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EMERALD MONARCH – SHIP’S LOG

BEGIN PERSONAL LOG ENTRY – MATTHEWS, DANIEL – EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Emerald Monarch emerged from jump on target (+/-1km) in Shikasu system at <time><date>

Began plotting course for mainworld.  Five minutes later, sensors alarmed a radiation burst.  Identified source of burst as sensor contact: 2kton branch freighter at <range><bearing>

Comms reported a distress call specifying catastrophic engine failure.  I verified by sensors that the call came from the same branch freighter.

Captain responded to the distress call, I laid in course to the freighter.  Target was ballistic on a non-contacting course consistent with having performed no course changes since emerging from inbound jump.  Emerald Monarch matched vectors with target.

Close sensor and visual sweep showed massive damage, debris, and casualties.  No evidence of power to the vessel.  Engineering reported damage appeared consistent with catastrophic reactor failure.  Positively identified vessel as belonging to a powerful vilani trading company <library link to company data>

Captain sent section chiefs for a closer look in the air/raft to report feasibility of a rescue attempt.  Engineer confident that a rescue attempt can be made safely, so we proceeded to board at a fore airlock.  Made contact with surviving crew members and brought them on board the Emerald Monarch as their emergency life support was nearly exhausted.

Ships from the mainworld arrived in a few hours and relieved Emerald Monarch of the vessel’s survivors.  Captain provided Emerald Monarch’s sensors logs to the owning company’s responding ship, at the suggestion of Mr. Adler.  Representative of the owning company expressed gratitude.

Performance of all personnel was without flaw, but I would like to specifically mention exemplary contributions of the boarding party <list names>, the doctor, and comms, who each executed their duties with uncommon skill and vigor.

Emerald Monarch proceeded to mainworld, docked, and began 5 day ground cycle.

Scheduled bridge crew leave.  Sought freight and speculative cargo opportunities for our next leg. <list of possible cargoes with per ton profit analysis attached>

Received a meeting request for the captain and set up the meeting per his instructions.  Meeting was with the owners of the ship we assisted.  Captain received and shrewdly seized upon an opportunity to run what seems to be a very lucrative route for a few months while repairs are made to that ship.

END PERSONAL LOG ENTRY – MATTHEWS, DANIEL – EXECUTIVE OFFICER

02-Aug-2173 (09:48:15)
Ships Status: All systems normal
Navigational Status: APISHLUN SUBSECTOR (0723), SHIKASHU

24-Jul-2173 (14:02:48)
Ships Status: All systems normal
Navigational Status: APISHLUN SUBSECTOR (0824), KHURIMISI

16-Jul-2173 (11:52:34)
Ships Status: All systems normal
Navigational Status: APISHLUN SUBSECTOR (0726), DIKANISHI

It was decided to move to recover Bill’s Optical Storage Device (OSD) as soon as he was conscious and able to assist, as our mission was rather time-sensitive. This left us with little time to prepare, and would force a daylight approach. We collected some aerospace photos of the crash-site and environs, and determined that our best avenue would be from the West, via a stream-bed that passed through the nearby hills (roughly 1.25 km), rather than the suburb to the East, which the enemy would certainly be watching. We kept the gear we had collected previously, and Bob was able to procure a couple of hyperspectral binocular units. The team would consist of all members present at the safe-house: ChSecO Vik (myself), ChEng Adler, and Crewmen Reid, Prudhomme, Ekala, Dae-Jung, and Bob and Bill. As we did not wish to attract any undue attention to our operation, either by the enemy or the local populace, we kept the silenced weapons from the eariler operation as our primary weapons, though we carried un-silenced assault rifles, slung, in case of a tactical emergency.

Our plan was to approach on foot via the stream-bed, after having been dropped off on the far side of the hill; Crewman Dae-Jung would remain with the vehicle, on station, and proceed to the egress point in the suburb to the east of the site upon our signal, for extraction. As we left the stream-bed, we would remain under the cover of the treeline as we approached the site, and would take regular stops to observe for enemy activity, using the hyper-specs. Once enemy position was confirmed (or determined to be absent), we would proceed to the expected location of the OSD drop, recover it, and egress to the extraction point, ideally with minimal detection or action.

