FRONTIER The Martian Dream

Discussion in 'Open Roleplay' started by Destin Antares Hunter, Jul 12, 2019.

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  1. Colony Ops deck, P&K Glastonbury - In orbit of Nautilus - Jules Verne System - Frontier
    [​IMG]
    Nautilus stood before his eyes, the second, smaller, habitable planet in the Jules Verne system. It orbited another planet, which orbited it in turn, sort of like a binary star system, but with planets. Nautilus also had a thin asteroid belt around it, its origins unknown. The colony had been doing excellent, especially when compared to the others. The navy had built a shipyard in orbit of Nautilus, and it was churning out materials for the cities, and new ships for the fleet. By now they had several Raptor-class fast-attack cruisers for primary defense of the gate, and any hostile fleet was going to have a hard time entering. A fusion reactor had been set up, providing power to the dome cities on the ground.
    Destin looked down and could see the faint outline of Dome City I, also known as First Landing, and could see the newly constructed mass transit line, a prototype brought with them the second time the Glastonbury went to acquire colony materials. It was up and running, and cargo and people could be moved more easily. However, they weren't alone in the system. A colony of Belters had set up in an asteroid belt orbiting the second innermost planet, Eros Nova. The belt itself was dubbed New Terryon Lock, and promised what the old Terryon Lock did: a sort of homeworld for Belters. Travels there made by rock hoppers weren't fully up and running, partly because of Destin's fleet near the gate. He didn't like scaring the Belters away, but he didn't want the UNN to come take it over. He'd received threats from them ever since his declaration that Nautilus would act in full support of Mars.
    His escape had been methodical. After a missing ships crisis, one or two of his ships would slip through the gates, maintaining their black ops disguises. It was stressful, and announcing his independence from the MCR wasn't easy. It took negotiation after negotiation, but eventually it was done. The Nautilus Consular Freehold could do whatever it wanted, but if the MCR called, the NCF had to try and help. Destin wanted an alliance with Mars from the beginning, and he believed that through his research he could help the terraformers back home. One day, the Martian dream would be fulfilled. A dream of superiority through technology. A dream of turning a planet of dust into forests and rivers and streams. Even though his crew may not even live there, he'd feel fulfilled if he saw a terraformed Mars before his death.
    Destin exited the makeshift colony control center, where construction was directed, and took the lift down to the comm station. He went to his office in the back, and closed the security partition. Everything was set up, but there was one person he owed mountains of gratitude to.
    He started a recording detailing the success of the colony, the alien life his teams had discovered, the surprisingly friendly encounters and trade with the Belters, and the gratitude he owed to him, and when he was done, he sent it via relayed tightbeam to an old friend, @Edward Shaver .
     
    #1 Destin Antares Hunter, Jul 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
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  2. Karen Ashoka

    Karen Ashoka Patrolling the Slow Zone

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    Nautilus Gate

    "Transitioning in three...two...one..." The countdown echoed through the cramped bridge of the Templar. It's lights and systems blinking and glitching as they passed through the gate from the Slow Zone into the Jules Verne system. Ashoka felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end as the event horizon passed through her body, giving her an odd sense of vertigo. A moment later, the transition was complete and everything was back to normal. "Transition, complete all systems nominal. The Spaniard and the Atrax are reporting green across the board," announced Petty Officer Suwako, the Templar's fierce and intelligent comms officer Karen had developed somewhat of a friendship with. "Acknowledged, Petty Officer Suwako. Helm, plot a course towards the primary colony."

    "Yes, Ma'am." Came the response from the ship's helmsman, Chief Petty Officer Reilly. Both Suwako and Reilly are younger and fresher than Ashoka, having never seen real combat. However she trusted them to carry out their jobs with professionalism and as long as they followed orders, she had nothing to worry about. Ashoka was still getting used to command, however it became less hard every day.

    The bridge was quiet for another few minutes until an alert sounded at Suwako's station. "Commander, we are being hailed by the colony's traffic control, also a Raptor class cruiser has changed course to intercept."

    "On screen," Ashoka ordered, leading into the soft gel of her crash couch. The main screen infront of her station switched from a tactical readout of the system to the face of a man, unshaven and tired looking. "MCRN Templar this is Nautilus Traffic Control you have entered the territory of the Nautilus Consular Freehold. Please state your intentions."

    Ashoka's eyebrow raised somewhat. They had been ordered here to run a routine patrol of the system at the invitation of the colony's administration. Being questioned about their intentions was...unexpected at best, unprofessional and even confrontational at worst. "Traffic Control this is Commander Ashoka of the Templar, we are here at the request of your administration. We have orders from MCRN command to perform a routine patrol of your system. It would be appreciated if you do not hinder our efforts."

