Author Topic: Let's be about it  (Read 22329 times)

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #15 on: June 21, 2014, 11:21:17 PM »
yes, I understand completely.  Anything revolving around Honor Harrington and the universe that contains her is not going to be short, not even the shorter works Mr. Weber wrote for the various anthologies.

*chuckle* He probably should get Adm. Harrington to expand on her views and knowledge of how Captains and Stewards come together and stay together, given her experiences.  She is doing a good job of helping him adjust to the full realities of his situation and an outside perspective should definitely help him see the positives and strengths of his situation; then, again, her own experiences have to have given her plenty of material to work from.  It should be most educational to see what further perspectives she gives him.

BTW, I will definitely go through the profiles in House of Steel to get a feel for what HMS Enterprise looks like.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2014, 11:44:10 PM by elmayerle »

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #16 on: June 22, 2014, 01:07:28 AM »
Author's Note:

Reference to the Medusa-class BC (P) has been corrected to Agamemnon-class BC (P) for accuracy.

HMS Enterprise would look identical to a Saganami-C in profile. An aft view would reveal the Ferret hangar replacing the after chase armament. Other significant changes will be discussed over, or after, dinner. :)
« Last Edit: June 22, 2014, 01:20:24 AM by Silver Fox »

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #17 on: June 22, 2014, 02:19:58 AM »
Part VII: Designs within Designs

Honor and Thomas crossed the passageway to the Flag Bridge, where Thomas was duly introduced to the various members of both the Admiral’s staff, and Captain Cardones’. As was typical of many Allied units, there was a variety of uniforms on display, but predominantly the space-black of Manticore or the blue-on-blue of Grayson. Noticeable was the absence of Erehwonese uniforms, so long allies. Of course, the Erehwon Navy was neutral these days, pending the final outcome of the negotiations now going on between the Republic of Haven and the Star Empire of Manticore.

One stumbling block came when Thomas was introduced to a rather portly officer in Grayson uniform, the Fleet Chaplain. Thomas had thought himself prepared intellectually, but when faced with the reality he was still taken aback. Fleet Chaplain Winston Sullivan was understanding, “My son, part of my Test, as I understand it, is to bear the momentary lapses of good people such as yourself who forget the Grayson has a Chaplain Corps. It speaks well of you that the lapse upsets you, and you worry that I or other Graysons might be offended. Have no worries on that score, we Graysons are a hardy people, who have been Tested in far harder circumstances than a mere oversight.”

Thomas was grateful for the understanding, but more grateful still when he could move on to greet Imperator’s Weapons Officer and a safer discussion involving nuclear warheads and lasing rods. The ‘Meet and Greet’ was short-lived, soon enough the Admiral’s steward miraculously appeared to announce the dinner was served in the Flag Wardroom. Those invited to dinner filed out, lead by the most junior officers present. A few of those on the combined staffs were remaining on duty, most of those looked wistfully at the hatch door as the last dinner guests filed out.

Several of the assembled officers were senior to Captain Kirk, but Thomas found Rafe Cardones had taken hold of his arm to lead him to the Flag Wardroom early. The reason became clear when Captain Cardones showed him to the seat on what would be the Admiral’s right, while Rafe took the seat directly opposite. Thomas felt out of place with several Commodores and two Rear Admirals seated further down the table. Beside Thomas was Rear Admiral Sir Robert of Selleck, that officer leaned over and whispered in Thomas’ ear “Relax Captain, you are the guest of honour, or ‘Honor’ so to speak. You’re seated just where you belong.” In a louder voice he continued, “I’m rather anxious to hear your impressions on how a ship such as your might be used in control of space lanes or denial operations.” Thomas recalled that Sir Robert commanded the support fleet, anything that would protect or threaten the essential support element was of immense interest to this man.

Chatter stopped as the steward announced the arrival of their host. The gathered officers rose and remained standing while Honor took her place at the head of the table. She sat and waited as Nimitz climbed down from her shoulder and took his place in the high chair set beside her. There were no fewer than four treecats in similar chairs beside their persons arrayed around the table. The ever-present Grayson Armsman had followed Honor into the wardroom and as she sat, he took station against the wall behind her.

Honor offered an, “As you were” to the assembled officers as soon as Nimitz was settled. Side chatter started almost immediately and Honor turned to Thomas. “Thomas, I think you will find the dinner conversation both invigorating and instructional. I’ll admit that I loaded the guest list with officers who would benefit most from what you have to say about your ship and how you plan to use her.”

