my death, sort of thing. What's unique about the Falleen? The nose, of course. Playing with their pheromone system was the obvious option, and while there could be ample amounts of poetic justice in that, there was also the inevitably easy option of going too far. Could they actually be made toxic to themselves? Possibly.
Do I have any real moral obligation to stop him? Maybe. Eventually. Ish. if the first couple of plagues are just murderous, instead of sufficiently entertaining. Craponastick, who am I trying to kid- there have to be some of the Falleen who are at least vaguely, a little bit innocent- their own downtrodden and lower orders. They can't all be as bad as they seem. They're not an entire race of cartoon super- villains, despite what I may happen to think of Xizor. Kriff, this is all I need.

Who was about? Brenn. 'My father has apparently decided to go on a one man vigilante crusade against organised crime. Using the methods of biological warfare.' Brenn's eyebrows shot up before his brain reacted and thought, hmm, well, that's not all that unexpected actually, the old man is obviously nuts too.
Lennart added 'We shall probably have to stop him before he goes too far.'
That was, for the navigating officer at least, a relief. Most people would think that they already had. 'Any chance of intercepting him before he leaves the planet?' Brenn wondered.
'Not unless he wants to be caught; get Ob on it, no sense giving chase physically yet. I could guess and I might be right, but-'
'Worth a fighter sweep? Actually, skipper, maybe your sister-'
'Could be an opportunity to work an angle,' Lennart said, nodding. 'If the rear- admiral is willing to go for it, if I can think of some way to pitch it.' Long pause, then 'How much space do we have to sling hammocks in, if the worst comes to the worst?'

'For the families of the crew?' Brenn asked, got a nod again. 'Less than we used to actually- if we're literally corridor camping, cramming them in like a palaeoferric ocean ironclad, we can fit them all but we'll be tripping over them everywhere, and anywhere we got hit we'd take casualties.
We've got enough redundancy in temperature and atmosphere, not a problem, fluids are doable but with less of a margin, but the solids- we have the stores volume but the process, it's the mess and head facilities that'd be stressed to breaking point with half a million people on board. Piracy- jack a few liners- might be a solution.'

'Tenses. I said if the worst happens, you said when. It's not inevitable yet, we're still trying to avoid having it come to that; even so, if we're lucky and can keep the wheels on just a little longer, see out this current operation, we might get the best of both worlds and blag an MC- 80.' Lennart said.
'Do you want me to tell the Chief he needs to start building a giant dehumidifier, then?' Brenn asked. 'And...yes, I was listening to that, and it did start to sound pretty inevitable. I couldn't really make sense of it at all until I started to think about the bits you'd left out. Another move in the game, really.'

'Yes,' Lennart admitted, 'and a pretty two- faced, fork- tongued, hypocritical one at that- I almost wish we hadn't got rid of the swimming pool, I could do with having my integrity decontaminated right now. For anyone who's also up to their eyeballs in this mess and actually knows what's going on behind the scenes, I might as well have waved a white flag and shouted "We're corruptible really, we do have a price".
Didn't bring up the dark side at all, didn't bring up the ex separatists, not really the Court of Courts, nothing about Ord Corban, the leads we've just demonstrated to them we have- you know, in a way that's the oddest part of the whole business? Nobody's tried to buy us off. Well, the for sale sign's up.'

'Question is whether they fall for it.' Brenn said, optimistically.
'No, the question is whether or not I do.' Lennart said. 'What price survival, basically? If the gang of dark side nutters Adannan was associated with care to make an offer we can tolerate- and Black Sun can manage to make us an offer I can believe- then, well corruption might have it's advantages, especially if one of them is not being dead.
Galactic Spirit- I thought I was an adult. Thought I'd made my necessary compromises between ought and is, squared up with the way the universe really works.
Instead I come within one shaved moment of madness of talking myself- and everyone I'm responsible for- into some dementedly principled last stand against the forces of corruption; which happens to be more or less the entire executive layer of the Imperial state, and came away feeling utterly rotten for not doing it...if this is what the force does to you, you can keep it.'
The only purpose in my still being here is the stories and the people who come to read them. About all else, I no longer care.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Vianca » 2012-09-28 07:05pm

Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:Thank you, Acero- didn't want to post myself until there was a new story segment ready to go, and it now is. Another new experiment in formatting; soon I may resort to concrete poetry. Vianca, you weren't thinking big enough.

The poetry or the other stuff? :-?

Anway, good chapter.
Nice little nightmare.
Nothing like the present.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Crazedwraith » 2012-09-29 06:15am

OK, I skimmed read the press conference scene. Because as far as I can tell it was another big long speech from Lennart summarising the plot so far. With a bit more 'fun whackyness' from the crew sprinkled in.

Can we get back to Black Prince blowing shit please?
To the brave passengers and crew of the Kobayashi Maru... sucks to be you - Peter David

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Vianca » 2012-09-29 06:33am

Crazedwraith wrote:OK, I skimmed read the press conference scene. Because as far as I can tell it was another big long speech from Lennart summarising the plot so far. With a bit more 'fun whackyness' from the crew sprinkled in.

Can we get back to Black Prince blowing shit please?

Don't be in such rush Crazedwraith, think of the fall-out this will cause and the possible actions that come from the counter-fallout tactics.
Heck, with Lennart lightning firecrackers like crashy(?), I can begin to understand why Trawn was send out on a mapping mission.
Does make me fear for which one of the other ships under his command is, though.

On the other hand, there were quite a few Imperial tech/data-storage save-houses.
And a certain crime-boss was last seen after stealing the Eclipse.
It was also never said who recovered that particular SSD.
Nothing like the present.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Eleventh Century Remnant » 2012-09-29 02:13pm

Vianca, you were worried about strike cruisers and Acclamators and things- you missed
if we're lucky and can keep the wheels on just a little longer, see out this current operation, we might get the best of both worlds and blag an MC- 80.' Lennart said.
"Blag" being this-side-of-the-Atlantic slang for "steal". Why bother with a medium frigate when you can hiijack the very best?