    "Stand by," was the traffic controllers only response, with the screen cutting away form his face and displaying what Karen only assumed was the flag of the colony. Ashoka rolled her eyes. If this was what dealing with each new colony was going to be like, her future seemed very dull indeed. That being said, she enjoyed peace, just not uppity traffic controllers.

    The flag disappeared and the controller was back. "MCRN Templar you and your accompanying vessels have been cleared for passage through the system. If you require assistance do not hesitate to contact the colony. Nautilus Traffic Control, out. The screen cut back to the tactical display. "Finally. Helm, punch it. I want to be in orbit over that colony before my tea is finished."

    Helmsman Reilly chuckled. He knew Ashoka was aware it would take them almost a week to reach the colony, but a bit of humor never hurt.
     
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  3. Ops Deck, NCFN Archer - In orbit of Nautilus - Jules Verne System - Frontier
    Destin hadn't expected an MCRN task force to enter the gates, but they were here, and he'd heard of Karen Ashoka, a battle-scarred veteran, and remembered her from his old MCRN days. He didn't know what kind of mess the STC guys gave her crew, but he wanted to meet her personally. There wasn't anything he needed to hide, and he wanted Ashoka to have a good visit. The Archer was burning towards the Templar for an introduction and welcoming, and it would be three days until he reached her task force, but a heavy frigate shouldn't be too much of an intimidating threat. In case her task force wanted to pull a fast one, he had three Morrigan-class patrol destroyers parked with transponders off nearby. He really hoped he didn't have to call them in. As an independent nation, he shouldn't have to use the same trickery insurgencies like the OPA used. But in the wild frontier, anything was game.
    @Karen Ashoka
     
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  4. Karen Ashoka

    Karen Ashoka Patrolling the Slow Zone

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    It had been two days. Ashoka had spent much of in the ships gym, pushing herself harder and further than usual. One thing she did not enjoy was sitting around doing nothing, so she had the crew keeping the ship spotless and working on their personal fitness in the spare time. They also had a whole lot of study to do since the Slow Zone opened, even five years later. Trade rules, taxation, tariffs, colony law, corporate law, all of these were readings that command had assigned to each and every crew that went beyond the gate in Sol system. They wanted their crews well versed in the law of the frontier, as well as well armed.

    After she finished in the gym, Ashoka climbed into the cramped cylindrical turbo-shower. After a three second countdown, her body was blasted with hi pressure water from a dozen nozzles spaced across its inner surface. The shower only lasted for five seconds, however it was more than enough to clean any sweat off her body, the collected water would be recycled and cleaned of any contaminants, ready for the next shower.

    As she walked out of the gym, Suwako called down from the bridge, her voice carrying easily through the cramped compartments of the vessel. "Commander, this might interest you!" Ashoka was still drying her long hair as she walked onto the bridge. She wasn't currently on duty, and the ranking officer smirked as Karen walked by, unfazed. "I've been monitoring this vessel," explained Suwako, highlighting a transponder on the tactical display, tagged as the NCFN Archer, "since we entered the system. It has been on an intercept course with us pretty much from the moment you mentioned your name."

    "Oh great. Have they said anything?" Karen replied, leaning on the back of the officer's crash couch.

    "Nothing yet ma'am, but they have been making active course corrections so that they match our course and heading by the time they intercept us."

    "Do nothing, say nothing. Keep those cowboys at arms length, if they approach closer than minimum safe distance ping them with the targeting laser."

    "Aye ma'am, understood."

    "I'll be in my quarters."
     
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  5. Ops Deck, NCFN Archer - In orbit of Nautilus - Jules Verne System - Frontier
    Destin pulled up the comms control. He prepared to send a tightbeam to the flagship, the Templar.
    @Karen Ashoka
    "Attention MCRN Templar. This is the Archer of the Nautilus Consular Freehold Navy. We have no ill intent, and we wish you a warm welcome. We are on an intercept course for docking and a little handshake. Please allow us to dock and anything you need for your inspection, we'll provide.
    Hunter out."
     
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  6. Karen Ashoka

    Karen Ashoka Patrolling the Slow Zone

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    The alert pulled Karen from one of the better sleeps she had experienced in recent months, for some reason sleeping in the Slow Zone always bothered her. With a groan she pulled herself into an upright position and rubbed the sleep from her eyes. After a moment she looked at the alert flashing on her terminal. From the sound alone she could tell it was not important, at least not a high priority. But the fact she had received it meant it required her attention. She rubbed her eyes some more and pulled herself out onto her feet.

    ---
    Several minutes later she strode onto the bridge in her uniform, hair pulled into a severe bun on the back of her head and arms folded behind her back. "What is it?" She said, sitting down in the commanders seat and scanning the tactical display. It looked the same as it had when she had hit the rack, albeit the colony world was slightly closer now.

