Revenants of a Recent Age (Hast)
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Nov 4 2013 12:31am
And I thought the dead, who have already died, more fortunate than the living, who are still alive; but better than both is the one who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun. ~ Unknown

Revanche-class Star Defender Swiftsure, Deep Space

Recently promoted Rear-Admiral Bradley Costigan stared at the swirling stars whose light flooded the ceraglass panes of his leviathan warship. We're a long way from home. What are the chances that this is the first time I've seen some of these stars? The native of Genarius slowly spun about on his heel to view the warship's dedication plaque proudly displayed at the rear of the bridge. But we are going back to yours old girl, I suppose. I wonder what we'll find there. Hopefully not too many Reavers. He stretched, enlarging his already imposing frame, while his hazelnut colored eyes searched the bridge, looking for one particular Mon Calamari native to Hast. But the sub-lieutenant was not present. She took her homeworld's sudden silence pretty hard, but can I blame her? For all I know, everyone and everything back there could warped and disfigured into ravenous monsters who would like nothing less than to tear her apart limb for limb to convert her into one of them. It makes me wonder if we did the right thing pulling the Hast Defense Fleet out of the area to reinforce the Reaver-hunters of the Eastern Trade Prefecture. But what is done is done. The alarm klaxons flared. The man frowned. We're not supposed to be reverting to realspace yet. So who put the gravity well here? He rapidly strode over to his command chair and silently swore to himself in a mixture of alien tongues.

The mammalian-shaped warship lurched into realspace, leading both Task Force Swiftsure and the ships of the Hast Defense Fleet back home. His eyes scanned the sensor board, noting an odd menagerie of vessels opposing him. The closest he had guessed at one point had been a bulk freighter, or a couple of bulk freighters, but it was so far disfigured that he had no hope of guessing what it had truly been in a different life. Near the rear of the Reaver formation, he thought he could make out the tell-tale bulges of gravity-well projectors attached to an older CC-7700 frigate. He quickly designated it as the fleet's primary target. Hundreds of turbolasers from the Confederate forces began to fire, quickly tearing about the hastily converted blockaders nearest to them before the beams slowly converged upon and utterly destroyed the interdictor in a flash of purifying light. The surviving Reaver vessels scattered broken before the display of Confederate might.

“Signal all ships to continue with the jump without delay,” ordered Rear-Admiral Costigan.

“And leave survivors?” questioned the Star Defender's captain.

“Yes,” decided Costigan, jabbing a finger towards the various members of the bridge crew, “us. And them. I don't need to have any infected crewmen or ships on my task force. Certainly not to bring them to an uninfected world.”

With the interdictor eliminated, the Confederate warships quickly surged back into realspace, leaving a smattering of Reaver vessels reeling from the Contegorian assault. He slumped back in his command chair. Well, we have finally hit Reaver-occupied space again. We'll have to change our routes to throw off any Reavers attempting to track us. At the next way point. The going will be slow, but perhaps we can make the most of it. It's not like I need to bring an entire infected war fleet to Hast, either my own or some stragglers. Hast likely has enough problems on its own without me making it more difficult.
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Nov 4 2013 12:14pm
Revanche-class Star Defender Swiftsure, Deep Space

“What the hell happened here?”

Costigan rapidly typed a button on his control console, pulling up an enlarged holo of the drifting wreck. Thankfully, the computer was able to get a match on the make and model of the craft, a SoroSuub-built Ferryboat Liner. The ship's transponder labelled it as the Waters of Aqua Prime, registered to a smaller outer rim tourist company. Yet Costigan very much doubted that the shovel-shaped starship merely held tourists now. The large man frowned.

“Run a detailed sensor sweep on the ship,” decided the man, “I want to be sure we're not leaving anyone behind here...”

...Assuming they're not infected. Clamping his mouth shut, the Rear-Admiral quickly added some more commands to his console, pulling up a closer detailed holograph of the ship as seen by the Swiftsure's EPRs. He zoomed in on the mangled bow of the vessel. A seemingly random series of holes littered the craft, allowing a variety of what was now space junk to drift in and out of the vessel in an sort of stellar osmosis. He could must make out the remains of a headless protocol droid, tangled up in some wiring near the bow. The singe marks and deep cuts on it...that didn't come from an space accident. The vessel was boarded, and not too many would likely go out of their way to beat the crap out of a droid. Any normal beings would want to keep the droid intact for resale if they're boarders, or if they were a legitimate government, as a potential source of intelligence. It can only mean one thing: Reavers. The ship looks too beat up to be of any use any more, but why leave it uninfected? His gut went cold.

