(40) To Be Named
The Crusader Campaign (140-1123 to 142-1123)
This file has yet to be fully
This file has yet to be fully
At Shark's suggestion, the third prisoner -- the courier
ship's troop --
is moved into Low Berth from Sick Bay. He still needs more
treatment, as he's wounded badly, but he can be transferred safely.
Shark still wants the ship's crew to be ready for
battle. He particularly checks with the Doctor, who tells him in
no uncertain terms that he is not going to sleep right now, even if it
was possible. Most of the remainder of the crew can rest,
although Vonish and Kalida have legal work to do. He makes sure
the Doctor is aware that the legal team might need chemical assistance.
Sir Misha asks Jack and Mich if there's anything new
they've found out about the brown box. They don't really have
anything new, they say. They're working on figuring out the
circuit, which is just kind of "wrong," but there are no new
revelations. It does have some sort of odd feedback into the ship
it's mounted on, and they have it set up in an isolated virtual ship to
give it the right environment.
With that, everything is ready for the night.
Barring movements of the rebel fleets, this should be a normal
night. Their meeting the next morning is scheduled for 07:00, so
Shark will call a meeting at 06:00 to find out if there's any new
At 06:00, Shark checks on Vonish and Kalida.
They've done more work, and are as ready as they could possibly
be. Shark is amused that the legal machinations have delayed the
rebels' progress as long as a good bit of the fighting. In 6
hours, they will have delayed the fleets a whole three days.
There has been no detectable movement from the rebel
Shark heads down to the Gym to exercise. As he
passes through the Lounge, he sees Sir Misha having a little breakfast
and coffee before the meeting. He musesto himself, "He's never
been in a real battle, just a few street brawls." More loudly he
says, "Full meal before battle, you never know when you'll get a chance
to eat again."
Sir Misha says, "What do you mean?"
"You might just be too busy to eat."
Sir Misha laughs, "On the street, you can eat your
dead. Out here... you can have the cook bring it to you in your
chair. You've never been in a real battle! And if you're
winning, you can eat the other guy's dead."
Shark smiles and carries on his way.
It's 07:00. Shark directs that they should
wait for the other team to call them.
At 07:05, the INISO team calls Nightshade
to resume the legal description. Vonish, Kalida, and Sir Misha
engage the other lawyer, who also has a couple of backup people too, in
discussion. Sir Misha maintains a convincing look of concern.
At this point, the discussion is centering around
the legislative procedure. Rather than just look at the
particular one that Vonish has brought up, the INISO lawyer suggests
they go through every single relevant legislative action and make sure
that they agree that all the others are valid. He seems reluctant
to do so, but it's also clear he considers it necessary to make sure
that Sir Misha can be confident of the legality of Santanocheev's
action. Since it was all done with a great many apparently
unrelated fragments of law, this will clearly take quite some time.
While that is going on, Shark quietly contacts
Callisto for her to make sure no-one slips away from the main rebel
group by the innermost moon. She assures him that while she can't
resolve every single ship in the group, if one leaves she will
definitely pick it up.
After four hours of this, at 11:00, the INISO lawyer
suggests an hour break for lunch. He's looking harassed, but
everything aside from Vonish's discovery seems to be completely in
The Nightshade team agrees, of course.
Shark, however, goes on high alert. He checks
again with Callisto to be sure nothing is moving. He is not
reassured when she says she is certain everything is normal.
Shark, as the ship's official paranoid, is expecting any break to be
the time when talk turns into action.
Lunch of course requires an alternate cook, with
Vonish busy. Mich volunteers to cook for the whole crew.
It's unexpectedly good considering Mich's love of MREs (of which he
still has a substantial stash). It's not Vonish's standard, of
course, but on any other ship this would be considered very good.
Shark suggests telling the defenders what they've
been doing, to boost their morale. Sir Misha, however,
emphatically rejects the idea. He does not want the slightest
whiff of duplicity from what he's doing. He wants neither side to
doubt his sincerity and loyalty.
At 12:00 the talks resume. The fleet has been
three days now.
By 15:00, all the decisions except the one under
dispute have been verified. Both sides agree to their
validity. They return to discussion the disputed legislative
What the other team has done is come up with all the
legislation that was enacted in that particular session, and they go on
to demonstrate that every other single item in that session has been
held to be valid. That puts the only point of dispute being this
one single small item.
This particular item is a little different. A
couple of members of the legislative body behaved questionably in this
case that could be considered as invalidating it, but the INISO lawyer
is coming up with a reasonable argument that no court would see it that
They continue to discuss the details. It is
complicated in that different sources seem to have recorded slightly
different accounts of the voting on this item. Vonish and the
INISO lawyer are working to reconcile the various accounts.
