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Leitz June 28th, 2018 08:06 PM

[TDW:1416.2] Home to the Unknown
 
[Saorsa System 208.81.2028 Fleet Time] Bridge, Abandonment

Alarm klaxons rang loud enough to vibrate the deck.

Ben could feel them in his boots. Proximity alarms, damage control, and the grating of the jump space blinds trying to force their way out of sight.

"Wow...that's huge!" Ensign Candidate Christian said. She glanced at Gail. "Um, I mean, um, a large ship in on sensors. Measuring four thousand standard tons. There are two smaller ships near it; each eight hundred standard. Their weapons are active and we are targeted. Fleet ships still arriving out of jump, sir. We are where we planned, but the other ships were in the area already."

"Sir, Acting Captain Holden reports his squadron present and intact. However, the Golonatha's jump drive has failed. Suspect radiation damage but unconfirmed." Burl Pataki said. He was learning Comms and seemed to be good at it. He paused, and then continued. "Captain Holden reports all crew members reporting for duty until final outbrief."

Holden's message was clear; some of Marni's crew wanted to leave as soon as they could. The shame of the attack on their captain, though, kept them in line. Doubtless Holden leaned on their love for their captain more than on his own rapport. At least for now.

Gail coughed lightly. She was looking down at Klessia, who had been looking out at the stars.

"What...oh." Klessia paled slightly. "Sir, eighteen fighters launched from the large ship. Inbound to our fleet. The two smaller ships moving forward."

"Sir. Captain Holden reports moving to intercep...Sir! Something else coming through." Pataki's hands stumbled slightly over the comm controls. He wiped his palms on the rough canvas of his torn pants and tried again.

A man's image filled the HUD over the front screen. He seemed relaxed, confident. His sharp eyes flicked across the crew on the bridge; resting for a moment on Gail and then settling on Ben.

"This is Captain Brant Lesueur, Commanding SCN Task Force Messana." He smiled. "What are your intentions?"

atpollard August 9th, 2018 04:17 PM

[Saorsa System 208.81.2030 Fleet Time] Bridge, Abandonment
Ben felt the knot in the pit of his stomach. Suddenly the full weight of reality bore down on him as he stared at the data on the system and the fleet. There was no Commander Aepers or Admiral Domici to fall back on. Ben was calling the shots here. "I wonder if there might still be time to run off into the woods and build a cabin" the thought flickered through his brain as he watched the fleets begin to move. Then he saw the Confed officer eyeballing his bridge crew. Ben glanced across all of the now familiar people with whom he shared history. "Nope, too late for the cabin" he realized. Part of Ben wanted to remind the Confeds that this was the Saorsa system and not Confed space. Ben was returning home and it was not really any of his business what Ben's intentions were. But the Confeds had the Warships and Ben's fleet needed to survive. Yet Ben's people had accomplished too much to be made to feel second class by any officer with a shiny ship not fresh from battle.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Leitz (Post 588636)
"This is Captain Brant Lesueur, Commanding SCN Task Force Messana." He smiled. "What are your intentions?"

Ben laced his fingers and pursed his lip, then replied "This is Captain Ben Webb of the Haearn Task Force Abandonment." He lowered his hands, clasped the arms of the chair and leaned forward slightly "Your fleet and the Saorsa System are now claimed by Haearn. Please power down and prepare to be boarded." Ben leaned back and locked gazes with Captain Lasueur.

"Just kidding" Ben said after a moment. "Sorry about that but it seems that everyone we have met lately has wanted to attack, so a little gallows humor seemed appropriate when we arrive home to find yet another challenge from yet another fleet." Ben smiled "I am Ben Webb, Captain of the Abandonment and in command of this fleet. I am a member of PAJL returning home to Saorsa from the Haearn system. Most of these ships are captured pirate ships, some are former slavers and some are active mercenary units. All contain liberated slaves en-route to Saorsa for medical treatment and access to transportation to various homeworlds. Our intentions are to make orbit and contact Saorsa, then to attend to the needs of the passengers, cargo and ships. As you have undoubtedly noticed, this humanitarian rescue mission has grown some trade and diplomatic legs. So this grunt really wants to make contact with his CO and close out the old mission."

