Author Topic: Let's be about it  (Read 15805 times)

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #45 on: July 02, 2014, 12:40:49 AM »
I'd hazard a guess, based on known SLN operational modes, that the single large contact is probably a transport with occupation troops for both Basilica and Nuncio; it should be interesting to learn the truth.  It won't be a fair fight, but it's nowhere near as lop-sided as Frontier Fleet will expect since they still haven't realized that they aren't the most advanced or powerful navy in the known galaxy; the Mark 16 DDMs, even the basic ones available at this time, are going to be a rude surprise.  I just re-read the description of the Saganami-C class in House of Steel and I reckon this situation bodes to thoroughly test out the results of BuShips simulations; it's likely going to be a close-run battle but I suspect that, even if this Frontier Fleet task force has a competent commander and captains (I know, even on the sharp edge, that's questionable for the SLN), quality and training of personnel is going to matter and, here, the RMN definitely has the edge.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2014, 10:08:03 AM by elmayerle »

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #46 on: July 02, 2014, 07:44:35 AM »
Enterprise has one trick up her sleeve, called Galileo 7.

Unfortunately, she's also missing 1/2 her normal external pod load.

It will be fun, more so for some than others.

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #47 on: July 04, 2014, 02:58:46 AM »
Part XXI: Message Received

Rear Admiral Pontraine, commanding Frontier Fleet’s Task Group 1307.1, was annoyed. Instead of having his Task Group as a unified force he was required to escort a superdreadnaught-sized ‘Mythos-class’ assault transport. Having the transport arrive a the same time as the naval force might be standard procedure, but Frontier Fleet had never tried to take a planet from under the nose of someone as annoyingly capable as the Royal Manticoran Navy before.

Pontraine had contacts inside the SLN’s Office of Naval Intelligence. He couldn’t credit most of what he had heard from there, either it was obviously self-serving and under-rated… or scare-mongering that made out the Manticorans as three-headed monsters. Obviously, neo-barbs like the RMN weren’t going to be as capable as the Solarian League, but some of the ‘intelligence’ community were obviously forgetting that Manticore was a developed, relatively rich star-nation. Manticore was going to be a tougher nut to crack than these folks thought. No doubt Manticore had ships that might almost be considered ‘modern’, even by the standards of the SLN.

Far worse from his perspective were the reports of RMN ships that had incredible acceleration rates, were almost immune to missile fire, threw massive salvos and capable of missile ranges that were, quite frankly, absurd. Oh, he didn’t doubt that the RMN may have developed some superiority in one tactical area or another, they were somewhat educated after all. Across the board quantum superiority was ridiculous though. If such developments were even possible, the SLN would be using them.

Still, having to assign one of his battlecruisers and a pair of heavy cruisers to escort that damned Mythos split his main combat power up in ways he didn’t like. If the Manties had hit his force on arrival, they might have caused significant damage before they were destroyed. He wouldn’t have lost the Mythos, sadly, or either of his two Indefatigables, but his light forces might have taken a beating from a pair of Manty battlecruisers. Losing any ships to the Manties would make him look bad, and even in Frontier Fleet an officer had to be aware of his image if he wanted continued advancement.

The good news was that, having arrived in Nuncio space unchallenged, he could now alter his escort plan to something more tactically sound. Turning to his chief of staff he commanded “Execute Escort Plan Alpha”. That would have Destroyer Squadron 2307 fall back on the Mythos and restore his BC and CA elements to full strength. Now all he had to do was download the reports from Basilica. That would tell him if the ‘spontaneous’ rioting had started yet and, hopefully, what Manticoran forces he was facing. He considered breaking out one of his destroyers to rendezvous with the listening post, but that would slow the re-integration of his forces.

