Jin Mei leaving home

01.04.124 - Villore IV

The capital of the Federation. A huge Metropolis with all the infrastructure necessary to administrate an interstellar entity as efficiently as possible. Many Ministries and other authorities of the civilian government. The Headquarter of the Federation Navy and the Federal Defence Union. Eventually the Federal Investigation Office, FIO, the military intelligence agency that collects all data that may be of interest concerning the domestic and foreign security of the Federation.

In the upper floors of the large building complex are the meeting rooms. In one of the smaller ones a group of Officers from the Navy, FDU and FIO gathered. Among them Admiral Lorrent, G2 in the Staff of the Commander of the Navy. He did not like it, when meetings were too early in the morning, but the FIO had meant, that it is important.

„I think we can begin.“, he said after looking at the time. „Who is going to present the facts?“

„Me, Sir.“, a female Officer from the FIO said, while she walked to a desk. „Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning. I am Lieutenant Colonel Matsuyama. My department monitors Pirate Activity within the Federation. On the 16th February a routine scan in the Chantrousse system noticed an abandoned facility. Among other things, a part of a Data Server was retrieved. Later it was possible to reactivate this part and obtain the Data stored on it, that got saved on a Data Stick. That stick was sent to the FIO on 14th March.

The Data on the Stick was encrypted with a Code usually used by the Blood Raiders. Although sporadic presence of small vessels operated by the Raiders in Federation territory is not uncommon, the establishment of facilities is a rare and very unusual development. We sent an own Team to Chantrousse to investigate at the location. The salvaged items led us to believe, that this facility was indeed established and operated by the Raiders.

Only a small part of the obtained Data was useful. Most files were severely damaged and the contained information not accessible anymore. The evaluation of the restored Data made us come to the conclusion, that the facility served as communication and storage hub for the Raiders and other organizations. We have reason to believe, that there were or maybe still are connections between the Raiders and the Equilibrium.“

Now the Colonel had the full attention of everyone present. TheEquilibrium of Mankind. The last year had seen several attacks on planets in all Empires, that were performed by its members, who had infiltrated the Armed Forces and Militias across the Cluster.

„When you say, that there were connections…“, one Officer from the Navy asked. „What exactly do I have to imagine how deep these connections were?“

„This is the question, that we can`t answer yet. We have seen communication sent to adresses that we know are linked with the Equilibrium. The short messages contain repeating Codewords, that may stand for targets within the Federation. But we know too little to draw any conclusions yet.“

„What do you suggest?“, Admiral Lorrent asked.

„Sir. The FIO suggests a massive operation in all systems close to the Amarr and State borders. We are thinking about a reconnaissance mission beginning tomorrow, that will last for one week. On 9th April we plan a massive strike against all active and abandoned facilities that got registered before. To the general public we could communicate this as strike against Pirate Activities in order to secure merchant shipping lanes between the Federation and its neighbors.“

The Admiral was in thoughts, as he looked at the Colonel. Now he knew, why they had gathered so early. So there would be enough time to issue orders, in case that the mission would be greenlighted to begin tomorrow.

„The Navy supports this plan.“, he said. „In order to not draw too much attention, we should limit our operations on the 9th to Frigates and Destroyers. Our border regions may not have enough personnel for such a large-scale operation, with numerous simultaneous actions. Would the FDU be able to contribute?“

„The current state of the war is not favorable for us.“, a Colonel from the FDU said. „I will advocate, that the Union sends spare pilots, but can`t promise anything at this point.“

„Then we will have to recruit freelance pilots as well.“, the Admiral said. „But considering the nature of the mission, there must be enough personnel of the Navy present to control the reconnaissance and especially the salvaging of the secured locations. We will send appropriate orders to all stations today. I suggest, that we establish a Task Force of all three authorities, that will coordinate the whole operation.“

The FDU and FIO agreed with that. Later that day a plan for „Operation Steadfast“ got drafted and Top Secret orders issued to all Station Commanders.

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04.04.124 - Tierjiev

Back in Verge Vendor. Daiko would not have thought, that she would return here so soon. Nor on a daily basis. But here she was, performing Scans all day and every day. She did not think too much about it and maybe that was for the better. Because it did not really make a lot of sense.

