- Posted On: Oct 28 2006 11:40pm
Captain Trajan Vespian walked the halls of his starship, a Victory Class Star Destroyer designated Iron Mantis, with something of a paternal instinct. The corridors were alive with conversation between crewmembers going about their various tasks many of whom were newcomers to the crew.
As was typically true of the man, change was at first hard to adjust too as many of his crew sought homes outside the ship. At first, he took it hard as a parent would their child leaving home and making their own way in the world.
The original crew had been with him since the days of the New Republic and they had stuck together through thick and thin as they went from one adventure to another surviving the fall of their government and being hunted by Imperial bounties to finding a place in the government claiming succession of the fallen Republic, a Coalition of planets bent on holding their own against the rising expansion of the Galactic Empire.
What had nursed his endurance through much of this was a personal hatred for both the Empire and one of it's chief architects, Simon Kaine. He had thought his fiance dead after the debacle at Dantooine.
For a decade his hatred solidified his resolve and kept them alive amid a galaxy that went on reeling from the wake of the Republic's destruction.
It was a hatred they had learned to live with even in the Coalition despite setback after setback viewing with horror the strengthening ascension of the shackles of Empire take root once more.
Ever vigilant they remained, day after day waiting for the eventual armageddon and their own destruction. They kept their spirits bright but deep in their hearts hope had fled and it was not until a report from a White Knight challenged them to dare to hope once more.
Across the border they went liberating a secret prison facility populated by remaining New Republic crew, soldiers and the like. With the demise of their government, the Empire simply left them there to rot.
It was a risk Trajan and the Iron Mantis took for they courted open war between the Coalition and the Empire should they have failed or been found out.
Their luck held and they returned successful and inwardly triumphant in their hearts.
And their armor of hatred began to crack as the prisoners mingled, cried, joked, and celebrated with them.
Trajan found that he could no longer keep his hatred alive personally after having found Marlena in among the prisoners rescued.
And it was his meeting with the Coalition Military Command after his unauthorized venture that had solidified something else within him.
The Coalition was truly their home.
The change rippled throughout his crew as many moved on with their lives finding mates, finding new opportunities outside the military, finding a home on a Coalition world, or finding an interest to serve on the newer warships.
Their leaving was hard but understood. Trajan wished them well and many kept in touch with the remaining crewmembers aboard the Mantis. Sometimes the old crew would read stories from one such letter in the mess delighting them all.
But even the ship was different for it did not remain an empty home for long. A new influx of crewmembers and military school graduates (who were always too young it seemed) came aboard and the process of the Captain getting to know his crew started over once more.
There was something revitalizing at having so many younger men, women and beings scurring about the decks with the vigor of purpose.
Upon seeing them he straightened his own stride as he slowly made his way to the Science Deck to speak with his wife before finding his way to the Bridge.
They were patrolling the deep edge of Coalition Space with the intent of making sure the Cren Alliance continued to maintain it's alliance within the GC.
Even the far flung members of the Coalition deserved a presence letting their citizens know that they were not forgotten by the politicians and administrators at the distant Capital.
"Captain!" acknowledged the secondary Science Officer as he walked into the large laboratory. His wife was seated on a narrow stool invested in the readings taken from an electron microscope. She looked up at her assistant's call and smiled.
Trajan glowed on the inside at the sight of the smile.
"What's so important that you had to drag me away from my breakfast briefing, Miss." he said with mock severity and she waved his words away.
"Your breakfasts are not healthy, Dear." she commented, entering new variables into the consol controlling the microscope equipment.
"Are you the Medical Officer now?" he asked, trying to push her buttons gently.
She only smirked, "I am YOUR Medical Officer, Dear. We all know you and Doc Sammry go together like a Hutt and his money. I expect you old males to protect each other."
Trajan laughed and put his hand on his wife's shoulder in a familiar fashion. Not exactly regulation but no one made anything of it. "So, what have you got?" he prodded softly.
"I've been studying these Ultrachrome properties and I don't think..."
The lights flickered in the room and an alarm began to sound. "EMERGENCY ALERT ON C DECK. CAPTAIN TO C-DECK IMMEDIATELY!"
"C-Deck?" his wife asked in confusion.