    It was Reilly's turn to take the graveyard shift, so he was the only other soul on the bridge, the rest of the ship slept. He turned around in his crash couch with an odd look on his face, and sent the situation to her screen. A man appeared, this one looking far more professional and clean cut than the traffic control officer earlier that week. He had the confident air of a man who had served his nation proudly, even if his gaze was mildly unsettling. He smiled amiably before speaking; "We are on an intercept course for docking and a little handshake. Please allow us to dock and anything you need for your inspection, we'll provide. Hunter out."

    Ashoka sighed explosively after making sure she was not being recorded. "Fucking cowboys" she said exasperatedly. "Always wanna get nice and cosy." She heard a laugh and looked up to see Reilly avoiding her gaze but obviously trying to stifle laughter. "God something to say officer?" She asked, a small grin forming on her lips.

    "Well...uh..permission to speak freely ma'am?"

    "Granted."

    "He probably wants to get a photo with the great Karen Ashoka, hero of the Io campaign." He said the last sentence waving his arms around as if mining a great banner over a parade. "He probably heard you were inbound and dashed for his ship before even getting fully dressed."

    Karen slumped into her chair, rubbing her eyes. "What are you getting at Reilly?"

    "Well...It doesn't hurt to be friendly. I know we have to look like hardasses to the colonies but y'know, maybe a bit of friendliness might go a long way getting these guys on our side."

    "You've been studying your assigned readings," Karen said, looking up through her hands at the officer who straightened up in his couch proudly. "Yes ma'am. It's all about-"

    "Building a rapport with the locals. Yes. It's just this time the locals have warships, not bows and arrows."

    "Yes...but we have you."

    ---

    A few moments later, Karen had gone over what she wanted to say, and opened a tightbeam to the Archer. "Admiral Hunter, my name is Karen Ashoka, Commander of the Templar. Whilst it is not exactly within regulations to allow a...colonial vessel to dock perhaps we can make an exception for a man of your reputation. Once you are within range, please hand over control of your vessel to my helmsman, he will guide you in. Templar out."

    "How long do we have Reilly?"

    "Until we reach the colony or until they dock?"

    "Until that man is standing in my airlock," she said sniffing the air. She smelt coffee...but the thought of returning to her bunk was just as tempting. "The Archer will dock with us in approximately four hours."

    "Wake me up again in three."

    "Aye ma'am."
     
    #6 Karen Ashoka, Jul 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
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  7. Ops Deck, NCFN Archer - On intercept course to MCRN Templar - Jules Verne System - Frontier
    Hunter was proud of what he'd done. From scratch, he'd created an entire colony, and handed it off to elected representatives. He'd still become Fleet Admiral, but he didn't think so highly of his position. There was a trifecta of dome cities, and a military base. They were connected by a hyperloop that looked like an alien structure itself. They connected to structures outside the domes, and once you got off, there was an entire biosphere living in a small space. In reality it was like the old Mars colony days, back when it was still a UN science base, where everyone knew each other and it was just a couple small towns. Now he had twelve small towns connected by hyperloop, and a central facility where no one lived, but there were government buildings and banks there, plus the military base in the north. The science teams were making the unknown alien life easier to comprehend each day. However, it was going to get harder if the Martian bureaucrats who sent this flotilla at his colony started asking for taxes and other payments. He had wanted to dock with the crew so he could get started on the right foot. He didn't know if he had done his job right. A message flashed on one of the distant screens, and the COMMO passed it to him.

    "Admiral Hunter, my name is Karen Ashoka, Commander of the Templar. Whilst it is not exactly within regulations to allow a...colonial vessel to dock perhaps we can make an exception for a man of your reputation. Once you are within range, please hand over control of your vessel to my helmsman, he will guide you in. Templar out."

    Destin didn't want the MCRN taking control of his ship, but what choice did he have? He wanted these guys on his side, but he also wanted his ship. And these Martians were playing nice. Destin fired up a tightbeam message...

    "MCRN Templar, this is Destin Hunter. We will surrender control of the Archer to your helmsman as ordered. We are on deceleration burn, and we await your reply. Godspeed.
    Hunter out."

    He didn't know what the Martians were doing, but he took the lift down to the shipboard gym where the Marines were working out. They thought there was going to be a civil war with the Martians. How wrong they could've been? Very. Destin wasn't going to use his ace up his sleeve, or so he told himself. He knew what was going on in the head of the Martians. They were entering a gate expecting to find a small science colony and then they found an entire navy and a colony founded by Martians, and a second one founded by Belters. They needed to curry favor with the locals, only instead of meeting with an olive branch for each other, Destin had an entire navy to meet with three patrol ships. Maybe he could negotiate these guys to tell the UNN to back off so that the Belters could have free trade. This time the roles were reversed, he thought. Now the Belters were inners, and while his people weren't Belters, they weren't inners either, really. A couple of expeditions had been launched to Elysium, the second planet. It had weird alien structures, but was seemingly perfect. Both planets had similar biospheres, and both had rings. The reason they picked Nautilus was because scans of Elysium seemed to always return as being "inhospitable" to humans.
    He wondered why.