Crazedwraith, you've got a point but you also missed something- it's not just a recap, it's the version of events he's putting forward in the political arena; a move to ensure that they have the enemies they want- and he nearly fumbled it, according to his own account- and have a chance of temporising with the forces they can't quite come out to play with, not just yet.
A few Black Sun and Alliance ships here and there are a rather better bet than trading broadsides with the Executor, after all; remember, "by way of deception thou shalt do war"- and most of what he told the public at large, and the people who matter behind the scenes, was a set of aimed tactical lies intended to get them to a fight they can actually win. Which should be coming up soon.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-09-29 02:24pm

Yeah. Most things are resolved and organized, and by openly declaring (so to speak) war on Black Sun, they almost guarantee a fight. The political action has proceeded a bit slowly, but we're near the end of it.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Vianca » 2012-09-29 03:23pm

Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:Vianca, you were worried about strike cruisers and Acclamators and things- you missed
if we're lucky and can keep the wheels on just a little longer, see out this current operation, we might get the best of both worlds and blag an MC- 80.' Lennart said.
"Blag" being this-side-of-the-Atlantic slang for "steal". Why bother with a medium frigate when you can hiijack the very best?

I did brought up the Rock Turtle with a reason, as well for the Venator´s.
Now those Venator´s can be some heavily modular beast of burden, if modificated, off course.
Heh, it does solve their crew problem if they wanted to man such support ships, it basicaly are two flies with one hit (atleast).

But I didn´t want to hint about that and was hoping you where meaning something else.
Besides, you realise it has to be atleast two MC-80´s in terms of parents being usealy two per crew-member, without bringing in kids, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, ect?
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-09-29 08:48pm

One would probably be enough if you were willing to make the accomodations a bit more crowded and spartan than the average luxury liner. They're two kilometers long, nearly enough...
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Eleventh Century Remnant » 2012-10-06 08:04pm

Short update, barely two pages;

Crazedwraith, you may want to skip this one- I had originally intended to start writing in manuscript and stop when I got to something that went bang, and type it up, but this segment got done anyway so here it is. Everybody's favourite renegade Kalonian, with his own plans.

It was just as well that Rear- Admiral Thrawn was of so definite a skin and eye colour; it made it easier for him to conceal his feelings- in this case, that he began from a position of absolute fury.
The bizarre newscast from Corellia had just been recieved on board his current flagship, Grey Wolf, in the usual filtered form, the digest culled from various sources and presented to the wardroom by Com/Scan. Lennart's news conference had been picked up by several sources, and it was fair to say there were more than a few wardrooms buzzing with it.
From a certain point of view, it was a disaster. Large parts of what had been said at Aldrem's court martial had been revealed- not drawn attention to, but mentioned.

Who assumed the court of public opinion stood for anything these days, though? Certainly not Lennart. Opinion within the navy, however- well, leave that aside for the moment. What of the effect within the corridors of power? There was a good deal he had been careful not to say, and in that there was a pattern.
Hadn't implicated Palpatine as the dark lord, had kept up the public legend at least; on the other hand had effectively supported Vader as the prime defender of the Empire instead of the threat to it he probably was.

He had also dropped Prince Xizor in it most thoroughly; practically guaranteed that they would try to kill or otherwise silence him again- could hardly be otherwise. So there would be a clash, Black Sun's mercenaries against Lennart's ship- theoretically against the entire Imperial navy but that was unlikely- but certainly under Vader's immediate observation.

The crimelord wasn't that stupid, was he? Daft enough to go for it in the sure and certain knowledge he was being observed? Somebody in the organisation almost certainly would be. Lennart was playing a dangerous game, but who at this level wasn't? The man was more dangerous afloat than on the ground, but they had missed him there- and were now faced with challenging him in his element.

Politically, though, a calculated risk and the Chiss did not think he had got the calculus right. One thing Thrawn would absolutely not have done in his position was take Vader's part in the quarrel, a notoriously unpolitical- antipolitical- being with a temper that guaranteed few allies and no friends. To Darth Vader, everyone was an obstacle and an enemy; especially himself. The wrong choice, if under the circumstances it had really been a choice at all.

Thrawn knew him well, not the full story of course, no-one except Palpatine knew that, certainly not the man in the black suit. He was a broken, driven man; had made some major mistake, a cosmic error that had cost him more than the parts burned off, had cost him the meaning of his life. In search of a new one he had thrown himself into his job as the Emperor's enforcer with savage energy and total disregard for the rights of any living being; the Imperial fleet carried many of the scars he had given it over the years.
He had learned a little politics as he went, perhaps not so much mellowed as tired; he had been wading in his victims' blood and the fires of his own hate for so long, it was inevitable.

The scattered opposition movements coming together into the Alliance had given him new life but also made him stranger, as if he had finally realised how hollow he had become and started looking for something to fill the void. As a human being, he really was more machine than man- not that the chiss greatly cared about that, or about twisted and evil for that matter, but the fact was that he was a failure at virtually everything that didn't involve fear, hate and violence. He couldn't rule.

Vader might succeed Palpatine at the leadership of the cult to which they both belonged, but that would probably be the end of it for both Empire and cult- Lennart had hit, probably with malice aforethought, a genuine fault line in the structure of the Empire; the order and stability so many of the rank and file thought it was their responsibility to establish and uphold were contradicted, made a nonsense of, by the cult and it's high officers- and much of the rest of the leadership of the Empire.
How long could the state be run in such a fashion before provoking continuous, rolling rebellion, before major elements of the imperial fleet started shooting at each other- before the galaxy started to come apart? A thought.

As fleet commander, Vader was more interesting, and it was there that you could see the signs of the living being he must once have been. Bold, decisive, rapid and ruthless- it was there that it was easiest to see how he had become Palpatine's right hand man. Strange gaps in his abilities, though- new moves tended to elude him; it seemed as if he hated having to think clearly about an opponent's motives, instead instantly trying to squash them so that it didn't matter.
He did so with moves from a repertoire that he clearly had not come by without a lot of creative subtlety being involved in the process somewhere, though; relics of the being he once was?

Not that in his current state he was safe to side with- Thrawn would not choose to do so. Had Lennart, really? Prince Xizor did have one advantage for the imperial state- he was stable. Kept the criminal underworld, that any sensible state knew existed and could never be done away with, Lennart knew that too but had no choice but to pretend otherwise, in some kind of recognisable and predictable form.
In many ways Xizor was Palpatine's Minister to the Underworld- and in many of those ways, he was a rather more credible successor or lieutenant to the Emperor than Vader was.

His Majesty loved nothing better than to see people squabble, fall out, tear at each other, try to do each other down. He was carnivorous; he devoured his servants. It was a poor, second best basis for a strong, united galaxy, or so the Chiss had thought until he grew more thoroughly to know said servants.
They loved nothing better than that, too. Most of the million politicians and ten million petty autarchs who danced attendance on the Court of Courts had clawed their way upwards through their own local setups to get there, carving their way up a political and occasionally literal pile of bodies, crushing those beneath and backstabbing those before, and could think of nothing finer than to do the same again for the highest stakes.

