Sixty odd days of office work and trainers had them all at a head it seemed. The crew involved with was some industrial work every day at this point, but it seemed to involve little of Lt. Brickley’s time. He had been there for keel laying, when the first module of the ship was assembled. The secondary berthing compartment was attached to the frame for the cargo bay and the hangars that day, and construction had continued at a decent pace. At this point, the main physical structure of the ship was mostly there, only the beak-like nose containing the sensors, the fuel tank wings, and the missile magazine and turrets had not been attached. Many of the compartments were unfinished as well, and the power plant had yet to be installed. Brickley had made it a point to go there every day; but far too often (to him) it seemed his day wouldn’t let him get there. Brand, Chishan, and Zabiyah were mostly his on-site supervisors, with Hassan getting down there for most days. The two spacers who had been assisting them when Hassan and Brickley moved into the office, Able Spacehand Hall, and Fireman Kidd, had turned out well enough so far. Two more were coming in “Soon” according to command, but that could mean tomorrow or a month from now. The Marines, as well, were coming in time to be determined.
Days not involved in construction often had involved time in trainers, and meetings. Trainers, though unpleasant, as they had several near mishaps in various scenarios, but each one changed as to what was incorrect, at least got the crew together as a team. That paled next to the fallout from the ongoing Spyridion Affair.
Earlier this year, several officers had defected from the Solomani Confederation, the most senior of which was Alexander Spyridion. Shortly after his defection, he announced he was going on a speaking tour of the Imperial regions closest to the armistice line. He had been given sanctuary along with many of the other officers. Just over a month ago, an extradition request had been denied. Thus, the base was on ‘enhanced security measures’ for a long time, but the lack of people under his command meant instead it was just a security pain in the ass for that period.
|Aboriginal Welcoming Dance|
That evening, during the festival, Brickley and Chishan notice something is wrong with one area of this plaza. The little shack containing rest rooms and utility connections for some of the vendors when the desert allows for a market, looks like there’s some extra space that’s unaccounted for. It’s a simple task for the crew to open this up, and it turns out there’s a manhole cover in here. It looks to be untouched in quite a long time, and preserved almost immaculately by being out of the weather in the desert.
After opening it and descending two meters, it comes out to a narrow stairway. Using a couple of flashlights, standard issue to spacers on liberty, they find their way into a door with the Solomani cross as a small symbol, and the notation “PHX ALICE SPRINGS BN” on it. Brand gasps, “How could something like this survive? It’s from the Solomani Phoenix Project that was wiped out.”
“You should know as well as anyone,” Hassan interjects, “The Army and Marines maybe good, but they aren’t perfect. I’m just surprised it’s lasted this close to the Base and all. Since we’re not on the clock, what does everyone want to do?”
The crew discusses, and it ends up they all want to look into the bunker. The doors somewhat like an unpowered starship hatch, and despite the century of neglect, they open it. It opens into another short stairway, that comes down to a landing. Ahead is one door, and to the right is another. The door ahead is visibly locked, but the one to the right is not. It contains a couple of desks, and spots for a computer table. Upon investigation, a key is found, and can open up the rest of the bunker. The group finds the main bunker still has lighting power. The first door is a medical space.
|Based on a plan from http://www.harwichanddovercourt.co.uk/the-war-years/|
“Wow, Rim War era med supplies, even an Auto Doc. With this crap, I’m surprised the Sollies didn’t put up more of a fight.” Zabiyah notes looking in there.
“I don’t trust any of this equipment, it’s too old,” Chishan notes, “Let’s keep going.”
A little farther down the hall is a supply closet on one side, that includes a diagram of the bunker.
“Cryo chambers for some kind of staff?” Brand notes, “we need to get this back to NavInt immediately.”
“But maybe there’s more gear here. A souvenir might be useful,” Zabiyah notes.
“Note sure there is much use for one from this place,” Chishan replies grumpily. “Hundred-year-old Sollie crap, and you can get stuff that hasn’t been sitting in a desert bunker without risking your life.”
“Enough from both of you,” Hassan snaps. “We don’t need to make many other decisions. Let’s at least take a look around here briefly.”
“Right. Exec, we’ll take a look at the comms and stores first. I want to make sure there’s nothing lethal in either before we call in the Provost Marshal and other people like him.” Brickley decides. They take the left turn up past the comms room, noting the dusty mounting brackets, and see the sealed off cell for a prisoner. The Equipment room holds a few tools and supplies for building maintenance and manuals for the power system.
