Deep Space Sensor Buoy #3
Outer reaches of the Centaurus System
15 April, 3080
The remote sensor system sat on the outer reaches of the system and kept watch. The buoy was linked to a small space station sitting in orbit around Centaurus VII via laser-comms, an older communication system that was reliable for this sort of work. Granted, there was a little bit of lag involved but nothing crippling. It was a sensor buoy, not a weapon platform so instant communication wasn’t needed.
And it was this buoy that picked up on the jump signatures of three craft entering the system. Three craft… of which the IFF identified as one Warship and two civilian jump ships. And all three carried the identifiers for Clan Ghost Bear.
Deep Space Sensor Station Agnes
In orbit around Centaurus VII
The four of the eight members of Gold Crew were awake when the transient alarm for Buoy #3 activated. Casey Cochran, the senior tech on duty, floated over to look at the readout on the sensor station screen. The usual process out here was set everything on Auto Alert and investigate as needed. With the heightened alert over the Returned (as they were called on planet) and possible hostile visitors, there was double crews on all Sensor Stations to lessen stress. And as extra eyes as needed… In theory, there was live manning of the LIDAR stations but in practice, it was business as usual. Just more folks to respond to an alert.
“Who is visiting today…” Casey Cochran muttered as the other three techs of the watch moved towards their own stations. “Friend or foe?” Tapping on a keyboard to bring up the data being beamed in, he let out a low whistle. “Well shut my mouth…” He said afterward. “Looks like we have company folks. Clan Type.”
From across the deck, Charlene McDaniel called out. “Confirmed… one Carrack Warship class and two Odyssey Jump Ships. No emissions noted other than sensor sweeps yet.”
Casey looked over to the third member of the duty team. “Jonny, you and Mackie get the others awake; depending on how friendly they are, we might have to hit the shuttles and get the hell out of here.” He said. “Clanners are a long way from home- and this is likely not a social call.” Jonny nodded and swam for the sleep-pod portion of the station, Mackie right behind him.
Kiiko Yammishita, the resident Combine translator and communications technician pulled up the comm-panel into active status. “Ready to send messages, Casey,” she said in her accented soprano as she started typing what they knew for an emergency message out. “Only one warship?”
Casey responded. “That’s what is showing, Kiiko. No messages from them yet- wait!” The Senior technician held a hand to the headset he put on about ten seconds before. “Got one… General System Freq…” Tapping a few keys, he brought up the transmission on to the deck speakers.
[…Centarus System Control… this is the CGB Den Mother of Task Force Respite. We are requesting SAFCON to the Fourth Planet of this System for a Parley pertaining to the events of 23 October 2823 and a Grand Trial of Grievance pertaining to actions taken in name of Khan Sarah McEvedy of Clan Wolverine.
Centarus System Control… this is the CGB Den Mother of Task Force Respite. We are requesting SAFCON to the Fourth Planet of this System for a Parley pertaining to the events of 23 October 2823 and a Grand Trial of Grievance pertaining to actions taken in name of Khan Sarah McEvedy of Clan Wolverine.
This fleet will await a reply at this location. Aerospace elements are for self-protection only…]
On the sensor screen, several small blips appeared, about a dozen in all.
“Oh, holy shit…” Casey breathed. A veteran of Operation BULLDOG, he knew some of the terms being used and last time he heard the Safcon request was during the end of BULLDOG in the landing on Strana Mechty when he was just a Stingray pilot. This was huge… “Kiiko, send a copy of that transmission to the Lancer Command and notify the State of Grace and Yukon to stand to; things just got a whole lot complicated.”
“Sent,” Kiiko replied. “What do you want to send to the clan ships? I have the frequency ready.”
“FucifIkno…” Casey replied with a shake of his head. At this point, the rest of Gold Crew came spilling into the deck. “Lieutenant!”
Lieutenant Sariah Ford, the senior member on board the station, swam through the space and took up position next to Casey. She looked at the screen then to her senior tech. “So, Mister Cochran, your opinion?” She asked in her syrupy Southern accent.
“Ma’am… this is what they say they are. There is no way this is an invasion, not with one warship, a dozen fighters and maybe ten dropships. Granted, its enough to move a cluster of forces, depending on what types they are; sensors show a couple Broadswords and at least two Union-C’s out there. What’s on them, your guess is as good as mine.”
Kiiko spoke up. “Message from Lancer Command. They are saying figure out what they want; escorts are on the way.”
Sariah gave a thumbs up to Kiiko then looked at the sensor feed. “Well, I guess I need to find out what’s up. And my hair is a mess too…” a sigh. “Fire up the video feed, Mister Cochran. Time to pull a rabbit out of my hat.”