The Chiss had spent much time thinking about it, and eventually come to the conclusion that there was no other way that it could be, could have been. The climb to the top was a forming, moulding experience, thus were the realities of power and authority, corruption and Empire; only the carnivorous, murderous and devious rose that high.
Just as well, really, that the man in charge was equipped to rule over such a menagerie of monsters. If that was the galactic ruling class then there really was no sensible alternative to an absolute monarch, grown beyond human stature- even if one did occasionally find him cackling away in the darkness.
The choice was not between tyranny and freedom, but between efficient and effective tyranny and shambolic, hydra- headed, frantically squabbling tyranny, and in that landscape of no workable alternatives Thrawn was definitely a monarchist.

How would the monarch react to all of this, though? It was usually a safe bet that he knew almost everything, but these days he seemed to care increasingly little. The Palpatine Thrawn had known at the start of his career would never have allowed the destruction of Alderaan with nothing said, with no warning or control; would perhaps have done it- and the Empire did badly need the capability- but only as an exquisitely judged and measured political act, aimed and spun for exact and shattering social effect. Never would have allowed it to become the symbol of a state gone mad.
If he was losing his touch, and there was no clear successor, nor could there be from within the system, then an ambitious outsider- hm.

Consider Lennart's mad attempt to drive a wedge between two parts of the structure of the Empire as an opportunity, then. The full data, which he must obtain- in which names were named and blame assigned- would spark some of the greatest games ever seen at the Court of Courts.
Was it really purely out of self defence that he had done this? Look at the incidents on Corellia itself; the man clearly had a sense of mischief. Painting the senate yellow- probably not a coincidence that they had chosen to use the traditional colour of cowardice, at that- if believable, and it was, further reinforced that.
Regicide was fairly unlikely- the Empire was a government of men (and mostly it was, more nonhumans than females too), not of laws, structurally it was all too possible, but not when the man concerned was the Lord of the Sith.

The sort of bloodletting among the minions he appeared to be in a position to start was Lennart's route to a favour Thrawn found it hard to believe the Corellian wanted- but he himself did.
One feasible option, and it was dirty enough to fit right in at court, was to doctor the evidence- not that it was all that far from the truth. His own investigations had been aimed slightly differently- Lennart's men had beaten his to the agent, who had apparently disappeared off the face of the galaxy- and he had to work through fainter collections of data.
He had, however, been able to follow in the maniac's wake, collect up the pieces after the bull in the china shop had passed through, take the lower, subtler road; as different in style as the lance and the web. The ISB, in particular, had much more in the way of raw data than they actually realised they had; if only they and the Ubiqtorate could be persuaded that they were on the same side (but with their authority emanating from the arena of the court, what chance of that...) the Empire could have a wonderful intelligence service.

The Alliance, by contrast, were generally brilliant, passionate, energetic and bold- qualities that whatever else they may have been worthy for, generally made a terrible spy. The cynics should have been winning the intelligence war. They were not, for reasons that defied easy classification but mostly had to do with mismanagement at the top- that, perhaps, in the coming bloody games, something could be done about.

Careful, mustn't improve on the data too much. Nothing beyond belief- nothing that didn't seem all too plausible in the light of what there was solid proof of. Nothing unnecessary, except to fill out the pattern. There was a great deal of perfectly accurate material to use anyway. Enough to carve openings to step upwards into? Probably.
There was an odd, stray flavour of disappointment lurking at the bottom of that thought; easy enough to identify the source- that it was, by the standards of the Ascendancy, such a horribly broken system, polluted and wasteful. Better must surely be possible. Perhaps with more access and more leverage, from a higher vantage point- after the bloodshed.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby InsaneTD » 2012-10-06 09:15pm

Why do I get the feeling Thrawn is being played by Lennart?

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Vianca » 2012-10-07 06:15am

Why am I thinking Trawn is hoping he gets to shot some idiots?
Anyway, depending on ranks and position, reaction time could happen anytime the first two/three hours have past.
Rebs would try at Corilia, Empirial Upper Court would strike during the patrol mission to catch fleeing Rebs, so they could let it look like the Rebs did it and others would leak this mission info so others would handel it.
Nothing like the present.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Crazedwraith » 2012-10-08 05:24am

ECR wrote:Crazedwraith, you may want to skip this one

You don't tell me what to do! *shakes fist* :P

I actually found this one alright. The fact is from Thrawn's point of view actually makes Recaps easier to do. Because of course Thrawn's theories on what's happening are not the same as what;s actually happening. His thought processes do seem to take him a bit far a field, such as his appraisal of Vader, but its easy to follow how and why he got there.

Over all, I thought it was a decent update.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Eleventh Century Remnant » 2012-10-18 02:20pm

Finally, something explodes.

Leaving the Corellian System turned out to be vastly easier than arriving; all it really needed was the act of will to accept just how much was going to have to be left behind.
Little of that was hardware, the old birds of the fighter wing were relinquished into the care of an officer from Sector Group Corellia who would be quite surprised to find that he had actually signed for them. The ground force hadn't had time to re- equip, the original plan to go from ten walker and six repulsor batallions to ten repulsor and six walker had simply not had time to happen- the repulsortanks were physically smaller, more of them could be crammed in, and while a repulsorlift batallion actually took up slightly more pad factors than a walker batallion, it had a lot more guns. The gear could be got, it was the cross- training and retraining that was the hard part.

The people on leave, who had wandered off to various bits of the galaxy, were mostly back, a fair few with tales of crime and malfeasance to tell; the most dubious was Shandon Rythanor's.
He had spent most of the refit away from the ship, possibly because he was afraid of being landed with the executive officer's job, but also because his own couldn't really be done in isolation; it wasn't particularly easy for him to keep even as current as he did, with the ship spending so much time out in the black.
There were some parts of his job, some of the tricks of fleet electronic warfare, in which he was a seriously lagging Old Corvid indeed; others, especially the collection of moves they had evolved with their administratively borrowed hyperspace scanner, in which he was well ahead of the flock. He had much to take in and pass on.

After the actual holiday (which he had mostly spent playing computer games, truth be told), there was a brisk round of conferences and seminars and working parties, mostly professional, mostly free of politics, and actually quite a lot of fun. it was only after he was back on board and they were getting ready to leave that the alarm bells started ringing.
He had come back practically walking on air, but got progressively more worried looking, gloomier, disappeared for a few hours in the middle of the working day- then went to see the Captain.
'Um, Skipper, I think I might have screwed up a bit.' Considering that he wasn't exactly starting on a good foot, Lennart didn't pressure him, let it flow. They were on the bridge, and there were a lot of people busy there; this was going to get troublesome, so Lennart led them over to one of the function pods- semi-open the Engineering liaison post.

