Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8
Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12
* * * * * *
I was once more holographically seated in the Captain's Ready Room and the wall monitor was lit up and broken into four quadrants. The first two quadrants had a projected video of Jace and a real video feed his captain; the third had a projected video of Pertins, his ship without a captain as was standard practice for interceptors with pod pilots in the navy (something about the situation developing faster than a captain could contribue to anyways); and the fourth had the video feed of the captain of the battleship we had just rendezvoused with, a stern looking woman name Captain Hensley.
Once we had all arrived into the secure conference link, she began our briefing.
"Navy Intelligence has become aware of a cell of 10 Gallentean spies operating out of a waystation exchange platform in deep space of the Daras system. The platform itself has the licenses to operate via the Lonetrek regional government but has been co-opted for the purposes of this cell.
"We don't want to dispatch a regular naval detachment as the Gallentean propaganda machine will make it look like the State is cracking down on legitimate civilians. Normally we don't care about this but recent events at the highest diplomatic levels require that we approach this problem with more subtly.
"To this end, engineers from my ship are making modifications to your ships' identifier beacons to impersonate three known capsuleers of disrepute who are currently unreachable in deep lawless space. This will allow us to act without fear of our actions being taken out of context and embarassing the State."
She paused and her face was replaced with a 2d map showing the Daras system which then zoomed into a section of empty space with an icon in the middle representing the waystation.
"Intelligence has provided us with the exact coordinates of the platform structure. The Iceheart will warp in at 100 kilometers from the platform and begin firing upon it. We expect five ships belonging to mercenaries guarding the waystation to move to engage."
Captain Vadix spoke up and asked, "Capsuleers? Guristas?"
"No," Captain Hensley replied, "normal mercenaries from the Broken Spear Mercenary Group, a corporation working out of Citadel region. They are not our goal and they are Caldari citizens and thus we are attempting to avoid destroying them if at all possible." She continued on.
"Intelligence reports that the Broken Spear ships are composed of 3 Caracal cruisers and 2 Moa cruisers, all surplus hulls acquired legally. This means that their weapons will not be a threat to the Iceheart until they get within 20 kilometers of range and they will not carry any warp scrambling weaponry. Estimated top speed is only 600 meters per second.
"Intelligence reports three civilian ships docked at the waystation as of 5 hours ago, one of them belonging to the spy cell. It is a Puma class civilian passenger yacht with stabilized warp core and reinforced shielding. We predict they will attempt to flee the area upon the Iceheart's attack and that it will take them at least 1.5 minutes before they can get all aboard and undocked. This should give the guarding ships time to get approximately 50 kilometers from the structure towards the Iceheart.
"Regardless of the position of the guarding mercenaries, as soon as the spy ship undocked the Iceheart will signal to the Locus and Aegis to warp in directly on the waystation. The Locus will interdict the target with its high intensity warp field scrambler and the Aegis will provide cover should the guarding ships be too close, otherwise contribute damage on target.
"Captian Vadix, if the mercenaries turn around to return to the platform at any time, the Iceheart will approach and attempt to divert them from the spy vessel attack. Once the Puma class vessel is destroyed, and any lifeboats as well, all three ships will disengage from the zone and meet at the provided rendezvous coordinates to be reverted to normal Navy ID beacons. Any questions?"
I asked what I felt was the most obvious question. "What is the course of action if the Puma doesn't undock?"
"Should the spies choose to remain onboard the waystation and the mercenaries are closing on the Iceheart's position, the Iceheart will disengage and the Aegis will warp in on the platform and begin firing on docked ships. It should have plenty of time to destroy any vessels before the guards can get back to engage him. Then he will leave and a standby crew of marines will arrive in response to the 'attack' and board the platform and take everyone into custody."
"Why don't we just send the marines in now?" asked Jace with his usual frankness.
Captain Hensley looked uncomfortable for just a moment. "We want to avoid a... diplomatic incident. Taking several Gallentean citizens into custody with proper papers would be hard to justify and lead to many problems. And it may yet give them the time they need to transmit State secrets to their masters."
She leaned forward. "I cannot stress enough how devastating these secrets that these spies have sussed out are to the security of the state. They must be stopped. That is why we picked you three, the glory of the state resides in you and I have complete faith you will do us all proud."