“Communications,” ordered the man, “run an analysis of communications in the area since we arrived. I want to make sure that ship didn't send any sort of message.”

“Sir,” announced his sensor officer, “there are several life forms on the ship, near the core of the vessel...”

Probably the only area that has intact pressure seals...

“...but I can't tell what it is. The heat signatures all huddled together in a ball, but somethings not quite right in their shape. It's more like they're piled on top of each other...”

Costigan frowned. The wreck looks too old for the bodies to have been recently deceased, but it is possible that they're gathering together for warmth...but piled on top of each other...that doesn't sound right.

“Is the heat signature consistent among this pile?" questioned the Genarius native, "Or is it stronger in one area?”

“Ah, it does seem to be directional, and it's kind of odd. It's coming from the side...”

Artificially heating bodies to simulate life signs?

“Ships reverting to real space!” announced his sensor officer.

It's a frakking lure. He quickly recaliberated his console to view the newcomers. A cloud of starships of various makes and models in all sorts of stages of repair and modifications blossomed and moved to disperse across the stars. And all of those transponder types. It's like a frakking Reaver rave party over there...

“Fire at will,” demanded Costigan, “all ships prepare to jump back into hyperspace. Weapons, eliminate that liner. We don't need any more ships, regardless of who they are, being lured into this little trap again.”

A quick short bursts of turbolaser fire from the Star Defender slagged the derelict hull into a mess of molten metal and floating particles. Meanwhile, mass fire from the Confederate fleet smashed into the expanding cloud and melted the forward oncoming ranks of freighters and starfighters leading the Reaver charge. But enough survived that onslaught to start Costigan sweating. But after entering the range of the screening Juaire-class gunships and the various point-defenses of the fleet's other warships, the swarm of smaller Reaver craft fell back to the main formation. The cloud of Reaver vessels seemed to slow and disperse more to the sides, as if they were seeking to envelop the massed Confederate fleet.

A single, massive hull loomed out of the formation and surged towards the Confederate fleet at speeders faster than a vessel of its size should have been able to. Frowning, he quickly pulled up preliminary sensor scans of the vessel, which showed massive radiation leaks running across the entire vessel. They're pushing that thing to the limits of its engineering, and far past what a crew should be able to withstand...The Swiftsure's autocannon blisters opened fire on the approaching marauder, ripping off many of the various add-ons to the Reaver battleship. Rough shape suggests a Kumauri-class battleship. That should be in a frakking, it should be a museum. A massive rock flew out of the opposing battleship's spinal mass-driver. Without thinking, Costigan quickly overrode the Swiftsure's power settings, transferring all weapons power to activate the mighty warship's anti-concussion field generator. Turbolaser fire from the rest of the fleet nicked away at the rock, but its remaining shards and central core still smashed into the anti-concussion field and shattered. He glanced at his damage control screen. Minor hull breaches, that I can deal with...he quickly reversed the power outputs of his starship. The Swiftsure unleashed retaliatory strikes back at the monumental Reaver battleship, but only managed to char or incinerate some of the many modifications that the Reavers had plastered to the hull. One of the strikes revealed a bronzium plaque attached to the ship, announcing it as the museum ship Kumauri Sun, dedicated to the Space Flight Museum of the Mid Rim. Suddenly, the Star Defender surged into the safety of hyperspace along with the rest of the Confederate fleet. We got lucky this time.
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Nov 5 2013 1:01am
Admiral's Quarters, Revanche-class Star Defender Swiftsure, hyperspace

“We have two hundred people in the sickbay now, two hundred,” emphasized the physician, “do you have any idea of how much strain that is creating on us? It's a frakking MASCAL.”

“Better two hundred sick with radiation poisoning than thousands of us turned into Reavers,” defended the engineer, “and don't think your Department is getting all of it. My guys still have to repair the damage and perform all that decontamination. It's not like we're simply trying to create work for you guys.”

“It's a mute point now,” noted Rear-Admiral Costigan, “what's done is done. To be fair doctor, I too would have flooded the damaged compartments with radiation as a precaution. The Swiftsure isn't replaceable right now either. That being said, I don't think I would have flooded the adjacent compartments to the breaches either, but this isn't why I have you both here.”

