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 Post subject: Re: TDI Episode 3: Know Thine Enemy
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 5:51 pm 
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Civilian research vessel Satyr

"Receiving encoded packet from the Patrocles," Mr Jaeger reported. The comm officer wore a slightly puzzled look, and Cherenko echoed it.

Gabriel Kyros stepped toward the comm console. "Run it through SMECC," he said and Jaeger began tapping uncertainly on his touch screen. "There," Kyros continued as he arrived beside the comm officer. "Standard Military Encryption for Civilian Communications."

"Ah," Jaeger replied as understanding dawned on him. "We have jump coordinates now." At the DRADIS console, another of the Satyr's bridge crew called for attention.

"Captain Cherenko, the Fleet vessels have jumped. All of them."

Cherenko scowled. "That old fossil certainly isn't going to wait on us. Get that jump passed to the helm. Mr Kyros, jump us as soon as it's loaded."

"Aye, sir," Kyros responded, turning toward the helm and the FTL controls.

"Jump coordinates transferred to the helm," Jaeger called out.

"Coordinates loaded, FTL computer verifies valid jump. One hundred thirty two SU," Sterling announced. "One thousand ninety eight light minutes."

"Just jump us," Cherenko fumed. Gabriel Kyros turned the jump key, and the Satyr vanished.


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 Post subject: Re: TDI Episode 3: Know Thine Enemy
PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2016 4:12 pm 
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Jormung Ammunition Reserve
Visiting Troops Quarters
Day 7, 1550 Hours

The Visiting Troops Quarters--VTQ--on Jormung where the mercenaries were billeted were designed to accommodate a full regiment of troops, divided into three sections. Rattler's warriors were housed in one of those three austere sections that hosted the basic functions a battalion would need: a galley and mess hall, bathrooms and showers, and berthing compartments. There was also a large multi-purpose compartment that could be used for formations, physical training, and leisure activities. Many of the Scorpian mercenaries had been practicing fighting skills there--unarmed hand-to-hand combat and knife fighting; or played abremi, a strategy game played with colored stones.

The multi-purpose compartment was also the only one in the battalion section with ports open to view space outside the station. The imminent departure of the small Colonial fleet drew some of the mercenaries to those ports, watching the ships.

"Za shirgi bawa," Sergeant Mihe S'Rimald commented to Corporal Tommy S'Alad, standing next to him. There go the sheep's ships.

Continuing the conversation in Iri’shèè, S'Alad mused, "I wonder if that small civilian ship is going with the rest."

The two watched as the Satyr gracefully undocked from the station. "It looks like it," S'Rimald replied. "Why else would it leave the dock?"

"Her captain probably doesn't like the idea of staying here without the protection of gunships," S'Alad snorted. He looked slowly from left to right, his gaze resting on each ship briefly.

S'Rimald smiled slightly. "The Lieutenant told me that the Satyr's captain is a ghé shayar woman." The term ghé shayar translated to 'water rich', but when it was used colloquially in reference to a woman it meant beautiful and sexy.

Dryly, S'Alad responded, "Ghé shayar can be just as dangerous."

"Or even more dangerous," S'Rimald said in the same tone.

"How does the Lieutenant know?" S'Alad wondered.

S'Rimald gave an expressive shrug. "How does the Lieutenant know any of what he knows?" he asked rhetorically.

"He consults the stars," S'Alad said wryly.

Without speaking, they gazed out at the ships and the stars for a moment, then each of the ships disappeared in the flash of FTL, the Satyr vanishing last, seconds after the rest had gone.

"Hunting cylons," S'Alad stated.

"I wish I was going with," S'Rimald said abruptly.

S'Alad nodded agreement. "It's boring without a worthy enemy." Musingly he added, "I wonder how hard it is to kill a metal warrior?"

"Harder than it is to kill these soft sheep," S'Rimald replied scornfully.

S'Alad nodded again. "Except maybe for their leader... the Captain who was talking to our Major."

"He might be able to fight," S'Rimald concurred.