“All this way for a janitor’s closet. They even have a Cadillac.” Zabiyah states dismissively after looking in.
“Who asked for your opinion? The whole thing’s impressive if anything still works.” Brand retorts. “Part of me wants to take a look at the unmanned plant.”
“We’re going to take a look at the main stores around the armory next. Exec, you Zabiyah and Chishan stay down, while-” Brickley starts to speak
“A great plan except there’s still a Solomani alive! Long live the Cause and free Terra!” an unfamiliar voice shouts, and cocks an autopistol. He rushes out from the door at end of the dog leg, wearing an old style Solomani uniform with a nametape that reads “Kaufmann”. He wears a Phoenix perched on the Solomani cross as an insiginia.
“Hold on, Private. We aren’t here to-“ Brickley begins as they turn around as a group. Brickley and Hassan are at the end closest the newcomer, Brand in the middle, with Chishan and Zabiyah at the far end.
“Enough lies to Imperial Scum! I ought to put a round through all of your brains! Reach for the sky!” the man rants, his face contorted.
Brand states, “You look odd. You know how long you’ve been frozen? I think something might have affected you in cold sleep.”
“Silence!” he yells as he points his pistol at her. “Maybe I should shoot you first!”
“Do you want to get back to the Confederation?” Hassan asks.
“And leave Mother Terra in the hands of mix breeds from the Core like you?” Kaufmann replies, shifting his aim to Hassan. “I volunteered for this because when the War began, I found a purpose in the Army. And this way, I can hit the Imperium back harder.”
“You know, the Imperium will hear if that thing goes off. Alice is the Navy’s town” Brickley replies, trying to de-escalate the situation.
“Like I care. I just have to send a signal and Phoenix initiates,” Kaufmann replies, his eyes gleaming with madness. “Codeword Omega, and the war starts again”
The enslisted trio flee into the equipment space, and get out of the way while the officers charge in. Brickley misses his attack, while Hassan manages to grapple and disarm the Solomani soldier. Brickley moves to pick up the dropped pistol, noting the safety is still on, as Hassan and the trooper are still wrestling. Hassan manages to knock him prone.
Holding the recovered pistol, Brickley, steps up, and places a foot on the man’s chest, pointing the pistol in a threatening fashion. “Listen, you’re coming with us, and there will be no grand success in retaking Terra by the Confederation,” he announces almost theatrically. “Come on out, he’s down.”
After the trio get out, Hassan and Zabiyah work with him to conduct an improvised binding with a couple of zip-ties they found in the equipment closet.
“Exec, Boats, you two with me. Eng and Guns, take a look and ensure there’s nobody else to surprise us.”With defeat obvious in his voice, Kaufmann bitterly states, “There’s nobody else. We were supposed to be a HQ section, and all the other lows berths didn’t revive properly.” The crew shuffles him out. Once out, the Marine MP’s arrive quickly to cordon off and investigate the bunker. It quickly becomes apparent that Kaufmann is going to spent a long time talking to various Imperial Intelligence services, before he is repatriated back via Smade’s Planet. They spend a few days getting debriefed about the whole affair.
Esperance/Solomani Rim 147-1120
Count Willem Salacrou has arrived on Esperance to begin a round of mediation involving both Imperial and local officials.
"This is shuttle diplomacy," the Count said during a press conference at the starport. "War on Esperance would benefit no one, not the Imperium and not the Human or Vegan citizens of the planet. If I can help defuse the situation, all the better."
Dimmurak/Solomani Rim 150-1120
Planetary elections have yielded a razor-thin majority for the pro-Imperial Iishadun Party, along with a great deal of election-day violence and widespread accusations of vote fraud.
Cheng Golok of the Interstellar Brotherhood of Labor stated that "if the Iishadun and their megacorporate sponsors think that they can steal this election, they are sadly mistaken. Under the Dimmurak constitution, the IBL and the People's Party demand a recount, to be monitored by neutral observers."
Late this evening, the Citizen’s Advisory Council issued a statement agreeing to the IBL demand, announcing that officials of the Imperial Ministry of Justice would be invited to oversee a recount and (if need be) a run-off election.