    @Karen Ashoka
     
    #7 Destin Antares Hunter, Jul 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
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  8. Ops Deck, NCFN Archer - On intercept course to MCRN Templar - Jules Verne System - Frontier
    The colony was still small by comparison to Sol system, and had been helped extensively by choosing good spots. The mass transit line was still small, and a lot of the settlements with completed domes and/or perimeters were still trying to get farming online. Plans were made for a large algae farm in one of the riverside colonies, but it would take years to set up, as even the mass transit lines and the domes were still in the prototyping phase. The navy had a head-start, but they still had fewer than ten "capital" ships-and even then, it was only the four Aegis-classes and five Raptor-classes. Of the smaller ships, they had ten Archer-class heavy frigates, the core of the fleet, of the torpedo boats, they had eight Morrigans, and sixteen Silhouette IIs, but the Silhouettes were busy doing work in the atmosphere. And even then all of the ships were having teething problems. None were fully working. A ship would have a malfunctioning PDC, a bad fish, a jammed railgun. Some even had bad drives, and some were out of fuel pellets. It was annoying, but he hoped these problems would be fixed too. Not to mention he couldn't produce fuel pellets yet. They still had to buy them, and incur a huge tax. The Belters brought with them a small security force, generally just a couple gunships, but pilots would come and go.
    They were very fortunate, and Destin knew that a lot of colonies were dying, and dying fast. His colony, not even his anymore, as the government was up and running, was still having teething issues, and the maglevs had a nasty habit of stalling. The domes weren't even that big by Martian standards, but at least his people could go outside without a vac suit.
    Destin still had small regrets leaving Mars, but he felt the path he'd chosen was the right one, and scientists were collecting as much data as possible for the terraforming project.
    He checked the docking timer.
    Three hours.
     
    #8 Destin Antares Hunter, Jul 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
  9. Ops Deck, MCRS Odysseus - Slow Zone - 5 years earlier.
    The report just came back in. Destin was on the MCRS Odysseus. Not his ship, but a science vessel meant to analyze the reports coming from the probes. A new system they'd dubbed Jules Verne, for its structure was very weird, and could be something else entirely. The first planet was inhospitable and small, so he looked over that one. The second one wasn't exactly a Venus-analogue, instead it had a large desert that was actually hospitable, and plenty of clouds. It also had a ring around it that seemed to have been a large moon, or even a planet.
    However, it was the third and fourth planets that interested him. They seemed to orbit each other, sort of like a binary star system, but with planets. They both seemed habitable, and with thin rings around them. Destin collapsed in relief. He'd found a system for some good Martians to go live on.
     
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  10. Karen Ashoka

    Karen Ashoka Patrolling the Slow Zone

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    Ashoka stood in the cargo hold facing the airlock. Flanking her were the two marines assigned to the Templar, Fahir, who towered over the rest of the crew, and Neilson who whilst dwarfing Karen, did not share the sheer bulk of Fahir. They were both capable warriors and were happy to show off their armour and weapons instead of working out for a change. Behind them stood the rest of the crew; Suwako and Reilly, Jones, the ships gunner and Chang and Doherty, the two engineers. They waited there standing to attention, as the airlock cycled in front of them.

    Moments later, with popping ears and a pneumatic hiss the airlock opened revealing Admiral Hunter. He eyed the Martian marines warily before making eye contact with Ashoka and smiling.

    As one the crew of the Templar saluted and stood to attention to which he replied with his own salute, this was followed by Ashoka stepping forward, her hand extended. “Admiral Hunter, welcome aboard the Templar. I am Commander Ashoka.”
     
  11. Airlock, MCRN Templar - Docked with NCFN Archer - Jules Verne System - Frontier​

    Karen Ashoka stood before him, Marines flanking her.
    This wasn't a good sign. He had expected an official diplomatic party, not soldiers.
    This meant that they were either afraid or about to assassinate him. He assumed the latter, and pressed a small button on his suit. This told the Morrigans to fire up everything that didn't require a reactor and prepare to engage. He entered the ship, and prepared to die.

    "I am Fleet Admiral Destin Antares Hunter of the Nautilus Consular Freehold Navy. Now let's get on with this meeting, shall we?"

    He shook Karen's hand, happy that he met the veteran of the Io Campaign, and she looked friendly enough. Maybe the Marines were just security. He may never know.