_________________
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, about budget cuts for the US’s intelligence agencies: "We're not going to do more with less and all these other clichés. . . . We will just simply have less capability."


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 Post subject: Re: TDI Episode 3: Know Thine Enemy
PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2016 5:45 pm 
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Civilian Research Vessel Satyr
Intensive Care Unit
Day 7


Robert Rand stepped into the darkened Intensive Care Unit, casting his gaze across the still forms that lay on the three surgical beds. The only sound in the room was the rhythmic hiss of the ventilators. A wedge of light that spilled through the windowed doors from the passageway beyond kept the room from being utterly dark. In the shadows, the power lights and indicator screens of the life support equipment glowed softly.

Rand strode to the midpoint of the room and stood at parade rest. He had stopped at the security office's small armory and obtained a submachine gun - the weapon now hung from its sling across his abdomen. Rand crossed his arms, allowing them to rest across the top of the weapon. He contemplated the comatose cylons, and the wisdom of keeping them alive. He understood Cherenko's reasons for not executing them, but understood equally well the risks they posed should the Satyr's military escorts discover them.

[Attention all personnel - prepare for immediate hyperlight jump.] The announcement and accompanying warning tone sounded from the overhead speakers, interrupting Rand's study of the cylons. Seconds later the effects of jump intruded upon his conscious mind, seeming to speed up and slow down time simultaneously, stretching and compressing the compartment around him. Rand gritted his teeth, knowing it would be over in a moment.

Within his field of vision the cylons sat up, bending at the waist in a fluid motion, their arms remaining slack at their sides. Their eyes seemed to go from closed to open with no intervening motion. Rand shifted his arms to the submachine gun, his action languid in the dilation effect of jump. Leoben grinned at him, a malevolent death's-head smile under the rubber skullcap and its trailing wires. Rand blinked, and Leoben's surgical bed was empty. Instinct made him look aside and he found the cylon standing beside him. His smile gone, Leoben's eyes were focused somewhere distant, beyond the ICU walls.

Then the jump effects ended. Rand let out a sharp breath as his body belatedly turned to the side. There was no one there, in the darkness, and Rand's eyes immediately sought the surgical beds again. The ventilators continued their hissing in unison, while the life sign traces continued uninterrupted across the small screens. All three cylons lay silent, white sheets pulled up neck high with their arms laid atop.

Rand stepped closer, cautiously, and then proceeded to pace deliberately around the surgical beds. He scrutinized each of the cylons closely, but could find no evidence that they had moved. He replayed those few seconds in his mind, and though his experience told him what he had seen could not have actually happened, he could not shake the sense that it had been real.

Robert Rand found himself doubting his perceptions. He had no doubt, however, that he would not be recounting his experience. To anyone.


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 Post subject: Re: TDI Episode 3: Know Thine Enemy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 10:30 pm 
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Fleet Tanker Distant Sun
Day 7 1601 Hours


"Jump complete," LT Daniel Coulter announced. "Cassiopeia at one-nine-zero carom zero, range one hundred thousand klicks." Coulter focused for a moment on the DRADIS monitor, then reported, "No cylon vessels in the immediate vicinity, sir."

Captain Jason Paul Ames looked out the port side windows of the Distant Sun's small CIC. Cassiopeia was shining in the light of Helios Delta, which lay a hundred million miles to the tanker's starboard. Streaks of lighter grey criss-crossed the moon's ash-colored disk, occasionally connecting in bright dots of near-white. Rifts and craters, Ames knew, but it was hard not to think of them as roads and cities.

Beyond the moon lay the orange orb of the gas giant Hestia. Three other of her moons were visible, two as bright dots to one side and a third as a brilliant but tiny orb transiting the face of the gas giant, its shadow trailing shortly behind. "One point three million klicks to Hestia, Captain," Coulter said, as though he'd read Ames' thoughts. "That's Prota and Dionysus, the first and third moons, to the side. The very bright one is Tana, the second moon. Its name means fire goddess." Ames gave Coulter a look of amused interest, and Coulter explained with a small shrug, "It's all in the navigational database, sir."