Our ingress was without incident, and we spotted four hostiles, with the hyper-specs, at longer than engagement range, so we attempted a stealth approach to avoid them. The nearest contact started moving toward the team, cautiously, appearing to have been alerted to our presence; I ordered the team into a hasty L-shape ambush, intending to catch the hostile in a crossfire with the silenced
weapons before he could contact the others, who appeared to remain at their posts. The ambush was spotted by the approaching hostile, and we were forced to open fire before he entered the kill-zone; he was neutralized quickly, nevertheless, and his communicator and other intelligence was recovered. We continued sweeping for the OSD. Bill recognized the area, and began looking for the OSD, while the remainder of the team set up a defensive perimeter. As Bill searched, we determined from the comm chatter that the hostiles had become aware that one of their number was missing, and were moving toward his last position, and therefore, ours. Bill recovered the OSD, just as the hostiles closed within engagement range, and I ordered the team to advance under fire into flanking positions of the eastern-most hostile, who was alone, and neutralize him, giving the team a clear egress to the extraction point; at the same time, I sent Crewman Dae-Jung the signal to move out. The hostiles immediately returned ineffectual fire; I informed Crewman Dae-Jung that we were receiving fire, and that he should expedite his arrival at the rendezvous point. As we advanced, Crewman Reid began suppressing the lone hostile with assault rifle fire, but was forced to turn his fire on the other hostiles, who were advancing quickly from the West and firing blindly in the team’s direction; the remainder of his team continued to charge the lone hostile, leaving him exposed. My group halted, and relieved Crewman Reid, by providing suppressive fire on the two incoming hostiles, allowing him to fall back. The lone hostile, having taken cover behind a tree, managed to pop out and shoot ChEng Adler in the upper torso as he rounded the corner; ChEng Adler’s injury was not life-threatening, and he continued to press the attack. After a brief firefight, all hostiles were neutralized, and the team continued to the rendezvous point and were extracted by Crewman Dae-Jung. During the extraction, ChEng Adler’s injury was seen to by Crewman Ekala.

Although the operation was, ultimately, a success, I consider it to have been tactically “messy”; better organization and communication might have prevented the one injury that the team sustained. Most of our combat training is focused on ship-board action, and we were less-than-prepared for an open-field fight. Some time and effort should be devoted to such combat situations, communication refined, and SOPs developed and practiced, in case we should find ourselves in such a situation again.

We had little time to plan the rescue operation, given the constraints of the situation, and availability of mission equipment was limited, so a great deal of improvisation was required. Our intelligence indicated that there were three agents in the target room with the hostage, one in an adjacent room, and one keeping covert watch in the hotel lobby. It was decided to use a zip-line approach from the outside, rather than go through the wall of an adjacent room as originally desired. The operation was to be split into two teams, one to observe from our hotel room, provide support if required, and operate the climbing equipment, and the other to enter the target room, neutralize any resistance, and secure the hostage. The basic elements of the plan were as follows:

  • Climbing equipment was procured, as was our escape vehicle, prior to the operation, via Bob’s dummy identities; the vehicle was to be parked in the parking area adjacent to the front of the hotel building along our egress route
  • Bob was able to provide the team with silenced slugthrower pistols and SMGs, and nanoweave protective vests, along with other un-silenced firearms at individual request
  • ChEng Adler was tasked to hack a hotel keycard, to provide quick access to the target room; done in advance, and tested
  • It was decided to perform the rescue operation at 03:00 Local Time, to provide night-cover for our egress, and to increase the likelihood that any hostiles present would be asleep, or otherwise less than fully-alert
  • The “Window Team,” to consist of ChEng Adler, and Crewmen Ekala and Dae-Jung, would take up position at our hotel window, and observe the target room via hyperspectral scope, both before and during the clearing operation
  • The “Door Team,” to consist of ChSecO Vik (myself), Crewmen Prudhomme and Reid, and Bob, were to take up position in the target hallway, having approached separately so as to not raise suspicion
  • On Go-signal, Window Team was to fire the zip-lines, securing them above the target window, while observing the behavior of the occupants via the hyperspectral scope, expecting that any conscious occupants might detect the strike of the pitons and move to investigate
  • Immediately after, Door Team was to enter the target room via the master-key, neutralize any enemy agents, and secure the hostage, who, according to our reconnaissance, was being held in the main bathroom; if heavy resistance was met, the Window Team was prepared to cross over to the target window via the zip-lines and provide flanking fire from the window, entering as necessary
  • Once the room had been pacified, the Window Team was to secure the climbing rigs for rapid descent, while the Door Team secured the room and prepared themselves and the hostage for descent
  • Both teams and hostage would then descend by twos to ground level, and egress to the escape vehicle

Pre-operation reconnaissance by the Window Team indicated that there were at least two more hostiles than initially observed, in another adjacent room, and that the agent in the lobby had come up as well. All hostiles appeared to be sleeping, except one guard in the target room. The heat-signature believed to be the hostage had not moved, remaining in the main bathroom of the target suite. As conditions in the target room had apparently not changed, the plan was not modified.