    He still had one secret left-his "navy" wasn't really a navy at all. The only operating ships were his frigates and patrol destroyers. The rest were disassembled and hidden away in unchartered asteroids, with the one exception of a cruiser that had its weapons stripped and retrofitted into a science vessel. Of the railgun ban enforced by Donnager's Law, he'd stripped them from the frigates as well as their torpedoes and PDCs, and hidden them in rocks.
    @Karen Ashoka
     
    #11 Destin Antares Hunter, Jul 13, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
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  12. Karen Ashoka

    Karen Ashoka Patrolling the Slow Zone

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    "Welcome aboard the Templar, Admiral. I am Commander Ashoka." She said, leading the man up the ladder than ran the length of the ship, up to the ops deck. "You'll have to forgive the aggressive welcome, command are wanting us to give the appearance of a firm hand even though they forget that some of these colonies...are founded by our Martian brothers and sisters." As they entered the ops deck, the rest of the crew followed, remaining at attention.

    With a quick word over her shoulder, the two marines saluted and left the deck, followed by the rest of the crew as they returned to their various posts and workstation. "I want to start by assuring you that even though we are in the Jules Verne system in three navy vessels, we are not here to bully or harass. Your administration communicated some concern with potential piracy from the belter colony, but our threat assessment teams have come to the conclusion that the vessels you have that retain their original armaments should be more than enough to handle most situations." She waved her hand over the console at the centre of the small deck and the built in volumetric display sprung to life, displaying a 3d representation of the system around them. "We did however, notice another vessel of yours on an intercept course. Nothing we have to worry about, I hope? I should make it clear we do not require escorts on our mission. We will pass through the system and return to the gate the moment our mission is compete, admiral."
     
  13. Ops Deck, MCRN Templar - Docked with NCFN Archer - Jules Verne System - Frontier​
    Karen Ashoka stood before him on the ops deck. She'd just pointed out a ship on an intercept course with the Templar. This was nothing to worry about. He was waiting for this moment, and their generosity put him at great ease.

    "Commander, the ship on an intercept is a science vessel on approach to hand over some knowledge about the terraforming project, and some materials for it. We were hoping you'd be able to relay the data and deliver the materials back to MCRN Command. It is also unarmed except for a small skiff and several PDCs for self-defense. As far as the escort thing, I didn't want to make you feel uncomfortable. Those STC guys are trained to be firm with anyone entering, and I didn't want to start off on the wrong foot. My apologies. Please understand that Mars is in all of our blood, and that we should remain friendly to each other, not at a standoff."

    The meeting would continue, and just as he finished saying that, somewhere out there, the Katherine Epstein started its deceleration burn.

    @Karen Ashoka
     
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  14. Karen Ashoka

    Karen Ashoka Patrolling the Slow Zone

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    Ashoka raised an eyebrow. Terraforming materials? The hell did they need those for. "Admiral could you please...expand on what you mean by terraforming materials? Are these samples which will speed up the process back on Mars? If so I'll happily contact command once we return to New Tycho, however I do not believe it is within mission parameters to access cargo from a science vessel, especially cargo from a colony world with fauna and microbiology proven to be hostile to humans. I must request that you either cancel this vessels course, or order it to carry on directly to New Tycho." She pulled down on the hem of her shirt to straighten it , looking directly at the Admiral who seemed a little taken aback.

    "You must understand Admiral, that we cannot take onboard anything which is unknown to us. After Io, command stated we can not be foolhardy with biologicals, these worlds...they were all touched by the protomolecule in some manner and until the biosphere of your world is fully understood, we must proceed with cauti-"

    "Ma'am!" Suwako said insistently over her shoulder from her station nearby. "Yes, Petty Officer Suwako?" Karen said, a flash of annoyance on her face. "I'm detecting incoming vessels. No transponders but our long range sensors picked up the heat signatures of several old fusion torch drives." Ashoka's brow furrowed for a moment. Fusion torches? Those things were obsolete over a century ago, the only people using them now were cheap rockhoppers, pirates or...insurgents. "It looks like they came out from behind a nearby asteroid cluster, they must have been waiting there for us...long range scopes show armaments including PDCs and externally mounted torpedoes."

    Karen flashed the Admiral a look, somewhere between frustration and amusement. This man had personally flown out in his old school corvette to shake her hand without even noticing a band of insurgents, most likely marginalised colonists, moving through his system. "Ma'am, they're tightbeaming us."

    "On screen," Ashoka said, looking up at the main display. A weathered face appeared, however whilst Ashoka was expecting the lanky features of a belter, the squat, thick necked appearance of an Earther appeared. "MCRN vessel. We have claimed this system as our own. It's inhabitants are now at the mercy of the First Wave Unionists. Leave the system or be destroyed." The feed cut out.

    "Who the fuck are the First Wave Unionists?" Ashoka said, rounding on the Admiral. The look on the mans face told her he knew about as much as her. "They must have arrived shortly before we did and have been waiting for us to leave before launching an attack on your colony. Admiral unfortunately we will have to cut our meeting short. Please allow my marines to escort you back to your vess-"

    "Fast movers incoming!" Suwako shouted suddenly as the bridge lights turned from standard yellow and white florescent to blue. "Admiral, find a seat and strap in," Ashoka said, as she strode over to her crash couch and clipped herself in. "Break seal with the Archer, we can drop the admiral back to his people after we are done. Evasive maneuvers, defensive pattern delta-three."

