A Spleen x Iso production
Xakolant System - Local Command Station
Under the careful guidance of Commodore Sinnett, the small Astranan flotilla settled into its assigned docking bays. The ships had barely settled into place before a stream of marines disembarked to partake in the oldest marine tradition of all time, that of liberty.
Having been asked by the prince what exactly liberty entailed, Sinnett had simply shrugged and said “Getting drunk and engaging with the local women. But mostly just getting drunk.”
A small contingent of Resurrectionist soldiers flanking a diminutive man in a navy uniform made their way to through the veritable tide of Astranan sailors on their way to drink away their sorrows until they reached Sinnett and his charge. The navy man greeted the foreign Commodore with a crisp salute, “Lord Commodore Sinnett and company I presume? I’ve been instructed to shuttle you to the primary command post in this system.”
“Very good, very good.” Sinnett answered. “Is there anything we should be made aware of before meeting with your commanding officer?”
The man beckoned for them to walk while they spoke before he replied, “Regarding that, it seems the third fleet arrived for reinforcement just after you. On it was the acting High Admiral, one Olivia Lahti, she’s decided to attend the meeting alongside the systems nominal commanding officer Rear Admiral Thomas Hall. I hope this isn’t an unwelcome surprise, I was not made aware of it until a moment ago.”
“If anything its most welcome” Sinnett said, letting a small smile appear on his face.
“Acting High Admiral?” Isaac echoed, speaking up for the first time. “Is that not a permanent position in your navy?”
“It is, however the current High Admiral on the books was demoted in absentia after the unfortunate setback two years ago. It is custom not to formally strip an individual of rank unless it can be done in person, and as the former High Admiral remains cut off from support he has yet to be formally relieved. Ah, here we are.” The man gestured at a door which lead to a small private dock where a conventional transport shuttle sat. Its pilots had been lounging against it and straightened up quickly at the entrance of their superior, their contrite salutes evidence enough they’d not meant to get caught.
“I see” Isaac said in a tone that made it abundantly clear that he actually didn’t. He stepped towards the transport, but stopped as Sinnett placed a restraining hand on his shoulder. Isaac gave the commodore a questioning look before realizing that he had been delayed so two of his four personal guards could check the interior. A few moments later one of the guards gave Sinnett a quiet nod, after which he removed his hand from Isaac’s shoulder. Isaac waiting a moment before taking first one step towards the transport and then entering.
“Two years is a long time to remain cut off from supply” Sinnett commented as if the event with Isaac and his guards had never taken place. “Are your lines really stretched that thin?”
Their escort shook his head, “No. The former High Admiral permitted the ninth fleet to be trapped in a pocket during a surprise Scorpine counter offensive. The Scorpine have refrained from assaulting the pocket, preferring to starve it out, and so we’ve focused on consolidating our gains so our eventual offensive can end the war in one go. At least, that is my understanding. You’ll have to forgive me Lord Commodore, I’m not terribly involved in the decision making of the admiralty or War Council.”
“Of course.” Sinnett said as he himself stepped into the transport. “I thank you for your candor in this subject.” He took a seat next to where Isaac was and belted himself in. “I must say that it is quite an honor to have the acting High Admiral meet with the commander of a mere flotilla.” He glanced at Isaac before adding “Or is it someone else she is hoping to speak with?”
As the transports ramp retracted and doors closed the navy man admitted, “I couldn’t say. It might just be auspicious timing, what with the third fleet returning around your arrival.”
“I suppose so” Sinnett said after a moment.
The shuttle took off with little fanfare, only a slight vibration providing evidence of the vessels enormous acceleration. The flight to the command post was brief and before those aboard knew it the shuttle had landed in a wide hanger. The Resurrectionist guards and their leader departed first, the last guard to step off beckoning for the Astranans to follow.
The delegation waiting for them this time was a great deal more remarkable. At their head Olivia Lahti struck a notable presence, her hair as white as her uniform and her cybernetic eyes taking tracking those leaving the shuttle with unsettling focus. Beside her an affable looking man with a bushy brown beard and a good fewer bars on his uniform smiled widely, his nameplate revealing him as Thomas Hall.
