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Thread: 9.120 - The Vanguards: Rapture

  1. #1
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    Complete 9.120 - The Vanguards: Rapture

    How long had it been since he'd slept?

    Cirr blinked, sitting a bit straighter in his seat, snapping out of a mental lapse as he blinked the relentless urge out of his heavy eyes. Quickly, he chased down the last few gulps of caf in his mug, now cold and unpleasantly alkaline. Still, the stimulants within began their work, and he could at least think again.

    His desk was a stack of datapads. Duty rosters. Orders from Dac. Inventory of spoils from an Imperial freighter they'd sacked two days ago. Tech manuals. Theory textbooks. A Koensayr-Meorrrei catalog. Fleet charts. He made a half-hearted attempt to sort them and stack them off to the side. Immediately in front of him was his desktop computer, and a message draft he'd been putting together to send to his mother:

    Mama,

    I thought about trying you on the holo. I'll talk to you later, but I wanted to write you. Not sure if I'd be able to really say this, and I'm sure we'd talk for a while about other things anyway.

    I'm scared. Every day. I don't even know why most of the time. I'm still getting used to the idea of two hundred people looking at me and thinking I know what I'm doing. I know how to make things work, but those things are engines, power plants, machines. Those things. People aren't machines. They ask questions, tough questions. They worry. Then they look at me. How do you get behind that? You lead thousands of people and act like its nothing at all to you. I'd kill to have your poise. I run drills, I make people turn in reports. I expect improvement. We can always do better. Everybody works hard, and I've got an amazing crew, but it feels like there's something I should be saying and I'm not able to say it. I'm scared they'll find out how scared I am_


    Cirr stared at the opening of the letter blankly, watching the cursor blink at the end of the last sentence he typed. Blink. Blink. Blink.

    He hit enter a few times, and added more text.

    This letter is shit. Complete shit. Grow up you big baby_

    Blink. Blink. Blink.

    "Captain Raurrssatta?"

    The bridge chime. Mallin. Cirr looked at his chrono. Always too late. He closed his eyes, thinking about the bed in his quarters. The blankets drawn tight and the pillows arranged like military habit. Pristine and unused.

    He looked back at his shitty rough draft, and saved it. Incomplete. To unfuck with later. Only after removing that eyesore from his sight did he answer the comm.

    "Rreporrt."

    He'd reached an undestanding with his comms Lieutenant. This wasn't a trivial interruption. Mallin had as much interest in seeing Cirr get a full night's sleep as he did. Neither of them were getting their wish right now.

    "Picking up a distress signal from the Gordian frontier. Imperial territory. Quality's in the tank, but you might want to hear this."

    He was already on his feet.
    Last edited by Cirrsseeto Quez; May 11th, 2012 at 01:50:30 PM.

  2. #2
    TheHolo.Net Poster

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    "We picked this up on the holo about ten minutes ago. It ran on a short repeat cycle and then we lost it completely."

    Cirr stepped to the comm terminal, and nodded for Mallin to play the message.

    "...reading this... ...evacuation... ...ion cannon... .... ...Rebel ship... ... ...they're taking everyone alive... ........."

    Confusion settled on the Cizerack Captain's face.

    "Show me the orrjigjin pojint."

    Mallin brought up triangulation data that had been taken from both Novgorod and the nearest Alliance sensor buoys. The Gordian frontier was a theater of combat that command considered "fluid", in the sense that combat operations were common. Alliance warships operated openly in skirmishes and raids, and while planets rarely changed hands, it was fleet priority to lock down the Imperial Navy in a tit-for-tat engagement through the entire six sectors of the frontier.

    "Here, sir. Karalon."

    Cirr looked at a blip on the star map he'd neither visited nor heard of. It hadn't come up in any fleet briefings. It wasn't a raid priority for any flotilla or sortie, at least nothing he knew of.

    "Get me data on Karralon. Can we clean that trransmjissjion up?"

  3. #3
    The console adjacent to Mallin's station activated.