    The bridge bucked and rolled as the Templar re-orientated itself to the threat. "I have a targeting solution on the hostile vessels, Commander." Reilly shouted down from his station next to the helmsman. "Return fire Petty Officer," Ashoka ordered, reviewing the tactical data as it spooled across her display. The familiar round of torpedoes being loaded and then launched echoed through the ship, the deck bucking with each dull thump as the ordinance left their tubes. "Fast movers coming into PDC network in three...two...one..." Reilly could be heard across the task forces intercom. As one the Templar, Spaniard and Atrax opened up with their PDCs, making short work of the half a dozen torpedoes hurtling at them. They detonated in the distance, blue blossoms unfurling in the void before fading to black.
     
    #14 Karen Ashoka, Jul 15, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
  15. Ops Deck, MCRN Templar - Engaging pirates - Jules Verne System - Frontier
    Destin was sorry Ashoka had to know that he'd parked the ships. He pressed a button on his light armor, and somewhere out there, three Morrigan-class patrol destroyers, and the Katherine Epstein's skiff were powering up and being instructed to not fire on the MCRN ships but the rock hoppers with stealth capabilities. He didn't know about these ships, and would answer all of Ashoka's questions later, but for now, they both had five patrol destroyers, a light corvette, and a skiff against rust buckets.
    "Commander. I was unaware of this threat and I have scanned this system throughly. I have three destroyers burning hard to join the fight. We should be able to get out of this situation. As far as the terraforming materials, these come from the ice ring around the planet, and are intended for Mars. We have scanned this cargo profusely for protomolecule and other hazardous or unknown substances and if you must supervise this process you may. We want to realize the Martian dream, and even as it grows farther apart from us we Martians need to be connected to it."
    He fired up a connection to the three Morrigans and the Parman.
    "Hunter to Alamo, get me target lock and fire. Permission to use PDC fire only. Relay that to the rest. I repeat, no one uses fish today."
    "Hunter to Conor Parman, Kill the drive, teakettle in. Tell the Marines to drop their warheads out of the airlock, and when they go over the rock hoppers, fire up the PDCs, hit the bombs, kill the electricity, then shred 'em."
    "It's risky," he told Ashoka.
    "But it'll pay off."
     
    #15 Destin Antares Hunter, Jul 15, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
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  16. Karen Ashoka

    Karen Ashoka Patrolling the Slow Zone

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    Ashoka acknowledged the man's statement but did not say anything, she simply reverted her gaze back to the tactical display in front of her. One by one the enemy torpedoes fell to the task force's PDC network, the rapid fire cannons filling the space between them and the small asteroid cluster with streams of hypersonic shrapnel. All the while, the torpedoes launched in their first salvo were quickly approaching the group of hostile vessels which seemed content to use the asteroid field as cover rather than fight a running battle. It was an appropriate tactic, as the MCRN epstein drives would out run, outmaneuver and overpower them in every regard.

    Suwako had narrowed the first down to seven vessels, roughly the size of a standard corvette of gunboat, however they were clearly civilian vessels once upon the time. PDC's had been attached with no particular though as to where, and torpedo tubes looked like they were welded onto any flat surface large enough to fit them. All in all they looked like the kind of scum who hoped to take advantage of a martian patrol and a colonial admiral being in the same place at the same time. If they had waited until the force was closer to the asteroid cluster they may have actually succeeded in doing some damage, however they got too confident and attacked before the time was right. It would be their undoing.

    The torpedoes closed in on the group of vessels, wiping four of of them off the map with brilliant white-blue flashes. The remaining three attempted to fire their ancient fusion torches and make a run for the gate. A suicidal move considering how outclassed they were. It would take them weeks to reach the gate and even though, the Templar could catch up to them within days. Ashoka ordered another volley of torpedoes be loaded into the tubes, just as the colonial vessels arrived and performed what Ashoka assumed was their version of a volley.

    The colonial vessels swooped in, using their PDC cannons to disable any defences the raiders had, before dropping torpedo warheads out of their cargo holds. They then burned hard out of the detonation zone, before blowing the warheads. Ashoka couldn't help but laugh as the last of the raider vessels dropped off the tactical map. "I must say admiral, actually lobbing warheads out of cargo holds is one hell of a novel way to circumvent Donnager's Law." A wave of mirth spread through the ops deck before quickly disappearing. "I think in light of recent events, you should have your armed vessels escort the Archer back to Nautilus, once you are back aboard. I will take my task force and scour this asteroid belt. If they came from the belter station we will find out, if not we will soon learn the truth of it."