Two days ago, during the morning briefing, some Pilots got orders to make a series of Scans of the border regions. She assumed, that the same thing happend everywhere and that a multitude of Pilots were working across the whole Federation. Nevertheless there were things, that felt strange. They were supposed to travel every day from their Home Station to their assigned system and, at the end of their shift, back home again. Plus they were ordered to just register each and every contact they came across. Nobody was allowed to investigate any contact.

She looked at her screen again. There was something. A tiny contact in roughly nine AU distance. Hard to say what it was yet. After another two scan cycles, the position had become more precise and she assumed, that it may be a still active location. It took another half an hour, before she had a proper location. There was maybe something valuable to find at that place. But for the time being, she just recorded everything she saw. She saved the location as Contact TI-009.


Villore IV

In the late afternoon, Lieutenant Colonel Matsuyama went to a small briefing room, where the Task Force was coming together twice a day. Besides her and a Major from her Department, the Navy and FDU also sent two representatives each. Since the FIO had the Task to gather all Data from the Reconaissance mission, the meetings were held here.

“Ladies and Gentlemen.”, she opened her statement, as a projection of Federal Space hovered over the table. “The recent 48 hours have been productive. The inflow of reported contacts has been extremely high. We are going to recheck the locations of at least the more interesting contacts during the following days to verify their location and classification.”

“As I see it, there are too many contacts already for a simultaneous action.”, a Navy Colonel said. “Even less so, if the amount of contacts continues to increase at the current rate. We will have to define parameters with which to classify the priority and potential threat of contacts. The Navy is currently establishing staging areas, especially for Freelance Pilots, from where they will depart to their target systems, where they will meet with Navy ships. Each system gets assigned one fleet to attack the most threatening assembly of enemy Pilots. At the same time a large number of vessels is supposed to investigate inactive contacts.”

“Do you think, that you will have enough Pilots to control the situation?”

“So far, yes. But with each additional identified contact the amount of time necessary to secure and investigate all of them increases and forces us to process them in waves instead of at the same time. In short, we can`t guarantee, that the enemy will have no time to eliminate facilities before we reach them.”

Matsuyama nodded calmly. It was as expected. This was the largest operation of that kind that she can remember. As always, there was no perfect solution. But she remained optimistic about the result of the operation.

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09.04.124 - Jel VIII-20

As Daiko went to the morning briefing, she was deep in thoughts and wondered, what was about to happen. Yesterday afternoon she had a talk with Sergeant Delgin. He had taken a look at her training program and was pleased with her progress in terms of Drone and Armor management. Then he asked, whether she was willing to participate in a Navy operation versus some Pirates. And said, that it would be dangerous and one may wake up in a Cloning Facility.

She had to think about it for some time, but then said yes. After the experiences of the recent months she had come to the conclusion, that she really wanted to join the Navy after her Volunteer Year. So there would be no harm to participate now. And maybe that would look good in her personal file.

Eventually she reached the briefing room, that was more crowded than usual. Captain Delores, the Operation Officer who usually conducted the briefing, was already there. Daiko saluted her and took seat. Then the Captain called everyone to attention, as another officer entered the room. She had not met him in person so far, but had seen a picture. Colonel Yason Fasum, the Commander of this station. Daiko saw, how the other pilots looked at each other. Obviously this was rather uncommon.

„Ladies and Gentlemen.“, the Colonel said. „I would like to introduce to you Operation Steadfast. During the last seven days, the Navy has executed Phase One of the Operation, that consisted of vast reconnaisance missions all across the Federation. The goal was to identify as many active or abandoned illegal facilities in Federation space as possible. Phase Two will get executed today. A multitude of fleets, partially consisting of freelance pilots, will attack, secure and salvage these facilities. Captain Delores?“

„Thank you, Sir. Ladies and Gentlemen. The Callsign for our fleet is Sierra Alpha. You will form squadrons of five ships each, that will be designated Blue, Red and Green.“

Daiko heard how the Captain assigned Pilots and learned, that she would be Green Four, with Lieutenant Herennson as her Squadron Leader.

„You will undock separately and proceed to your staging area, that is Masalle Five Moon Eight, until 1030 hours. There you will meet Gold squadron, a group of five support ships that also hosts the Fleet Commander. The FC will inform you there about your objectives. Questions? Dismissed.“

The Pilots left the room and went to the Hangars. Lieutenant Herennson approached Daiko as they went to the lifts.