"And our target?" Ames prompted.

"Cassiopeia is the seventh moon of Hestia, and the largest. Very thin argon/helium/oxygen atmosphere, not breathable except perhaps below ground. Gravity is 0.92 Colonial standard." Coulter regarded Ames with a raised eyebrow, certain that the tanker captain had already been briefed on their destination.

Ames stepped toward the forward end of the CIC, speaking to Daniel as he did. "Just letting you show off, Exec," he said, a trace of a grin curling the corner of his mouth. "We're in waiting mode right now, until the Colonels recce the mine and the base."

Coulter snorted softly. "I was a bit of a planet trivia buff as a kid, especially the gas giants. I used to know all the named moons of Hera, since Helios Beta is my home system."

Ames nodded, but his attention was on the Patrocles and Bellerophon. The two warships were in formation before him, while the tip of the spear-like Tauranian Titan lay to starboard. The Chiron, and presumably the civilian ship Satyr, were aft of the tanker and out of sight. Ames stood watching, waiting for the small forms of Raptors to appear. Silently he prayed that all would survive this mission.


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 Post subject: Re: TDI Episode 3: Know Thine Enemy
PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:56 pm 
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Guided Missile Frigate Patrocles
Helios Delta System
Day 7, 1607 Hours


Captain Thompson nodded thanks to the comms specialist, picking up the handset. Near the small fleet, Raptors were just beginning to form up in preparation for their reconnaissance mission. They’d all been briefed, but the Patrocles XO didn’t want to send them off without saying something. She wasn’t sure exactly what she was going to say, but she took a slow breath and pressed the transmit button on the handset.

“Raptor crews,” she said, “you know where to go and you know what to do. Cassiopeia might have resources that we need—but the cylons might need them, also. If those frakkers are there, kill them. Just remember we need your intell, and we need you back here alive.” She paused, then concluded, “Good hunting.”

In Raptor 775, Lt. Hawkins said with approval, “Short and to the point. Thompson’s a good XO.”

JRLT Herlihy gave a soft snort. "When did you become a cheerleader for the Exec, Angel?"

Hawkins glanced over her shoulder at her ECO. "Oh, and you like long speeches?" she challenged him, saving her slight smile until she'd turned back and he couldn't see it.

"So being brief is what makes CPT Thompson a good exec?" Herlihy baited, turning from the EC board to look directly at Hawkins. "I guess that makes Bisby a great commander." Herlihy waited for her response, a smug grin on his face.

"All right, you got me there," Angel admitted with a chuckle. "But it was her who told us 'good hunting', not him. I think she values us as people, while he just sees us as minions to carry out his orders."

Herlihy nodded at the reference to Thompson valuing her people, but raised an eyebrow at the mention of minions. "Have you been listening to LT Meyer?" Herlihy asked, his tone cautionary.

"Trying not to," Hawkins replied sourly. "That frakker is a trouble maker. If he's not careful, he's going to get himself thrown into the brig for trying to incite a mutiny."

............

In Belle's Raptor 585, LT Jack Mayer bared his teeth in a snarl. Good hunting, Mayer thought. She's got some balls, unlike that chicken-shit Nyberg. He half-turned his head, speaking to his ECO. "I'll bet she didn't clear that with Bisby."

"Clear what?"

"That kill order. Bisby would have us sneaking around, counting cylons but not firing a shot."

For a moment, JRLT Vanya Shartava drew her lips into a thin line. "We are the eyes and ears of the strike group, Dragon, and we are but a few. If we are to be the claws as well, we will not last long."

"We'll be just as dead if we're on board the destroyer when she takes a cylon missile," Mayer countered. "We might as well use our claws and take some cylon bastards with us. And Thompson just gave us the go."

Shartava sighed. "I want some payback, too. I want to live long enough to enjoy it, though."

"When the time comes, stand with me and you will, Bantam."