“Lady Admiral Lahti I presume” Sinnett said after rendering a salute. It wasn’t exactly required that he salute an officer from another country, but it was good decorum. “May I introduce you to His Highness Prince Isaac?” He gestured towards the prince who rendered a slight bow.
Olivia returned Sinnetts salute and extended a hand to the prince, “Prince Isaac, Lord Commodore Sinnett, a pleasure to receive you.”
“The pleasure is mine” Isaac said as he eagerly shook Olivia’s hand. “Lady Lahti-” A cough from Sinnett had Isaac quickly rephrasing “Lady Admiral
Lahti I hope you will see fit to share some of your wisdom with me.” Sinnett rolled his eyes but refrained from commenting.
Olivia gave the Prince a smile and stepped back, “Now then, there’s a meeting room just off the hanger here. I’ll be here to answer any questions, and perhaps ask some myself, but it is the Rear Admiral here that’s been preparing for this meeting and who’ll be largely leading it.”
Thomas Hall stepped up and saluted Sinnett before grinning widely, “Indeed! Come Lord Commodore, we have much to discuss!”
“Of course” Sinnett returned the salute. “Of course.” He and the rest of the Astranans followed Hall into the meeting room before he asked “So what is our first piece of business today?”
Hall gestured for Sinnett and the Prince to seat themselves in few chairs set around a large oaken table before he took his own spot and replied, “Well before we can plan on how best to integrate your force into the greater war effort we’ll need to know if you’ve received any overriding orders regarding your rules of engagement. Are there any specific actions you’ll find yourself unable to participate in, for example?”
“In short” Sinnett said as he took a seat, “I’ve been told to not fuck with any Coalition troops” The sudden foul language had Isaac flinching. “That word was His Imperial Majesty’s, not mine, by the way. And to act with honor. So no attacking hospitals or non combatant civilians.”
Hall and Olivia shared a look before Hall nodded, “That’s uh, more than acceptable. Most of the actions at the front are military in nature, though of course there are insurgent elements mixed in with the Scorpine forces. I trust that won’t be an issue?”
“We’ll have no trouble engaging any combatants
” Sinnett answered. “And while we will try to limit the amount of civilian casualties we cause, we are going into this with the understanding that there will be some collateral damage.”
Hall’s smile returned, “Ah, of course. Well with that out of the way the question is what unit to attach you to, most are preparing for the upcoming offensive but I’m more than willing to leave it up to you to decide if you’d rather be the tip of the spear or its base.”
“We’re definitely hoping to get our troops some good combat experience.” Sinnett said. “We are, in part, intervening in this conflict to help ensure we have enough veterans qualified to serve as cataphracts.”
“So the tip” Isaac said with the smile of a teen who had just made a sexual pun.
” Sinnett ignored Isaac’s comment, “my flagship that is, is set up in an assault configuration, so we’ve got about half the aircraft you’d normally expect. Of course that’s because we have an armored battalion, an infantry battalion, a company of Imperial guards, and a platoon of paragons.”
“Paragons?” Isaac was suddenly very focused on Sinnett, who seemed to be making a point of ignoring the prince’s one-liners.
Olivia had remained silent but pointedly raised an eyebrow at the Princes innuendo. However, at his question she said, “Special forces, if I recall correctly?”
“You do” Sinnett stated simply.
“They’re the best we have” Isaac added. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of them being deployed.”
“They are the best we’ve
heard of” Sinnett corrected. “And trust me, your father has had many uses for them over the past decade.”
Hall nearly replied before Olivia put a hand on his shoulder to indicate she had more to say, “Would you prefer they be deployed alongside your forces, or with autonomy? There is a… Representative of our own nations Irregular Operations Division aboard the station at the moment, if you’d rather they be deployed with discretion she could arrange for such to be case.”
“Honestly I would prefer to keep them close at hand” Sinnett begun, “but I’ve seen some of their best work, and it always takes place long before our troops are anywhere nearby. I’ll send their CO to your spec-ops division so they can work something out.”