He’d been dithering over this decision for the last two days, but now in Nuncio space he needed to be decisive. Looking at the status display to see which of his two forward heavy cruisers was closer, he decided. SLNS Fujimi was the closer of the two cruisers and he almost decided to send SLNS Tanaka instead. Commodore Prescott commanded the cruiser element from aboard Fujimi and would undoubtedly use his ‘forward’ deployment and ‘first to advance into hostile space’ for all it was worth in the political battles to come. Well, he was welcome to try. The Admiral who slapped down the Manticorans and took a system right out from under them would have more than enough fame to slap down a little upstart like Prescott. He ordered Prescott ahead personally, that should shift some of the credit back where it belonged… to the Flag. Let him think about that!

Aboard Fujimi, Prescott was fuming. He knew what that clown Pontraine had in mind. Prescott’s advance was now ‘subject to orders from the Flag’ rather than on his own authority. Was a Rear Admiral actually so petty that he would try to steal every bit of glory from this mission? Of course he was! Political in-fighting in Frontier Fleet might not be the blood sport it was in Battle Fleet, but it was intense. Pontraine wanted every bit of glory he could grab so that he could climb the ladder to Vice Admiral. There was nothing to do about it now though, nothing but carry out the orders efficiently and try to hitch his flag, literally, to Pontraine’s. Be a good little subordinate and hope for some scraps in the after-action reports. Turning to the comm screen that displayed the Captain of Fujimi he said, “Bob take us to the listening post. Smartly please, the Flag will undoubtedly want us back in position as soon as possible.”

On board Enterprise Thomas watched as the destroyers and their CL commander fell away from Force Alpha. When the BC and the two CA’s started their advance, he figured, correctly, that an exchange of escorts was taking place. For a few minutes he thought that nobody would download the output from the listening station, then one of the forward Mikasa’s advanced… and rapidly. Apparently, someone had lit a fire under the backside of that cruiser’s commander. Thomas smiled a predatory smile. Based on the course that CA was taking, displeasure from the Flag wasn’t going to be a concern for much longer.

SLNS Fujimi crept the final distance to the listening post under low power. The area was part of the Oort cloud of cometary bodies that surround any star system and some idiot had placed the listening post in the middle of a cluster of proto-comets. They had probably figured that nobody would notice one more minor planetoid in the middle of the other trash, but who would be looking in the first place?

The current Mark 47, Mod 6 mine deployed by the RMN was more than just a simple mine. Unlike earlier mines, which would detonate as soon as a target came into range, the Mark 47 waited. As long as a target was closing, the mine would hold fire unless certain conditions were met, such as sidewalls coming up or a radical change in perspective. Such a change in perspective could mean a target was ‘rolling ship’ or turning a vulnerable aspect away from the mine. Multiple mines in a field could also communicate, albeit in a rather limited way. Each mine would forward an acquisition signal to others in its deployed minefield. They would also forward a ‘detonation’ signal if their own engagement requirements were met. These gave the Mark 47 the capability of engaging multiple targets in a minefield simultaneously.

In the case of SLNS Fujimi, seven Mark 47 mines could see her as she approached the listening post. Five of those were in target acquisition when something caused the sidewall generators aboard Fujimi to start to spin up. The most likely reason was that someone had recognized the minefield. There would never be a way to know, five Mark 47’s detonated as one and SLNS Fujimi simply… vanished. The Mark 47 mine carried lasing rods capable of generating forces that could punch through the sidewalls of a modern Havenite superdreadnaught, and through the armour underneath.

Fujimi didn’t have sidewalls, modern or not, when the X-ray lasers sleeted through her hull. Nor did she have armour of any appreciable value. Aboard Enterprise the tactical section estimated that no less than thirty laser rods had scored hits. Thirty hits would have gutted a superdreadnaught, the effect on a heavy cruiser was unimaginable. Forces she couldn’t withstand pummelled Fujimi and her hull broke in two pieces. Both pieces then expanded into glowing fireballs as her fusion generators lost containment. 400,000 tons of starship were reduced to glowing plasma in less than 2 seconds. The were no lifepods deployed.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2014, 09:46:18 PM by Silver Fox »

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #48 on: July 04, 2014, 03:04:30 AM »
34 pages, 17,484 words.