The INISO argument is that even if it is not
reconciled, it is effectively treated as valid because of the session
that surrounded it.
Vonish points out that this item has not in fact
ever been tested, as each part of the law establishing INISO and its
scope is individually insignificant.
Both sides explain slowly and carefully to Sir Misha
when he seems not to be understanding the finer points of the
issue. The question is whether the vote was conducted
properly. Vonish says that since the procedure was not followed
correctly, no proper vote was taken on the item and therefore it is not
Sir Misha insists that the other items in this
session, and their validity, don't apply to this item because none of
the others have been challenged on the same point of procedure, so
there's no way to know how a court would react. Vonish agrees,
but in different words. By now, the INISO lawyer really can't put
forward a reasonable argument that it should be otherwise, and it's
becoming obvious that he has lost this point.
What it comes down to is the disputed behavior of
Sir Willi Everett, and whether his actions at the time in his
intoxicated state, invalidate the vote on the law.
Sir Misha is surprised to hear that Sir Willi did
not even have the deciding vote.
The vote was very clearly in favor of the law.
The point, as Vonish says, is that his actions would have invalidated
the vote, and they should have revoted even though it clearly would
have been passed almost unanimously. They should not have simply
accepted the behavior and passed it through, no matter what the time of
day or how much they wanted the extended legislative session to
end. The question is whether by not re-doing the vote, they
invalidated it. Vonish says that even if it would have passed
almost unanimously, the vote should still have been redone in order for
the legislative procedure to be valid.
There are also of course separate accounts of Sir
Willi Everett's behavior, and it is not quite clear whether he really
did break procedure or not. The sources at the time indicate he
might have done, and both lawyers are agreed on that. There are
no witnesses available now after all this time.
Sir Misha requests a break to "consult with his
lawyer." He is concerned that the INISO has shaky legal grounds,
and given its actions it is unclear how a court might decide. He
requests another hour, to which the INISO lawyer agrees. It is
now 17:00, so they will reconvene at 18:00.
Sir Misha calls von Krantzhoff. It's now three
days and five hours into the five hours the defenders were ordered to
try and hold out.
Von Krantzhoff says he has prepared the couriers to
send out Sir Misha's message as soon as the opportunity arises.
Sir Misha asks if he's considered falling back and
regrouping at Katarulu.
Von Krantzhoff agrees that Sir Misha has bought them
a lot of time. They're now over three days, and have inflicted a
lot of damage on the fleets as well. The combination of those is
enough that he would consider withdrawing, although not until it
becomes absolutely necessary. While the current stalemate
continues, he sees no reason to withdraw. If it should come to
military action, however, he is prepared to withdraw or simply step
aside if the rebels would allow it. If they could remain in the
system, they could recover the survivors of the battle that made it
down to the mainworld's surface. Since the rebels don't actually
want to occupy the system, just have the use of it for a few days, they
may allow that. In any event, von Krantzhoff is willing to avoid
any further military action.
Sir Misha thanks him, and terminates the call.
The Captain then asks Kalida and Baron Bridgehead if
this stepping aside thing is reasonable. If anyone tried that
back where he came from, stepping aside would be followed by being shot.
The ship's tacticians say that if it wasn't Imperial
Navy against Imperial Navy, that would be the case. If it was
Zhodani they were fighting, they'd press home the advantage and make a
full victory from it. But all the rebels want to do is regroup,
refuel, and leave. They don't need the system, and they're
dealing with Imperial Navy. They've been straightforward with
each other so far. They've been clear and honest about their
goals, and if the defenders say they'll step aside and let the rebels
refuel, if they can then go in and pick up the survivors, then they'll
expect both sides to honor that.
Shark addresses Jack and the Grand Admiral. It
was clear they were going to fight in the beginning. Then they
reached the middle section, where it was clear they would win on the
next push. But they allowed themselves to be delayed by a day --
they really allowed it. He asks if that's because their scheduled
arrival time is far enough in the future that they could afford the
Bridgehead says they could probably still make it,
but they have a lot of damaged ships and they don't really have the
time to refuel and do much in terms of repair.
Jack adds that perhaps they want to march on Mora
with Nightshade with them, and the slight possibility of that
is worth taking the risk of another day or so.
Shark agrees that clearly they've shown their worth
in this battle. He doesn't think they chose to allow the delay
based on that, but it must be on something else. Why did they
accept the excuse that was offered?
Sir Misha and Jack think that Nightshade is
enough to justify it, especially given their paranoia about this ship.