On the Go-signal, the Window Team fired the pitons and secured the zip-lines, reporting that the lone room-guard had responded to the sound, as expected. The Door Team then entered the room. The alert guard reacted quickly, and was shot multiple times, but appeared to have been wearing a concealed protective-vest; he managed to verbally alert the others to our presence, and return fire (one shot, only), but was shot in the head and extremities, incapacitating him before he could reach his communicator. The other hostiles, who had been asleep, attempted to reach their weapons and return fire, but being unarmored, were quickly neutralized. Overall, the room-clearing operation resulted in four hostiles dead or incapacitated, no injuries to the assault team, and taking 10-15 seconds at most.

The Window Team was immediately called over, and they prepared the descent rig, with Crewman Reid, being the most experienced climber, supervising the descent operation. The hostage was located in the main bathroom, bound, beaten, and determined to be heavily sedated, such that he would need to be carried; he was placed in a harness and was lowered to the ground first, along with Bob. Crewman Prudhomme, who was securing the hotel-room door, reported that a number of hostiles were gathering outside the door, presumably having awakened and approached from the adjacent rooms; the hostiles knocked, then called out what we assumed was a pass-challenge, at which point Crewman Prudhomme disabled the locking mechanism with pistol fire. ChSecO vik (myself) and Crewman Reid pulled rear-security for the descent operation, as the rest of the team descended, and then followed. The hostiles were in the process gaining forced-entry into the room as we escaped to the waiting vehicle, without further incident.

Although the operation itself went according to plan, and mostly without incident, the situation dictated some less-than-ideal conditions; for example, although all the hostiles that had seen us were, or were likely, deceased, the remaining enemy would probably be able to identify us via the hotel staff, or possibly security recordings, since masking our identities, given our limited capabilities, might have aroused suspicion amongst the hotel patrons (though our extensive use of Bob’s false identities and locally-cached equipment throughout the operation will likely prevent any connection to the ship). It would have been preferable to have had the opportunity to rehearse the operation beforehand; most of our prep-time was taken with gathering the needed gear. Once again, we were less-than-prepared for encountering armored foes, and likely should have attempted to procure armor-piercing ammunition, though the reduced take-down capability might have been an issue, and the matter was easily enough overcome. The room-clearing operation went relatively smoothly, no doubt, owing to our experience and training with boarding actions. That said, it could have gone more smoothly had we succeeded in taking out the lone sentry in one silenced shot, not allowing him to alert the other hostiles to our presence. It would be advisable to focus a bit more on initial accuracy in our upcoming boarding drills. With the exception of Crewman Reid, none of the crew are experienced climbers, tactical or otherwise, resulting in a near-catastrophe, as ChSecO Vik’s (myself) descender-coupling was improperly secured, and failed upon descent; were it not for his quick reflex and the timely intervention of Crewman Reid, the 13-story fall would surely have been fatal. This lack of experience should be remedied through proper training, in case we are called upon to perform similar missions in the future; inquiry will be made into the possibility of securing appropriate training gear and software.

01-Jul-2173 (18:25:42)
Ships Status: All systems normal
Navigational Status: APISHLUN SUBSECTOR (0825), DURIIM

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13th June 2173 (1024-E Fomalhaut)

After our rescue and securing of the Betty, we began repairs to her internal systems.  Her maneuver drives were shot (literally) and could not be repaired locally.  The plan is to tow her to the system’s gas giant were we can refuel.  On the way I will try and make repairs to as much of her internal systems as possible.

Once at the Gas Giant, the Emerald Monarch can refuel then tow the Betty to the 100au mark in order to jump to a system with repair facilities.  I plan on making the jump with the Betty to ensure that everything goes fine.

Since I had all the tools with me on the Betty, I took some spare time during the tow to finish the machining and assembly of the first production B.E.A.R. system (in 7.62mm).  I forgot to mention it before, but the prototype worked quite well and I only had one minor bug.  It turned out to be a small problem in the mechanical ignition sequence that presented itself as a 3% dud rate.  A redesign of the ignition coil solved the problem.