Offline deathjester

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #49 on: July 04, 2014, 03:30:22 AM »
Again, Brilliant.  Perhaps you should think about seeing a publisher?  Maybe see if anyone is doing collections of short stories?

Offline deathjester

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #50 on: July 04, 2014, 03:31:13 AM »
In fact, why not try Baen Books!

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #51 on: July 04, 2014, 12:29:56 PM »
Part XXII: Don’t be ridiculous!

On the Flag Bridge of SLNS Inexhaustible Rear Admiral Pontraine was stunned. A heavy cruiser simply gone… to mines! How had that fool Prescott managed to do something so stupid as to not notice a minefield that dense? Pontraine knew it had to be a dense minefield, at least 5 detonations had been detected. If it hadn’t cost Prescott his life Pontraine would have assumed that stupid bastard had done it simply to make Pontraine look bad. How was he going to explain the loss of a heavy cruiser before even meeting the enemy in his after action reports? There had to be some way to transfer responsibility to the on-site commander, he would just have to think of something. In the meantime, he had to try to find the Manticorans, determine their strength and then kill them. No other course was open. Blood had been drawn and the Solarian League had to show strength and resolve.

He ordered the Task Group to advance on Pontifex. The original plan had been to investigate Basilica first as ‘justification’ for the conquest of Pontifex. It was always possible to adjust facts later to reflect what Frontier Security wanted, for now the defending Manticorans had to be drawn out. The Manties might have ignored an advance on Basilica, they had no citizens there to defend after all. Pontifex was another story, it was a member of the Talbott Cluster and the Manties had a responsibility. By all accounts Manticoran officers were driven by ideas such as ‘duty’ and ‘honour’. Foolish concepts in a professional naval officer to be sure, but what could be expected of neo-barbs? The Manties would surely honour the threat to Pontifex and offer combat. Once they did he would crush them like bugs under his heel.

Aboard Enterprise Thomas watched the Sollies change course. It was just as he had guessed, the loss of one ship had enraged whoever commanded over there and he had reacted like the Frontier Security thug he actually was. Enterprise was positioned to take advantage of such a course change, but it galled Thomas that even a Solly would be so easily predictable. Did they know nothing of professionalism? Thomas turned to the Tactical section, “Bob, are they on a least-time course for Pontifex?”

Lt. Commander Cumberland didn’t even need to consult his display, “Yes Sir. They have firmed up on track now. They are a little off the predicted course, but not by much.” Thomas turned a questioning eye on Midshipman Davis and the astrogator, Lt. David Bolingshire. Miss Davis blanched at the idea her course might have been off, but the astrogator answered the unspoken question, “Sir, whoever is plotting courses over there isn’t as careful as Miss Davis. They’ve failed to account for the asteroid belt. Our computer made the same mistake, Miss Davis caught the error and entered the correction.” Thomas smiled at the relieved Midshipman, “Well done Miss Davis. It seems even our most junior officers are made of better stuff than the Sollies!”

Thomas’ comment relieved some of the pressure that had been building on the Bridge. Even Midshipman Samantha Davis smiled. It would be some time before she realized it, but she had just been given an important lesson in command. Things can’t be as bad as they seem if our least is superior to their best. It would be a lesson worth remembering after, if there was an after.

Thomas examined the tactical repeater on his command chair. Things were shaping up much as he had guessed, and it was time to set the next stage in motion. Turning to the communications section he ordered, “Pass Lazarus Alpha to Galileo please.” Lazarus Alpha was the code name for a Solarian advance on the least-time course for Pontifex. It would instruct Galileo on what was expected of them in the hours to come. Turning to Tactical, he asked “How long for them to reach designated Mark 23 range?” Technically a Mark 23 could hit the Sollies even now, but better results would be had if the range were much closer. Lt. Commander Cumberland consulted his displays for a moment before answering, “Sir, they will enter the envelope in 47.8 minutes at a range of 55.46 light seconds. Designating that position as Point Able.” The chosen range would allow the Mark 23’s to maintain powered flight right up until impact. Powered flight would make the Mark 23’s that much harder to evade.