Shark says he doesn't think they can take this
deception any further, unless they take the last step -- to move into
the fleet under a white flag, and then take that flag down.
Sir Misha says he's not really a "shoot them in the
back" kind of guy, except perhaps when it comes to the INISO.
Also, most of those ships are not INISO. He says he's considered
naming a price that is ridiculously high, and negotiating on that.
Shark says that the person now in charge doesn't
have the political standing to take something like demanding
Duke. They might just say yes and stab them in the back.
They might just say yes anyway to whatever they ask.
Sir Misha says they could demand command of the
Shark asks what would they do if they say yes?
Sir Misha says they'd order them to refuel, repair,
Shark refines that: order them to refuel and repair
Sir Misha thinks that is not realistic. "Is it
time to just cut and run?"
Shark agrees as long as they can protect the
defending fleet. Anyway, if von Krantzhoff leaves he's not going
to Mora, but to the assembly point at Katarulu.
Sir Misha admires von Krantzhoff's valor, and is
willing to give him more cover if he needs it. Von Krantzhoff
cannot break out of any action without going through the rebel fleets.
Shark agrees: if von Krantzhoff opens fire at all,
he will get almost total casualties in a matter of hours at most.
Sir Misha points out his primary concern is that
they have Santanocheev on board, and he wants to get him to Mora.
He doesn't want to do anything here that would jeopardize that.
Shark has one more opportunity to gain a few
hours. If Sir Misha and Vonish stage an argument that gets cut
off, perhaps Sir Misha could say they need until tomorrow morning, and
they might buy it. Then, tomorrow morning, they call INISO up and
Sir Misha's concern is that INISO could just decide
that they're faking it, and that would lead to the loyallist fleets not
being given the opportunity to leave or step aside.
Shark also mentions the obvious. They might
want Santanocheev back.
Sir Misha makes his decision. He will tell von
Krantzhoff that the negotiations will probably break down. If he
wants to step out of the way, he can give him an opportunity to do that
right now while Nightshade is still here. If he wants to
continue fighting, they can keep negotiating but they will probably
break down soon, and the rebels will end it with violent action.
He'll ask von Krantzhoff what he wants to do.
Robert opens a link with von Krantzhoff.
Sir Misha tells him that as he might have guessed
they had engaged the other fleet in negotiations, and they are about to
reach their inevitable failure. At this point, if von Krantzhoff
wants to continue to fight to close to the last man, Sir Misha will
continue the negotiations and allow them to break down whenever they
do. Now if he decided that he might want to step aside at this
point, he can give him cover to do that.
Von Krantzhoff believes they have done enough.
They've delayed them, inflicted heavy damage that will have to be
repair, and made sure that they will need even more fuel now than when
they first got here, so refuelling will take longer. He believes
the mission is essentially accomplished. He'd like to stay in the
system to recover his survivors, plus as many Imperial Navy survivors
from the rebel side as well. They are all Imperial Navy, after
all. And then continue to Katarulu. If it's
necessary to leave now, they can jump to Katarulu and come
back, but they'd need jump tenders from the innermost planet to get
some of the battle riders out of here.
Shark steps in, and says that they should pursue
those negotiations separately from Nightshade.
Von Krantzhoff says he does not think that the
rebels will believe that the negotiations would be separate. He
thinks that given what Nightshade has done to the rebel fleets,
that they would assume Sir Misha is in command even if he is not, and
would not believe separate talks.
Sharks asks what if Nightshade was not in
Von Krantzhoff says they would wonder where they
were, then take that opportunity to get the loyallist fleets out of the
Sir Misha asks him how he would like them to proceed.
Von Krantzhoff says that if Sir Misha's intention is
to take Santanocheev back to Mora, then if they negotiate Nightshade
leaving and the loyallist fleets moving out of the way, that would
leave no opportunity to misinterpret.
Sir Misha nods. "Good luck, sir," he says.
"It's been an honor," says Shark.
"It has indeed," says von Krantzhoff, and ends the
At 18:00, Sir Misha tells Robert to connect him with
the commander of the INISO flotilla on the flagship of the Mirriam
fleet directly, rather than the lawyer.
The woman appears on the call.
"Good evening, ma'am," says Sir Misha. "I have
been considering your offer for some time now, as you know.
Unfortunately I am too gravely concerned by the legal uncertainties
surrounding the INISO."
"Well, as I said," says the woman, "We can simply
clear up those uncertainties by declaring them certain. We have
the authority to do that."
Sir Misha continues, "We will be leaving the system
as soon as we can. We have managed to convince the commander of
the defending fleets to step aside, allowing you to refuel. We
ask that you allow him to do that."