CGB Den Mother
Loremaster Tseng stood on the bridge alongside Star Colonel Lebowski and the ship’s captain, Star Admiral Kirsten Devon, as they awaited the reply of the locals. She was the one who crafted the message sent to the local Sensor Control station. Its contents had been debated on between the three Clan officers and it had been decided to be up front.
Anything less would have been considered a trap… and at least the three ships here all had Lithium-Fusion sets to allow an emergency jump if this didn’t go well. “Is this pause normal, Admiral?” She asked.
The Star Admiral looked at her chronometer then looked at the Clan Loremaster. “Considering this is an outpost station and likely does not have a micro HPG, I expect we will have a small wait. We detected an FTL laser transmission, so I expect an answer soon,” she replied. “Nervous, Quaff?”
Tseng nodded. “Aff”
Lebowski shrugged. “It will be what it will be…” He said as he lifted up a data pad. “I will not stress over events I cannot affect until given an opportunity to affect them.”
A communications technician called out. “Star Admiral, video reply from the local station; Bringing up the feed now”
On the main screen, a woman with shoulder length platinum blonde hair appeared. It was slightly askew due to the low gravity of the station she was on but neat enough as a headband helped keep it in place. Her accent was a touch thick for them but understandable.
[CGB Den Mother, my name is Lieutenant Sariah Ford, commander of Centaurus Systems Outpost Three. Your message has been received and relayed to my higher command. I am instructed to tell you that Escorts are on their way and to confirm your intentions with transit into this system. Please do not continue further into system until their arrival.]
Star Admiral Devon looked at the screen then glanced to the Loremaster. “Friendlier reply than I was expecting.”
Tseng commented. “Well, you know they must have been awaiting someone to come this way if only to verify rumor.”
“Or they are that confident of their ability to deal with any and all comers,” Interjected Lebowski. “With their record, if true, I can see that confidence. And they are polite about it, too.”
Devon nodded. “I noticed that. And our reply should be as polite.” She pointed to her communications technician. “Technician James, go ahead and activate the camera.”
“Aff, Star Admiral.”
Devon positioned herself in a Parade Rest stance as she faced the video pickup, Tseng and Lebowski stepping back twice to leave the naval officer as the center of attention. Taking a deep breath to settle herself, the Admiral began speaking as she mentally willed herself to speak names not spoken openly in centuries.
“Greetings, Lieutenant Ford. I am Star Admiral Kirsten Devon of Clan Ghost Bear. I wish to assure you and your guests that our intentions in your system are exactly what was stated in the initial message. We wish to parley with the Survivors of…. Clan Wolverine… about the events of 23 October 2823. We also wish to request a Trial of Grievance over an egregious and abhorrent act done in the name of the Khan McEvedy and Clan Wolverine. With me-“
Deep Space Sensor Station Agnes
[-are Loremaster Laurie Tseng and Star Colonel Jeffery Lebowski. The Loremaster is here to confirm our findings with what records the…. Wolverines… have and to attempt to repair relations on behalf of future generations. Star Colonel Lebowski will be representing the Khan in whatever Trial is agreed to between parties over the Event we wish Grievance over.]
The silence on the command deck of the station was epic as the Clan Admiral was speaking. Kiiko was busy making sure the recorders were working and subsequently beaming the feed to Lancer Command. This was groundbreaking… and judging by the shocked face on Casey’s mug, more than that. He knew a thing or two about the clans, or so he had said; and judging by his reaction, this was against type.
Sariah, for her part, maintained her pleasant Business Smile Face. The LT was something of a fun boss… and Kiiko never saw her visibly get mad or get ruffled. Oh, you could see it in the eyes and flare of nostril if she was furious… but the syrup voice was always present. Sometimes it was a bit too sweet- then you knew you were fucked.
“Star Admiral, thank you for your candor and clarification. While I cannot perform ANY negotiation, I can and have been relaying this conversation to my superiors. What I DO have is authority to welcome you and yours to the Centaurus System. I can also relay to you my feelings that there may be a bit of relief for those you wish to speak with… as well as yourselves.” She smiled then glanced off screen to Jonny, who held up two fingers.
“Your Escorts will be here in about two hours, I am being told,” she said. “If you have any questions for me right now, I can do my best to answer them.”
The microphones were cut off at that moment and she maintained her smile for the camera. Even as she glanced at Casey, who was busy getting a bit better of a sensor read on the visitors. As a matter of fact, all the stations were manned on the deck as the crew attempted to refine information on the newcomers. Everyone else prepped for evac, just in case.