Thomas turned to Lt. Cormier on the Communications station, “Charles, record a message for transmission to the Solarian commander if you please.” It took no time before Lt. Cormier responded, “Ready Sir.”

“This is Captain James T. Kirk of HMS Enterprise. Solarian Commander, you have invaded Manticoran space with military forces in the absence of a declared state of hostilities. If your forces strike your wedges and surrender now I will commute the sentence of death due any pirate to life imprisonment. You have one minute to comply. Kirk out.”

“Good recording Sir. On the chip and ready for transmission on your mark.” Lt Cormier couldn’t help but grin at his captain’s audacity. “Thank you Charles. Transmit the message one minute before we cross Point Able if you don’t mind. And now, perhaps the galley can send snacks to all duty stations? It appears we have time for lunch before our guests arrive.” Thomas earned a chuckle from the entire bridge crew. Good people, he thought, I wonder how many will pay for my mistakes in the next few hours?

Enterprise and Task Group 1307.1 seemed to creep toward each other on the tactical display in front of Thomas. Visible on the display was the countdown timer until the Solarian units were in his designated range. When that counter hit 10 minutes, he ordered his Mark 23-loaded pods deployed. He had only 24 of them after giving half up to Tenth Fleet. Still, that would put 192 missiles into space in a salvo the Solarians wouldn’t be expecting. The capabilities of the Mark 23, and Apollo would come as a rude awakening to the Sollies no doubt.

Sixty seconds on the counter and “Message transmitted Sir” from Communications. Three, two… one, “Engage as per Fire Plan Thunderchild Mr. Cumberland.” Turning to Communications, “Message to Nuncio System Command please Charles, ‘We are engaging the Solarians.’”

On the Flag Bridge of SLNS Inexhaustible the message from Enterprise was met with scorn. Threaten the Solarian League with hanging as pirates would he, this James T. Kirk? Well Frontier Fleet would show him who would hang! Rear Admiral Pontraine was in the process of recording a response when the cry of “MISSILE! MISSILE! MISSILE! Two Hundred Sixteen inbound, accelerating at 96,000g. Range 55 light seconds.” caught everyone by surprise. Pontraine stared at the tactical display for several seconds trying to make sense of what he saw. Those missiles would be ballistic long before they ever entered attack range… they posed no threat. They did pose no threat, didn’t they? Doubt started to creep into the surety of superiority of Rear Admiral Pontraine. He had heard the stories, and doubted them. Now he faced reality, and if the Manticoran commander could hit him from this far away, he was in for a very tough time of things.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2014, 12:43:29 PM by Silver Fox »

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #52 on: July 04, 2014, 02:13:24 PM »
In fact, why not try Baen Books!
Agreed!  You definitely should talk with Toni Weiskopf (sp) about trying to get into the next collection of Honorverse stores.  I know Baen is always big on encouraging and helping new talent.

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #53 on: July 04, 2014, 04:53:03 PM »
Part XXIII: Evening the odds

Rear Admiral Pontraine stood frozen for what seemed like an eternity, but was barely ten seconds. He shook himself alert and glanced surreptitiously around the Flag Bridge to see if his momentary shock had been noticed. Satisfied that it had gone unobserved, he ordered the task group to General Quarters and set ‘Defensive Plan Archer’. Plan Archer would place his lighter CA’s out in front of the far more valuable BC’s. Undoubtedly the Manticoran commander would seek to use his range advantage to eliminate the BC’s as soon as possible. Plan Archer would allow the heavy cruisers to interpose themselves between the missiles streaming in and the BC’s. Two hundred and sixteen missiles was a far larger salvo than one BC could throw, maybe even bigger than two could. It still wasn’t enough to get through the combined defensive firepower of two BC's and three CA's.