    The lights of the bridge returned to their non-combat configuration, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Over the comms Suwakos voice could be heard triumphant, "all targets neutralised. Tracking debris field now. Mop up drones dispatched."
     
  17. Karen Ashoka

    Karen Ashoka Patrolling the Slow Zone

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    Some time later

    Ashoka was still on the ops deck with the admiral. The crew were still all at their posts and whilst the initial danger was gone, things were still tense. They had thought this system safe, boring even. Not much was bound to happen in a system patrolled by Martian colonists, however they were proven very wrong with the surprise attack of vessels coming out of the asteroid field. Luckily there had been no casualties or else Ashoka would be feeling significantly worse by now.

    The colonial vessels had all begun burning starward, eventually the task force would follow for a quick refuel and resupply at one of the many stations already in the system. However they remained in the asteroid field, scouring every rock and scanning every chunk of ice larger than a shipping container for signs of hostile intent. "As much as I hate to break it to y'all, but I don't think this particular rock is out to get us," Reilly said dully as he directed one of the recon drones over the asteroid.

    "Stow it Petty Officer, we're almost done. ETA on those recovery drones Suwako?"

    "They should begin docking procedures momentarily ma'am."

    Ashoka nodded and looked at the admiral, who seemed out of place and even slightly awkward, hovering on the ops deck of a ship that was not his. "Admiral if you would care to come with me, we have some investigating to do."

    ---

    After an hour of rummaging through burnt and shattered fragments of the hostile vessels, Ashoka, the two marines and the admiral had managed to extract a data core. It was slightly damaged but Ashoka believed that the advanced systems on the Templar would be able to recover come of the data. They plugged it into the ops deck console and the volumetric display sprung to life...
     
  18. Ops Deck, MCRN Templar - Jules Verne System - Frontier
    The data core sprung to life before his eyes. It registered as belonging to the Islander Union. He'd heard of them before. They were a group of activists who wanted the colonies independent. He wanted that too, but they seemed to have an ulterior motive. As soon as the first colony was established, the OPA knew the Belt was done for. Anyone fighting for colony rights while being religious Earther fanatics probably meant that they wanted to speed up the death of Belter culture.
    They started rummaging through the files until they found what they were looking for. Tightbeams and battle plans. He pulled up the comm logs and found one timestamped pre battle and sent it to the display.

    "THIRD SQUADRON-
    COLONIAL OFFICER HAS DOCKED WITH MARTIAN PATROL. PREPARE FOR BATTLE. MAINTAIN POSITION AND AWAIT FURTHER ORDERS. WE WILL NOT SEND OUR MUNROES TO AID YOU IN THE EVENT OF FAILURE AS THEY ARE TIED UP. CLEAN UP ALL OF THE MESS AND SAY $%^\*#&^}W&T$T*&Q=@›‹‹fl‡°€·⁄·‡‹⁄⁄ÅÅÅÅ WE'LL DEAL WITH THE BELTERS LATER WHEN WE GET THE
    ‘«≥æ…–¢∞£¡`∞¢™¶•¡ÎÍÏ˝Óı˝Ò˜ÂÇı„°°·
    -UNION COMMAND"

    This couldn't be good. If they had UNN ships, then that meant they'd been stealing them, and probably spacing the UNN crew and the UNN was doing nothing about it. If they had destroyers, it meant either they were really good pirates or ex-Navy boys.
    A thought struck him. During the first colonies, a UNN fleet went to secure a planet, but they were never heard from again. They had seven Munroe-class destroyers and several other small ships.

    "Commander, I think the UN has a problem misplacing their ships."
    Ashoka laughed.

    Hunter was going to have a huge problem on his hands. If the UNN ships were stolen from a frontier system, as long as they had protocol memorized, they could go to any system unharmed. And if his motley force of Morrigans, Silhouettes, and the Parman tried to face them, they would be heavily outnumbered and outgunned. He couldn't ask-unless he could.

    "I need to relay a request to MCRN command. It doesn't benefit me, but they can go kill some rogue UNN ships, and fix this threat. Thes colonies need to know what is happening before they start executing Belters simply for being Belters. Not to mention they're in direct violation of Donnager's Law.
    Tell them it's your idea. Collect all of the newest and baddest ships the MCRN has at its disposal, preferrably Raptors, and send them to the system where the UNN ships were lost, and any other system with a dead colony. If they find a station, it's their call if they want to board it or nuke it. It's a bunch of Earther nationalists who want Belters dead, and are willing to destroy MCRN ships to do it. If they encounter anyone calling themselves the First Wave Unionists, or are in possession of a navy noncompliant with Donnager's Law that is marked as missing or destroyed, nuke the ships. After you complete your inspection, of course."