Thomas noted that with the exception of two very young midshipmen, one Grayson and the other Manticoran, the assembled officers represented the lighter units in Eighth Fleet. In addition to the Support Fleet, there were officers from the Battlecruiser and Cruiser screening units, as well as representatives of the fleet’s LAC carrier wings. The heavier superdreadnaughts were notable by their absence.

Thomas was addressed from down-table by the Commodore commanding the various cruiser squadrons, “Captain Kirk? I’m curious, why fit your ship for carriage of an LAC? I don’t see that it confers any practical advantage.” Thomas half-turned to better see the Commodore and explained, “Well Sir. In fleet operations, I would agree. In independent operations though, there the LAC can make a critical difference. The Ferret allows me to stand off at multi-drive missile ranges while using the Ferret for a close-in intercept of a vessel under investigation. The Ferret aboard Enterprise is as unique as Enterprise herself, Galileo Seven carries her own cutter. She can carry a naval boarding party to that vessel I’m investigating.”

This last comment caught the attention of the commander of one of the LAC Carrier wings, “A cutter aboard a Ferret? I had thought that only the original Shrike-A class had cutter bays. The bays were removed to allow for better aft defence were they not?” Leaning forward to better see down his side of the table Thomas agreed, “Yes Captain they were. This particular Ferret blew it’s aft end off during a power test on her drives. During the rebuilding it was decided to fit that ship for experimental tactics, such as I just outlined. I’m not sure myself if a Shrike-A might not be a better fit for the role. Missile and Electronic Warfare have their uses, but most pirates would think twice before giving anything that carries a capital ship grade graser a reason to demonstrate at close range.”

Appreciative chuckles sounded around the table, many officers knowing just how tempting it would be for the LAC crew to simply blow a pirate or slaver out of space. A few officers looked thoughtful and showed feral grins at what they were thinking, but it was the Grayson midshipman who put it into words. “Sir, aren’t pirates or slavers more likely to think the cruiser out of range and try to fight the LAC?”

“Why yes they are,” Thomas mused aloud, “and wouldn’t it be a shame if they died for their mistake?” The sound around the table was predatory now, most of these officers had witnessed the depredations of piracy and slavery first hand. There was no sympathy for either type of garbage if they made a ‘final’ mistake.

Conversation around the table faltered and stopped as dinner was served and mugs of beer or glasses of wine were re-filled. Several of the humans present noted that ALL of the ‘cats present had turned to the serving trays with a hungry expectation that couldn’t be mistaken.

12 Pages, 6412 words.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2014, 03:04:29 AM by Silver Fox »

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2014, 07:30:31 AM »
Very interesting, and it's definitely a fascinating read.  I look forward to seeing what all he does on independent command, especially given the initiative that the RMN seems to instill in its officers (at least the ones who make command).  I wonder if he'll be one of those left guarding the fleet's back when Adm. Gold Peak makes her strike on the real enemy.

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2014, 11:23:40 AM »
Part VIII: The ‘Cats Meow

Dinner was served, and it was apparent that the ‘cats present were on the edge of simply climbing on the table and wallowing on their plates. Honor was in the process of turning to her steward to ask what the ‘cats were being served, it was obviously not the same as what the humans present were receiving. Thomas suddenly exclaimed, “Of course, the duffel!” Honor turned back to Thomas with and arched eyebrow and a quizzical expression. “Ma’am, I shipped a quantity of Sphinxian rabbit and chipmunk in my personal stores. My steward must have remembered to send some over for the ‘cats even though I forgot.”  Honor’s expression changed to one of assessment now and she simply asked, “Why the rabbit and chipmunk Captain?”

Thomas looked abashed, like a small boy caught doing something thoughtful, but not sure himself if it’s ‘manly’. “Well Ma’am, it’s like this. We spend a great deal of time, both official and otherwise, on ensuring our crews have small delicacies or luxuries from home. No one does it for the ‘cats Ma’am, unless their individual person does. I thought ‘cats deserved the same consideration.”

Honor looked completely stunned. She was used to the ‘adopted’ being caring and considerate to the ‘cats in their company, and other ‘cats in general. It was a rare thing to see someone not regularly exposed to ‘cats share the same concern, and never in such a demonstrative way. She caught the eyes of every one of her guest who were ‘adopted’ and saw the very same emotion in the eyes of each.