Olivia nodded and gestured for Hall to move on, “Right, well I’ll admit I’m reluctant to put you right in harm's way but given the scale of the fleet actions being planned I’m certain a commander of your experience will come out better than most. In that case I’ll offer to assign you to the fourth fleet, they’re being equipped to lead the charge to open the northern pocket and relieve the fifth fleet. Now as for a time frame there I’m no-”
Olivia cut him off, “It will be within the month. Understand that such is highly privileged information Lord Commodore, and while I’m providing you it with the understanding I am sharing it with the Astranan government I would prefer you personally distribute it as little as you are able.”
“Should I interpret that as a desire that I not pass this information back to Astrana?” Sinnett asked in a neutral tone.
“Not precisely.” Olivia met Sineett’s eyes, “I am asking that you pass it to as few elements within Astrana as you are able. If possible, just the one I know you are accountable to. I don’t mean to question the integrity of your government, but as of now information security procedures have limited this knowledge to the highest State and War Councils of my own government. In total and at present, this information is known to just under a hundred individuals in the galaxy. For thirty years we’ve pushed the Scorpine back slowly, methodically, I merely ask you to understand the stakes when I say this offensive is meant to end the conflict once and for all.”
Sinnett simply shrugged. “I’m not required or even obligated to report the specifics of ongoing or planned operations unless I have a reasonable belief they’ll cause harm to Astrana or the Imperial family. Is there any message you specifically want me to pipe back to my government?”
Olivia drummed her fingers against the table, “I received orders directly from the War Council to inform you of the date we intend to act. The request that you limit that informations dissemination is my own. I won’t pretend to understand the intentions of the War Council, though I imagine they wouldn’t have issued the order without meaning for it to end up in the hands of your government. Personally, I’d have rather not informed you at all and thus the request you report to as few individuals as possible. That said, even as the acting High Admiral I am forced to submit to a higher power.”
“I’ll keep that in mind while making my next report to my superiors” Sinnett said. For a moment he looked supremely tired. But his weariness disappeared just as quickly as it had appeared. “There will be no operational leaks on our end.”
Olvia nodded and leaned back, Hall scratched his beard and awkwardingly picked up the conversation, confusion evident on his features, “Well then. We know where to put you and, uh, when I suppose. If you’re willing to wait the month you can coordinate with the fourth fleet from here on, is that acceptable?”
“As long as you don’t mind a battalion of rowdy soldiers on your station for a month” Sinnett agreed with a smile. “Morale is high and our men are ready to show their prowess in battle.”
Hall, as much as he kept his expression neutral, paled. With a weak smile he backpedaled, “I’m uh, sure there are actions taking place right now. High Admiral! Is there anything these gentlemen can do to further the war effort in the next month?”
Olivia openly rolled her eyes, “Yes, there is. Lord Commodore if you’re interested the battle on Hestollon II is still ongoing, and it is unlikely the Scorpine will commit another fleet there after our third fleets victory there mere days ago. A reserve fleet is currently guarding the planets space, but less than a quarter of the planet has been secured by our forces.”
Sinnett let out a short chuckle at Hall’s discomfort. “I’m not sure what good we could do in less than a month, but if you want us there that’s where we’ll go.”
Olivia smiled, “I don’t expect you to conquer a world in a month, but I can’t imagine experience dealing with Scorpine regulars wouldn’t be valuable to your soldiers. They’re a capable enemy, even if you’ll never hear our news admit it. I’d be more comfortable committing you to the front in a months time knowing you’ve had prior experience engaging the Scorpine anyhow.”
“Very good then.” Sinnett stated. “We’ll focus our efforts to reconnaissance in force and supporting your troops in combat in order to acquire as much knowledge as possible while limiting how much our fighting strength is depleted before the big operation. Is there anything else we need to discuss?” He looked at Olivia and Hall each.
Hall glanced at Olivia and she shook her head, with a shrug of his own he spoke, “Not that I can see, we’ll provide you with an attache to smooth out any disputes with the local forces but beyond that I imagine our business here is concluded.”