Costigan walked over to his cabinet and pulled out a bottle of Kashan brandy, a rare gift presented by Admiral Lucerne himself upon Costigan's appointment to command the Swiftsure. The deep amber liquid sloshed around in the half-empty tumbler. The Genarius man began to pour the liquid into a trio of little shot glasses.

“I want to talk about the Reavers,” informed the Admiral, “more specifically, any specific non-technological weaknesses you can think of for them. TF Fidelitas has been heading a lot of research into the Reavers, but we still don't know much about the actual Reavers themselves in terms of cultures or how they think. Commodore van Masmont's been somewhat hampered into studying Reaver culture by working within the confines of the Compact Fleet. More to the point, we don't have his resources that the Fidelitas possesses, nor do we have a lot of time. The Reavers are tracking us. Most likely from our now partially irradiated hull.”

Doctor Heath shrugged, “The radiation will go away with time. It should be fading at an exponential rate.”

“But not fast enough,” mused the Rear-Admiral.

“We should eliminate the Kumouri Sun anyways, most other nations' ships aren't protected the way we are. It's essentially the perfect Reaver-creating warship. Stuff a bunch of those infecting nanobots into the asteroid, fling it to smash into a large warships and infect it from the outside in. Or just use a bunch of smaller rocks with nanites to infect clusters of smaller ships all at once.”

“I agree,” noted the Rear-Admiral, “which is why I had the RS-12 Condor tag it with a tracking beacon when jumped to our last spot, trying to track us. So far, it's been staying hot on our trail, but we're keeping far enough away simply because that vessel's hyperdrive is ancient enough that it's probably ten times slower than our own.”

“Assuming they haven't modified it,” reminded the engineer, “reviewing the footage that the drone took. They aren't mindlessly adding random crap to it. There's an actual redesign in place that looks intelligence, and mostly centered on making that central mass-driver cannon more modern and powerful. Once it completes the modifications, it could potentially destroy us with only a little effort.”

The doctor frowned, “What's to keep us from treating it before it gets to that point? The rest of the Reaver Fleet?”

Costigan nodded, “We could destroy it in an all out battle, but I do not think the losses would be considered acceptable by the Council, and even I'm not sure they would be either, despite fully understanding the nature of the threat that this warship posses. So Reaver psychology, gentlemen. They are hunting us.”

“And we've ran,” added the Doctor, “just like prey tends to do. The only advantage I can see in establishing this pattern is to lure them into a trap.”

“It's only fitting given our last engagement,” agreed the engineer, “but how do you trap a Reaver?”

Costigan quaffed his shot of brandy ,“The night's yet young, or it should be. Shall we have a few drinks and go over some ideas I've culled then?”
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Nov 5 2013 11:31am
Revanche-class Star Defender Swiftsure, outskirts of the Hast System

Bereft of its support fleet, the mammalian-shaped warships swam the black ocean of space, idly wandering about the edges of the asteroid belt. Rear-Admiral Costigan leaned back in his chair, watching the glowing dot of the Kumauri Sun slowly progress through the very hyperlanes that the Swiftsure had travelled mere hours before. Dozens of shuttles emerged from the various rocks of the deserted Oort cloud of the Hast System to dock with the Confederate battleship. Costigan rapidly punched a series of commands into his console, bringing up a detailed scan of the ancient asteroid belt. The man highlighted several dozen asteroids on his screen, designating them as targets for the mighty warship's tractor beam projectors.

“All detail shuttles recovered,” announced one of the Star Defender's Flight Controllers.

Costigan nodded and turned to his helmsman, a native of Kashan.

“Helm, bring us in to our route into the belt. All other stations, prepare to enter the asteroid belt. Weapons, you are authorized to fire at will once the Kuamari Sun appears.”