The ECO scowled, then returned her attention to her instruments. "We need to jump, sir. Coordinates are loaded."

"Then frakkin' jump." Mayer scowled, considering his plans. If Bantam doesn't have the guts to talk about it, she won't have the guts to act. But maybe Thompson will.


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 Post subject: Re: TDI Episode 3: Know Thine Enemy
PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:00 pm 
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Cassiopeia moon, Hestia System
1610+ Hours Day 7


Cassiopeia and its parent planet, Hestia, were home turf for the Colonial Forces. The moon shared its star with three of the Twelve Colonies - Aquaria, Aerilon and Canceron. Any installations of significance were recorded in the military's databases, though details were sparse on those of a civilian nature. The moon was large, and its human history measured in centuries. Wars had been fought over its mineral riches, hot and cold, fed by both bullets and cubits. In recent decades, the Cardelli Corporation had emerged as the undisputed victor. CCorp mines were scattered across the surface, wresting priceless minerals from Cassiopeia's grey bedrock.

Most of the installations were widely separated, due not only to the more-or-less random distribution of large deposits but also to the fact that many of the mines had once belonged to Cardelli's competitors. Only one among them merited an adjoining military base, only one among them was so important to the Colonial government that a battalion of Marines was permanently stationed nearby. CCorp's tylium mine was the fortress that had anchored Cardelli's conquest of the moon, the spring that slaked the thirst for fuel of civilian starships that plied the Colonies, the strategic reserve that guaranteed the Colonial Fleet could move anywhere at any time.

While the other Raptors nosed about, investigating scores of minor bases and outposts, it fell to Lieutenant Jack Nathaniel Mayer to recce Cardelli Corporation's crown jewel.

Bellerophon Raptor 585
LT Jack Mayer, JRLT Vanya Shartava


"Complete EM blackout," Shartava reported. "Nothing on any Colonial channel, same for all known Cylon frequencies." She was silent for a brief moment, then added, "DRADIS remains clear."

Mayer was bringing the Raptor straight in, about two klicks above the moon's surface. He had the location of NAS Barzel marked in the flight computer, and he could just now make out the monolithic base at the limit of his vision.

Jack Mayer had been on this moon before, been to this base. He recalled it as an immense rectangle of steel and native stone, with walls that angled in as they rose a hundred meters above Cassiopeia's surface. Squat observation towers had stood on the structure's upper surface, the entire base sealed against the moon's rarefied atmosphere. He barely recognized what remained of the Marine fortress as he closed upon it. Though some wall sections still stood, most of the structure had been reduced to rubble by the cylons. In a flat expanse beyond one end of the ruin the doors to the subterranean hangar still stood open, the hangar itself concealed in deep shadow as he banked the Raptor overhead.

"Radiation signature indicates a low-yield device," Bantam reported, her voice carrying a trace of uncertainty. "There's a lot of background radiation as well."

Mayer gave a shake of his head as be replied, "They opened the base up with conventional bombs, then used a neutron weapon to wipe out anyone that was still breathing." Shartava looked again at the remains of NAS Barzel. The use of conventional weapons seemed consistent with the condition of the structure and so she didn't question Mayer's assessment.

A complete circle of the base completed, Mayer leveled the Raptor off in the direction of the Cardelli mine. Below them a canyon split the moon's surface, with sheer cliffs that dropped more than a kilometer to a boulder-strewn bottom. Not far from the ruined Marine base the canyon made a bend and widened. Mayer consulted the flight computer. "There," he said, looking out the Raptor's starboard windscreen at a point atop the western canyon wall, "is where the mine was."

Shartava immediately grasped his meaning. The images on her camera monitors showed a broad, shallow crater. Spidering out from it were trails of collapsed rock that led away from the canyon. The damage looked more like the results of an earthquake than a bomb. "Radiation signature is consistent with a medium-yield tactical nuke," Shartava reported. On her electronic warfare board she overlaid a wireframe of the mine onto image of the destruction below them. "It appears it was detonated below the moon's surface, within the mine itself. The zig-zag of surface ruptures is probably tylium veins destroyed by the explosion."