Casey hit a few more keys. “Carrack Class warship, with four Dropships. One appears to be a Sassanid Elemental Carrier, one Mule, two Union-C. The Odysseys each appear to have a pair of Broadswords and a pair of Mules,” he said. “So, at the very least two trinary and a binary of mechs and a trinary of elementals…. Plus, whatever is on those cargo ships. And at least a dozen aerospace fighters. Lotta firepower; more than enough for a raid. Not nearly enough for an invasion, not this far from their holdings.”
Sariah nodded as she waited for an answer from the Clan folks. “Noted, Mister Cochran.” She said quietly.
Command deck, CGB Den Mother
Star Admiral Devon smiled in return at the Lancer Lieutenant over the cameras. Turning to Tseng and Lebowski, she queried, “Either of you have anything?”
Lebowski shook his head. Tseng, however, had something to ask. “I do, if I may.” When Devon nodded, Tseng stepped forward and spoke, the microphones going live. “Lieutenant Ford, I am Loremaster Tseng. To your knowledge, does the remaining… Wolverine… members have a Loremaster of their own and would he or she be available? I would also like to speak with your own keeper of knowledge, someone I met many years ago…”
Sariah lifted an eyebrow as she responded. [Loremaster, I believe The Returned have one among their number; this should not be an issue, I should think… As for a keeper of knowledge among us, whom are you referring to?]
A smile. “She was a Major when last I met her, on Galatea. A Leslie Anne McCormack,” Tseng said. “I have some information for her and wish to compare notes. If she is still in that role, of course.”
On the screen, a half-smile formed on Sariah’s mouth. [Loremaster, I know the good Major; I am pretty sure she will be more than happy to speak with you. I will pass along your request- details can be worked out when you arrive on planet.]
“Very good,” Tseng replied and then glanced to Devon.
Devon stepped up again. “We will await our escorts, Lieutenant. This channel will be kept available and monitored should there be developments. Until we speak again, Lieutenant.” The video feed was faded out and the Communication technician indicated the channel was now in standby. When it was indicated, Devon looked over at Tseng. “What are the possibilities of them having Warships, Loremaster?” The Admiral motioned for the other two to follow her into a side conference room off the deck.
Tseng looked thoughtful as she followed. “The Wolf inventory of their assets indicated several missing warships; four, I believe. As large as their Naval Touman was, their raiding of the mothball fleets was known to several of the Clans- notable among them was Snow Raven, who were rather fastidious on knowing who had what ships. If the Wolverines possess any still, I suspect a Texas class will be one as it was unaccounted for. All told, there was four known unaccounted for of the known Touman.”
Taking a seat in the conference room, she waited for the door to close before she continued. “Past that, I do not wish to speculate too much. At one point, they had several Black Lions; I believe two were destroyed at the battle of Barbados but one was previously unknown to the Wolves. Records are obviously incomplete… and during the buildup to REVIVAL, inventory of the mothball fleets showed several discrepancies. Likely from the previous raiding. It was after the Annihilation that security on the anchorages was increased and improved.”
Devon blinked. “How many discrepancies?”
Tseng looked at a data pad and tapped a few spots. “Twelve. Majority of them Cruisers and Destroyers. At least one Potemkin. At least three were discovered documented as destroyed at some point during the next few years.”
Lebowski chuckled. “They were a resourceful clan, were they not?”
Devon interjected before Tseng could answer. “Twelve possible ships in addition to the four known unaccounted for? I have doubts on the three supposed destructions… Because Wolf lies and misdirections, of course.”
Tseng sighed. “As do I. However, without facilities, I highly doubt that many would still exist in their Touman. I would say maybe a third to half, if that many.”
Devon shook her head. “Well… I suspect we will learn of how many survived the two hundred fifty years since they left. If nothing else, it will prove to be a lesson on how well constructed the old vessels were.”
Deep Space Sensor Station Agnes
When the signal went to stand-by, Sariah held her giggle in for a good ten seconds before it exploded from her in a fit, catching the crew by surprise. When she managed to get control of her mirth, she looked around at the concerned crew. “What?” she asked. “You never saw someone nearly die from laughter over an absurd situation before?”
Casey shook his head. “I have but not like that… I thought you was gonna explode, LT.” And the murmurs of agreement from the others, he continued. “What’s so funny?”
Sariah laughed again. “Y’all know who Major McCormack is, right?” She asked. “I mean, beside bein’ a Mechwarrior, Head of Intelligence and Commander of a Battlemech Battalion?”