'There was, well I think I got vamped. Oversector fleet staff, and the way she filled out her uniform- that was only half the hook, she was smart, brilliant, started out playing it frosty, but we ended up arguing a lot, and bouncing ideas off each other, and working groups, and things- if we'd been in the same seminar group for another day I think I'd have proposed. I fell for her, hard, and I think I told her nearly everything.'
Cost him a lot to admit that, Lennart realised, and asked 'You've checked to see if she actually exists?' then corrected himself- 'Of course you have, you wouldn't be worried if there was nothing wrong.'
'The cross references just aren't there, skipper. It's too good a fake not to be fake, but if you look back from the other things that are supposed to have happened around her, it shows.'

'An image?' Lennart activated the local terminal, Rythanor pinged a picture off his datapad, and it was run against the data they weren't supposed to have. Found a correlation. 'Well, she's been exempted from the Dangerous Cults Act in order to practise the dark side, so yes, I think you can assume the worst is true. No first name given- Inquisitor Drayneen.'
Odd thing was, there was a distinct resemblance there- must remember to take this down to Severian, Lennart thought, her genetic material had to come from somewhere and I think Shandon might have met one of her mothers.
'That's her.' Rythanor confirmed, miserably. 'Lystra.'
'Presumed aligned with Cronal's faction, master of the soft interrogation- an expert at sliding into somebody's mind and soul and turning them inside out. If you were played for a fool, at least it was by the best.' Lennart said.

'I know, but I don't know, how could anybody, how can you fake falling in, in? How can you just say things like they were words?' Rythanor trickled to a halt.
'How often have you had one of your rankers or junior officers in front of you with at least something like the same story?' Lennart asked the rhetorical question- easier and safer than answering his. Resisting the Force's temptation to take charge of him- and/or to twist the knife in the wound.
'That's the part that adds insult to injury.' Rythanor admitted, but without much humour in his tone. 'Most of us are geeks, we know that, I always tell the lads to leave the wild ones to Gunnery and the hairy, scaly, flabby ones to Engineering, but she was one of us, com/scan officer with specialties in sigint/comint, she fooled everyone- too good to be true, I should have known.'

'What she got from you won't be transmitted-' there was a possible joke in there, Lennart noticed, but it really won't improve his morale- 'delivered by hand only, a personal report; any possibility of a physical intercept?' Easier to stay on that now.
Rythanor opened his mouth to protest that he didn't know where she was going and she could be anywhere, but finding out that was no-one else's job but his own. More of a surprise that the Skipper still seemed willing to let him do it than anything else. 'I'll find out.'

There was a long pause; then Lennart said 'Strictly speaking you probably did endanger the boat and your shipmates, but I'm not sure I can do anything worse to you than she already has- although this is a subject on which I really do not want to have to get creative. Don't get caught again.'
Perversely, Rythanor felt better for having been yelled at, which was why Lennart had done it. 'Aye aye, Sir.'
Certainly not the best thing that could have happened to the ship, the man or the refit- as head of Com/Scan, he would be doing a lot of the work of rebuilding and redrafting the ship's computer systems; which made him a natural target to be compromised. She had slid through security as if it was mist; a pro.
Cronal, though, he was down as one of the mad ones; was he even still stable enough to make effective use of what she could bring him? That might be their best defence.

Anyway, it was actually engineering's turn to take it relatively easy for a while, but it wasn't happening- engineering/command's view was that playtime was over and they had to stop having fun with nuclear explosions, and knuckle down to the fiddly bits of mechatronics and metrology, control and systems management software.
The physical and the informational had overlapped to a degree, which was why they could mostly fly the ship, but there had been too much matter to be shoved around to do more than the minimum- couldn't fight the ship yet.

Not for want of Gunnery wanting to play with toys, anyway; they had been able to do much of their working up on simulators and were just waiting, and doing what was within their own abilities, to get the hardware to match up to that.
Black Prince slightly outgunned a Tector- class now; different mix- more lighter weapons than the standard Tector-I, for the most part. Three single heavies in the dorsal axial battery, 320s, perversely better suited to shooting at slightly smaller craft- light destroyers and heavy frigates, maybe mediums at a pinch, where the heavy bolt stood some chance of overpenetrating shielding and doing real damage from the first; not so effective at larger targets which would have to be eroded down or smaller targets which needed a denser cone of fire to hit. All in the details.

Port, starboard and new bow batteries, mixed up a little for variety; six of their own turrets had survived the battle of Ord Corban, and they had re- used four of them, each of the tiered and echeloned beam batteries mounting one octuple 32, one Corellian quad long- barrel 70 and one Imperator-I style heavy twin 170, and one octuple heavy ion cannon, more or less a 32 equivalent. The bow battery had the same mix, except an octuple standard heavy turbolaser mount instead of the ion cannon.

Two banks of five heavy torpedo tubes down each flank- too many for complete safety, they were supposed to not flare off when they got hit but Lennart had seen too many Victory-I's occupying large and expanding volumes of space to believe wholly in that; but barely enough to stand a chance, even with the latest, smartest and most agile warheads, of actually getting hits on a defended target. They added an option, though, and even if the line defining "too much" was actually on the near side of "not enough", they needed all the options possible.

The four Corellian grav projectors offered options, all right; they were very impressively multifunctional in theory, and in practise promised to be frustratingly difficult to persuade to do any one function cleanly and well. Managing the synergies as they interacted with each other was proving to be a juggling act- they had gone very far back in terms of technology, they weren't pure gravity generators, actually amplifiers around a cluster of resonating point masses.
Some of the team who had sort-of-voulnteered-ish for the duty thought they were a practical joke by Corellian Engineering. Doing it old school looked good on paper- for one thing they could set up interference patterns with themselves, making tractor and repulsor zones possible, could even function as a light interdictor or an actual gravitic weapon- if they could be made to do the same thing for three seconds running.

Point defence had expanded to seventeen clusters of six dual purpose guns, four Corellian six-by-six and two equivalent throughput ion cannon; four groups on the after edges of the main hull able to fire into the usually blind rear arc over the engines, and one specifically on and to cover the upper rear of the superstructure, a fix too few ships had.
The same number of groups of fighter- class weapons mostly co- located, and most of them recycled from the old fit some of them new- each group a Corellian quad laser, a triple autoblaster turret, two twin lasers, a quad light ion cannon, and a missile launcher stripped off one of the retiring TIE bombers.