"Agreed," Mayer stated flatly. He flicked on the Raptor's gun camera and began to spiral outward from where the mine's pressure dome had once stood, narrating details as he did. "There's evidence of a major rockslide on the cliff face nearest the mine," Mayer noted. Pressure from the nuclear blast had apparently blown out through underground passages, though a tangle of steel still clung to the wall, disappearing out of sight where the harsh sunlight didn't reach. "There's a surface rail line running in the direction of Barzel," he added, "and large-diameter piping that leads off to the south and west."

"Slurry lines," Shartava offered, "if I'm reading these schematics correctly."

"Still intact," Mayer observed. "With little atmosphere at the surface, the pressure wavefront was inconsequential." Mayer seemed confident of his pronouncement, but he drew out the final word as his attention was drawn elsewhere. He pulled the Raptor into a tight circle, banking to the port side. "What's on the schematic, roughly two klicks north of the mine?"

"Slurry pump station," his ECO responded after a moment's pause.

"Too big, it's gotta be something more." He nosed the Raptor downward, peering intently out the side of the canopy. A low, ribbed dome was visible rising from the grey rock of the moon, intersected by several of the huge slurry pipes as well as a single rail line. To its northwest was a paved landing field, its surface markings partly concealed by drifts of moon dust.

"Looks old, unused," Shartava said.

When Mayer replied he sounded uncharacteristically thoughtful. "The original mine. In the briefing, the few PR photos Nyberg had showed a modern operation, and the dome was huge. That's barely a klick across, and it looks abandoned. Cardelli's been on this moon for decades... that's the first tylium mine, I'd bet on it."

"So why wasn't it destroyed?"

"The nuke that took out the new mine neutralized the surrounding tylium deposits. A mine's not much good without something to dig for."

"So it wasn't worth a nuke, or even a conventional bomb," Shartava finished his thought.

"No. I'm more interested in those slurry lines," Mayer stated. "If Cardelli was pumping tylium ore somewhere, my cubits are on distributed storage. That line runs back toward Barzel." Mayer leveled the Raptor on a flight path parallel to the pipeline. "We're going to see just where it goes."


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 Post subject: Re: TDI Episode 3: Know Thine Enemy
PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:49 pm 
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Cassiopeia moon, Hestia System
1640+ Hours Day 7


Lieutenant Mayer settled the Raptor into level flight thirty meters above the moon's surface, with the assumed slurry line on his starboard side. The jagged remains of NAS Barzel quickly came back into view, the still-standing sections of the outer wall rising above the Raptor's altitude. As they closed on the base, the pipeline passed to the north. Mayer could make out a surface road leading from the base to the slurry line, with a spherical tank now just visible. Mayer banked the Raptor, circling the tank.

"Design consistent with LRT fuel storage," Mayer's ECO observed. "Tank is 10 meters in diameter," Bantam reported, adding after a moment's pause, "that's just over a half-million liters."

"If that's a slurry line, it should have been pumping unrefined ore, not liquified reactive tylium fuel," Mayer stated, his voice carrying a trace of puzzlement. "That pipeline continues to the northeast, and I can't make out a connection to the LRT tank. There's probably a secondary line for fuel transfer to the Marine base."

"Could be," Bantam agreed, peering intently at one of the monitors on her ECO board. It was all shades of grey - rocky terrain with drifts of dust, a dull steel sphere with an access stairway that wound around to the tank's top like a helix. Metal legs supported the slurry line, and larger ones braced the storage tank in place, all with stark black shadows where they blocked the unfiltered sunlight. The scene was completely devoid of color.

"Alright, we're going to find out what's at the end of this line." Mayer swung the Raptor around the fuel tank until it was pointed down the slurry line again. "Mission clock." he said.