In the eyes of her logistics’ officer though, she saw despair. That officer, looked like she was going to be physically ill. She started, “Ma’am, this is a failure on my part, I should have…” Honor interrupter her, “No Louise, we ALL should have thought of it and never did. General order for Eighth Fleet, entertainment stores for ‘cats to be stocked in relation to ‘cat population percentage. Funding from the normal sources, we’ll not short the ‘cats at human expense any longer. Please see to it.” The logistics’ officer gave a small nod, and a tight “Yes Ma’am!” as her only response.

Honor turned back to Thomas and asked “Captain, have you shorted your own supplies to do this?” Thomas gave a small grin, “Well, not really Ma’am. My personal vice is foreign beers. I’ll be in the Talbot Cluster with thousands to explore. It’s why I thought to use my allowance to benefit others.” “Be that as it may Captain, you have my sincere personal thanks, and I’m sure the thanks of all my officers and crew who have been adopted. It was a wonderful thing for you to do.” Those officers murmured their agreements, and all at the table watched Nimitz rise from his highchair beside his person.

Nimitz picked his way daintily across the table to stand on the corner of the table beside Thomas. Once there he turned to his person and signed a short message before turning back to face Thomas once again. “Captain, Nimitz has asked me to translate a message to you, “Nimitz and his fellow ‘cats in Eighth Fleet are honored to have met you. They say ‘Heart of the Stars’ will be welcome in any ‘cat range on Sphinx, any time you should choose to visit.” Nimitz made a deep bow to Thomas and then extended his true-hand to shake Thomas’.” Giving Thomas’ hand a small pat with his free true-hand, Nimitz then turned and carefully made his way back to his place at the table.

Honor turned back to Thomas with a genuine smile, “Apparently Captain, the ‘cats have chosen to name you. A rare honor for one not yet adopted.”

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2014, 03:34:40 PM »
Part IX: I would like to propose…

Dinner proceeded with a flurry of side commentary; questions about Enterprise, her Captain, old friends that various guests knew from previous postings… and turned to the old entertainment cubes. Numerous guests had seen the cubes, and several were fans. Notable amongst the fans was the young Manticoran midshipman. The midshipman was young enough to have watched the cubes as a child, and rather timidly admitted that it was the real-life exploits of Admiral Harrington, and the fictional exploits of Captain James T. Kirk that had inspired her to try for the Academy. Now she found herself dining with both.

Honor gave Thomas a meaningful glance and noted that, although he was not completely comfortable, the evidence that his name and ship might affect junior officers was striking home. She worried that it might go to his head, but that worry was alleviated when he addressed the midshipman, “Well Midshipman, the Admiral has more than earned the respect of all of us… and paid the price of earning that respect. I may have a famous name, attached to a famous ship, but only the name. We have a lot to live up to.”

The midshipman gave a shy smile and agreed, stating that “I’m sure you will Sir. History will never forget the name Enterprise.” Several guests, all fans of the cubes, seemed to swallow laughter. Thomas chose to ignore the idea that the midshipman might have slipped something by him and replied, “Thank you Midshipman, we will do our best.”

Dessert was served, or in Admiral Harrington’s case, served, and served… and served! No fewer than 3 servings of a rich chocolate cake that must have totalled nearly 4000 calories, and yet she ate it all with a gusto that suggested she might even snack later given the chance. Thomas was confused; the woman could not possibly eat like this on a regular basis, no matter how much time she spent in the sale practicing coup de vitesse.

Dinner and dessert done with, the young Manticoran midshipman stood and raised her glass, the assembled guests quieted. The midshipman nervously, but firmly intoned “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Queen." The assembled guest repeated the toast and drank. Now it was the Grayson midshipman’s turn to stand and offer, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Grayson, the Keys, the Sword, and the Tester!" Again the guests repeated the toast, and the midshipman gratefully regained his seat. More than a few of the assembled officers remembered when it was their turn to offer the loyalty toast, and how nerve racking it had seemed at the time.

Honor noted that Thomas had not stumbled over the Grayson Toast, she reflected that this was a sign of the new reality in the Alliance. Most Manticoran officers had served alongside Grayson long enough that it was now second nature to have both toasts at any formal dinner.

