Back with the Fleet

Characters: Gvarokh, Lakir, Vincent, Dougok, Slade
NPC: Elloekothe, Chuck, Vlad, Uengghae, Simrii, Kagfak, Irma
Location: Pack of Daggers
System: Ikhog

1126.46.1 - 13:45 Imperial Time, 5:45 Vilani Time

Pack of Daggers and its destroyer escort have returned to Sitka where the fleet remains, orbiting the gas giant.

Admiral Laengnourz comms on the tightbeam. "Captain Gvarokh, thank you for co-operating with my request to destroy the weapon."

"Thank you for being flexible in how we did that."

"While we wait for the courier, should you need supplies, please contact Aedhfazidzso's chief steward. I expect the courier to return from Gvadhoe with instructions in a few days."

Gvarokh wants to press further, but opts not to. "We will do so. Thank you."

With that the line is closed.

Gvarokh tells the crew that they'll order what they think they can get away with in order to top everything off while the admiral waits for the courier's return.

46.4 - 15:00 Imperial Time, 15:00 Vilani Time

There's always someone keeping watch on the sensors to observe all the comings and goings. It's at about this time that the courier returns to the fleet.

16:00 Imperial Time, 16:00 Vilani Time

Admiral Laengnourz comms on the tightbeam. "Captain Gvarokh, thank you for waiting patiently with us. I have received word from Great Hunter Ngath that you are to remain here until the Judge Advocate General of Confederation Security Adjudication arrives to provide you with a certificate of amnesty for your given testimony so that you may once again move freely through the Confederation."

Gvarokh replies, "Understood. And thank you for helping us through this."

He nods curtly.

Gvarokh continues, "About how long will that take? I want to make sure we get enough supplies to cover the time."

He consults a datapad. "Two weeks."

Planning on Dropping Rocks

Characters: Gvarokh, Vincent, Dougok, Slade
NPC: Lakir, Elloekothe, Chuck, Vlad, Uengghae, Simrii, Kagfak, Irma
Location: Pack of Daggers, orbiting Sitka
System: Ikhog

1126.46.4 - 13:00 Imperial Time, 13:00 Vlani Time

It's been three days since returning to the fleet at Sitka and five days since Gvarokh asked Vlad, Chuck, and Vincent to look into the possibility of dropping a rock on the lab at Gemid. The group now has their findings.

"We can do it," Chuck says to kick off the meeting.

"It's good to have the option," Gvarokh says with a wag of his tail.

"We found dozens of candidates that are large enough to do the job," Vlad says, then with a look towards Vincent, continues, "but are small enough that we can use the ship to alter the rock's vector. The question is how big a splash you want to make. Getting through the dome requires a lot of energy, so there will be a minimum size to accomplish both penetration of the dome and destruction of the facility. But we can also push a rock big enough to destroy the whole city."

"Wow!" Simrii exclaims in a rare show of emotion.

"What about detection?" Gvarokh asks.

"There's two extremes to the approach we can use," Chuck answers. "We'll likely go somewhere in-between.

"At one extreme, we can go hard and fast with the rock. We push the rock up to a speed that the local navy can't stop it. We'll be detected for sure, so getting away could be a problem."

Vlad adds, "And the bigger the rock, the greater chance of success, but we'll likely be detected as it will require more thrust time to achieve sufficient velocity. A smaller rock will require a high enough velocity to avoid being intercepted by local defense forces. Again, that will mean we're exposed as well."

"At the other end," Chuck resumes, "we push one big rock or several smaller ones in at a low enough velocity that it looks natural. This is one with the greatest odds of our survival as we break away weeks before impact. Unfortunately, it gives the local defense forces plenty of time to intercept the rocks unless there are too many to take out or too big to destroy."

"The naval base really complicates things," Vlad says with a frown. "If a fleet is present, they'll have the firepower available to even stop a big rock."

After it becomes clear that Vlad is done speaking, Gvarokh says, "This is great work, guys. But I have a few questions."

"Sure, ask away," Chuck says.

"Ok, if we do the more distant objects, can we be identified? We can probably be spotted, but can we be individually identified?"

