Chapter 24: Who Prepares, Wins.

With one disaster after another, the crew of the Edward Deming are stretched thin after another incident places their friends and family in danger...Some will go to great lengths to achieve their goals, though others may not be so eager to make a Faustian bargain.
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Chapter 24: Who Prepares, Wins.

Post by uso » Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:46 pm

IAS Edward Deming,
Orbit of Rostislav
Hawking Star System

“Geiben, I would like you to handle command of the IAS Edward Deming’s group during approach to the Kiwomian Homeworld. While I am certain your combat abilities are satisfactory, the Edward Deming will be carrying the engineering and medical group needed for this operation which is officially a humanitarian relief mission. We haven’t worked out the specifics with Taipan yet but that is underway. I will provide a more official briefing on our rules of engagement and objectives as soon as those have been firmed up.

I’ll be moving my flag to the HGS Amicus curiae, which the Hawking Gendarmerie have allowed us to take with us. It is well armed and armored, so primary combat operations will be handled from there during our approach to their homeworld.”

She would turn her attention directly to him now, closing out the display in front of her. The elf having no problem with approaching the younger officer and getting quite a bit into his personal space, “You’ve been the most well behaved out of the humans on this ship, and leaving at this point does make me feel a bit… unfulfilled. But if you can be a good boy until I get back it will show you’re ready for bigger things.

Don’t let Heram or Green-Thumb push you around.

You’ll also find that you can’t get everything you need through requisition requests to the Alliance. Since the mark of a good captain is being able to get what they need to complete the mission… well, that involves knowing who to talk to and I’m afraid that leaves you in Mr. Wazu’s capable hands.”

Geiben ignored the elf addressing him as a boy, and the derogatory implications surrounding it. “Understood, ma’am. I’ve become aware…” The commander takes pause to choose his words wisely, “That logistics have been difficult for the Alliance’s outer star systems. However, my concern is you moving to the Amicus Curiae. I thought that battlecraft wasn’t rated for interstellar travel?”

“It isn’t, the ship has enough reaction-mass to break orbit and leave the space around the gas giant but it doesn’t have the reaction-mass needed for the interstellar part of the trip. We will need to borrow the IAS Kiichiro to top off the tanks when we arrive in the Kiwomian Star System. It will need to refuel the Amicus Curiae again when we arrive at the planet, and then again on the way out of the star system. The Curiae was designed as a short range patrol craft so long trips make it quite thirsty.”

He shrugged, acknowledging the solution, then pulls up the various models of the ships as holograms above the table. “Alright, so that gives us the IAS Edward Deming, the HGS Amicus Curiae, and the IAS Kiichiro as our operations fleet, with all the assets that come with them. I’d like to run some simulations once our objectives are solidified, starting with worst-case scenario.”

“Set a time for the simulations, I’ll make my calendar available to you and I will be sure Harem does as well.” Somnya stated. “Do remember that he will be closest to you for this operation. I expect you to keep an eye on him.”

“Hmm… 48 hours? Will that be enough time for the rest of the intel to arrive? I do need to consult Mr. Wazu about the specifics of the assets as well.” Geiben pauses. “And of course, I won’t let him do anything rash.”

“Mmm… Of course you won’t…” Somnya said…


IAS Edward Deming,
Planetary Observation Room,
2 hours later.

Heram was hard at work, datapads strewn out on the table in the center of the observation room. The large windows along the sides and front giving a great view outward and down onto the semi-frozen iceball of Rostislav, both sides well lit thanks to the system’s star on one side and the light bouncing off the nearby gas giant from the other. The blinding white sheets occasionally sparkling from the launch of ships from the sprawling industrial compound on the surface.

Soffy’s feelers were also sticking up above the far end of the table, the I’ee biologist sliding a datapad off the top of the table so she could take a look.

The pair still had 46 hours to get everything they needed for this trip onboard the makeshift fleet, and they were using every bit of time available to them.

Geiben himself was scrolling through the long list of assets that constituted each ship, then glanced out the window to look at Rostislav. “It’s beautiful,” he remarked, as he stopped at the Amicus Curae’s specifications to read it more carefully.