Not too shabby, Lennart thought. The only thing we didn't manage to fit was the spinal superlaser, and we weren't really serious about that anyway. We don't really need a fleet tender for anything but fuel and an excuse; we need the excuse to buy time to do the software engineering ourselves, and to get used to the new feel of the ship, make her feel a bit more properly scruffy and lived in. Then we can go and see what tries to bite us. Hm.

On a hunch, Lennart opened up the personnel movements file- or as much of it as the ship's computers were alert enough to let him get at. The tides of politics had been running high, and there had been relatively few inward drafts unlike normal procedure, where a refit was usually the occasion for large scale crew turnover; they were dangerous to know at the moment, though.
Some shuffling within 851, a small number of outsiders- and on the same hunch Lennart ran the incoming files too against the secret database they weren't supposed to have.
Ping. Match. Not Drayneen- that would have been far too convenient- but a new and relatively unknown name, someone born in the opening days of the Clone Wars when the jedi organisation for detecting force sensitive infants had broken down, and the Empire's had not yet grown into place- ideal timing for slipping through the cracks.

An officer, of course- one First Lieutenant Misha Vekkian of the Stormtrooper Corps. Stress had brought out the force potential in her, and she had grown into the Dark Side; commanded the marine detachment of a Bayonet- class light cruiser with apparent great success, boarding and searching civilian craft and seizing pirates, couple of combat drops on illegal outposts- action on the scale that you could expect from an outrider cruiser, but highly successful.
That was where the creditable part of her record came to a juddering halt, though. Her own disciplinary record wasn't exactly spotless, but it was explainable enough- her awakening in the dark side should have caused most of the clashes with her superiors, and were a good way to end up in command of a distant detachment.
The grim part was what she had done to her subordinates as she had grown into her power; she had been careful not to press too many formal charges, but her reinforced platoon had lost many more to their own hand than to the enemy- they had what must be among the worst desertion, suicide and self- mutilation rates in the Corps. It took a lot to break through the hardening and make stormtroopers' lives that much of a misery that they wanted to end it all.

Trying to call MARDET HQ, internal comms were apparently down- which was odd, as they had been up earlier to coordinate the refit work. Being the captain did have advantages; if all else failed, he could order a relay of mouse droids into position to act as com repeater towers.
All else did fail, and the High Colonel commanding the battle group was tapped on the foot by a small grey droid holding out a com unit. 'What is it- Captain?'
'Yes, it's me, I think we're in the middle of transiting to a new internal com system, at least we had better be- one of the few transfers in went to you, a 1LT Vekkian. You haven't put her in charge of anything sentient, have you?'

'I know the one you mean- I was about to give her a company in the boarding batallion, but then I looked closely at her record. Personnel management skills worse than zero, utterly untrustworthy as a leader and mentor. The worrying thing is she's done very little that's actually officially wrong. She's like the Anti-Aldrem.'
'Do not,' Lennart cautioned, 'tell either of them that. Three options that I can see- detached duty, assign her to say the security of the TIEs we separated out, and juggle the wording so that when they get taken up she goes with them.
Two, try to break her in and bring her round, demand of her that she adapt to our methods and standards; oppress her when she fails to do the same; but do you have a convenient bunch of oddballs and hard cases who can soak up that much abuse? wolves are, out of hand. Not good, I know. What have you got for ideas?'

'It used to be that "omega company" was basically a slang term for an unofficial penal unit, a dumping ground for sad sacks, misfits, oddballs and hard cases. How it went from there to spec ops units organically attached to the line like the legion HQ- actually, considering some of our lot I can see the translation. Red-1 and Black-2 could do with much tighter discipline, by the book they deserve her- ah. Maybe not.' The high colonel spotted the flaw in his plan.
'Assigning a heavy demolitions team to someone who may be a plant for the conspirators who would like us all dead? I think your second take on that idea was an improvement.' Lennart agreed.

'OPFOR, black flag duty?'
Lennart thought about it for a second. 'Branding her the official enemy within? Doable as a temporary solution, as long as she doesn't enjoy it. Other matter- we should be expecting boarding actions soon. First is probably going to be to clear and safe the fleet tender. Be ready.'
'Right. And- we were all watching the conference, skipper. Most of the legion think you're dangerously insane, but we're with you.'
If you only think that then you obviously didn't hear what was being said between the lines, Lennart thought, but said 'Thanks- I wouldn't have taken that stand unless I thought you and the crew had my back, but it's good to hear. Bridge out.'

Most of what had to be left behind was unfinished business, at the core of it; for instance Nat Themerhahn had put in for a transfer to the Imperial fleet, but even if she got it the chances of ending up in an active service role were thin enough, on destroyers thinner still, from sector to regional forces another impossible leap, 851 in particular another sigma or two outward.
We may be maniacs, Lennart thought, but- no, because we justify that with supremely high standards when we put our minds to it. Kidnapping, that was what it was to all intents and purposes, had worked for Pel Aldrem, but that was the only way anyone from outside their own closed circle was getting in.

Galactic spirit, family. Not many of them left, now, in the biological sense. Father and mother on the run- as far as what of the ship's computer net was still up and running could confirm. Sister and her husband in the hands of Imperial- what? Which specific branch had them? Not one that he had any influence over. There was an unpleasant surprise due from that angle, or he was a stuffed garbage squid.
Brother dissociating himself from a family in the process of implosion, as fast as he could; changing to solely using his wife's name now. Cousins scattering in all directions. Severian recovering well, although she would probably try to rip his head off for delivering that without her being there to spin it for him- that notwithstanding, probably a plus overall.
Raffaella. Well, he thought, I'm about to take her, and her useless boyfriend (it would probably be morally wrong to get him- no, to have him killed, but Force it was tempting) to war. She's probably not going to enjoy it.

Well, we have a plan, so let's go to it. They weren't going to jump to the rendesvous point- not that daft. The plan was to make the first long jump to within, say, a hundred light years of the supposed position of the again supposed fleet tender, and lead in with the fighter wing. A lack of ambush would be a pleasant surprise.
Fuel was less of an issue than might be supposed- a little semi- covert hose work had drained off quite a lot of Fist and Admonisher's fuel bunkers, too. Then again, total load was well up, one point seven billion tons energy equivalent in irrational mass.