„Okay, Cadet. I know, that this is your first fleet operation. As soon as the mission begins, align your ship with mine. When we arrive, keep radio silence and just follow my orders. If your ship gets destroyed, escape from the location asap. Understood?“

„Yes, Mam.“

Daiko and the other Pilots reached the Hangars and boarded their ships. Today she was assigned an Atron, that was provided and equipped by the Navy. Eventually she got clearance for undocking. She left the station and immediately set a course to Masalle. She had been in Warp for umpteen times already, but this time she felt nervous.

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09.04.124 - Masalle V-9

Having arrived at the gathering point, Daiko learned two things. First of all the support squadron actually consisted of six ships. But a Helios class scout was already close to the first target and hence not present. The remaining squadron consisted of three Gallente frigates and two Destroyers of clearly Amarr origin. Secondly the whole squadron, including the Fleet Commander, was not Navy personnel but consisted completely of Freelancers.

Eventually the fleet heard the voice of the Fleet Commander, one Katya Itzimaru.

„We have three objectives for today, one in Annelle and two in Chesiette. Gold Six is scanning the objective in Annelle right now and we are departing in two minutes to close in on the objective. I will adress directly Gold Squadron and the other Squadon leaders, who will in turn adress their respective Squadron members. I want radio silence from all other Squadron members besides reporting Status Zulu or Out.“

Daiko remembered that from her Training. Zulu was a request for support. Zulu One meant low armor, Two stood for low capacitor. Each request was only allowed once and either one got support or not. Status Out was for the moment, one`s ship was getting destroyed and one left the battlefield if possible. All other reports were only allowed after appropriate requests fom the Squad Leader. A few moments later, the fleet fell into formation and went into warp.


Annelle

Less than half an hour had passed, when Daiko heard the Commander again.

„Objective clear. Squadron Status?“

„Green Clear.“

„Blue Clear.“

„Red Three missing.“

Daiko raised an eyebrow. One ship lost, although the enemy had only four surprised Pilots, but managed to land a lucky hit on their comrade. She wondered, whether the Pilot had gotten out of the mess alive. But that was something for the debriefing.

„Roger.“, the Commander said. „Fall back into formation. Gold Six reports strong forces at the second objective.“


Chesiette

The Pilot of Gold Six looked at the objective. He had seen something like this before and he asssumed, it was something like a drug warehouse. He also saw a dozen ships of the Blood Raiders guarding the whole complex. Then he heard two clicks in his ear. The signal, that the Fleet had arrived. Now it was time for some quick work. To tag one enemy ship with combat drones and thus allowing the Fleet to jump in at almost point blank range.

A minute later it was done. But not as good as he wanted to. He saw the fleet coming in, but a bit further away from the enemy fleet than intended. Itzimaru and the Squadron Commanders realized that either and immediately ordered all ships to close in on the enemy as fast as possible, while the first targets got designated.

„Green Two. Zulu Two.“

Although she was occupied with getting in position and opening fire on the enemy Frigate, she saw that one of her Teammates was still clearly behind the rest and reveived a lot of fire, soon resulting in the explosion of the ship. In the meantime the two Catalyst Squadrons had begun to wreak havoc among the enemy ranks, that began to suffer casualties. More small fireballs announced the destruction of some pirates.

Then she realized, that she was losing speed at a dramatic rate. She tried to maneuver, but soon she was dead in the water, while the lights of lasers seemed to focus on her vessel. The Atron rocked back and forth under the impact of the enemy weapons. Shields were gone fast and the Lasers were burning through the armor.

„Green Four. Zulu Two.“, she reported, although she saw the support ships being busy with the Catalysts. Eventually the structure of the ship was hit and she saw parts of the armor and hull getting propelled away into space.

„Green Four out.“, she heard herself saying a second before a bright light seemed to consume everything around her.

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12.04.124 - Oursulaert VII-2

The Federal Investigation Office. The Intelligence Service was an own authority. Maybe less numerous and surely less in the spotlight than the Navy. But it had offices all across the Federation, its own ships, its own stations. Like this one. Most decks were completely off limits for anyone not employed by the FIO. Some decks were restricted to people who had a security clearance of „Top Secret“ or higher.