Here is a photo of the first one:

22nd June 2173 (1024-E Fomalhaut)

We are almost done with the refueling and a ship has just shown up on long range sensors.  We do not know it’s intentions, but we are preparing for the worse.

Having already assumed computer control of the Betty’s systems, initial reconnaissance indicated three hostiles aboard, and at least two crewmen as hostages, which we expected to be held on the upper deck, locked in staterooms. We planned to feign a docking action as “requested” by the hostiles, in order to draw them toward the Betty’s engineering section, aft; once in place, Cpt Brierfield was to announce his intention to board, the signal to begin the operation, and then withdraw back to the Emerald Monarch. Immediately upon receiving the signal, ChEng Adler was to lock down all compartments on the Betty, trapping the hostiles in engineering and mid-hold, at which point the security team was to enter the ship via the breach in the lower hold, and sweep the ship for any remaining hostiles, while retrieving the hostages. The security team would consist of six individuals, per standard doctrine, based on the expected number of hostiles: myself (ChSecO Vik), XO Matthews, ChEng Adler, and Crewmen Prudhomme, Ekala, and Quaid.

Once the Betty was locked down, the security team entered the main deck through the cargo office hatch, and proceeded forward, clearing the staterooms, while Crewman Quaid secured the rear. A hostile was encountered on the bridge, holding a crewman hostage. ChEng Adler bumped the artificial gravity, causing the hostage to fall to the floor and the hostile to break his aim, at which point we immediately engaged and neutralized the hostile. Most of our fire was ultimately ineffective, due to the hostile’s armor, although XO Matthews did manage to destroy the hostile’s pistol, forcing him to un-sling his rifle in close-quarters; Crewman Prudhomme’s gauss rifle was the only weapon able to penetrate. The hostage was unharmed, but shaken. Having no further contact forward, ChEng Adler convinced the hostage to indicate the number of hostiles and crewmen remaining, and their probable locations; she indicated that there were four hostiles, not three as initial intelligence suggested. Crewman Quaid was to remain below with the hostage, as the team proceeded to the upper deck, where we were met by a second hostile at the hatch. We engaged the hostile, who then retreated from the hatch. We pressed through to the upper deck, flanking the hostile, who was attempting to take cover in an open stateroom. After his primary weapon was destroyed, the hostile threw out his sidearm, to surrender, and XO Matthews and Crewman Prudhomme immediately moved in to subdue him, while I cleared the remaining staterooms and released the other hostage, the Betty’s captain. Afterward, Crewman Quaid observed the two remaining hostiles as they attempted to bypass the hatch. It was decided to remove the hostages from the premises, and attempt to convince the remaining hostiles to surrender themselves, rather than risk further open confrontation. The hostiles refused to leave the ship, believing that the authorities would sentence them to death, and continued to attempt to escape. ChEng Adler sneaked through the hold to the engineering section behind the hostiles, observing them unnoticed, and once the security team had secured themselves on the upper deck, violently fluctuated the mid-hold gravity until the hostiles were rendered unconscious. All hostiles were remanded to the Betty’s stasis pods to await her captain’s discretion.

The operation basically went according to plan, although there were a few areas that could use some improvement. Our anti-armor capabilities need to be enhanced ASAP; at the first opportunity, the ship’s ammunition stores need to be supplemented with armor-piercing rounds, and boarding SOP and training adjusted to include its use. Crewman Prudhomme acted recklessly on the upper deck, firing on the hostile who had already indicated surrender, causing the hostile to struggle; Crewman Prudhomme was verbally reprimanded afterward, and has promised to control himself better in the future. Some hand-held sensor packs might be a good investment, and might prevent further blind-corner surprises (such as the hostile at the hatch to the upper deck); SOP to be reviewed once that equipment becomes available. I have also suggested that we review our own security procedures with regard to artificial gravity access, to ensure similar tactics are not used against us in the future.

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26 May 2173 (1222-A Dingir, near Dasadi)

Well, we finished the outfitting and are making our way outbound to test the guns.  We will not be doing any test firings of the missiles as they are too expensive.

Later – Testing went off without a hitch.

We started to analogize the data on the memory stick.  It was quite sparse and only included a set of coordinates in the Fomalhaut (1024-E) system.  We copied them down and jettisoned the memory stick out the airlock.

29 May 2173 — 4 June 2173: Transit from 1222-A Dingir (Dasadi) to 1224-C  Kinunir

Spent the trip doing my std language study and continuing the development of the B.E.A.R. weapons system.  The rest of the crew was doing the norm or training on the new weapons system.  We stopped at the locate go-juice joint for a quick refuel (unrefined).  Woot, payday.