Ben nodded towards the screen "While your welcome is appreciated, I suggest that your fighters and our mercenary escort each return to their respective fleets before we have a misunderstanding. Once I confirm your clearance with PAJL, I'll be happy to chat with you about anything that you want to discuss."

Leitz August 9th, 2018 08:08 PM

[Saorsa System 208.81.2035 Fleet Time] Bridge, Abandonment

CAPT Lesuer’s face twisted, but just briefly. He clamped hard and forced a chuckle as Ben explained the humor.

“Confirm humanitarian mission, Captain.” Lesuer said. He paused and then looked to his left. “Comms, direct fighters to back off; mode L-27. Direct sick bay to prepare an emergency team with full scan and triage. Two full shuttles and have Flight on standby if more are needed.”

“We’ll have our best medical teams enroute shortly, Captain Webb. Our fighters are pulling off and request your people do the same. Look for two minimally armed shuttles heading for your ship.”

Ben’s fleet had jumped with a wide margin for error. Saorsa was a ways away. Ben knew it would take a couple hours for an actual response from PAJL HQ, depending on who was on duty and who was in charge. Decisions didn’t always move at the speed of light.


Spoiler:

I’m thinking the Abandonment and her fleet are a bit off distance to be safe but still less than a minute for a message to flow in. The Confeds can probably monitor, and jam, comms. Depends on if they want to. 6-8 hours flight time seem right?

Ben would rightly assume that Lesuer is checking out the “humanitarian” comment. It’ll be easy to prove if Ben lets the medics board. For whatever reason Lesuer seems a bit ticked. Of course, he’s also heavily armed. :)

atpollard August 13th, 2018 02:37 PM

[Saorsa System 208.81.2040 Fleet Time] Bridge, Abandonment
Quote:

Originally Posted by Leitz (Post 590792)
“We’ll have our best medical teams enroute shortly, Captain Webb. Our fighters are pulling off and request your people do the same. Look for two minimally armed shuttles heading for your ship.”

"Acknowledged." Ben replied and cut off communications with Lesuer. Ben instructed Pataki "Send a message to Captain Holden that his ships can return to the Fleet. The SCN has agreed to recall its fighters and we have agreed to recall our warships and not to capture their fleet."

"I think we can take them." Ben whispered to Gail. "Fortuitous jump has already placed us in relative proximity. They will likely underestimate the threat from our rusty hulls and we probably have more guns to bear than they do. With a surprise attack, I think we have a chance to take out the flagship and then defeat the escorts in detail." He smiled "Just as a thought exercise."

"Helm, slow and steady towards Saorsa. We've proven everything we need to prove to any shiny warships with no battle scars." Ordered Ben. "Comm, Alert all ships in the fleet that SCN Medical Shuttles are enroute. Have our Medical Team meet them and coordinate their docking with the Abandonment."

Ben sent a message on a private comm to Lily "Honey, we're home. Some SCN guests are coming to visit and would probably feel more relaxed to be greeted by the sight of a Navy Puke than a PAJL Merc with an Atreo Liaison."- Ben

Leitz August 13th, 2018 08:43 PM

[Saorsa System 208.81.2048 Fleet Time] Bridge, Abandonment

“Of course, sir.” Gail Said. Ben almost missed her finger stroke deleting the tactical solution on her console.

Lily replied. “I’ll take care of the visitors. The SCN aboard who will join us still have to out process, so are still SCN and should dress the combat crew part. Rank can be foregone aboard a combat vessel. – Lily”

The Team idea had taken hold with some folks. Other groups were struggling. That was the nature of things. The SMB team was likely to fall apart if Burl Faive didn’t get some help. He was staying with the plan, no matter what. The Starport team was doing best; Bettie seemed willing and able to pull everyone together.