Hyperdrive performance, especially with some of the idea Mirannon and Caldor had come up with between them, could be interesting.
They had already made one microjump, which wasn't enough for a full up test, and Lennart had watched the nav department- on standalone devices- calculate the course for the fringes of Anoat sector with some interest and no little disbelief. For once his instincts were saying something other than 'go with it'- that this thing, this particular thing, was finally over the line into too much too soon.

Nothing hideous happened at first, but ten minutes of waiting for it were enough. The mouse droids went out again. 'Gethrim? I'm up here looking at the starsnow, and the performance and configuration numbers, and they look good, they're even self- consistent, but my gut is going to take a bit more convincing about why how they got that way actually constitutes a step forward.'
'We did go over this at the time, skipper- don't you remember?'

'I remember agreeing on the basis of the projections, but now I wonder if they were detailed enough to be accurate. The, for want of a better term, ride quality- the timelike/spacelike interface is the key component I think- is odd, it's overcompensating if anything, and I'm not sure it isn't reacting to wobblies. It feels like being on a trampoline on the back of a juggernaut, and the physical possibilities of overcompensation include some ugly options. I thought this was supposed to be the sensible version.' Lennart said.

'It is, this is the field configuration that isn't set up for tempobatics- no more than are necessarily involved in faster than light. I was thinking more in terms of travel to the past anyway really, but that seems to be only possible if we can find a part of the universe inherently running backwards to take advantage of- anyway, everything is on the normal monitor loops, nothing obviously wrong. running a deep diagnostic now- ah. Tell your gut it's not as daft as it sounds, hold on while I deal with this.' Well, there was reassuring for you.

'Comscan, mirror that up here- if you can.'
'File not found error cat 104 specific 952? Kriff.' Com/scan couldn't.
They knew roughly where they were, and could find their way home. If it wasn't left too late. 'Brenn, set for hyperdrive abort, sound alarm, collapse the field in five, four-'
'Wait, I've got it.' Mirannon shouted over the com. 'We're back in rigid mode, field globes locked, rate of temporal precession is negative one point all detectable zeroes. we're good.'

'Makes no sense.' Brenn said, looking at his feedback data. 'Net effect is near nil, beacons confirm and for that matter we're not all grey, dead or babies, but at peak depth of separation the interaction field was behaving more like an electrozapped hydra. That could be feedback malfunction, a sensor wobbly or a genuine timekriff, and any of them have some danger involved.'
'Before you panic,' Mirannon said, a little late, 'it was only the immaterial component that happened to; there was some passage of accelerated time, but it happened to things with half- lives around ten to the forty-fifth, so meh. No human or mechanical issue. Yes, it was a bug not a feature, there's a lot still to do-' he stopped there, knowing he was going to be interrupted.

He was. 'At a less crucial time, with the rest of the ship not in knots. I want a lot more calculated out, simmed, signed off on by second and third parties and I do not mean your department heads, and test models flown before we go for a full scale trial again.' Lennart said; Brenn and the rest of navigation were nodding vigorously.
'You were in favour of the idea when I brought it up.' Mirannon pointed out.
'I know I approved it, but I wonder if that was despite or because of the bits of description you left out. I know the numbers are good and we can do it in theory, it's the obvious Next Big Thing in hyperdrive, but it has been for most of the last five thousand years. How much input did Caldor have in this?'

There was a long silence which told the story. None of them needed to have what had been tried and why it hadn't worked explained to them; the fact being that 'hyperdrive field' was a misnomer and a simplification. There were three parts to it, on purpose anyway, the energy envelope that rode the curvatures of space and essentially was responsible for the course the ship steered, the hypersymmetric fields that took and kept the ship across the light barrier, and the stasis fields that protected the ship and the field projection machinery against the relativistic/causal implications of tachyonic travel. Some of the manuals called them the Interaction, Action and Inaction fields, outside to in.

In practise the Interaction Field had to be preconfigured, the spacetime and energy gradients it would have to ride and the desired reaction being set on entry to hyperspace; it was impossible to affect from within the inaction field without breaking stasis lock, and possibly accidentally becoming several million years older in the process- or reappearing several million years in the future. Manoeuvre was possible in hyperspace, but only prearranged manoeuvre.
Actually being able to steer, being able to fly, to pilot a ship instead of merely navigate- it was an obvious thing to want, and to strive for, and design and build for. Nobody had got it to work yet- nobody human, at any rate.

The Rakata, with nonlocally Force based technology, might have been able to do it; but they were a force of horror and shrouded in evil, which was a moral problem for the Republic if not the Empire, and rather more practically they were extinct. The Gree, perhaps, but they were no longer in the mass production business, if they ever had been.
Which left various increasingly techno- arcane combinations of brute force and cunning, entangling and interweaving and loosening and shaping, running leaps at the dangerously improbable, and the occasional complicated chronobatic disaster. Black Prince had just tried something that turned out not to work, and hopefully caught the problem before it had time to build to consequences.

'All right, back to the drawing board.' Mirannon admitted. 'Although the recovery itself, that gives me an idea-'
'No.' Lennart said, and meant it. 'Incidentally, we have another problem- a minor dark side force user transferred in, a stormtrooper 1LT, Vekkian.'
'Ah. I wondered what she was doing hanging by one ankle over a vat of liquid helium. Dark side, hm- explains a lot.'
Brenn laughed; Lennart snorted as if his cup of caf had gone down the wrong way. 'Hazing and abusing her juniors is the main strike against her, we are supposed to be better than that. How did this come to be?'

'Not absolutely sure, but I think it was an assistance detail from the Legion.' Carefully not naming specific names- it had been DA12, Second Platoon First Company, First Batallion Fourth Regiment, tank men not easy to intimidate. 'She barged in while they were trying to put a thermal switching unit back together and told them it wasn't part of their duties, it was a dissipation of focus on the mission, all sorts of ridiculous boot camp nonsense.
The hoverheads tell her to shove it and keep working, she tells them that they take orders from their own officers and those only, they said that if she was their officer they'd frag her, things degenerated from there.'

'For someone who wasn't absolutely sure, you're very sure. All inductive guesswork, really?' Lennart asked. 'Actually, a bit of inductive guesswork of my own- somebody, probably the platoon sargeant, quipped that she needed to hang around; and/or that she should cool off. Am I not right?'
'Could be.' Mirannon admitted.
'First thing- for excessive cheese, for using lines from crappy old action holos, that's an offence punishable by extra duty; I want them to strip the platoon's tanks down to bare metal, reapply the thermoelectric coatings and recamouflage them. Stringing the lieutenant up under those circumstances I'm prepared to consider as self defence, but bad quotes cannot go unpunished.
Lieutenant Vekkian- hanging in the column of cold air over a helium tank can't be good for her health, and I doubt her head was in great shape to begin with. Bundle her up, in riot foam if necessary, dump her in medical on the tender and tell them we don't want her back.