"What about Santanocheev? Can we arrange a
transfer before you leave?"
"And what do you plan to do with him?"
"He will be on Mora."
"It seems we have little choice in the matter.
I hope you will take the time you have on your jumps to Mora to
reconsider, and that when we arrive there you will allow Santanocheev
to take command of our fleets. I assure you, we will not be far
behind you. I trust that you will treat your guest properly, and
that he will have the chance to convince you that his action is the
"I'll give him his due."
"Then we will see you in Mora."
Sir Misha asks Mich where they should be when they
jump, and what the danger is on jumping from here.
Mich says that as long as they want to take a
regular 6-day jump, then it's risky but he would say to do it. If
they want to do a fast jump, then it would be dangerous.
Sir Misha asks if the time it takes to move to 100d
at a reasonable acceleration is long enough to be able to see the
defenders begin to get out of the way.
Mich assures him it will be several hours. If
they do something like 3g it would be about four hours.
Sir Misha considers that acceptable. He gives
Helia the order to plot a course out to a jump point at 3g, and start
Once Helia has laid in the course and taken them out
of orbit, Vonish takes over so that the larian can get some rest.
She flies up to one of her hammocks on the aft wall of the Bridge while
Nightshade cruises gently away from the mainworld.
At 19:00, about an hour after Nightshade
left orbit, the defender fleets start moving out. They take up a
course for the innermost world.
The Battle of Tussinian is over. History will
record that it ended at the moment the loyallists left orbit.
It's time to jump. They are planning a short
jump this time, heading directly for Mora. By going
through an empty hex, they can do it in two jumps. From here,
they'll jump to 0607
/ Mora, one parsec rimward of Grille.
Before they jump, however, Kalida takes Sir Misha
aside. She tells him that Jack says there was maybe a trick she
could try as a last ditch effort. It might sort of scramble the
enemy ships out there, but exactly what happens is completely
unknown. Whether Sir Misha might want to try this or not, she
doesn't know, as there's no telling what might happen. Jack was
very vague about the whole thing.
"Vaguer than you are?" laughs Sir Misha, "Because
you're being pretty vague."
Kalida admits that with a smile.
Sir Misha says if she wants to do this thing, he'd
be ok with it.
Kalida says she doesn't think she'd recommend
it. She just wanted to give him the option, as he's the Captain.
Sir Misha decides not to put it into action.
At 22:00, Helia puts them into jump from Tussinian.
Mich and Robert follow along with her calculations; Robert doesn't come
up with the same answer, and Helia promises to explain it later.
Now it's just a matter of waiting for jumpspace to
Shark tells the Doctor it's time to come down off
his chemical support. When Shark volunteers to monitor their
patient, Bridgehead agrees. He says it might be rather difficult
to wake him.
On the way out, Shark calls after him and asks where
his babble juice beans came from. Bridgehead tells him Faldor,
and Shark realizes that's just one parsec from their base at Bowman.
Helia reports that space stabilizes after six hours
at 04:00, while almost everyone is asleep. She herself had a good
rest on the way to the jump point, so she stays up to monitor the state
of jumpspace around them.
Robert has been trying to play the old messages they
intercepted through the brown box to translate them. He finds
that it's hooking into a lot more (simulated) ship systems than they
had thought at first, and adjusts the ship simulation
accordingly. He plays the old messages at it, and it responds
("transmits") something without talking to the "ship" but nothing
happens. What it transmitted is more gibberish.
Shark wonders if all the brown boxes in the system
are required for the encryption to work at all. It will clearly
need a lot more experimentation and work to find out more about it.
Shark waits to wake the Captain until at 06:00,
almost a normal night. He tells Sir Misha that space has
stablized, and that Helia is ready for them to exit jumpspace.
Sir Misha tells him to make it so.
Helia does her thing with the jump drive system,
with Mich in the loop as well.
At 06:05 they exit jump at 0607 / Mora. It takes
normal space around them to stabilize, and then Callisto takes another
hour to confirm their location.
While she's doing that, Shark runs a sensor sweep of
the area looking for anything unusual. Black tech would have
sounded the alarm immediately, but it won't hurt to look for something
else odd. He finds nothing.
Shark suggests that Vonish should take a day off
cooking, after all his work on legal matters back in Tussinian.
Vonish readily agrees.
They are ready to jump again at 08:10, and do so
immediately for Mora itself. This will be a slow jump so
they can come out quietly.
Mich and Robert again follow along with Helia's
They'll have about five and a half days now to plan,
to gaze into crystal balls, and to absorb everything that's happened
the last few days.