Swiftsure's tractor beams began to peel away the rocks from the belt, tunneling a path for the Star Defender. The beams snagged the rocks and held them close to starship's hull. The Genarius man toggled his screen to show the rapidly approaching dot of the Kumauri Sun. A fireworks display of Cronau radiation announced the arrival of the Reaver horde nearly a thousand kilometers away from the Confederate battleship. As soon as they arrived, slugs and Starflare missiles from the Confederate warship sprang forth in a nearly invisible charge at the savage creatures. The first couple of weapons smashed into a gunship screening the Kumauri Sun, cracking the decreipt craft in two to reveal the massive boxy bow of the ancient battleship. The next rounds smashed into the shields and superstructure of the opposing battleship, creating a series of crackling shield energy and rippling minute explosions across the bow the vessel itself. Under the cover of this assault, a set of expertly guided Starflares surged forward and smashed into what had been the bridge of the warship before detonating, engulfing the top of the thousands of years old craft in a brief fireball. Yet the Kumauri Sun continued forward, shrugging off the Confederate fire with disturbing ease. It fired a series of recently added maneuvering thrusters, pointing the bow of the vessel straight at the broadside of the Swiftsure. The Sun fired its massive mass driver cannon, hurtling a massive rock out of the starships prow at speeds far greater than any starship could survive. The Swifture's own weapons operators continued their fire on the opposing battleship, but also deftly maneuvered the captured asteroids into spots to intercept the flying rock set to collide with them. The asteroid approached and smashed into the impromptu asteroid barrier, creating massive debris field of dust and rock which either side could only faintly see through.

“Well, that worked well enough,” muttered Costigan, “it only took four of our own asteroids to stop their one....but if we're right, we've just created a new swarm of that infectious dust...unless...Weapons, turbolaser flak fire on that cloud of dust, let's see if we can minimize the amount of nanites in there until we have to retreat.”

Sporadic fire sprang out of the Confederate battleship, with railgun slugs deftly soaring through gaps in the debris field to rough areas where the Kumauri Sun was estimated to be. Turbolaser and ion cannon fire from the Star Defender burst into the cloud of dust, targeting any areas with even the most minutest amount of electrical activity. The Reaver craft surged forward despite the sporadic slug and missile strikes into their ranks. But as they did so, the Swiftsure continued to tunnel into the asteroid belt along its predetermined course with tractor beam after tractor beam pulling out rocks to the side to partially obscure the path the ship left in its wake. Costigan stared hard at his console, watching the swarm of FST signatures converge on his warship. Most of the smaller dots, starfighters and small craft, deftly waded through the belt directly towards the Star Defender. A few of the ships faded as their unreliable craft or reckless pilots collided into some of the faster moving asteroids. Costigan's brow furrowed. Not as many as I'd like, but better than nothing. He cleared his throat as they grew closer.

“Ready to fire on the”

A torrent of fire from the broadside of his warship enveloped the asteroids closest to approaching maruaders. The rocks superheated and exploded, sending massive clouds of shrapnel into the Reaver formations and scattering billowing clouds of dust to obscure their sensors and vision. Several of the more reckless craft continued on full speed only to dash themselves upon unseen slabs of rock. Dozens of FST profiles on Costigan's sensor board blinked out of existence. Two minutes later, roughly half of the original Reaver formation emerged from that ambush to begin to make their runs on the Confederate warship. Turbolaser and ion cannon flak fire from the mammalian-shaped warship attempted to channel the marauders into corridors which the Star Defender's massed flechette launchers could devastate them with clouds of rapidly expanding shrapnel. But Costigan ignored the wild menagerie of starfighters, freighters, and other small craft strafing the Swiftsure. Instead, the man quietly watched the large dot representing the Kumauri Sun begin to lead the Reaver's larger vessesl into the pathway which the Swiftsure had created only minutes before. Come on, get closer...
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Nov 5 2013 9:48pm
Delaborde-class Star Destroyer Delaborde, Deep Space

The wedge of the star destroyer effortlessly cut through space, leading the combined forces of the Hast Defence Fleet and Task Force Swiftsure towards the navigation point. Admiral Morteos tightly clutched the armrest of the Delaborde's command chair. How long has it been since I led a force into battle? The graying commander of the Hast Defence Fleet considered that question. His forces had seen much action against the Reavers lately, but not under his command because territorial defense fleets became subordinate to the federal units to which they were attached regardless of the territorial commander's rank. Let's see, it was back when we used MC90s, before the Confederation existed. Such a strange thought. Is the Confederation really only several years old still? It seems like a life time ago when we raided that pirate outpost years ago. But at least this part is only for a short while.... The Delaborde, flagship of the Hast Defence Forces, jumped into hyperspace, followed by the rest of the Confederate host. Mere minutes passed before they reverted just to outskirts of the Hast system. Morteos stared out of the viewport, observing the vast number of glowing blue spheres in the distance. So many engines. So many lost soulds...How rare it is for a such an ominous power to gain such sudden strength...not matter now... After clearing his throat, the old man began to stammer:

“All Confederate forces, hold formation, but fire at will,” ordered the local admiral.