“You should stake a claim now,” Heram laughed, his eyes not even leaving the datapad he was looking at as he brought up a manifest of equipment and sent it over to Soffy, “In a few years there will be more beachfront property here than on all of Hawking!”

Soffy seemed to perk up when she heard Geiben’s voice, the small I’ee jumping up and fluttering her wings so she could see over the table for a moment. “GEIBEN!” She called out, setting down her datapad and quickly trotting around the table at high speed so she could hug the soldier. The small biologist ending up with four of her legs wrapped around Geiben’s as she stood on her back two.

The commander smiles at Soffy, looking down at her and gently scratches her fuzzy thorax. “Hey, glad to see you hard at work. How is my favorite biologist doing?”

“I AM DOING FINE GEIBEN!” Soffy practically shouted, the I’ee trembling in excitement. She was still jumping up and down while holding onto him, her wings fluttering to help her keep the balance. “We are going to help the Kiwomians. I’m figuring out the medicine and stuff they need!”

“Good, good. We appreciate your insight into all this.” Geiben looks up to Mr. Wazu. “I suppose we can discuss moon-based real estate later. I’m pretty well-informed of the Edward Deming and the Kiichiro’s capabilities at this point, but working with the HG’s ships is a first. What can you tell me about the Amicus Curae?”

“I’m gonna hug all the Kiwomians! Its going to be great!” Soffy said, giving Geiben another squeeze before finally letting go and trotting back behind the table. Her limbs feeling around on top of the table for a moment to get the datapad she left behind.

Heram took a few moments to let Soffy finish before he responded. “The Amicus Curae? It’s kinda… maybe not a great patrol ship, the design was originally meant for regular combat. It was repurposed. Its kinda a trial run for the Despina project, which is basically just hollowing out a small planetoid and putting engines on it… which isn’t the point I guess,” Heram seemed to realize he was rambling about other stuff, pausing to get back on topic, “It’s a laser-star, It’s got eight CLCPB turrets, more armor than anything in its weight class on the front, and more than half the length given over to radiators. The optics for the beam-weapons aren’t amazingly large, but between the armored front and the positioning of the radiators I imagine it would be able to take anything head-on. There are spaces for containerized starship components on the sides, but it isn’t going to be carrying enough missiles to do anything serious. Shuttle bay and crew complement is also really small.”

“That…” Geiben scratches his beard. “That doesn’t appease me. Isn’t carving ships into asteroids and the like old tech? Nevermind that, we’re expecting asymmetrical warfare over there. Who knows what kind of backstabbing crap the Kiwomians are going to pull on us?” He shakes his head. “I suppose this really is all we got though. I just wished command gave us a Paladin class to work with. This might get out of hand with all these limits.”

“That is what Alliance Engineers would tell you. Fabricate everything with the Synthesiser and Gravity Manipulation solves all engineering problems!’” Heram chuckled, “It’d take months to synth a block of carbon-carbon that big. It’d take a few more months to design all new internal components if I didn’t just reuse the existing containerized systems. It’d take a few more months to calibrate all the gravity control systems if the ship wasn’t using a stack style layout… and you know the best part? It didn’t even launch with real fuel tanks! The bulk of the reaction mass for the ship is coming from the asteroid bits, and as the repair-drones eat up those bits internally they are replacing them with freshly made reaction-mass tanks. Similarly, they can also use the material in the asteroid to create more carbon silicate aerogel for the exterior and carbon-carbon to replace the iron of the asteroid itself. Concurrency, DevOps, Containerization… the Alliance would have taken YEARS to produce the Amicus Curae. We were able to put it together in a month.”

“Alright, alright, you win.” Geiben chuckled in response, putting his hands up feigning defeat. “You’ve convinced the guy who decided majoring in fly-by-cable systems was a good idea. I think it still was, but I digress. So you’re saying Hawking’s tech is vastly superior to the Alliance’s, at least when it comes to ship fabrication. What gives you that confidence? It seems to be more than just this one ship we’re talking about.”