6 June 2173 — 12 June 2173: Transit from 1224-C  Kinunir to 1024-E Fomalhaut

Spent the trip doing my std language study and continuing the development of the B.E.A.R. weapons system.  The rest of the crew was doing the norm or training on the new weapons system.

13th June 2173 (1024-E Fomalhaut)

We approached the given coordinates and can detect a 200-ton Hero class vessel adrift.  Preliminary scans indicate loss of power and some external hull damage.  We also detect an S.O.S. from the Hero (her name is Betty) class ship.

Since we know that the ship was jumped, boarded, and ransacked, we can only assume that most, if not all, of the crew had been killed and the the S.O.S. is more than likely automated.

We were wrong.  As we get closer we are detecting signs of life.  We even establish radio contact.  However, the story we are getting does not jive with what was overheard in the bar.  This smells like a trap.  I would like nothing better than the open up with all our lasers at point blank and vaporize the pirates on board.  Unfortunately, during the radio conversation we discover at least one Terran female is on board.

Our initial plan is to have them EVA to an air raft then transfer to us.  But, they are claiming airlock damage and the inability to EVA.  They are claiming the need to do a physical connection with a docking ring in order to succeed.

I was smelling a rat, now it’s a dead elephant as there are numerous airlocks in the Hero class that could not all be damaged.

I talk the Captain, and the Hero crew, into allowing an air raft flyby in order to do a physical inspection and plan for the requested physical hookup.  I think after I finish with the B.E.A.R. prototype (and a few guns) that I need to build some surveillance drones.

During the flyby, I could see at least one additional female Terran on board (in the upper deck living quarters.  As we come around and under the Betty, we found a large gash in her lower cargo area.  I make the snap decision to insert myself to do some recon.  Without stopping, I let my pilot (via suit-to-suit radio) that I am getting off.  He slows down just enough so I can jump off safely.  He then returned to the Emerald Monarch.

As I enter the cargo area, I see that most of the cargo is there and the power is off.  Gravity is still on however.  I look around the cargo area and found the local terminal.  It is in intruder lockout mode.  We may be in luck and the Vilani may not have access to the computers,  comms, etc.  Double luck, they left the default maintenance password enabled and I am able to access the whole system.  I setup a computer modem radio link with the Emerald Monarch so we can access the Betty’s systems, change all the passwords, and re-lock the system.

I headed over to the gash to report in, now that I know they cannot use the ship’s comms to detect me, and we formulate an attack plan.

1.  Using the pretense that the Betty’s normal airlock is not accessible (due to the fuel scoop protrusions), plan on joining at the rear airlock.

2.  Lure all the pirates into Engineering and the rear cargo areas.

3.  As the Emerald Monarch approaches, and air raft with the assault team enters through the lower cargo gash.

4.  When the assault begins, lock down all doors to trap the pirates in the rear areas and jam all radio traffic that is not on our freq using the Betty’s own comm systems.

5.  The assault group will enter the main deck through the hatch in the airlock area.

Well, the assault started ok.  We did not see any pirates until we got to the bridge.  We could see one pirate, in space combat armor, on the bridge, facing the door, with a pistol to a female Terran’s head.

Quick plan:

1.  Mr Mathews and I will lay prone and aim at the bad guy.

2.  The others will brace against the bridge bulkhead.

3.  I write a quick program to increase gravity to 3g, open the door, then normalize gravity.

4.  Mr Mathews and I are to shoot as the door opens.  Hopefully the max gravity pulse will make the pirate drop teo the floor.

You know what they say about “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy”, they are right.  As soon as gravity kicks in, on of our guys collapses.  It gets worse from there, as I take a shot at the pirate’s face (he is still standing with the pistol in his hand), the bullet embeds itself into the face shield and does not penetrate.  That is one luck SOB.  Mr Mathews gets off a good burst from his laser pistol and turns the pirate’s pistol to slag.  Remi lets off a burst from his rail gun and turns the guy’s arm into hamburger.

Second problem, gravity does not normalize and the guy ducks behind a bulkhead to get the rifle off his back.  Considering the arm, that is going to take a while.  The Terran is crawling to wards us.  I take some time to manually restore normal gravity.  Remi carefully moves forward to finish off the pirate while the rest of us clear room and assist the Terran to the safety of the crew area behind the bridge.

—more to come as we look for the second (or more) Terran–