    @Karen Ashoka
     
    #18 Destin Antares Hunter, Jul 16, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019
  19. Karen Ashoka

    Karen Ashoka Patrolling the Slow Zone

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    Ashoka was a little taken aback by the Admiral. Sure he may have been born on Mars, but it was strange to give orders to someone from, at this point, a entirely separate military entity. "I will take this information with my back through the gate, admiral, from there I can not assume what course Command will take. Rest assured, I will do everything in my power to convey the urgency of this matter."

    She copied the contents of the data core to the mainframe aboard the Templar, before removing the device and handing it back to the man. A moment later a clunk echoed through the ship, followed by Reilly announcing that the Archer had docked with them. "Your vessel awaits, admiral," Ashoka said, raising her arm in a gesture towards the ladder. She followed the man down to the airlock, which after several alarms, beeps and hisses, opened to reveal the internals of the Archer. From where Ashoka stood she could tell the ship was much older than the Templar, rust starting to show in certain areas as well as a flickering light here, a missing panel there.

    "Admiral, may be I be the first to reaffirm the bond shared between the Colony of Nautilus, and the Martian Congressional Republic. We appreciate your loyalty and will do everything we can to ensure the long term success of the colony." She saluted the admiral, who returned the gesture before boarding his craft.

    ---

    5 days later

    After breaking away from the Archer, Ashoka's small task force had split up to cover more ground. The Spaniard and the Atrax had continued scouring the asteroid belt and various other celestial bodies in the system, while the Templar made directly for the asteroid station knows as New Terryon Lock. They were minutes away from docking.

    The station was not unlike the thousands which were scattered across the belt back in the Sol System, if slightly less developed. The station spun steadily, thanks to a dozen epstein drives mounted to its surface on large, jerry-rigged struts. Every so often they would flare to life, sometimes only one, sometimes all, in an effort to keep the stations spin gravity under control.

    The dock was nothing more than a long spire that extended out from the surface with several airlocks attached to it. It did not rotate with the rest of the station, making it easy enough for the Templar to lock onto. The stations hosts were less than happy to receive a Martian warship, even though Ashoka had stressed to her crew the importance of building rapport with these people. If the belters felt threatened by what they still perceived as "inner aggression", they may harbor even more of the bandits they encountered a few days ago.

    The airlock doors slid apart revealing a plastic and carbon fibre tube that ran the length of the spire, all the way down to the asteroid. Fixed to one of the walls was a cable with small loops welded to it, a sign in multiple languages above it stating: CONVEYOR SYSTEM. ATTACH AND PRESS BUTTON TO ACTIVATE.

    Karen raised her eyebrow as she floated up to it. "Gotta hand it to these guys, they certainly come up with some interesting solutions. Always boys, latch on." She had brought the two marines with her, however instead of wearing their full combat gear they simply wore simple marine uniforms. They were both armed of course, but she did not want to threaten the locals any more than the Templar already did.

    Once the three of them were holding onto a loop each, Ashoka hit the button. The cable lurched forward, steadily gaining speed until they were flying down the inner tube of the spire, the asteroid growing steadily through the windows. As they approached the far end of the tunnel began to slow, belaying their momentum and eventually bringing them to a halt outside a large circular door. After a moment the door irised open with a hiss revealing half a dozen belters, three wearing unmistakable security uniforms.

    "Welcome aboard Commander," stated the one standing in front, a squat man wearing a bowler hat.
     
  20. Karen Ashoka

    Karen Ashoka Patrolling the Slow Zone

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    Ashoka had returned to the Templar after what had felt like hours touring the belter station, in reality it had only been four hours. The slumped into the her seat on the ops seat and rubbed her face and eyes with her hands. SHe was feeling exhausted, even though it had been a pretty standard meeting, all the coming, going, fighting, shaking hands, meeting people, it was tiring. What she would give to be back int he cockpit of the Atrax, soaring over the northern deserts of Mars watching as the sky slowly turned from pale grey and brown to blue. But that life was a far from her now as the Jule Verne system's star was to Sol.

    The station was well set up. These belters were obviously no strangers to building colonies and it showed, they had a functioning fusion reactor powering the station, an extensive hydroponics and fungus growing operations, schools and medical centres. The asteroid was kept at the standard 0.3g's by way of half a dozen epstein drives attached to the surface. If the station slowed the drives would fire in a pattern to minimise disruption, it was impressive. They had also picked the rock due to its proximity to an extensive ice field and mining facility. The station was also in relatively close proximity to the gate for a large part of the year meaning it would eventually become a trade hub. Ashoka went from impressed to amazed as she saw the paradise they were building. Whilst she was so used to belter stations being cramped and grubby, this one was open, filled with plants and playing children.

    She returned to her ship tired yet happy. At least someone out here was making a good life for themselves. They would be departing tomorrow, rendezvousing with the rest of the task force and returning through the gate, but not before one more flyby of Nautilus.
     

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