A few minutes of idle conversation followed as everyone enjoyed coffee, or in the case of Admiral Harrington, hot chocolate. Captain Kirk, honoured guest, I would like to propose we adjourn to the tactics simulator so that we can examine Enterprise, and her Captain in a little more ‘rigorous’ manner. I am anxious to see what they can do.” She smiled,  “Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s be about it.”

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #21 on: June 24, 2014, 02:07:11 AM »
Part X: ‘The Crusher', redux

The time spent in the large Flag Bridge using ‘The Tank” as a tactics simulator was about as ‘enjoyable’ as Thomas expected it would be. Admiral Harrington was a teacher of some skill and she never passed on an opportunity to pass along lessons to those officers under her command, or apparently, those she encountered. Several encounters between Enterprise and elements of Eighth Fleet were gamed out, all on the basis that the LAC capability of Enterprise was unknown to Eighth Fleet’s units. The officers Honor had gathered for dinner were excited at the independent possibilities offered by Enterprise and offered many suggestions.

The most interesting of these suggestions was the possibility of using the Ferret itself to act as chase armament. A lively discussion on possibilities followed, but none of those gathered could overcome the various difficulties offered, such as how to reload the Ferret’s missiles. A reload would require the Ferret to be nosed into its bay, whereas firing the missiles would require it to be nose-out. The various yeomen present took notes, perhaps the Admiralty could find a suggestion that would work in later classes of CA.

Soon enough the time available for examination of Enterprise and her Captain came to an end. Thomas was proud of how his ship, and himself had fared. The officers of Eighth Fleet were among the best in the Manticoran Alliance and he was sure that he had held his own fairly well. That impression was solidified when Admiral Harrington called a halt to the games by saying “Enough! Thomas, you’re too good, I can’t have you ruining the confidence of my officers. Go bother someone else.”

Honor’s comment was said with a smile, and all assembled chuckled appreciatively. A few of those chuckles were somewhat rueful though, Enterprise and her Captain had clearly got the best of Eighth Fleet’s screen on several occasions.

Rafe Cardones escorted Thomas back to the boat bay and his waiting cutter. They took their parting in a brief, but heartfelt, way. The two officers had much in common. They hadn’t met before, and it might be years before they met again in Queen’s service, but the start of a solid friendship was formed.

The cutter trip back to Enterprise was short, and Thomas found himself met by his steward. Regina collected the mysterious duffel, and Thomas noted that it was once again full. Surely whatever was in it was not the same as the meats which had gone to the Flagship. Undoubtedly the stewards had conspired to aid their CO’s, and Thomas was frankly just too tired to be concerned.

Upon reaching his quarters Thomas found the ‘Message Waiting’ light on his terminal blinking. Touching the control connected Thomas with the Bridge and Lt. Cormier, who was currently Officer of the Watch. “Good evening Charles, there was something you needed to tell me?” Charles nodded, “Yes Sir. We’ve received clearance to depart from the Flag.” Thomas considered for only a moment before passing on orders, “Thank you, I assume we have a course plotted for the Junction?” Charles grinned, “Oh yes sir, I’ve actually had one of our midshipmen updating the course by hand for several hours. We are updated and ready to go. By the way Sir, we received a complete and updated Talbot Cluster nav set from the Flag about two hours ago.”

Thomas grinned, “I assume Miss Davis has second seat on Astrogation then?” Midshipman Davis had acceptable, but weak Astrogation scores in the Academy. The extra practice was well warranted. The image of Charles grinned back “Good guess Sir, it is indeed Miss Davis.”

Thomas suppressed a yawn and decided that for a standard evolution he wasn’t needed on the Bridge. His crew was capable, time to demonstrate his confidence. “Thank you Charles, please get us underway for the Junction. Standard courtesies to the Flagship as we depart.” Charles’ response was crisp, “Of course Sir! ETA at the Junction now stands at”, Charles consulted the display in the command seat, “10 hours, 27 minutes.”

“Thanks you Charles. I’ll be asleep, but wake me for anything unusual. I will be on the bridge before we reach the Junction. Captain out.” Thomas closed the channel and drifted off to his sleeping cabin. He fell fast asleep and never noticed when his steward entered the cabin to gather the various uniform items strewn about. By morning, the uniform, like the man, would be ready to resume their duties.

16 pages, 8348 words

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #22 on: June 24, 2014, 02:20:39 AM »
My earlier estimates may have been off just a bit... fortunately the next installment will see Enterprise leave Manticoran space and arrive in Talbot.