How much longer do we have until breakout,' Lennart added, 'or is that now a question with a variable answer?'
'Three hours, two minutes twenty seconds at...mark.' Brenn said. 'Probably.'
'Warning order to the fighter wing, then- they'll be expecting it but might as well make it official. No requirement for the dropships. Space transports, load heavy antiship ordnance and medium- run boarding teams. Fighter wing, load concussions. Bomber wing medium antiship torps, multirole light torps.

General plan is all launch on emergence, dispersed element spiral search with bomb wing as main and fighter wing as cover force, transport and multirole wings cover the flag and react to circumstances as directed.
Oh, and if you have any spare capacity between that and watching the hyperfield, warm up a couple of hundred VS- series probe droids. Just in case the chief did get it wrong and we're going to need to figure out what century we're in.'

Emergence, and a damned bumpy one; 'Launch fighters- do we need the probes? How bad was the exit transient?'
'We probably lit up half the quadrant.' Brenn stated. 'Residual field state was- inverted? The inner layer of the interaction field seems to have been enthalpising on the advanced wave, and...I think we might accidentally have invented another superweapon.'
'Last stang thing the Empire needs.' Lennart grumbled. 'Instead of bleeding off, it picked up energy through hyperspace, vented that on emergence instead of the usual residuals? Hence, kaboom? That's going to make it difficult to sneak up on anybody- if it was big enough it's going to make it fairly difficult to rendesvous with anybody. Where and when are we?'
'Exactly where we meant to be, worryingly enough, and subspace radio, what there is in this wasteland, says we're an hour early. Now I'm going to have to figure out why that didn't throw us off course.' Brenn's turn to grumble about something.

'Do that- Gethrim?' Relays of mouse droids, again. 'When I said no earlier, I meant no, needs a lot more done before we try again. Consider that now upgraded to no, disconnect and scrap the hardware, there's a lethal operations mode.'
'I know, we monitored the feedback. Dreck. Back to square zero.' Mirannon said; the thought did occur to him that if they could kill people with it, it might not be that bad an idea, but on the other hand it did look to be a phenomenally unselective way of making that happen, and it would make having friends quite tricky. And no mention of the software. Hm.
'Any progress on getting the internal comnet back up and running? We're going to start burning out mouse droids at this rate.'
'Some- should happen before guns and shields are ready, anyway. External's in better shape.'

It needed to be; the subcraft wing was already leaving its' bays, thirty- two transports and a hundred and forty- four fighters, ninety-six of which were already scattering to jump out on their planned search patterns. Starwing fighter- bombers and Avenger fighters, should be a match for most of what there was to find.
Probably. Anoat sector was full of nothing very much, anything that was moving especially off the trade lanes should be an easy spot- which included them of course. For someone with the sensors to see, the pattern of jumps of the search was hard to miss.

Two things happened within the first quarter of an hour, one of them actually quite funny.
Two of Theta squadron's Starwings were running the fringes of an asteroid field, giving it the eyeball, when something did emerge; a Skipray patrol gunboat at full panic throttle followed by a long uncoiling grey thing trying to grab it.
Metal trumped flesh, even if it was silicate based, and the skipray had only just escaped the lifeform's grasp when a different set of alarms in the cockpit went off as the Starwings pinged it.
The result was a strangled scream of "Identify! Who are you? Are you in league with the tentacle monsters?" That one went down in the line book, and would eventually be remixed into a rather catchy tune. Turned out the Skipray was a recon flight from the destroyer Tyrant, combing for subsidiary rebel bases. Contact with Death Squadron, of a sort.

The other contact occurred when someone else sent a recon fighter to investigate the hyperspace exit transient. The recon fighter itself could be seen coming, of course, and emerged what they thought was a safe distance from the event.
It was a rebel alliance Y- wing. It materialised in the centre of a rough globe of forty- eight Imperial Hunter fighters. One on one wouldn't have been a fair fight- four squadrons to one was just sadistic.
One transmission was monitored; it was the rebel pilot breaking down and crying for his mother, the astromech in the background beeping at him and telling him to pull himself together. Then the volley of ion fire hit.
The Y- wing would be tractored in for intel info- by one of the transports, to save relying on the ship's- and the fighter stripped for intel info, the pilot stripped and given fresh underwear.

One thing they did search out, of course, was where the fleet tender was expected to be. Beta lead got that one, but the search pattern was drawn up so everyone else was close by- close enough to react if need be. And they were early. That turned out to matter a lot.
What they found were three Interceptor frigates, rebuilt merchantmen armed and powered as blockade runners, but in this case they had small boats out, and they were unloading.
Focused scan on one of the small round objects the ship's boats were setting out, in grid pattern, got the expected result. Mines. Hammering one with active EW got a better result- they were pirates after all, using light cheap kit. The mine was spoofed into detonating.
A couple of sympathetic detonations- the boat went up with it's payload of unlaid mines; the flash lighting up the Black Sun emblems on the three frigates.
The only purpose in my still being here is the stories and the people who come to read them. About all else, I no longer care.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby RecklessPrudence » 2012-10-18 06:13pm

Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:Two things happened within the first quarter of an hour, one of them actually quite funny.

I disagree.

Both of them quite funny. Both "Are you in league with the tentacle monsters!?" and the astromech telling his pilot to pull himself together and (in my imagination, at least) either cursing him out or calling him a sissy were hilarious.

I hope that astromech survived the massive overkill (what's that?) ionisation. He sounds like a great guy to have around. Hell, after that thorough an ionisation it's going to be a miracle if the pilot survived - humans, at least, are more vulnerable to EMP than some real-life military hardware, so I'm imagining a heavy enough ionisation could kill pilots and crewmembers even without vulnerable and energy-dense hardware detonating.

I liked how you don't have a refitted and theoretically fully functional ship being bug-free. Everything from internal comms to the shields and weapons to the hyperdrive have problems of varying severity. Very unlike a lot of sci-fi, and I prefer it.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby InsaneTD » 2012-10-18 10:47pm

"In league with the tentacle monsters!?"

*Starts rolling around, laughing uncontrollably.

Yes I realise it probably isn't that funny but it was unexpected and appealed to my odd sense of humour.