Chuck answers, "Not with our transponder turned off. We'll just look like another Ueknou class corsair. For perspective, we're talking 50 AUs out. Unless they just happen to have a satellite out there scanning around, we're not getting spotted until we're way in."

"When moving the closer rocks around, how long will it likely take them to detect them starting to move unusually?"

"Depends on their sensor net. If it's as good as I think it is, just a couple of hours for something coming out of the inner belt."

Elloekothe confirms. "It is that good."

"For the big rock, how long would we have to thrust to get it into position? Would we even have enough fuel to finish or jump after? Are any of these objects comets? Because if they are, that obviously solves any issues with fuel."

Chuck turns to Vincent. "This is your area."

Vincent nods. "Yeah, well, that's the thing. Anything we'd want to move, we can move into a path that will send it inward towards Gemid before running out of fuel. The limiting factor becomes how fast we want it to go. The bigger the rock, the slower it'll go by the time we have to let it go before fuel becomes a problem. If you want it to go faster than what we can accomplish on one fuel tank, we go get more. We really can't do that with big rocks in the inner belt."

Chuck adds, "We have so many options right now. What we need from you, Captain, is how soon do you want the rock to hit the target after we move it? Tell us that, and we can narrow it down." He looks to Vlad and Vincent. "Right?"

"Right," they answer simultaneously.

Gvarokh says, "My priorities are, in order, #1 to be able to get away, and #2 to make it as hard for them to stop as possible. So, how quickly it hits them is secondary to their being able to stop it. Which in turn is secondary to us, I dunno, living.

"So, to sum up, I guess it's either as big of a rock as we can effectively push, get it up to speed and on target, and get the hell out; or spin up several smaller rocks that they won't notice for at least a week, get them moving, then get out and watch the news reports."

Chuck looks to Vlad and Vincent. "That works for us. Right?" Vlad and Vincent both nod.

Vincent adds, "We'll just need to stop somewhere to get some steel to build out a frame that we can attach to the ship so that we can push the rock or rocks."

The JAG of CSA Arrives

Characters: Gvarokh, Vincent, Dougok, Slade
NPC: Lakir, Elloekothe, Chuck, Vlad, Uengghae, Simrii, Kagfak, Irma
Location: Pack of Daggers, orbiting Sitka
System: Ikhog

1126.48.4 - 13:45 Imperial Time, 29:45 Vlani Time

Two weeks have gone by. To prevent crewmembers from going stir crazy, Gvarokh has members go for walks outside along the hull. In vacc suits, of course.

It's pretty obvious when the JAG of Confederation Security Adjudication arrives. Passive sensors go nuts with ships exiting jumpspace. It soon becomes apparent that there's a whole fleet arriving, thus making two fleets present around Sitka.

Shortly after the last ship arrives, Admiral Laengnourz comms on the tightbeam. "Captain Gvarokh, I have a copy of your certificate of amnesty. Transmitting it now." True to his word, the file is transmitted to the ship.

"You are now free to go. However, if you'd be willing to indulge for a few more hours, the Judge Advocate General of Confederation Security Adjudication would appreciate it if you and your senior staff would be willing to join us for dinner. You're under no obligation to do so. You've been exceptionally patient with us these past few weeks. I would absolutely understand if you and your crew want to leave and get on with your lives."

Gvarokh responds, "We would be delighted to accept your invitation. Thank you!"

"Splendid. I'll have a boat sent to your ship three hours from now." With that, the communication ends.

Once the call ends, Vincent says, "I'm just speaking for myself here, but I say we need to get the hell out of here."

Gvarokh replies, "I really want to get out of here too. Knowing that Vlad's idea can work is very encouraging, and I would like to get on with it and complete our mission too.

"That said, simply cutting and running is dangerous. If we simply run back to Gemid and nuke them, we are done and have to keep running. But going to this dinner gives us a chance to make more inroads to the local power structure. Maybe we can even finish our mission for the admiral! Yes, there is risk involved by this dinner, but I think the potential for more opportunities is too big to blow off."

Elloekothe agrees. Her tail wags. "The opportunity to gather more intel on the Confederation is too important to pass up."