Lieutenant Colonel Aiko Matsuyama was such a person. Twenty years of service had brought her a proper reputation within the Office and the position of Department Head. She had dealt with Pirates, religious Extremists, freelance Corporations such as the Goonswarm, the Thukker Tribe and lots of Politicians in her career. During the years she had come to the conclusion, that Politicians were the most dangerous group of all of them, but maybe that was just her.

She walked into a huge Hangar, where lots of Officers and Sergeants were working. It all looked, as if the warehouse of an electronics retailer had been hit by a bomb explosion and then left to rot for a year or two. But in fact this was one of the stations, where the salvaged items from Operation „Steadfast“ were gathered. In the last three days the Hangars got filled with ship computer cores, parts of Data Servers and all kinds of electronic equipment that maybe contained anything useful.

The FIO staff was busy to catalogue all of these items by location, former ownership and age in order to classify them by potential importance. „Red“ items would be evaluated first. Then „Yellow“ items. Eventually, at the end of the list, came „Green“ equipment. The FIO had assigned a lot of staff in order to analyse all this material as fast as possible. Nevertheless it would take time to separate the important from the meaningless Data and come to conclusions. IF there was any information that would allow them to draw conclusions in the first place.

Matsuyama smiled. This was exactly to her liking. A giant puzzle. And they had to find the golden piece, that would allow them to see the whole picture.


Jel VIII-20

Daiko was not necessarily excited, but relieved. Her ship had exploded in Chesiette, but she managed to escape from the battlefield back to safety of the next station. Nevertheless she had felt dizzy that day and also yesterday. The Doctor said, that it was a mild concussion due to the explosion, but nothing serious. He gave her sick leave and advised her to rest for a few days, before entering a Capsule again.

So she sat at home with a cup of Tea and something to read. When she got bored, she went outside for a walk across the station to eventually sit down in a cafe. In the evening she watched some news. She saw a spokesperson of the Navy describing the succcessful result of the anti-Pirate operation and how that event had not weakened the forces close to borders to the State and Pochven.

She turned the screen off and leaned back. She closed her eyes and recalled the events from the 9th. That had been the most intense and most dangerous moment in her life. In that moment she was way too focused to think about that. But when she was back on the station, she began to shake a bit. The other Pilots meant, that this was normal. Even more so for a beginner. And now that she thought about it, she did not feel fear to experience the same again. She wondered, whether she had a different opinion, if she had woken up in a clone.

She opened her eyes again and looked at the time. It was still rather early evening, but she felt tired and decided to go to bed. She thought about all the ships that had been destroyed that day. Then she hoped, that all of that had been worth the effort.

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24.04.124 - Villore IV

Politician was something that she always wanted to be. She had always been fond at being in the proper place, where the decisions were made that affected the society. Of course it was a burden at times to be the one who had to make difficult decisions. But it was also a privilege to have access to all classified information and have a more complete version of the picture than the general citizen. Well, sometimes it was maybe not so much a privilege. Because although politics was mostly about the necessary regulations and developments to keep society running, sometimes it was a horrible cesspit, with the competition for positions of influence among people of the same party being the smallest problem.

President of the Federation. She had envisioned that, but she had to wait for it for a long time. In general, it was exactly as she imagined it would be. The good sides and the bad sides. And she had the nagging feeling, as if today would not be a good day. She sat in a briefing room five floors below her own office and looked around. A group of people from the civilian administration, the Navy, the FIO. The latter was the reason for this meeting.

She looked at a female Officer, that would present the facts. „Colonel. Let`s begin.“, she said.

„Yes, Madam President.“, the Officer said and walked to a desk. „Ladies and Gentlemen. On 14th March the FIO obtained information gathered in the Chantrousse system. The source was an abandoned installation operated by the Blood Raiders. The few informations available insinuated, that there was a cooperation of unknown length and purpose between the Blood Raiders and the EoM.

In the wake of this finding and in order to obtain further information, a joint operation between FIO, Navy and FDU was performed. Operation Steadfast began on 2nd April. For one week, pilots gathered information about all identified illegal installations in Federation space. On 9th April, these installations got secured and evaluated with great success.