    "My onboard quantum irrationality algorithm may be capable of restoring data packet integrity. Unlocking remote access at your terminal, Lieutenant."

  4. #4
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    Cirr waited for Mallin to work, and he shook his head.

    "No, its not any better. The transmission could be disrupted at the source."

    He looked over his personal terminal on information from the planetary databank. Karalon: breathable atmosphere, modest population of approximately 1 million centered around settlements on the southern continent. No real strategic assets or military significance, aside from being a habitable world on the frontier. Of course, the data could be old, and the Empire could have amassed resources there as a staging area.

    "Malljin, get me Captajin Terrjius. Put hjim jinto my offjice."

    He exited the bridge, ready to consult his flotilla commander for some added perspective.

  5. #5
    Corellian Brandy was not a thing to be rushed; and yet every time Captain Terius poured himself a glass, something would happen that forced him to finish it in haste.

    He sighed, the blinking light on his desktop intercom proving that today was no exception. He reached for the controls, offering a grunt as the talk button was pressed. His comms officer knew that noise well. "It's Captain Raurrssatta from the Novgorod, sir," a voice said; or at least tried, butchering his attempt at the Cizeri name. "Priority One."

    Another grunt followed. Priority One. Every kriffing time someone contacted him, it was Priority One. It was if the entire Alliance military was concerned that he'd simply ignore them, or ask them to call back later if they flagged their transmissions as anything less.

    "Patch him through," he muttered with a sigh, already on his feet and smoothing out the front of his waistcoat, in preparation for the life-size holo-ghost of Cirrsseeto to appear.

    His mind strayed to his abandoned glass as the projection manifested. "This had better be important, Captain," he uttered with a scowl.

  6. #6
    TheHolo.Net Poster

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    "jI'll be brrjief."

    Cirr noted the contents in Terius's very near vicinity. He understood the need for solace and how scarce it was for Captains.

    "We'rre gettjing a brroken djistrress sjignal on the wjirre frrom the jImperrjial ssjide of the frrontjierr. Karallon."

    His ears tilted upwards inquisitively.

    "We'rre not rrunnjing any sorrtjies anywherre nearr that system, arre we?"

  7. #7
    Soto's eyebrows climbed. Why the hell would anyone be out near Karallon? There was nothing even remotely of value out in that part of the Frontier, and unless a patrol ship had stumbled a long damn way off it's designated route -

    He shook his head, firmly. "I don't have any ships out that far, Captain. And while I can't vouch personally for the entire Alliance Navy, I'm not aware of any other operations in that region either."

    He frowned, studying the Cizerack's face carefully for any clues on what might be clanking away in that felinoid brain of his.

    "What makes you think that we do?"

  8. #8
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    "The djistrress sjignal mentjioned jit was an Alljiance shjip attackjing."

    This wasn't good. There was still such a thing as plausible deniability, but usually you put up a firewall so that if the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing, it was quickly dismissed as something not to worry over.

    This didn't feel like that sort of thing. They were flying blind.

    There were a million questions in his head. He tried to rationalize away his concern.

    "jIt could be a trrap, but that's a poorr lurre forr us, no?"

  9. #9
    Indeed it could have been a trap, but Soto shared Cirrsseeto's scepticism. An Imperial lure would never have claimed that the Alliance was conducting the attack; and if it was pirates attempting to lure the Empire into an ambush, they would certainly be in for a surprise when they realised how overzealous the Imperial Navy could be when the word "Alliance" was mentioned.

    It occurred to Soto that, as much as they wanted and pretended to be, the Alliance Navy was far from a match for it's Republic ancestors. While the Judicial Fleet in which Soto had once served - or even the Navy during the Clone Wars - might have considered it their duty to investigate such mysteries, the Rebellion simply didn't have the resources to play research and rescue as a matter of course.

    And yet, something about this sat wrong with him. Some might have called it some vague Force insight, but Soto was Corellian, and didn't give a damn about that kriff. He called it guts, and instinct; and right now his gut was telling him that something wasn't right.

