Week 5 - Aerin refueling

Kirth sat at his console on the bridge, boredom starting to take hold as the refueling approached the third hour. Suddenly the surface sensors started beeping, startling Kirth. He zoomed in on the sensor detection, right at the edge of the sideband sensors. The sensors indicated a surface vessel and at current speed it was an hour out from the coast. Kirth feels the adrenaline kick in. He keys the intercom to the captain's cabin.
"Captain, Kirth here. I think you should come to the bridge and have a look at this."
"What is it Mr Gersen." comes the reply.
"Inbound water vessel, about an hour out."
"Very well." responses Teanna, "send out a recon drone to get a visual, get the engineers to wrap up refueling and prep for launch."
Teanna pauses for a moment. "Mr Gersen, the recon team should be inbound by now but to be on the safe side break comms silence and make contact to confirm their location. I'll be on the bridge in five."
Kirth taps out the commands to send off a drone, then calls the engineers on the com.
"Bridge here. We might have to leave in a hurry. Could you make us ready for launch ASAP ?"
Amalric's voice comes back "We're at 80 percent fuel load Bridge, we need another half an hour to complete the job. Then another 15 minutes to fire up the M Drives. What's the hurry?"
"I'll get back to you on the refueling, we got an unknown inbound."
Kirth signals the Captain again.
"Wait only until the drone gets a visual" comes the reply.
Kirth then turns on the radio and tries to contact the recon team "Base to Carrier. What is your situation right now?"
Heather comes back over the radio.
"Had a small run in with some locals but on our way back. ETA to the Trailblazer ten minutes. Out."

Soon Teanna is on the bridge and Kirth gives an update. His console then pings.
"Drone has a visual."
"Bring it up." Teanna responds.
The blue ocean fills the screen. In the center is a very old, very large ship that looks a lot like a fishing trawler. However mounted on the decks are several large guns that look decidedly out of place.
"That does not look friendly." comments Teanna. She comms the engineers.
"Possible hostile contact inbound. I want thrusters hot in thirty minutes."
"Yes Captain," responds Amalric, "but we will be short ten percent fuel load."
"Can't be helped, just make it so."
Kirth looks at the images coming in from the drone.
"Hmmm..." he wonders. "Is that all they have in the way of weaponry, or do they have something nastier hidden below decks ?"
He then goes once more through all the data coming in from the drone to see if he can sift out any more information. Looking closely he notes the guns look like old era naval guns, which might do some damage to the ship. He then spots the tubes off the back of the ship, which to Kirths trained eyes look distinctly like missile tubes.
Pointing to the screen he indicated the tubes to the Captain. "Might be missiles Captain."
"Agreed. That's enough reconnaissance, recall the drone."
"Yes Captain." replies Kirth.

Five minutes later the G arrives back and preparation begins for launch. As the carrier docks TK lifts his visor and looks at the whole crew sitting opposite him in a dead serious face and says "Well that went to someone's plan! But who are we gunna talk to about being ill-equipped to handle the situation..."
Smiling he continues "I mean seriously all we needed was some marshmallows man!"
Sterlkar looks at TK with a deadpan face and asks, "What are marshmallows?"
TK Looks at Stelkar wide eyed, jaw dropping to the ground!
"You mean originally??" Without missing a beat TK continues. ".....Well an ancient Solomani legend from a country on Terra filled with dangerous creatures. The most notorious of these was known as the DROPPIE or Drop Bear! Falling from great high trees on top of their prey....mainly children or visitors from other countries or places." TK was now finding it hard to maintain a straight face.
"So originally the marshmallow was the faeces of this predator which was a white or pink soft spongy balls which floated down from above! For some reason of biological process, or maybe the consumption of over sucrose filled children??, they smelt and tasted sweet even more so when cooked on an open fire on the end of a specially prepared stick from the Gum Tree the drop bears inhabited!"
TK was now grinning.
"Also legend said that if you ate it you were less likely to be attacked by them! Me I just like it for its metaphoric value which it brings for us here today!"
"Shit Happens! Burn it up! And Eat it! Makes it much sweeter to swallow!!" It was almost a marines war-cry for TK by now. He gestures, palms up, eyebrows raised and smiling.