Masses of long-range fire from the various Suffren-class artillery cruisers lashed out at the distant formation, their bright tachyon rays joining streams of railgun slugs in slamming into the rears of the Reaver ships entering the artificial corridor into Hast's Oort cloud. Volleys of Starflare missiles made short jumps into hyperspace before emerging from that dark realm to ram into various engines and steering equipment of the opposing horde. Dozens of the glowing orbs faded or warped under the confederate assault. As the engines on the rearmost Reaver ships died, stranding numerous Reavers inside the asteroid field, a short-wave comm burst from the Swiftsure triggered the dozens of waiting seismic charges clustered on asteroids around the artificial corridor: huge slabs of rocks and hundreds of smaller boulders flooded the corridor in an artificial meteor storm, smashing into and sometimes demolishing the confined Reaver ships. Firing with all of their batteries, the combined line of the TF Revanche and the Hast Defense Forces advanced to towards the Reavers caught in a whirlwind of flying rocks and dust. The Confederate weapons lashed out of the relatively unarmed rears and raked the vessels with little chance of retaliation. Further up the corridor, the Swiftsure activated its anti-concussion field generator and swerved into the asteroid belt, knocking aside the slow tumbling rocks with ease and little damage, to present its broadside to the approaching Reaver craft. The star defender quickly turned its sublight engines off to redirect power to sustain the anti-concussion field as its vast banks of weaponry came online again. Trapped in the classic anvil and hammer trap, the Reavers attempted to scramble towards their distant opponents, all while trying to evade the asteroid storm and Confederate fire. Several reaver vessels, including the Kumauri Sun, continued forward to face the terrible broadside fire of the waiting Star Defender. But the vast bulk of the Reaver fleet attempted to claw their way out of the belt to face the ordered lines of the Confederate forces. Morteos wiped a bead of sweat from his brow.

“Deactivate all engines, power up the anti-concussion fields.”

The very first of the now heavily dented Reaver ships to emerge from the belt immediately drew fire from the artillery cruisers and the long-range turbolasers and autocannons of the Delaborde. The little return fire of the Reaver vessels spew out ineffectually out of both lack of range and inaccurate sensor readings caused by the Delaborde's powerful Magnetorian sweep. Closely locked ranks of heavily armored Montcalm frigates and La Galissonière star destroyers met the brunt of the escaping reaver vessels head on, holding them in place with tractor beam projectors and searing their hulls with dense plasma and turbolaser fire. Meanwhile, the Swiftsure systematically destroyed the sections of the asteroid battered Kumauri Sun with salvos of heavy turbolaser, ion cannon, and railgun fire. Elements of the Reaver flagship's hull floated out, leaving wispy clouds of the Reaver nanites trailing away almost like a comet's tail. Far away on the Delaborde, Admiral Morteo watched the unfolding carnage and began scratching his jaw. Have we just contaminated this entire belt and ringed our homeworld with this virus? My maker, what have we done?
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Nov 11 2013 1:44pm
Revanche-class Star Defender Swiftsure, outskirts of the Hast System

“Five, Four, Three, Two, One.”

Even standing on the bridge of the Swiftsure thousands of kilometers away, Costigan could make out the brilliant flash of light which emanated from near the wreckage of the listing Kumauri Sun. A brief blue glow of the telltale Cherenkov radiation announced the pinnacle of the anti-matter bomb's detonation. If we didn't incinerate any of that Reaver mess in there, we irradiated it to kingdom come. Probably hundreds of years from now, the area will be so irradiated that another nuclear bomb won't want to be there...hell, thousands of years from now, the area will still probably a unique radiation signature...Several feet shuffled in the back of the bridge while the rest of the bridge crew watched the last vestiges of the cherenkov radiation fade away. It is a rare event to use so potent a weapon...He turned his face to face the shuffling of feet. Mere meters away, Councilor Ban Tarask and Admiral Morteo, both of Hast, circled about quietly exchanging rapid salvos of words. Costigan raised an eyebrow and approached the two of them.

“Is there a problem, gentlemen?”

Morteo sighed, “The councilor is concerned about the radiational after effects of...the device we just used.”

“It just seems a little...extreme,” noted the councilor, attempting to weigh his words.