I had calculated that arrival in Talbot was about 1/3 of the way into the story. That would place the story at around 50 pages total and perhaps 25,000 words.

Fun, but... ugh! :)

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #23 on: June 24, 2014, 06:38:49 AM »
Part XI: On Talbott Station

Transit to the Manticoran Wormhole Junction was uneventful, and for Thomas, restful. Waking two hours before arrival at the Junction he found himself refreshed. He was eager to get to Talbott and to find out what duties Admiral Gold Peak would have waiting for him. Traffic at the Junction was, as always, considerable. Discovery of the Lynx terminus had increased traffic considerably in the area of the Junction, not unexpected, as that leg of travel would allow vastly shorter transit times to the far side of the Solarian League.

Thomas noted the large number of Solarian hulls in the various transit queues. Some were outbound, heading off to Lynx and the Rim of explored space. Others were inbound, heading off to Beowulf and the remainder of the Old League. The sheer numbers of ships in transit was staggering and it explained the wealth of the Manticore System. No other Star Nation had a wormhole terminus with so many connections. The advantages it conferred on the possessor were obvious. The Junction was both Manticore’s greatest asset and its greatest weakness.

Thomas had Enterprise placed in the outbound lane for the Lynx terminus. Almost immediately there was an incoming message from Manticore Astro Control asking if Enterprise wished to exercise ‘military right of passage’. There was no great hurry in getting to Lynx, so Thomas had a response sent to Manticore Astro Control that Enterprise was willing to wait her turn. The relief in felt by Astro Control was obvious, expedited passage by a warship could throw the carefully plotted transit schedule into chaos.

Thomas looked at his Astrogation repeater and noted the Enterprise was number 9 for transit. He touched the communications stud on the armrest of his command chair, “Engineering, Captain.” The response was almost instantaneous “Engineering, Commander Jennings. How can we help you Captain?” “Samuel, we’re in the lane for transit to Lynx.” Thomas stated, “We’ll need the sails soon.” “Aye Captain!” Commander Jennings grinned, “I’ve been keeping the Astro plot on one of the repeaters down here, figured you would be calling right about now.”

Thomas grinned back, the chief engineer was an old hand who knew what to expect. “Thanks Chief, good to know you're watching my back.” The chief engineer said, “We’ll be ready when you are sir, can’t make the ship look bad after all.”

During the brief conversation with engineering Enterprise had dropped to sixth on the queue for transit. Thomas made a quick scan of the Bridge and saw all was in readiness. Senior officers or ratings manned the stations, and as always, the Bosun herself was on the helm. Midshipman Davis was on the number two console in Astrogation, figuring a course intently. Undoubtedly Davis was figuring a course from the Lynx Terminus to the Spindle system. Thomas allowed himself a small smile, the Astrogator would want the course ready before transit, but there was no reason to do the work himself after all.

The queue indicator slid down to two and Thomas locked open the channel to Engineering. “Rig foresail on my mark.” Thomas was barely aware of the response, as long as it fit the pattern he expected he would remain oblivious to anything but the demands of a smooth transit. The indicator dropped to one and Thomas commanded “Rig foresail!” Immediately the forward propulsion nodes converted from the normal stress bands of impeller drive to the  immaterial sail required for transit through a wormhole.

Enterprise crept forward under power of her after nodes only, and Thomas kept a close watch on the display which showed him how much power the foresail was drawing. As soon as the display showed that the foresail was receiving enough power to keep Enterprise in the lane he commanded “Rig after sail.” Enterprise slid forward, powered now only by the forces of the wormhole.

Transit was, as always, a jarring experience as human sense tried to decipher things that were not part of their normal experience. Most of the crew was used to it though, and the response was crisp as Thomas commanded “Rig for impeller drive” once Enterprise was clear of the Lynx terminus of the junction.

Thomas turned to the Astrogation station, “Miss Davis, can I safely assume that all your figuring was to provide a course for Spindle?” The midshipman reddened, but firmly stated “Yes Sir, course 315 mark 21 at 475 gravities.” Thomas turned toward the helm station, “Bosun, did you get that?” “315 mark 21 at 475 gravities. Aye Sir!” the Bosun respond instantly. Thomas allowed himself a small grin at the look on Midshipman Davis’ face when she realized no one was double-checking, “Very well Bosun, take us to Spindle.”
« Last Edit: June 24, 2014, 06:41:08 AM by Silver Fox »

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #24 on: June 24, 2014, 12:00:57 PM »
*wry chuckle* I've noticed the Honorverse tends to do that to stories, they always seem to grow.  I've noticed that between rough drafts that Weber's posted and the final version (heck, the final sometimes grows a tad from the ARC).  Definitely an enjoyable flag visit and it's clear that Thomas kirk knows his stuff as Adm. Harrington is not overly generous with praise; she doesn't stint but she's not over generous.  It should be most interesting to see what awaits them in the Talbot cluster.