Lakir remains leery. "I'm hopin' they don't decide to drag us into anymore of their black ops shit. Not really likin' doin' other people's dirty work."

Dougok sniffs the air and chomps his teeth. "I agree with Elloekothe, though for a different reason. I think that this will be a great chance for us to make connections with very important vargr. After this mission is over, the admiral is going to take this ship back and give us that old kig. We're going to need jobs that pay us enough to get us ships like this one. We got lucky with the old one. I'd like something better before our luck runs out."

Dinner with the JAG

Characters: Gvarokh & Dougok
NPC: Lakir & Elloekothe
Location: NCNS Aedhfazidzso, orbiting Sitka
System: Ikhog

1126.48.4 - 16:45 Imperial Time, 00:45 Vlani Time

Right on time, the dinner shuttle arrives and docks with the Pack of Daggers. The four dinner attendees are dressed in their finest clothes. Dougok's ensemble is the loudest with a white jacket with lots of ornaments: bright epaulets, ribbons, and faux medals. Gvarokh is conservative by comparison. Elloekothe has a shiny yellow dress with sequins. Lakir wears a dark blue suit. He seems lost without his utility vest.

Once on board the admiral's flagship, the group is escorted to a large conference room with three long tables. One of the tables is perpendicular to the others. Viewed from above, it would look like a blocky letter "C". Chairs are on the outside, facing inward. There are seven chairs at the head table and ten each on the other two. The walls are adorned with paintings of naval officers. No one is seated, instead gathered in small packs with small, shallow glass bowls filled with a light violet liquid.

Admiral Laengnourz greets you. "Welcome aboard the Aedhfazidzso, Captain Gvarokh."

"Thank you, Admiral." Gvarokh then proceeds to introduce Lakir, Elloekothe, and Dougok as senior members of his staff.

A steward arrives with a tray full of the glass bowls, and everyone takes one to appear polite.

Gvarokh says, "Admiral, I'd like to thank you once again for working with us to get rid of the weapon and clear our names. You didn't have to do that, but you did anyway. It is truly appreciated."

"Don't give me too much credit, Captain. If it wasn't for my informant, you'd be locked up with Captain Tsuengsaekh and the others awaiting a military tribunal. Then again, if it wasn't for my informant, it is highly unlikely I, or anyone else, would've found out about this nefarious mission in the first place."

Once the admiral is finished speaking, and before anyone can reply to what he's just said, Dougok says, "Excuse me, I believe that I know someone over there." With that, he's seen to strut across the room and merge with a pack of officers in the corner. Apparently Dougok was not mistaken as he is warmly greeted by one of the officers.

After Dougok departs, Gvarokh responds, "Then I will thank your informant if I ever have the chance to meet them."

An aide approaches the admiral and says something in his ear. The admiral replies, "Thank you. Give us two minutes to get everyone situated and then send them in." The aide nods and departs.

Admiral Laengnourz addresses the room. "Everyone, our guests have arrived. Please make your way to your seats." Returning his attention to Gvarokh and the others, he says, "I'll show you to your seats."

While not seated at the head table, the four attendees are to be seated immediately adjacent to it, facing the doorway. The admiral and two members of his senior staff will be seated at the head table closest to Gvarokh and company. The center seat and three others on the far side are vacant. The rest of the attendees are standing behind their seats. Lakir notes that they're all captain rank and whispers it to Gvarokh.

The aide from earlier is standing at the door and barks for everyone's attention. All in attendance turn to face him. He then proceeds to announce the arrival of the remaining guests. First up is Admiral Zorrsuekhthino. There's a group bark of acknowledgement. Elloekothe whispers that he's the Confederation's most senior and decorated admiral. He's followed by Aen Okirrorgounaer, the Prime Minister of Ikhog. She receives a bark as well.

Much to the group's surprise, Judge Advocate General of Confederation Security Adjudication Ogh Nguers enters next. As the dinner was supposed to be with him, it strikes them as odd that there's an empty seat remaining. Moments later, the mystery is cleared.

"And now, our guest of honor, the Great Hunter Ngath!"