    "I suggest we deploy a fast ship with a can-do crew with the skills to deal with just about anything, and see if they can't get to the bottom of all this." His arms folded across his chest, his eyebrow quirking with hidden meaning. "Any idea where I might find a ship like that, Captain?"

  10. #10
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    Cirr gave a nod, already moving for the door.

    "Expect my rreporrt soon, Captajin. Raurrssatta out."

    The channel cut, and he spared little time beelining for his chair. Sitting, he nodded to Ensign Saine.

    "Coorrdjinates forr Karralon jimmedjiately."

    He punched a control on his arm rest to open a channel to the ship.

    "All hands, thjis jis the Captajin. Yellow alerrt. Engjineerrjing prreparre forr hyperrspace jump."

    The energy level on the ship was organic. People who were moments ago waiting for a task to be performed were now buzzing with purpose. Backs were turned to him at duty stations as crew members began the check down for battle readiness and for engaging FTL.

  11. #11
    All hands, thjis jis the Captajin. Yellow alerrt.

    Those were not good words. In fact, they were the exact opposite of good words: a foreboding, uncomfortable opposite. They were the kind of words that had him leaping out of his bunk, grabbing the first shirt-like object that he could find, and bursting into a rapid stride down the corridors before he'd even finished dressing himself. They were the kind of words that made march to the nearest access ladder and climb, all to avoid the uncomfortable few seconds waiting for the elevator to arrive.

    He was on the bridge in just shy of a minute; it only took a few seconds longer to settle himself into his designated chair. A knot of frustration bunched in the back of his mind. He was the XO - didn't that make him important enough to not get these surprise situations sprung on him any more?

    He pushed that shred of irritation aside, and set his mind to the task at hand.

    "So, Captain," he said, throwing Cirrsseeto a sidelong glance. "What's today's galactic emergency?"

  12. #12
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    "jI'm not surre..."

    Cirr's voice was distant, and not at all paying much attention to his XO, as he was no doubt too busy trying to figure out the answer to that very same question. As an afterthought to make sure that Glayde caught the same contagion with the enigma they were investigating, he played the broken comm message again, this time for Glayde to hear.

    "...reading this... ...evacuation... ...ion cannon... .... ...Rebel ship... ... ...they're taking everyone alive... ........."
    Last edited by Cirrsseeto Quez; Apr 6th, 2012 at 03:27:52 PM.

  13. #13
    Regan Altink
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    Down in engineering meanwhile, Regan was in his element. It wasn't that he relished the prospect of a hyperspace jump into possible danger; it was just that situations like this gave him the opportunity to bark orders at people, and he was pretty fond of doing that.

    "Inertial compensators!" he shouted, already part-way through the check-list that needed to be run through before an engine this large could sling the ship into FTL.

    "Online, and in the green!" someone shouted back. Tink didn't much care who.

    His eyes swept the next item out of habit, even though he knew the list by heart already. "Driver coils!"

    "Charging! At ninety-five... ninety-seven... one hundred percent, L.T!"

    Regan nodded at himself in approval. "Field emitters!"

    There was a pause before responding. That was a bad sign. "Ninety-three percent, sir," came the reply, a slight grimace in the engineer's tone.

    The Lieutenant span from his console, bounding down the steps that connected his slightly elevated platform to the desk below. He strode across to where the engineer was standing and, taking a moment to brace himself, hefted a boot solidly into the side of the offending piece of equipment.

    The engineer's eyebrows climbed slightly. "Ninety-eight percent, sir."

    "Tha'll do," Tink muttered, marching back to his post and clambering swiftly up the ladder. Dumping himself back into the battered but comfortable chair, he jammed a finger into the intercom beside his console. "Engineering tae Navigation; we are go for FTL on y're command."

    *

    Back on the bridge, Ensign Saine turned slightly in her chair, directing her voice to the Captain.