BTW, if you've not read it, the latest Honorverse story collection, Beginnings, has both the story of how Honor and Nimitz met and the story of how Honor's parents met.

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #25 on: June 24, 2014, 12:41:44 PM »
I think I am going to take a brief pause in writing at this point... my head hurts from so much writing so fast.

I also have over-run my plan by writing so much so soon. :) I know what happens in the Talbott Cluster, and back in Manticore... I'm not sure what happens at Spindle. LOL!

Don't fear, a day or two break at the most. I parallel to the segments here I am re-formatting the story more conventionally. I might make that version available in epub format, freely of course. Don't want to step on any copyright toes. :)

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #26 on: June 25, 2014, 05:52:12 AM »
Part XII: The Stage is Set

The Lynx Terminus was not well positioned to serve the Talbott cluster. Even for a warship as fast as Enterprise, the trip still took almost a week before Enterprise made planetfall at Spindle. Thomas reminded himself that from this point forward he must refer to the Star Empire of Manticore. San Martin, Lynx and Medusa had joined the original three Manitcoran planets of Manticore, Sphynx and Gryphon in the old Kingdom of Manticore. The planets of the Talbott Cluster had joined later, and the combination was now the Empire. It seemed strange to Thomas, who had grown up with only the original three systems.

Still, it was hard to argue that San Martin, Lynx and Medusa as Terminus systems didn’t belong. Once you allowed Lynx and San Martin to vote themselves into the Kingdom, the door was opened to allow the Talbott Cluster to join a larger union. Still it seemed strange to an old timer. No doubt future generations would think the original three system polity was ‘quaint’.

Arrival at Spindle brought with it the need to report to Tenth Fleet that Enterprise was on station. No sooner was that report made than Enterprise was contacted by Captain Cynthia Lecter, Chief of Staff to Admiral Gold Peak, Tenth Fleet’s Commander, “Captain Kirk, please to have you here. The Admiral has asked me to inquire if it would be convenient for you to repair on board in two hours?”

Thomas didn’t bother to hide his smile, “Of course Captain. I’ll call away my own cutter if that is acceptable?” Captain Lecter smiled back at the shared joke, “Thank you Captain, that would be fine. You’ll be receiving a full situation brief at that time and meeting with Admiral Gold Peak as well as the Governor General and several local government officials. You can consider this your courtesy call on all officials present.” Thomas considered that this would amount to quite a time saver, courtesy calls were necessary, but time consuming on a major change of station. “Captain Lecter, thank you very much.” Thomas began “I’ll see you in two hours.” Captain Lecter gave another smile, “I’ll be looking forward to it Captain Kirk.”

Thomas reflected that Captain Lecter had a very nice smile; foreign beers might not be the only thing worth exploring in Talbott space.

Thomas arrived on board HMS Artemis precisely on schedule, as was to be expected. He had elected to use the cutter from Galileo 7 once again; he had been impressed by the small craft skills of the pilot. The ritual for boarding a Queen’s ship complete he was met by Captain Lecter. “Captain Kirk, Cynthia Lecter. Pleased to meet you.” Captain Lecter offered her hand, and Thomas noted that she was an attractive woman. Trim, somewhat shorter than himself and with a smile that made her look younger than she must be. “Pleased to meet you as well Captain Lecter. Please call me Thomas, I’m afraid there are quite probably far too many ‘Captains’ about for clarity.” Thomas offered with a smile of his own.

Cynthia smiled, but with just a touch of confusion, “Thomas? I had thought it would be Jim. You really don’t look much like a Thomas.” Thomas was taken aback, “I used to go by Jim, I’ve only recently changed to using Thomas.” Cynthia frowned slightly, “Well Thomas it is. You should really consider changing back though. Jim suits you better.” Thomas decided he didn’t much like seeing a frown on Cynthia Lecter’s face, “I’ll consider it Cynthia, it may be something I have to grow into again.”