Kiiko answered her. “Ummm no… I heard stories about her being something of a historian. And a nasty rumor about her really being some sort of assassin. Which is weird.”
Charlene chuckled. “El-Tee, there are stories about her being more than she is… She *is* from Outreach, after all and everyone knows folks from there are either hot shot mech jocks or really Wolf’s Dragoon Clanners.”
Sariah floated over to one of the seats and sat in it, locking down the seat bar. “Ms Yammashita… the Good Major is a downright vicious Bitch of a Spymaster… and so unassuming too.” The LT chortled some. “That helps if y’all are going to run an intel section. I do know she’s no assassin but she does have a personal hit squad; I met one of them and he’s dreamy…” A spacy smile graced her face as she said that last.
Casey laughed then. “If she is a spook, then she managed to make an asset out of a Clan Loremaster. Or fool one, at least. Oh, to be a fly on the wall when the clanner finds THAT out…”
Sariah nodded. “Mister Cochran, I do believe that is an understatement…”
CGB Den Mother
Just under two hours later, the escorts arrived.
What they were, concerned the Star Admiral as she came on the bridge in the middle of a bit of a scramble. “On Screen,” She snapped as she reached her command seat.
A sensor technician spoke up as an image of local space popped up on the holographic display. “Star Admiral, we picked up two ships approaching some ten minutes ago… They were under EmCon until they were nearly on top of us and started deploying a handful of fighters.”
“Identified?” Devon requested as a yeoman delivered a data-slate.
“Aff… two warships, Identified as the SLS Yukon and SLS State of Grace”
Loremaster Tseng, who had not left the bridge confirmed Devon’s thoughts on their identity. “Star Admiral, the Yukon is known to have been part of their Touman. The State of Grace is one of the missing reserve ships.”
“Well, we now know where one went, Quaff?” was the Admiral’s reply. “Have they hailed us?”
“Not as of yet. The Station has notified us they have arrived though. No other messages as of yet and no targeting notifications.”
“That is something. Can we get a better image of them?”
“Aff” the technician spoke some commands to his staff and on a side screen, a video image of the incoming craft was now visible.
As the image zoomed in, it took in the lines of the Aegis Class ship that was the State of Grace; her hull obviously recently painted in the colors of the Old Star League Navy, with a white stripe going down both broadsides, piercing the deep green of the rest of the hull. The ships name was clearly highlighted by a few specifically places spot-lamps.
“Star Admiral, we are being hailed via holo-com”
The Communications holo display, long a staple of the League Navy for the larger ships, had not been used outside of Clan transmissions for some time- the Inner Sphere having mostly lost the ability to make them outside of Comstar. So it was a pleasant surprise for the Ghost Bear Admiral to have it used.
Appearing in the emitter, A male figure appeared in the hologram, clad in what was obviously a Star League era-styled Naval Officer uniform. The rank pins of a Commodore adorned his collar and after a second, he spoke.
[Greetings… I am Commodore Kevin Callihan of the SLS State of Grace, in service with the Phoenix Lancers in defense of Centaurus IV. You must be Star Admiral Devon…]
Devon nodded as she spoke. “You would be correct, Commodore.” The Admiral watched both the holo and her crew, noting the yeoman was obviously looking at a data slate the Loremaster had given her. Obviously, to look up the name of this man to see if he was one of the Old Blood Names. Old habits…
[Very Good. I wish to welcome you to the system further and request that your flotilla fall in between my ships…] Commodore Callihan spoke, the holo showing his relaxed state. [This system is fairly safe but the Governor General and my Clan would have my hide if something befell any of your ships while in transit. The System does occasionally have problems with raiders and pirates. While I have doubts about any committing to an attack upon you, the Word of Blake defies sense on many occasions and might try to upset this meeting, if they know of it.]
Devon smiled slightly. It was a bold statement, this offer, if they did plan on bringing harm to her fleet. It would be in poor form, violating SAFCON… but then, it was known to be the way of the Lancers to honor any word given and not go back on it. And it also was a reasonable offer.
And it wasn’t like her ship could tangle with both a Lola III and an Aegis. She was good… but not that good.
“Commodore, I will order my fleet to fall into formation with yours for transit to Orbit,” She replied at last. “I look forward to the end of this journey and this conflict.”
[As does everyone here, Admiral,] Callihan replied. [As does everyone here. My helm will be sending over movement plans about now and I hope to speak with you further soon. Transit time is roughly two hours.]
“Very good, Commodore… I look forward to that.”
A smile. [See you in two hours or so. State of Grace clear.] the Holo ended.