Costigan shrugged, “The Reaver infection is not a risk I'm inclined to take lightly, sir. I'd rather use a little bit of overkill than possibly risk the chance of the infection spreading. If you do believe that I'm concerned about the lasting effects, then consider what I put all my ships and my crew through two hours ago.”

“Bathing ships in a pulsar's rays is a dangerous proposition,” agreed Admiral Morteo.

“But I can't bring a pulsar star here to irradiate and kill off the infection,” informed the Rear-Admiral, “this is the closest thing I could get. I cannot simply hope for the infection to simply run out steam. Now let's go see your homeworld.”

After ordering the bridge crew to prepare for the hyperjump, Costigan strolled back over to his seat, leaving the two men of Hast to continue their talks. Their return should be interesting after all those weeks the planet's spent in isolation, cut off from the outside world by their fear of Reavers...not that I can blame them. I too would stop everything going in and out of the system, whether its comm traffic or ships, if it meant the Reavers wouldn't visit my home...thank the Maker the Cularin system is so far away from this mess...The flowing lines of hyperspace travel gave out to reveal the Hast, a mottled orb of soothing blue and verdant green. Vast stretches of clouds encircled the dreary world, yet it seemed attractively reclusive to the Rear-Admiral, like a wilderness retreat after working months on end in the stifling confines of a large city. Just outside of the shielded planet, the orbital shipyards which had built the Swiftsure itself slowly kept their orbit, drifting around the planet like a giant leaf on a summer breeze. The yards look peaceful enough, even if the Hastians flooded the entire station with radiation to keep the Reavers away..but it'll be months before they can get put back into regular use...assuming we can convince the government and the workers to come back without the fear of Reavers getting so close again. I wonder what Lucerne and the Council came up for that? Certainly we can't leave Hast like we do before, not by itself and so close to Reaver space...


Several days later...

Liberty Island, Hast

Costigan strolled the beach, observing various members of the large Mon Calamari expatriate community surface from the watery depths with their catches. Their fishery skill had been one of the few things that had allowed the planet to go into its self-imposed isolation. Shortly after the planet's original induction into the Confederation, Hast had managed to access Confederation cloning technology to introduce large numbers of species originally from Dac (though slightly genetically modified for Hast's conditions) to their nearly barren oceans. Yet the Mon Calamari had merely enjoyed the wildlife's presence as a reminder of their home world, instead of utilizing it like their bretheren back home. Costigan wondered if they had grown closer to the Mon Calamari's old way life; their life before the Black Dragon attack on their world. The man from Genarius shuffled his feet in the black sands of the beach. So who really are the Revenants of these recent ages? These Confederates who hearken back to their homeland, or those degenerated monsters in space trying to claw their way back to Heir Raktus' immortal enlightenment? Costigan picked up a sea shell from the beach and began brushing off the wet sand from the shell.

“Enjoying our world?”

Costigan turned around to see the portly Morteo waddling towards him dressed in a wetsuit with a organic gill in his left hand. The Swiftsure's commander neatly pocketed the shell into his pants, another object to add to his collections of souvenirs of the Confederate worlds in his staterooms onboard the Star Defender. He merely nodded.

“I am.”

“Good,” replied the other man, “I hope you can see why my people did what they did then. It's not easy to shut oneself away from the rest of the galaxy, and all one's friends and neighbors...but there's no place like Hast. You know it's the only place where some parts of Mon Calamari culture still exists now after the Dragons attacked Dac.”

“So I've been told,” noted the Costigan, “let's hope the Dragon's successors will never be able to do the same here.”

“Hope isn't much of a strategy,” replied Morteo, “as terrifying as that may seem to the people around here. They must become more proactive. But I have some plans, and so does the good councilor, which should return our world back into the fully participating member of the Confederation that it was once.”

“I believe you,” reassured Costigan, “more than you know. I'll be taking my task force out of here in the next few days, as soon as all my people have enjoyed their leave on your world. Is there anything that you require for your world right now that I should talk to the council about?”

“None that isn't already been taken care of,” informed Morteo, “Councilor Tarask had quite a number of deals worked out before our arrival here. One of which required a fair bit of finagling between the head of CMF and Serendivius to get them to work together.”

Costigan's mind whirled, “Cloaked galleons? I suppose that's one way to keep your world connected without attracting too much undue attention by the Reavers.”

“Indeed,” smiled the other man, “and the next will be all of our own devisement.”