The meeting with Admiral Gold Peak and assembled local dignitaries was very business like. It was clear that 10th Fleet, indeed the entire Talbott Sector, was on a war footing. Present at the meeting were the Admiral an Imperial Governor General, as well as the Talbott Cluster Prime Minister, it’s Minister of War and several lower level ministers.

Admiral Gold Peak made introductions around the conference table and Thomas acknowledged all present in turn. “Captain, I wish we had more time to acclimate you to the Talbott Cluster. In truth we don’t. Tenth Fleet has to be prepared to defend the Lynx Terminus and the Cluster. Known threats include the Solarian League Navy, proxies of Manpower Incorporated seeking to destabilize the Cluster and the average problems any Verge area will encounter with pirates and slavers.” Admiral Gold Peak’s assessment was grim, despite the generous success that she had already accumulated against the SLN.

Admiral Gold Peak was about to continue when two new arrivals showed up. One was a Captain (Senior Grade), the other a grizzled Chief Petty Officer. Thomas recognized them immediately, and was unsurprised when Admiral Gold Peak named them as Captain Prescott (Scotty) Tremaine and Chief Warrant Officer Sir Horace Harkness. “Scotty, Sir Horace, I’ve just been explaining the Talbott situation to Captain Kirk” the Admiral began before turning to Thomas, “Captain, I’ll be attaching you administratively to Captain Tremaine’s Cruiser Division. I expect you will be acting independently most of your time here though.”

Scotty Tremaine nodded, “Yes Ma’am. I currently have deployed one CA and a DD as escort in the piracy suppression role in the north of the Cluster. Enterprise has her attached LAC, which gives her the same scouting ability as the two detached ships. Enterprise will have slightly less combat power, but it should be more than enough for piracy suppression. I’ll be tasking Enterprise to carry out that duty while the CA and DD rejoin the remainder of the Fleet.”

The remainder of the meeting went quickly, most of it was administrative matters dealing with getting the Talbott Cluster up to Manticoran standards as quick as possible. The Cluster needed to be able to aid in it’s own defence.

Once the meeting broke up, Thomas was stopped in the passageway by Captain Tremaine. “Captain Kirk. A moment please.” Thomas had been walking with Cynthia Lecter, who moved aside to allow the two Captain’s to speak with some privacy. “Of course sir.” Thomas replied, “How can I help you?” Scotty looked embarrassed. “Do you mind if I call you Thomas and you call me Scotty?” Thomas nodded and Scotty pressed on. “Normally you would be my second in command. I need your ship deployed though, which makes that normal appointment impractical.” Thomas smiled, “Of course Sir. Not many Cruiser Captains would complain of independent action vs. a staff appointment anyway.” Scotty smiled at the other Captain’s spirit he liked this man. Then Scotty sobered, “There is one other matter. I know you brought a full external load of pods equipped with Mk 23 missiles, including Apollo. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to offload half of them to go to the rest of the Division. We will replace them with Mk 16 pods, but the Fleet is extremely short of the Mk 23’s.”

Now it was Thomas’ turn to sober. He could hardly refuse the order, but offloading that many of the longer-range Mk 23’s would remove a significant amount of his long-range punch. After a moment’s consideration Thomas replied, “Of course Sir. I should have anticipated the requirement. I’ll see to the swap immediately.”

Scotty brightened at the response and then grinned, “I do have some good news. Admiral Harrington sent a dispatch boat which included her tactical assessment of Enterprise. The engineers here have already assessed the requirements for your Ferret to be able to be used to strengthen your aft armament. The change isn’t that hard, well within the capabilities of the local shipyards with our support ships to assist. One of the local shipyards is already started design work on a prototype. We can use one of the local LAC’s for proof of concept trials.”

Thomas wasn’t sure he wanted the locals tampering with his ship, and it must have showed. “Don’t worry Thomas. Admiral Gold Peak would never let you get saddled with an unsuitable ship. It will work or stay on the drawing board, you have my word.” Scotty seemed completely assured, so Thomas relented. “As you say Sir. It would be a nice thing to have.”

Scotty took his leave and Cynthia Lecter collected Thomas to escort him back to his waiting cutter. Arriving at the boat bay containing his cutter, she told Thomas “Good Luck and Good Hunting Sir. You’ll have to tell me all about your ship over dinner some time.” With a smile she was gone.