It took one hundred and seventy eight seconds for the Manticoran missiles to cross the distance between Enterprise and Task Group 1307.1. To the horror of the watching Frontier Fleet officers the missiles accelerated all the way to target, building up a massive velocity and complicating counter-missile solutions. There would be time for only a single CM salvo before the missiles streaked across CM range and entered final attack range.

The incoming missiles had broken into two clear streams, each heading for a BC. Pontraine congratulated himself on his foresight and ordered CM batteries into centrally controlled Fleet defence. Defence was prioritized on protecting the two battlecruisers, with lesser priority given to the protecting the cruisers.

The missile stream were just about to enter CM range when they suddenly slewed and two stream broke up into three. Pontraine heard an anguished cry, “They’re going for the cruisers!” The tactical display showed the developing situation for just a moment and then dissolved. Hundreds, thousands of missiles appeared on the display and then themselves disappeared. The screen broke up into patterns of light that bore no relationship to a tactical display.

Of the two hundred sixteen missiles fired from the pods Enterprise launched, 24 were Apollo missiles, a further 24 were Dragon’s Teeth and 36 were Dazzlers. The Apollo missile allowed near-real-time command of the missile salvos. Dragon’s Teeth were deception jammers designed to lure counter missile fire, while the Dazzlers were pure jammers that simply blocked enemy fire control. One hundred and thirty two attack missiles remained, and they were targeted on only three targets.

Aboard the ships of Task Group 1307.1, crews and systems fought feverishly to build some semblance of order. The incoming missiles were too fast though, and not enough time had been given to sort out the mess. Missiles started to reach attack range, and when they did ships started to buck and die.

First to die was SLNS Tanaka. Tanaka’s Captain had reacted instantly to the changing tactical situation. Snapping an order to ‘Roll Ship” he actually managed to interpose his wedge between forty of the incoming missiles and his vulnerable command. Four Mark 23 missiles slid just past the forward edge of Tanaka’s wedge and rolled on internal gyros. Three of the missiles targeted the forward hammerhead of the cruiser and shattered it like so much tissue paper in a hurricane. The fourth missile was somewhat higher than the others, looking past the hammerhead it saw the unarmoured upper hull and fired. Battlesteel shredded, atmosphere vented and the ship heaved under the titanic forces. Then the acceleration compensator let go and Tanaka accelerated at over 600g. That the crew was dead was a foregone conclusion, the event simply wasn’t survivable. SLNS Tanaka slewed out of formation and twenty seconds later her fusion reactors lost containment. An expanding ball of plasma marked the grave of her crew.

Next to face the fury of the Manticoran missiles was SLNS Sensei. Sensei had barely even started to react to the change in defence priorities. Counter missiles fired, mostly at ghosts thrown out by the Dragon’s Teeth. Lasers spat beams of coherent light in a desperate last-ditch effort to save the ship, none of it worked. Lifepods started to stream from Sensei even before the missiles warheads fired. The last act of a doomed Captain was to save his crew, or as many as he could get off. Two pods of Mark 23 missiles swerved aside when their sensors showed lifepod beacons in their line of fire. That left twenty eight missiles for Sensei to deal with. Miraculously Sensei survived the first ten missiles. The ship heaved and bucked as X-ray lasers clawed at her hull, but lifepods continued to stream from the ship even as it fought to stay alive long enough for the crew to abandon. The death knell sounded for Sensei when a Mark 23-E Apollo missile smashed directly into her hull.  The Apollo weighed over 120 tons and was travelling at .95c at impact. Mass converted into energy with catastrophic result. Everything of Sensei between fore and aft hammerheads vanished in a titanic explosion.

Next to be hit was SLNS Inexhaustible. The missiles which had bypassed SLNS Sensei’s lifepods sought a new target and saw the battlecruiser. Sixteen missiles targeted the BC, and four reached attack range. Two spent themselves harmlessly against the upper wedge; one had its beams blocked by the tough sidewalls of the battlecruiser, the last fired an penetration aids worked as they were supposed to. Inexhaustible heaved and damage reports started to stream into the bridge.