“I’ve been around.” Heram said, setting down his datapad for a moment as he thought about just where he had been around to, “And not just ‘around’ but I’ve been on the other side too… you know how they say Research follows Manufacturing?” Heram paused again, putting some thought into how he was going to put together his next string of words while Soffy started jumping up to grab another datapad… Heram slowly pushing one closer to the I’ee so she could grab it. “Well. It isn’t enough for an Engineer to design a starship. There are other considerations, the user experience, the manufacturing, financing, procurement,... The Alliance loves to build spherical cows.”

“Spherical cows? I think the designs are quite elegant.” Geiben retorted. “I mean, I grew up with them. My parents arrived in the Pacifica on one of those ships. Sure, it perhaps relies a bit too much on the synthesizers, but the tech has always been available to us, and they’re pretty straight-forward to use. I’d like to think that we know how to take into account logistics and usability. If we couldn’t even do that, the Alliance wouldn’t be a multiple star-system spanning nation right now.”

Heram certainly took his time thinking about his response, or if he even needed to make one. “You certainly make for a great company-man. That is the best towing of the line I’ve heard in a long time…” Geiben raised an eyebrow at the comment, folding his arms in front of him. Perhaps there wasn’t more to say, not about the current topic at least, “While we’re down there distributing supplies, we’re going to use what time we have to fix up this ship.” Heram said, bringing up a satellite image of a jungle on the Kiwomian homeworld. The impact crater was overgrown with trees, but the wreckage of the ship inside the crater looked to be mostly intact. “The material samples were sent are pretty amazing. Nearly perfect. Sure there are some holes in the pressure-vessels but I think we can have those patched up quickly. We can fit a large number of anti-gravity devices, engines, power systems, and the like in the Fortunate Son along with the relief supplies, and take anything else we need off the Edward Deming to get it flying. We could end up helping a lot of people get off the planet.”

“That’s another ship I’m not familiar with. The Fortunate Son. What is it? A supply craft?”

“Private Contractor,” Heram stated, “With uh…. Well they are good at what they do, really willing to take risks, but they got a price and I was hoping you’d help with that. I think it’d be better coming from the both of us. Or at least it’d be better if you were there in case Somnya gets… objectionable.”

“More grey matter. Like the Echoni. Well, at least this won’t be my first anymore. Fine. We were forced to find help outside of the Alliance anyways. What are they looking for? Rare-Earth metals or fusion reactors?”

“You need to understand that these guys come from the Alliance too. So they only want things that have real value to people…” Heram said.

“Well, there’s hopes, dreams, entertainment---” Geiben’s eyes go wide. “Oh… oh no… please tell me it’s one of the three I mentioned.”

“They want something that only Somnya can give them….” Heram said, wincing a bit as he got on to it, “... Specifically, her prosthetic hand.”

“...” The commander’s mouth slowly hangs open in grim anticipation, then he blinks twice in confusion. “What? Why? I mean, I’m pretty sure the captain’s prosthetics aren’t unique. Well, they are, actually, but that’s even worse! It’s tailor made for her and no one else!” A sigh of relief came after. Get your mind out of the gutter, Folami.

“Exactly, they can live comfortably off making a few cargo runs from the Alliance to a Cargo broker with a hold full of… you know, whatever. Ask the Alliance for gold or super-cocaine, or whatever. Brokers take that and sell it to whoever is buying… usually vice… but you get the idea. He’s working on making a collection of actually valuable stuff and the arm of an Alliance Captain? That’s a good talking-piece for a collection. We can always get her a new one but it is just super-awkward to ask.”

“And we’re in such a quagmire that we can’t get anyone else to help us.” Geiben slumps into a chair.

“Yeah… I am working on that but right now I just don’t have the pull for more ships. We have a drone in the making that is nearly done. The tug-module is complete, but the weapon module isn’t ready. We could also look at hiring mercenary groups but we’ll be in an area with plenty of Taipan combat ships so… we need control of everything we’re bringing in.”

“Well, keep at it. As for the captain, well…” Geiben rubs his face with one hand in anguish. “May the forefathers guide me.”
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