Thomas thought the Talbott Cluster could definitely hold promise.

20 pages 10,567 words.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2014, 10:28:42 AM by Silver Fox »

Offline Silver Fox

  • Talk to me Goose!
Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #27 on: June 25, 2014, 09:22:25 AM »
Part XIII: To Pequod

The formal orders for HMS Enterprise assigned her to patrol the Pequod, Prairie and Nuncio systems in the ‘north’ of the Talbott Cluster. The amount of merchant shipping had climbed rapidly in the area since the Annexation by Manticore. Along with an increase in the amount of shipping had come a massive increase in the value of the cargos. Manticore was committed to bringing the new territories up to a better standard of living as fast as possible, this meant that vast amounts of modern equipment and training materials were almost always in transit.

Nuncio in particular saw quite heavy traffic. With a planetary population of only 350 million people, and two habitable planets in the system, Nuncio was an attractive system for investment. That investment had brought pirates out of the woodwork. Local detachments of LACs had helped, but the pirates were crafty, the LACs couldn’t be everywhere and the pirates only struck when it looked like they had a chance to raid and escape.

If traffic in Nuncio was heavy, Pequod was the most varied. In Pequod ships from the various planets of The Verge, New Tuscany, Manticore and the Solarian League were almost always present. The start of hostilities with the Solarian League meant that their shipping was to be excluded from Manticoran space, but there was no way of knowing what might still be enroute. The problem was made worse by the fact that ships arrived from all bearings, there was no accounting for where a ships last stop might have been.

Thomas spent the time enroute to Pequod formulating a plan. The ‘Frontier Mentality’ of The Verge meant that there were no established shipping routes. His first priority then would be to establish such routes. Once shipping started to arrive and depart on predictable bearings, the LACs could better manage the local pirate issue.

Examining the map of Cluster space Thomas noted that, in general terms, the Cluster was comprised of two concentric rings. This simplified his plan, each system in the outer ‘ring’ would have approach and departure vectors aligned with its nearest ‘same-ring’ neighbours. It would also have a similar approach/departure point that was common to all shipping coming from the other ‘ring’. In this way each system would have three arrival/departure points, rather than the entire plane of the ecliptic. Ships arriving at the outer ring would be expected to arrive at one of the two ‘neighbour’ arrival points.

The shipping concerns were likely to grumble, but if it reduced piracy losses they would put up with any minor inconvenience. Ships from outside of Manticoran space would be harder to convince, but here Thomas had a bigger hammer to use, comply or be excluded from the whole cluster. The Verge systems needed Manticoran goods far more than Manticore needed to sell them to them. He was sure that once it was explained, they would comply.

His plan complete, he ordered a change in course to the Rembrandt system. He knew from his brief that Rembrandt was a major shipping nexus and that several dispatch boats would be available. He planned to send one boat back to Spindle so that his plan could be vetted by the political leadership of the Cluster, and hopefully formally enacted. Having made his decision on how to proceed he asked for Midshipman Davis to meet him in the wardroom. A large number of hyperspace course needed to be calculated and she seemed like a good person to put in charge of the project. He didn’t expect her to do it all herself, but his seemed a good mix of practical exercise and a lesson in command. Davis would need to learn to trust those who were better at some tasks than she was, even as she was responsible for their work.

Offline elmayerle

  • Its about time there was an Avatar shown here...
  • Über least that is what he tells us.
Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #28 on: June 25, 2014, 10:42:02 AM »
Yes, it's coming along quite nicely.  I daresay Nuncio's seen quite a traffic increase since HMS Hexapuma first visited there and I wonder just what will show up.

I did catch one typo, "...original three Manitcoran planets of Manticore, Sphynx and Gryphon Medusa..." should be "...original three Manitcoran planets of Manticore, Sphynx and Gryphon...".

Incidentally, I see from Baen's publishing schedule that a new sub-series, Manticore Ascendant, is premiering in October with, A Call to Duty, a novel length development of the story Timothy Zahn had in Beginnings.  The sub-series would seem to cover the growth of Manticore from a small polity in the middle of nowhere to a major interstellar power.  Going by the story in Beginnings, this looks quite promising.

Offline Silver Fox

  • Talk to me Goose!
Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #29 on: June 25, 2014, 11:11:59 AM »
I caught the error as well, already fixed by the time you posted. :)

Is anyone else reading this still? I don't mind at this point... But I am curious. :)