"Running," Lieutenant Shartava reported, punching a key that started a timer on the ECO board. Mayer settled the Raptor in at thirty meters above the pipeline and accelerated to 360 KPH. The Raptor flashed across the surface of Cassiopeia, the terrain below them mostly flat and unremarkable. Shortly, a structure began to take shape in the distance.

Mayer activated the gun camera and zoomed the view. "Slurry tank."

Within moments the Raptor arrived at the tank and Mayer began circling their target. At the ECO board Shartava stopped the timer. "Time en route, 93 seconds, so our distance from Barzel is 9.3 klicks."

Mayer made a noise in his throat. "Add that to Barzel's distance from the mine and I'll bet we're outside the theoretical tylium destabilization radius for a nuke at the mine. I'll bet the government mandated CCorp put their storage this far out. You got a reading on the size of that tank?"

Shartava consulted her instruments. "Cylindrical tank 50 meters in diameter, height above ground 20 meters. That's over 150 million liters."

"Any idea how much tylium ore in that much slurry, or how much fuel it would yield?"

"No," Shartava responded. "Have to ask the tanker captain about that."

Mayer grunted acknowledgement and continued circling for a moment. The slurry line ended at the squat cylindrical tank. Not far from the tank was a landing platform for Raptor-size craft and there was a small structure that likely served as some type of monitoring or control station. Further out and circling the complex was a low earthen berm and beyond that a flat area cleared of obstructions, likely intended as a landing field for larger ships. "Thoughtful of CCorp to build a spillage dike," Shartava observed with a trace of sarcasm.

"Likely just so he didn't have to go far to recover his ore," Mayer scoffed. "I don't think pollution was much of a concern here. Shartava glared at the back of Mayer's head, though he did not notice.

"Time to head back to the Pat," Shartava noted, her voice slightly stiff. "Operations window is nearly closed."


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 Post subject: Re: TDI Episode 3: Know Thine Enemy
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:51 pm 
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Superheavy Vessel Retriever Tauranian Titan
In stationary orbit of Cassiopeia


Major Mikhail Kadrovic stood at the Titan's communications station, paging idly through the vessel's supply inventory files. The comm officer stood behind him to one side, in an at ease position. Kadrovic looked up, holding his gaze on an overhead monitor for a moment. It displayed a live image of the moon, overlaid by a wireframe map that included a marker at the position of the Cardelli mine. A second marker, where the equator was crossed by a longitude line running through the mine, indicated the surface point directly below the Strike Group's orbital position.

"Bill, remind me why we are here?" Kadrovic shifted his attention to his commander, Colonel William Trafford. The tone of his question carried resigned acceptance of a situation with which Kadrovic clearly disagreed.

"Because the Group commander ordered it." Trafford's mien was matter-of-fact, but his eyes hinted at some inner amusement. After a moment's pause he continued, "Mikhail, if we were back at Jormung, you'd grouse about how we allowed our warship escort to leave without us." Trafford followed the observation with a snort. Around the CIC, the small crew grinned at the exchange.

Kadrovic blustered for a moment, looking from face to face around him. Then he let out a huff, in mock disgust, and returned to the inventory files. Trafford grinned openly.

"Patrocles is departing for low lunar orbit, sir," Lieutenant Keppler reported from the DRADIS station. Trafford turned to watch the monitor where a view of their small fleet was displayed. The frigate was already dropping away from the other ships, falling into the moon's gravity well. It would descend from 18,000 klicks above the surface to only about one hundred twenty, where it would commence a survey of Cassiopeia.

While Keppler spoke to Colonel Trafford, Kadrovic grumbled quietly to himself, "Well, I'd rather be on a beach somewhere, and not need any protection." Behind him, the comms Ensign heard his comment.

"Sir, I think the cylons have ended our days at the beach," she said.

"Cylons don't have any frakking business at the beach," Kadrovic said, irritably. Not looking aside from the screen he was reading, he continued, "Metal motherfrakkers can't swim."

Ensign Haley O'Rinn just nodded her acknowledgement and remained silent.