    "Engineering reports go for hyperspace, sir."

  14. #14
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    Cirr carefully sat back in his seat, fingers fully grasping the arm rests as his claws instinctively stretched out, biting into the guards just enough to keep him grounded. His nostrils flared as he took a deep breath, his attention fully forward.

    "Go."

    Novgorod slipped the bonds of realspace, snapping into the great nothing as the envelope into the impossible physics of hyperspace took them.

    In a bang, they were gone.

  15. #15
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    Morgan had grown unusually sensitive to hyperspace jumps. The sudden disruption in place would cause him to wake at the drop of the hat. When that nap turned to yellow alert, well, it was time to visit the bridge instead of rolling over since his unofficial shift wasn't for another 2 hours.

    The overgrown slicer-Jedi looked like he had just gotten out of bed, which was apropos. Half of his brown hair stuck up, and the other half was matte against his skull. He yawned wide when he came up the service lift. He had only paused for a glass of water and a mouth rinse. The vague realization of barefoot came to, but he didn't care. Chalk it up to being a Jedi, and therefore eccentric. At least he had on pants and a shirt.

    He waved at Cirr in a sleepy quarter circle.

    "Captain, mornin'."

  16. #16
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    Everyone made eyes, and those eyes tracked to Cirr, who waved off their worries. Jedi. Comes with the territory. You would always get something interesting. As long as they weren't blowing up the ship with a force powered hiccup or something, and as long as they could get the job done when it needed to be done, they were good people. Creative, strange people, but he'd back their play.

    "Morrg, betterr get some caf jin you."

    Fortunately, a stall at the rear of the bridge had a utilitarian dispenser, usually for keeping night watch from becoming zombies. A Yeoman with a moment of idle time quickly pressed a durasteel thermos into the Jedi's hands.

  17. #17
    MARCUS piped up with a bit more information.

    We are investigating an attack on an Imperial colony within the Gordian frontier. An incomplete distress signal was recovered, potentially implicating Alliance forces."

  18. #18
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    "Thanks." He muttered to the Yeoman, and yawned.

    "Oh." Morgan said at MARCUS's explanation and drank some of the caff before he sat at the console. He grabbed a headset and MARCUS played the message back. He played it again. Morgan's face looked like had smelled a Hutt fart. He pulled up the message and ran it through a visual signal analyzer.

    "Strobe jamming?" Morgan suddenly felt disquieted.

  19. #19
    John didn't particularly know what strobe jamming was; it sounded like the kind of non-gun and non-shooting thing that he generally left to one of his specialists. It wasn't that he was an unintelligent neandathal or anything - he left it to Onashi to tick such boxes on their the Alliance equal opportunities checksheet - but science most definately was not his forté, and he found the convoluted terminology nigh inpenetrable.

    The fact that the Jedi apparently understood it all was decidedly unfair, in his opinion. While he was well aware that most Jedi these days weren't the kind of pyjama wearing, glowstick waving characters from the holomovies, and that most of them had lived perfectly normal lives as perfectly normal people before their Force sensitivity switch had been toggled on, it just didn't seem right that they had magical powers on top of everything else. It all made Glayde feel uncomfortably mundane.

    "Whatever it is," he chipped in, deciding that he needed to contribute to the discussion whether he had anything constructive to say or not, "It kriffed that transmission up good and proper."

  20. #20
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    Cirr nodded.

    "Rrjight. So now we go jin closerr forr a betterr look."

    Which, in the back of his head, caused alarm bells to sound. While he didn't particularly mind going to Imperial worlds, he preferred to do it with a gun blazing. Sneaking around, getting danger-close to a trouble zone that might suddenly snap shut with a couple of star destroyers made him rightfully nervous.

    "Captain, we're coming up on realspace terminus."

    Ensign Saine prepared her checkdown to switch from hyperdrive to sublights.

    Cirrsseeto gave Morgan a glance. It was understood that where they were about to go, they did not want any attention drawn to them.

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