Back on the bridge Teanna stands up. "Mr Gersen, get us into orbit. I'm going to see to the recon team." Teanna says as she stands.
"Evasive action if needed but don't fire back if fired on."
"Not a problem Captain," Kirth says grinning, "there's no gunners available anyway."
Teanna nods and heads for the G-Carrier bay.
Kirth listens in on the coms as the recon team debrief begins. Nigel explains briefly how the mission went, the lack of salvageable material and the virus infected bot. Kirth was not quite worried about the development aound the shuttle, but the parts would have been handy.
"Well", he thought as he watched the head-cam feeds, "That bonfire looks like it was fun. Now it looks like this are going to get a lot more interesting..."
As the Trailblazer heads toward space the ship does indeed fire a missile at the ship, but Kirth is well out of range by the time it runs out of fuel.

Once out of orbit and heading for the jump point Teanna pulls the crew together. Nigel gives a debrief of the starport recon and the crew goes over the scans, tagging anything of interest for follow-up teams.
"Amalric, what's the fuel situation?" Teanna asks.
"We got just over 90 percent fuel load in the end," replies Amalric,
"just enough for the jump and 11 days maneuver."
"Doesn't leave much room for mistakes." adds Nigel.
"We'll just have to rely on good engineering and sharp navigation then." replies Teanna.
Teanna wipes the holo-display with a wave of her upper arm. A blue/green/white world appears in front of everyone.
"The first of our major targets is next. New Covenant had a Knights' Legion base on it before the crash and the old records indicate there is a good chance a cache of some sort exists within the system."
Teanna zooms in the map, pointing.
"There were major population centers here, here and here. The was a population of 4 billion humans before the crash. It was a fully fledged police state, complete with a dictator that they viewed as some sort of high priest. Though they were friendly to the then Imperium."
Teanna spun the world to its southern ocean, then zoomed in on a small green island.
"The KL base was on this island. This is our next destination. We have complete access codes and base layout, for 70 years ago. Any questions so far?"

Like Sterlkar most of the crew sit in silence. TK sits contemplating all those involved in the debrief and his place in the pecking order .
"Too bad about the fuel" thought Kirth, "I just hope I can do as well as the way over here". He does not say anything out loud, waiting to hear the rest of what Teanna had to say.
Nigel, glancing at the landing party members, says "What's the former tech level just so we have some idea of what to expect in term of leftovers, like say robots?"
TK Looks at him and raises his eyebrows, then looks towards the captain and nods his head appreciatively like a non-verbal "yeah what he says."
Teanna nods and replies "New Covenant was tech level nine before the collapse, however the Knights' Legion base was a mix of tech level thirteen and fourteen."
Teanna pauses, as if recalling details.
"As for robots, the KL did use them from time to time but never in a combat role. They did have smart equipment, drones and other remote strike equipment, so there is always a possibility of virus infected equipment. Just make sure virus protocols are in place and always go in hot."
Nigel nods, "Any gas giant to refuel at before we hit dirtside?"
"Crap" TK thinks to himself. He really fraggin hates skimming, its really shit unless you have a fraggin good pilot! He makes a mental note to make sure he has plenty on antiemetics ready or at least some ginger from the galley.
"There are three gas giants in the outer system. We would have to do an in-system jump to refuel from them, taking extra time we don't have. Instead we are jumping to the next orbit out, the rocky world there has an ice cap we can refuel from. There was a mining base on that planet, but we don't expect it to be manned now. We can then maneuver into New Covenant."
"Mission contingencies," Nigel then asks, "What do we do if we find the base intact as opposed to its being occupied by the locals?"
TK and the others straighten almost imperceptible to Nigel's third question, trying to be non verbally supportive as in the first question. TK figures being the Tail End Charlie should also be represented in all situations, even moral ones when presented with higher ranks. Always there to back you up from the rear! He laughs on the inside..now that's a joke for when we are dirt side next time he thinks to himself!

Teanna looks at TK and blinks several times. TK suddenly remembers the Islaiatians are telepaths and thinks "Sorry Captain, I'll keep it a little more on mission from now on."
Teanna looks back to Nigel.
"There is always a chance the base may be compromised. The base is not our primary target. We are to recon the base and look for information on the cache. The reports suggest that most of the high tech gear was removed from the base and transported to the cache once it was certain the base was going to be over-run."
Teanna brought up a schematic of the base.
"To be honest Command doesn't think there will be much left of the base as a free trader report tells the base was hit by a virus infected Imperial Destroyer Escort that crashed out of orbit onto the base. We're just hoping the computer core under the base is still intact."
Teanna looks around the crew and, seeing no response, dismisses the crew. "Very good. Prepare for jump."