Trajan frowned before remembering, "The Kashan were scheduled to come aboard this morning." he said as he began to move towards the door.
"This morning?!" he wife nearly shouted over the alarm that her assistant was trying to turn down. "Last briefing didn't put them coming aboard until tomorrow." She was rushing out with him in his haste to get to c-Deck and they both headed into the nearest lift.
"They signaled last night that they'd be arriving a little early." He looked at her, "I didn't mention it?"
Marlena smiled grimly as the lift began to drop. "You had other things on your mind last night."
"Ahh.." he responded. He was concerned but the alarm was not of a type that would have sounded if they were under attack and so he was under the impression that the ship would hold together long enough for him to make the trek to the emergency.
The lift doors opened and the first thing he noticed was the smell.
The side panels along the corridor sparked and popped as he and his wife stepped out and a sound of general commotion going on just around the curve of the deck just out of sight invaded his ears.
"What the.." he started and his wife began to explain, "I think I know what happened..." she initiated with worry in her voice. Before she could continue, however, Doc Sammry nearly bumped into them coming off an adjoining corridor.
"What the bloody hell happened?" he growled out in irritation.
Trajan only shrugged his shoulders as he moved past the doctor and his wife and came to several groups of people working, most of them being technicians.
"Did a power coupling explode?" he asked, in irritation. His engineer, Chief Vallorum, disliked the knock-off parts the Coalition military manufacturers made to fit the few New Republic-built vessels still in existence. Every once in a while, the knock-offs would ...well knock-off and generally piss off the entire Engineering Department.
Chief Vallorum stepped through the mass of people working to contain the equipment sparks and fires, holding a fist over his mouth to contain a cough from the smoke filled corridor. "We had several couplings explode." he began and Trajan swore.
"Dammit! That's IT! I've had it with our parts manufacturer!" Trajan was getting ready for a good rant as his frustration began to boil up.
"No..no. It's not the coupling's fault." Vallorum quickly spoke up poppping the
Captain's rant bubble.
"It's not?" he asked in confusion, noting several bodies on the ground and others being visible stripped by security. He couldn't see all that well as the power was flickering.
"Do we have injured?" Sammry shouted above the commotion, noting the figures lying down and Vallorum scratched his head. "I don't think so, Doc. At least nothing that seems serious but you might as well look them over."
He turned to Trajan, "Captain, may I present Major Ceires of the Kashan Shock Trooper contingent." he motioned to one of the bodies lying down and before the Doc could kneel down before the person, several security personnel came over and began physically pull the armour off the Major and other Shock Troopers.
"Careful! There could be internal injuries!" Doc Sammry shouted at the Security who took his griping in stride but lessened their enthusiasm at their task.
"Vallorum, what happened?" Trajan asked in confusion.
"Just thank your lucky stars we didn't give these bastards a tour of the Armory or half the ship would be goners."
"That's what I've been trying to tell you, Captain.." Marlena interrupted. "We shouldn't let these Troopers walk our decks armoured!"
"What?" The Captain turned an exasperated eye towards his wife.
"I suggest we finish this discussion in the MedLab!" Doc Sammry yelled as several medical aides arrived with repulser stretchers. "Let's go." he ordered. As Security pulled apart the armour, the Shock Trooper was lifted onto the stretcher. The armor was carted back to the Kashan Assault Shuttle on the hanger deck.
Chief Vallorum threw a piece of metal onto a nearby desk in the Medical Observation Room.
"Superconductors. That's what these shock troopers were wearing when they came aboard.
It didn't mean much in the hanger being spacious and all but as soon as we took to a narrow corridor, rather than our circuitry channeling power, it arced through the padding struck full-blown onto them.
Overloaded several couplings and it was just too much. Blew out the emergency fuses all along C-Deck just to compensate."
"I was going to suggest that they leave their amour aboard their shuttle, Captain. I was studying samples of that Ultrachrome Armor and it is not compatible with our current systems."
Trajan turned to see the Doctor enter the room from checking on the Kashan Major and then asked, "I thought Ultrachrome was a material applied to starship armor in the Kashan Home Navy?"
"All in all, it's a rare metal but no. The Kashan slapped the stuff on everything from droids to human armor."