Rear Admiral Pontraine saw the flashing icons of damage on his flagship and blanched. He still didn’t know how many Manties he faced, or even where they were. The report from his Chief of Staff only made things worse, “Forward chase armament is gone, except for one CM tube. Forward LIDAR and Gravitics are also gone. Damage control isn’t even sure if they are still attached to the hull. Two nodes in the forward ring are offline, but Engineering says they are repairable in less than half an hour. They seem sure its only the control runs. Port sidewall is down to 80%, but again it appears to be control runs. Sir, what the hell did they hit us with?” Pontraine acknowledged the report with only a nod and stared dumbly at the tactical repeater. The Manticoran missiles were entering attack range on SLNS Kata, the last of his heavy cruisers.

SLNS Kata had had more time to adapt to the attack. Her Captain had rolled ship, and using sensor data passed from the flagship his defences had scored heavily on the incoming missiles. At least twenty had been destroyed by the CM fire, and sixteen more had been picked off by point defence lasers. It was an outstanding performance that even a Manticoran crew would have been hard-pressed to equal. It wasn’t enough. The remaining missiles flew past the open forward and aft aspects of Kata’s wedge. Slewing on their internal gyros they fired and carved the helpless ship with power no mere cruiser could withstand. Kata was a bleeding, riddled hulk as a handful of lifepods spewed from the wreckage. The ruined hull snapped in half and the aft section tumbled away from the forward hull.

Twenty seven seconds after they entered attack range the Mark 23 missiles had done their job. Frontier Fleet Task Group 1307.1 no longer counted heavy cruisers amongst it’s order of battle.

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #54 on: July 04, 2014, 04:59:01 PM »
Guys, thanks for the kind words... but you are making me feel like I have a 1/48 scale head on a 1/72 scale figure. :)

I'm really not sure it's good enough to be considered for publication. Entertaining, yes... published, well that's another matter.

Much thanks for the kind words though.

Offline Volkodav

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #55 on: July 04, 2014, 09:10:46 PM »
 :)

Loving it!

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #56 on: July 05, 2014, 03:07:26 AM »
Part XXIII is a great example of why the SLN faces so many problems, the RMN, of necessity, has been forced into the forefront of war-tech development (see House of Steel for a good look at how Roger III fostered that in preparation for dealing with the aggressive tendencies of Haven even before they hit Manticore directly).  It won't be a walk in the park for HMS Enterprise but it's going to be most challenging for the SLN.

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #57 on: July 05, 2014, 04:16:28 AM »
RMN equipment is better, so is tactical judgement. Enterprise used her one large salvo to kill launchers and narrow the CM envelope. She might have killed both BC's with that salvo, she could almost certainly kill all remaining CA's. Even a CA which survived would likely be a drifting hulk, not a serviceable warship.

Enterprise has a range advantage still, but her long range punch is gone, as are the heavy warheads. Life won't be easy, but it never is for a Queen's Ship in such circumstances. Cruiser Captain's get all the fun jobs. :)

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #58 on: July 05, 2014, 04:39:41 AM »
I just realized that I named five heavy cruisers, not four. I will edit things once I have a chance. :(

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #59 on: July 05, 2014, 06:13:11 AM »
Enterprise has a range advantage still, but her long range punch is gone, as are the heavy warheads. Life won't be easy, but it never is for a Queen's Ship in such circumstances. Cruiser Captain's get all the fun jobs. :)
*drolly* Yes, indeed.  HMS Fearless at First Basilisk and HMS Hexapuma, and company, at Monica for example.  Fortunately, the RMN, for the most part, seems to train up officers to rise to meet the task.  I say "for the most part" because I also remember idiots like Pavel Young and Elvis Santino who survived in peacetime only because of their political connections and didn't survive in the RMN in wartime.