The room erupts with raucous barks as an elderly vargr enters the room. He smiles, revealing plenty of teeth, although one of his canines is missing. He gradually makes his way to the seat of honor and motions for everyone to sit.

Admiral Laengnourz stands and makes a speech. "I'm sorry, Captains, for having kept you here for, circling this watering hole for so long. Some of you expressed concern about wanting to resume the hunt, but I asked for patience. And you gave it to me. Now, you can see why we waited here. For we are about to embark on a great hunt." With that, he gestures to Ngath and takes his seat.

Ngath rises and speaks with a strength of voice that belies his appearance. "Honored wolves, thank you for dining with me this evening... well, they tell me that it's evening." A chuckle ripples through the crowd. "And thank you for your loyalty. Tomorrow, we set forth to a den of traitors. Yes, yes, we're a confederation and not an empire. But we're united in purpose, share common goals of prosperity. Left alone, we would step on each other's paws and fight over the same kills, possibly only winding up with scraps and angry bellies. We all know that our people throughout space have this problem. But here in the Confederation, we realize this. We work together with direction, cooperation, and coordination that strong leadership provides." Muted yips of agreement percolate through the room.

"But now there's a cancer in our midst. A pack has decided that they know best. Disagreement within the pack is nothing new. Since we first roamed the lands of Lair have packs disagreed. But this pack is different. They use a horrible poison that kills all creatures and renders the land tainted for years to come. So weak was their case that, rather than challenge me, the sniveling cowards sent others out to assassinate me. Not professionals, mind you. These would-be assassins were forced at gunpoint to carry out their demands or suffer the same fate!"

Angry barks pop up in the room, making Lakir—the only human in the room—nervous.

"Now we're not Aslan. We do not worship at the altar of honor. So I do not blame these reluctant would-be assassins. If a wolf has its teeth on your throat, you do what it wants in the hope that you can survive, live another day." Ngath's voice turns menacing. "To get revenge." This is met with yips of agreement.

"Tomorrow, we set out on the path of vengeance. We will be joined by others and together we will make these fools curse their mothers that they were born!"

The room is filled with barking cheers, followed by chants of "Ngath!" Once they calm down a bit, a toast is made and the room settles down to something calmer than before Ngath's arrival.

Dinner is brought in. Some considerate soul in the galley has done Lakir a solid by actually cooking the steak he's been served as opposed to just warming it up. It's on the rare side, but Lakir doesn't make a fuss.

Afterwards, as the tables are cleared and after dinner drinks are provided, the attendees stand and mill about the room. Admiral Laengnourz introduces the group to JAG Nguers and Ngath.

Ngath sniffs the air and says, "It's a good thing Admiral Laengnourz found you first. You wouldn't have stood a chance." He laughs at his own joke, eliciting laughter from the admiral and Nguers.

He continues, "Has Admiral Laengnourz informed you of our plan?"

Before Gvarokh can reply, the admiral answers, "No, I thought that you should do that, sir."

"Ahhhh. Well, you probably picked up the scent from my speech. We're headed to Gemid to eliminate the traitors. Would you like to join us? I would love to see the look on their faces when they see you, alive and well, by my side. If not, I understand. A vargr's gotta eat after all, and my battles are not yours to fight."

Gvarokh replies, "This is our fight too. We would be honored to accompany you."

"Excellent," Ngath barks. "Then be ready by... When are we due to head out, Admiral?"

"0800."

"Be ready by 0800. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find a tree." With that he saunters off, under escort, to find a bathroom.

Admiral Laengnourz says to Gvarokh, "You haven't upgraded the jump drive on your Ueknou, have you?"

"No, why?"

"All the ships in the fleet operate at jump-3. Those that can't are loaded onto carriers or battle riders. If you want to go with us, you'll have to do likewise."

Gvarokh replies, "In for a ksirr; in for an antaelloudh. Let us know where to be and when, and we'll be ready."

"Splendid. As we're setting sail by 0800, expect to receive docking instructions by 0700."

Not wishing to be late for departure, Gvarokh asks the admiral for permission to return to his ship to make preparations. He collects Dougok, and when the admiral indicates the return shuttle is ready, the group leaves the dinner party.

Next: Off To War