[Saorsa System 208.81.2054 Fleet Time] Bridge, Abandonment

“Would love to chat; lots to catch up on. -- Susan Hickman” Ben read the comm again. Ms Hickman was Claire’s One. Why wasn’t Claire herself contacting them? Obviously her team was fully engaged. They had found out Ben and the fleet were in system in less than an hour. The comm. Susan was too close to Claire to be that casual.

“Sir, two incoming shuttles. They are cruising at one Gee and will will dock in twenty three minutes.” Ensign Candidate Christian said. She glanced at Gail, who nodded.

Pataki fed another comm to Ben’s console. “Glad you’re back; understand you need food and medical? Send details. We are setting up now. PAJL will handle initial intake. Also heard good things about you from SCN. No jumping ship! -- FC Domici.”

atpollard August 17th, 2018 01:43 PM

[Saorsa System 208.81.2049 Fleet Time] Bridge, Abandonment
Quote:

Originally Posted by Leitz (Post 590987)
“Of course, sir.” Gail Said. Ben almost missed her finger stroke deleting the tactical solution on her console.

"Ironic, isn't it" Ben whispered "You leave a position on an Atreo Military Fleet for a position as a Liaison on a Haeran Merchant Fleet to come so much closer to destroying a Confed Warship." A smile crossed his face. "A year ago, neither of us would have hesitated to take that shot. Now neither of us needs to take it."

Ben leaned back and spoke louder so the whole bridge could hear "Strange feeling being part of something bigger than even Atreo and the Star Confederation ... Manifest Destiny."


[Saorsa System 208.81.2059 Fleet Time] Bridge, Abandonment
Quote:

Originally Posted by Leitz (Post 590987)
“Would love to chat; lots to catch up on. -- Susan Hickman”

Ben forwarded a copy of the Comm to Lily to read. If something was THAT up, she needed to know about it as well. The way the message was disguised suggested that comms were not safe and this would need to be a face to face meeting. A quick calculation on the console indicated that a 4 Gee shuttle could reach Saorsa in half the time of the projected 8 hour trip at 1 Gee for the Abandonment Fleet under close scrutiny. Four hours on the ground to perform some advanced recon before the Fleet arrived sounded like a good plan.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Leitz (Post 590987)
“Glad you’re back; understand you need food and medical? Send details. We are setting up now. PAJL will handle initial intake. Also heard good things about you from SCN. No jumping ship! -- FC Domici.”

Ben smiled. Two prayers answered. Immediate help was on the way for his people without even needing to ask, and Ben had found a possible distraction to help a shuttle avoid notice.

"Pataki, the PAJL has requested a list of our immediate food and medical needs upon arrival. Please send them the data." After a brief pause "Also send them the latest data on the condition of Captain Stephens and ask advice on which medical facility is best able to treat her." said Ben.

To Jacobson "Gail, can you quietly get me data on any fast small craft within our fleet capable of transporting Stevens directly to a hospital?"

Ben sent a comm to Tom Graves "Tom, interested in a field trip?"

Spoiler:
  • Captain Benjamin 'Ben' Webb [M] (age 30) - [797874] - [PAJL Marine/Consort]:
  • Tom Graves [M] (age 30) [595B47] - [SCN Intel]
  • XO Lily Marston [F] (age 28) - [7BAACE] - [Socialite, SCN, Merchant]:
  • Ensign Gail Jacobson [F] [78789A] (age 21) - [Hofud Navy]:
  • Burl Pataki (Comms)
  • Ensign Candidate Christian (Sensors)

Leitz August 17th, 2018 08:00 PM

[Saorsa System 208.81.2101 Fleet Time] Bridge, Abandonment

“In uniform or out?” Tom Graves replied. “Either way is fine, just give me a couple minutes.”

“The Duthain has a small craft that could transport the cryoberth and three others, including a pilot. Notify the Confeds first? Captain Holden is making preparations now.” Gail said. She smiled at Ben. “There’s a difference between a need to and a want to.”

“PAJL Comms confirm data receipt. Will advise on hospital shortly.” Pataki said.

For a hundred and eighty three seconds things looked to be going quite well. Then Lily comm’d.

“Daddy’s missing.”