At the Captain's questioning glance, Marlena called a Security Officer over and asked for his sidearm. Trajan's eyes widened as she pointed the weapon at the armor piece and fired.
The bolt struck the metal and dispersed as if strike a shield and the metal piece glowed for a brief second.
"The metal acts as a superconductor but with nowhere to conduct the energy, it heats up. A few more shots and it would melt."
"So it is supposed to save the wearer from a few shots from a blaster?" Trajan scratched his head. It seems to be quite alot of armor to lug around to take a few shots."
"I think they are mean't to go down the devil's throat in the line of fire." Doc Sammry commented. "That rubbery mesh underneath the armor is to protect the wearer as the energy splashes over them. Incredibly hot... these are not all-terrain environment suits. I found Major Ceires pumped full of chemical altering drugs.."
"Because?" Trajan asked in concern.
"My guess is conditioning. The body is also a conductor of electricity and if you have two conductors separated by a thin rubbery mesh, the mesh will not have a long life.
It'll eventually burn through and the wearer will cook inside their armor. Not a pleasant sight. The drugs also help the heart so the wearer doesn't automatically go into cardiac arrest being struck by so many blaster bolts."
"Emperor's Black Bones! Just who are these Kashan?" Trajan wondered out loud.
"A people that take war a bit too seriously for my taste." the Doctor answered. "Ensign Sady had 2nd degree burns on both hands as well as two other crewmen." He sighed, "Anyway, I'll have Major Ceires report to you Captain after I've discharged her."
"There's a woman under all that metal, Captain."
"What a day this is turning out to be." Trajan murmured. "Cheif, let me know how long that corridor on C-Deck will be down."
"You'll have my estimate in an hour." Vallorum remarked. "What are you going to do with our new super troop?"
The Captain shook his head, "Damned if I know. Ever since the Kashan signed the Coalition charter, we've not heard much about them. Several divisions of troopers are being assigned throughout the fleet but I think it's more of an experiment with the Military Command than anything else."
"We're the guinea nerf?"
"That about sums it up."
"Major Daria Ceires reporting as ordered, SIR!"
"Major, at ease." Trajan ordered as he and Executive Officer Garrick stood in the Captain's Conference Room.
The Major spread her legs apart slighty and kept her hands behind her back.
"Had a little accident on C-Deck this morning," Trajan prodded gently, "Are you feeling alright?"
"Sir! I must apologize for being unaware of your vessel's inferior construction. I will endeavor to maintain better intelligence so as to not hurt your crew in the future."
Captain Vespian's brows furrowed, "I beg your pardon, Major?"
XO Garrick came to the rescue as he quickly added, "Major, it could be said the fault may lie with the fact that it is not the vessel that is faulty but that your armor is not ..appropriate to be worn on all occassions."
The Major gave him an odd look, "Sir? The Kashan Ultrachrome System is the most advanced personal protective equipment to date. If I have the technical specs provided you will see it is a vastly superior to current Coalition.."
"That's enough, Major. Obviously you feel your armor is as important as the Second Coming of Obi-Wan Kenobi and that is fine. As long as your armor remains aboard the shuttle." Trajan interupted the memorized speech.
The Major saluted, "Yes Sir."
"That is all. Get yourself and your men situated in your quarters and we will begin exercises immediately at 0800 tomorrow."
"We are going to begin a series of training exercises without your armor. I want to see how good, how cohesive you are without being dependent on your armor to compensate for mistakes."
Now it was the Kashan Officer's turn to turn red. "Yessir." she said stiffly.
"You're dismissed." Trajan said and the woman straightened, saluted and left.
After a moment, Trajan turned to his XO, "Well, Garrick. What do you think?"
Garrick chuckled slightly, "You think my inferior opinion matters, Captain?" The XO walked over to glance out into space from a window and rubbed his slight beard. "You pissed her off but then that's a talent you have. The question is, are you coming up with this training for a valid reason or are you simply trying to piss her off some more for the remark regarding the Mantis?"
Trajan grimaced. "Practical man that I am. Both, Garrick. I am doing it for both reasons."
"Ahh... well then. Let's hope the Cren don't piss you off as well or we'll be using them for target practice."
"Come now, Garrick," Captain Vespian remarked, "what else can go wrong today?"