You know, having a couple tamed tentacled space monsters is the out there thing I might expect the rebels to do.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-10-19 05:29am

This may be the first time that we've seen concrete evidence that something is badly, badly wrong with Black Prince that wasn't caused by enemy fire. It's a side of the ship and her crew we haven't seen yet, and I like it.

(I may be forgetting things)
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby sropike » 2012-10-19 05:41am

Why do I get the feeling Mirannon's rope is going to be shortened quite a bit from now?

Great chapter, the tentacle monster line was hilarious!
Alos great to see a realistic refit, as everything is buggy as all hell...

I do hope they get everything at least ready-ish in time...

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Crazedwraith » 2012-10-19 08:04am

It's been a while since the last time it was described so I'm having trouble picturing black prince in my head. The port and strboard batteries are more or less where they are on a normal ISD right? Just staggered so they can alpha strike forward? Either side of the super structure? And they've added a third entire new battery at the bow? But that distrinct from the three superheavies they nicked from the rebel recuscant right?

And what are the 'Corellian six-by-six' in the point defense systems? Some sort of 36 barrel gunpack?

Anyway story wise this was ok. The mishaps in the asteroid field where quite fun.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Eleventh Century Remnant » 2012-10-19 09:54am

Long reply to this one; almost all ships are a red queen's race between wear and tear, and simple entropy, against the crew's efforts to keep her in order, and the ones that aren't are the ones where something goes wrong almost instantly. I've never wanted not to show that, but in terms of what does make it into the story, operations and politics tend to take precedence.

I have found, though, that I cannot rewrite without adding material. Every time I try, more gets crammed in.

Black Prince is or should be a high maintenance ship at the best of times, some of the retunings and optimisations actually having been judged by how many being- hours could be spared to look after them; probably too successfully, considering readiness rates should be lower- nobody should be on top of everything at once, certainly not an organisation led by somebody with tendencies to experiment.

More things really should be out of order, being evaluated, waiting for parts, being fixed, watched until/ in case they crap out again, and so forth- a lot of that seems basically to be the daily routine, and if upwards of ninety percent of everything is working at once, it's a good day.

I should be hitting that fact harder, in my defence I can only say that I am far from alone in this, but I'd rather go on than back- I am actually somewhat tempted to crosspost the original arc on to see what kind of reaction it gets, but redrafting is not on the cards, too much to go forward with.

The rebel fighter, assuming that not everyone got their shots off- some just too slow on the trigger, some with a friendly too close to the line of fire on the far side of the rebel- and that not everyone hit, the droid may need major repair but probably not totalled, the pilot, hm. I have written up ion cannons as doing some relatively small physical damage, but the main physical damage they do would be secondary.

The crew have never particularly been anti- droid, which is actually something worth exploring now that I think about it, why a prejudice that expectably should be there isn't.

When it comes to tame tentacle monsters, Black Prince did at one point have a ship's squid, a dianoga that someone in Life Support taught basic sign language to and kept as a pet and helper; unfortunately they faked up a service record and rating for it and it was too good a fake, the thing was promoted and transferred out. I'm going to have to tell Ebbie's (C.Ebbie Fallopodd was the name on the record) story too, at some point. Look at it this way; if they're basically octopoid, they're probably much more intelligent than they're usually given credit for.

The battery layout- yes. Staggered port and starboard batteries, three superheavies in the axial mounts, one turret more or less right at the tip of the bow- using the structural frames and power connections for the old pursuit tractor beam battery, actually- one stepped below and behind that, they're the twin 170 and the quad 70, an octuple 32 further back on either side. Six-by-six is the standard light dual purpose turbolaser, six bolts a second at ~2.5E16 J each, or near enough six megatons equivalent. When they work properly, anyway.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Vianca » 2012-10-19 12:28pm

Hey, no sweat Remnant.
She just came out of a major fixure-upper, got shot up and is now finaly coming out of another fixure-upper.
She's so shot-up over the years, you might better wonder how structualy sound the ships frame is.

Basicaly, I suspect that most stuff is already destroyed before it realy can start to break down.
Nothing like the present.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby sropike » 2012-10-19 01:52pm

ECR, I'm really starting to wonder about Vaders reaction to the particular brand of Lunacy of Black Prince and her crew. He may even get a proximity triggered force-migraine from them. :D

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Andras » 2012-10-19 07:29pm

Good update, what does the fighter wing look like?
4 squadrons each of Avengers, Starwings and Hunters?
What does the Hunter look like again? Are they Hyper-capable?
Do they still have the PulsarWing and is there more then just the one?

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Eleventh Century Remnant » 2012-10-19 08:19pm

Vader's reaction is going to be...Vaderish. It wasn't him who wanted them there; it was Ozzel covering his backside, calling in several crack units of the Imperial Starfleet to hold the ring for Death Squadron and stop the Rebels at large in the galaxy interfering with his attempt to reduce Hoth.

This is a decision which Vader, who has highly idiosyncratic objectives concerning certain of the rebel leadership, is not going to be happy with; the fewer witnesses, especially the fewer loyal and competent witnesses, the better.

This may be where the bounty hunters come in, I reckon- Vader wants them precisely because they are scum, they can be easily bought, most especially they're not loyal to Palpatine. Not going to mention inconvenient things like "Join me and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son" to him, where an Imperial Starfleet officer might.

Lennart knows none of the specifics of this of course, but is operating anyway on the general principle that it would be best not to get too close to someone of enormous authority, great power in the dark side and ferocious temper. Near to, but out of direct line of sight of, Death Squadron is the objective. Unfortunately nobody's told the Level Nivelo Mouse Droid Collective that. :angelic:

The fighter wing- which is the easiest name to call it- yes, four of each. The Hunters are official, if not widely used- eyeball, rear slab module, sort of like Interceptor wings but tilted outward instead of inward, and thinner and pointier, and a hinge-like instead of slab-like wing hub. Hyper, shields, ions and warhead launcher- as if a Starwing and a TIE Interceptor had bred, really.
I don't assume it's as good as the wookie page says it is- it smells of hype, a bit. Too many systems added on to be quite that fast, I'd put it's absolute performance something a shade below an Interceptor's, and it's weapons lighter- doesn't quite have the throw weight of the heavier, more powerful Avenger and certainly not of the Starwing.
They do have the PulsarWing, in theory they have a flight of them- a large enough experimental batch to start trying out formation work and tactics, was the idea- but only one as yet uncrated and assembled.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-10-19 09:08pm

I played the video game the Hunter comes from. It's mostly there to be cool, so, yes, making its performance overblown sounds good.
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