[Saorsa System 208.81.2105 Fleet Time] Bridge, Abandonment

“Confed medical shuttles arriving in six minutes. On schedule.” Ensign Candidate Christian said.

atpollard August 31st, 2018 04:44 PM

[Saorsa System 208.81.2107 Fleet Time] Bridge, Abandonment
Ben's mind raced as he quickly abandoned his 'well laid plans' and shifted into full Recon mode. Adjusting plans on the fly to stack the deck in favor of survivability and the mission was what Ben did best. With a small smile, he fired off a staccato of messages:

"Tom: Both. Heading to Saorsa. Need to find out if ENEMY infected Fleet. Then recon on surface. Something going on."

"Lily: Let's go find him. Greet guests. Guide them to Stephens and hand off the guests to Auger. Get ready to transport Stephens to Hospital on Saorsa, ASAP."

"Thank you Ensign" Ben replied to Christian and turned to Gail "Let's get the shuttle ready to leave immediately after the SCN Medics arrive and verify the condition of Captain Stephen. Then I'll be leaving with Lily and Tom to escort Stephens to the hospital." He paused a moment. "Gail, I want you to take the bridge until Auger or Cray finish hosting the visitors and take over, then stay on tactical. You and I are not Confed citizens. I need someone here who will not hesitate to do whatever is necessary to protect our fleet if things go sideways. Our enemy has managed to bribe fleets before, so we need to stay alert."

To the entire bridge crew "I'll start things rolling from the surface and see you all dirtside. Until then, Jacobson has the Bridge."

Ben rose to change and gather some supplies for a short flight and some urban recon.

Spoiler:
  • Captain Benjamin 'Ben' Webb [M] (age 30) - [797874] - [PAJL Marine/Consort]:
  • Tom Graves [M] (age 30) [595B47] - [SCN Intel]
  • XO Lily Marston [F] (age 28) - [7BAACE] - [Socialite, SCN, Merchant]:
  • Ensign Gail Jacobson [F] [78789A] (age 21) - [Hofud Navy]:
  • Burl Pataki (Comms)
  • Ensign Candidate Christian (Sensors)

Leitz September 7th, 2018 08:42 PM

[Saorsa System 208.81.2215 Fleet Time] Captains Office, Shuttle

Tom sipped his qana and smiled at Ben. "Looks like you have a lot on your plate."

Few words were more true. The two men sat in a cramped but tastefully decorated study aboard the shuttle. Stephens was sealed in the main area along with Lily and one of the SCN Med Techs. Ben could feel the engines turned wide open; strange as it seemed, he could tell they were going fast.

Some things on Ben's plate were good, almost ice cream good. PAJL was already launching loaders into orbit to receive the worst cases of the freed. The slow transports would be in place by the time Ben's fleet made orbit and the PAJL Marines and Raiders would figure out a way to move lots of people from the non-landable craft to the loaders. It was all a matter of adaptability.

Ben had caught the tears and fears as he walked through the Abandonment and to the shuttle. Many of the freed were staring out the portals and discussing how to determine if they were out of Haearni space yet or not.

The "Eyes Only" message from FC Domici hadn't been so good. SGT Jones had yet to recover and SGT Grishom had been caught in a flash riot. Prayers were requested, no promises were made. Stevens would be in good company.

Since the SCN Med Tech was snoopy Lily had just used her comm. "AgraChem Board took over. Claire showed up with Angelo's ownership papers and she promptly caught the flu. Likely poison; Claire doesn't get the flu. She did move into the main house though. We can probably meet her there on the pretext of getting my stuff."

Tom sipped again. He seemed to let Ben's native tension relax just a bit. Not evasive, just less natural emotional static.

"I'll start with the bad stuff. There's likely no way to tell if the fleet is at risk or not; even given what you've told me about Claire's people and the 27th, it would take more time to find out than it would for them to act." He smiled. "The good news is that they probably won't act. The SCN is on war footing now and misbehavior would be terminal. She probably still has spies and tools in the fleet but they are going to lay low for a bit."