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 Post subject: Re: TDI Episode 3: Know Thine Enemy
PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:55 am 
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Guided Missile Frigate Patrocles
Day 7 1645 Hours


On the primary monitor the orb of Cassiopeia spun beneath the Patrocles, the relative motion underscored by the approach of the terminator - as the star Helios Delta appeared in the view from behind the moon, the line between day and night on the surface swept toward the warship. Colonel Bisby watched, hands resting upon his hips, his face emotionless. Around him the CIC crew remained quiet, punctuating the near silence only with their necessary status call-outs.

"Passing 2500 klicks," LT Garrett Bild reported.

"Scattered returns to port," Specialist Tere announced. "Parallel track at 2100 klicks altitude, decaying orbits."

Bisby did not turn from the forward view. "Composition?"

"Unknown, sir. Varying cross-sections, scattered along a common vector. Could be wreckage."

Captain Thompson stepped across to look over Tere's shoulder, watching the DRADIS screen intently. She nodded agreement to the Specialist and said to the Colonel, "I confirm, sir, it seems to be wreckage. Can't tell from what at this range."

Bisby's attention still did not waver, and he acknowledged the exchange with only a single nod of his head.

"Passing 2000 klicks. NAS Barzel coming up over the horizon."

Colonel Bisby's eyes narrowed slightly, but from this altitude not enough surface detail could be seen to discern either the base or the nearby Cardelli mine.

Though the frigate's velocity was increasing as it descended toward the surface of the moon, the rate at which it reduced altitude diminished steadily and LT Bild's call-outs grew farther apart. Some thirty minutes passed, and as Bild reported passing 1000 kilometers the Patrocles crossed the terminator again - this time from day back into night. Later, as the frigate dropped below 500 klicks altitude it caught up to the cluster of wreckage again.

"Approaching wreckage, Colonel, 3000 klicks and decreasing," Tere reported. "1600 klicks overhead and slightly to port."

Thompson had been watching the DRADIS for the wreckage and mentally calculated a rough estimate on the total mass. "The amount of debris in the field indicates it's from a large ship," she reported, "A battlestar or baseship, but which cannot be determined from this distance." She straightened to look at Bisby. "We'd have to launch a Raptor for a closer survey to find out more."

"Agreed," Bisby stated, turning to fix Thompson with his gaze, one eyebrow cocked just slightly. As the seeming quizzical expression left his face, he went on, "If the disposition of the field becomes a factor, we'll conduct a recce."

In due course the Patrocles reached the altitude selected for surveying the moon's surface, one hundred and twenty kilometers above the average terrain level. Cassiopeia spread out below the ship, only a slight curvature still discernible, its grey surface marked with light and dark streaks and scarred by a substantial number of visible craters. Colonel Bisby still watched the view intently, now shifting his focus to the auxiliary camera views.

"Survey altitude achieved. Time per orbit now 90 minutes, rotational offset 21 degrees." LT Bild relaxed slightly, the tension of reporting on their progress now passed, and awaited Colonel Bisby's orders.

"Commence survey," Bisby directed, his attention turning to where the DRADIS readout was repeated on an overhead monitor. By his manner it seemed he expected the task to have already been started, before he ordered it.

Specialist Tere let out a short breath through her nose, a snort so quiet that Thompson barely heard it; they had both already begun the survey. The Captain echoed the snort, keeping her gaze on the DRADIS screen at the console, but she heard Tere's swallowed chuckle.

Calmly, Thompson recited, "Our survey is generating a low resolution map of Cassiopeia's surface for a track one thousand kilometers wide. At high resolution the track is two hundred kilometers wide. It will take us approximately thirty-six hours to get a complete low resolution map, or six days for a complete one at high resolution." She glanced in Bisby's direction, knowing that her statement of facts would irritate him, but she also knew that he would not have explained the details of their survey to the rest of the CIC crew. "Laser mapping of significant locations will also give us detailed elevation data."

_________________
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, about budget cuts for the US’s intelligence agencies: "We're not going to do more with less and all these other clichés. . . . We will just simply have less capability."


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