He refilled both cups. "A little more good news, Saorsa is a pretty open government sort of place. Not perfect, but they don't seem to hide a lot of what goes on. Figuring out who owns whom and what would normally be doable with a decent team and some data streams. Again, with Claire out of the picture it becomes more difficult. Doable, but not something to happen quickly."

"I don't know what you look to do, but my guess is that you're going to struggle a bit. You're a Fleet Captain; most people don't get that rank in less than fifteen years of intense preparation. You've had a few weeks. Give yourself time to adjust, and choose to make the adjustment."

"On a funny note, Captain Lesueur was making all sorts of noises about the risk to his squadron, how he should impound our ships, and so on. Since he's On Scene Command for this little party all comms are routed through him. A note from Fleet confirmed promotions for Auger, McCray, and Chen, and suggested they ensure full dress uniforms are worn when they join Commodore Aepers for tea aboard the Fleet Flagship. Lesueur quickly became a gracious host."

Tom set his qana down. Something had crossed his mind, yet he looked at Ben. "Fleet Tea is the common time for awarding decorations. Only two require full dress and only one seems suitable for people who grab on to a torpedo to save others."

atpollard September 21st, 2018 04:55 PM

[Saorsa System 208.81.2245 Fleet Time] Captains Office, Shuttle
Quote:

Originally Posted by Leitz (Post 592437)
Tom set his qana down. Something had crossed his mind, yet he looked at Ben. "Fleet Tea is the common time for awarding decorations. Only two require full dress and only one seems suitable for people who grab on to a torpedo to save others."

"They deserve every bit of it and more." Ben smiled. "They have done everything asked of them even when everything asked of them was both beyond their experience and bordering on flat out impossible. Somehow, they even managed to drag others up behind them ... like Benion and the Bridge Crew. Strictly my opinion, but the crazy stunt with the torpedo was almost the least of their accomplishments."

Ben leaned back "Sometimes it doesn’t seem real. I want to say 'I am not really a Fleet Captain, I just play one in a Holovid.' like an actor in a commercial. Deep down I really am a simple man with only two goals. Help my friends and crush my enemies ... and my enemies are those that threaten to harm my friends. Everything else just falls into the details of the means to accomplish those two goals."

Ben sipped his cup. "Before Prince Al, I was more or less conditioned to working alone. The PAJL taught me that a team can accomplish more than the sum of its members. You wondered what I want to do." Ben chuckled "Nothing small, easy or particularly complicated. Just help the Domici build a new Trade League between Haearn and Saorsa to create a buffer between the Confeds and Atreo. Rebuild a slum called Trevile into a city where the freed slaves that trusted us can start over and build a new life. Continue to figure out what that Countess is doing and to launch counteroffensives to snatch victory from her grasp and hand her yet another defeat ... until those watching the end game decide that it is safe to eliminate her as a player." Ben sipped from his cup and just sat quietly for a moment.

"We need information. Pieces have been in play on the ground while we have been fighting in space. Mr. Marston has disappeared and someone has taken over his company. Our allies have come under attacks that are looking like Countess sponsored assassinations." Ben looked at Tom. "What worries me is what we don't know yet. We have people about to walk into this fight. I am RECON. It is my job to see the enemy coming and neutralize their CCC." Ben smiled and leaned back "I'll take whatever help you can offer."

"First stop is the Hospital to drop off Stevens and check on a couple wounded allies, both victim of the Countess and her policy of buying unrest, I suspect." said Ben. "Then we have PAJL Headquarters, the Marston Estate and Trevile to gather data from and on and four hours until our people arrive." Ben raised his cup "You are the Intelligence expert in this room, any suggestions?"

Spoiler:

approx 208.81.2400 Fleet Time - Shuttle arrives Saorsa
approx 208.82.0400 Fleet Time - Fleet arrives Saorsa
  • Captain Benjamin 'Ben' Webb [M] (age 30) - [797874] - [PAJL Marine/Consort]:
  • Tom Graves [M] (age 30) [595B47] - [SCN Intel]
  • XO Lily Marston [F] (age 28) - [7BAACE] - [Socialite, SCN, Merchant]:


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