As written in our preliminary report, roughly 70% of the data obtained during the Operation was useless for us due to being outdated, damaged or other reasons. The remaining data mostly gave us insight into current communication lines and illegal trafficking operations, especially of the Serpentis, as outlined in Section III of the report.

The most important part of the communication were the bits between the Blood Raiders and the EoM. This communication reached a peak around 27th February 122."

The President raised her eyebrow. She would like to say that she remembered the events of that day. But when she woke up in her Clone, some short-term memories were gone. Anyhow, it was an attack on her and the Federation itself.

“Please go on.”, she told the Colonel.

“In the time before the 27th, we see communication using the same codewords. On and directly after the 27th, messages imply, that the targets the codewords stood for, where still alive and that this was not the expected result.”

“How many Codewords were used?”

“Four, Madam President.”

“Further information?”

“Yes. We were also able to retrieve nformation about financial transactions, that are probably linked to the events of the 27th. They lead to accounts managed by Modern Finances, that may or may not still exist.”

The President had to take a deep breath. Modern Finances. A trace to the Caldari? That was not necessarily the case. Maybe just the first of many crumbs, that would lead them to their target.

“I take it you want to ask me for permission for an operation in Caldari space.”, she said.

“Yes, Madam President. The only way to be sure is to investigate at the House of Records.”

She wanted to rub her upper lip, as she alwas did when she had to think, but suppressed the desire to do so. She looked around into the other faces and eventually turned back to the Colonel.

“Permission granted.”

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07.05.124 - Stegette V-19

One circle. And another one. Calm and steady. Look, I am invisible. She smiled a bit, although she did feel the pressure despite being a pilot with years of experience and having woken up in several clones of herself. She had taken strange jobs during her time in space, but this was surely one of the more crazy ones.

Katya Itzimaru. Pilot for more than five years. A few weeks ago she learned, that the Federation looked for freelance pilots to participate in a large anti-pirate operation. After showing her qualifications, she had been designated as Fleet Commander for a group of ships in Verge Vendor. It worked nicely, despite light casualties.The weird thing was that, as soon as the fighting at one location was done, she was urged to leave the place again imediately. Friends of her said, that they had experienced the same. As if the Gallente desperately wanted to hide something.

Anyhow. She must have impressed someone, for she was contacted for a delicate and dangerous mission in Caldari space. One week ago she had been in the Jatate system to hack into the systems of the House of Records. She was not told, what they were looking for, since that was the job of the crew aboard. But they needed a pilot, that would be able to act calmly under stress and fly a ship close to a station.

They did not seem to have found, what they were looking for. Or maybe they were looking for something else now. Be it as it may. She sat in her capsule within a Helios class frigate. The ship, that was identical to the Imicus from the outside, carried the most sophisticated electronical equipment available in the whole cluster, including a cloaking device.

Now this ship was flying circles under the station of the Garoun Investment Bank in order to take a look inside. To get there, was once again the job of the crew, but the display showed her the status of the link between ship and station systems. Then she heard a calm humming.

“They noticed us.”, she said.

“Confirmed.”, one of the crew members said.

“Disconnect link and prepare for warp.”, Katya said. A second later the ship was setting a new course toward the Aliette system. Then they entered warp. Shortly later they had passed the jumpgate and continued toward Egghelende. From there they would go to Heimatar.

“Did you get in?”, she asked.

“Yes.”, the crewman said. Which would be his only verbal contribution for the rest of the journey.

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08.05.124

She sat at her desk, but turned the chair around to look out of the large window behind her. And she saw nothing. Just the infinity of space and lots of dots for all the stars in the distance. Somewhere out there, in the center of the Galaxy, was supposed to be a giant black hole, the most destructive force in the Universe, compared to which the effect of all human weapons shrink to utter insignificance.

For her, this was the perfect representation of what space meant to her. It was very tranquil, sometimes amazingly beautiful, but always deadly. And although people were just meaningless grains of sand compared to that, they surely did nothing to make the Universe a more calm or less hostile place.

Thinking about these things, she heard her phone.

„Yes?“

„Agent Ozinnen is here.“, her secretary said.

„Let him in.“

A few seconds later the door to her office opened and a man entered the room. Tall, black hair and eyes, lean but not really athletic.

„Good morning, Mam.“

„Good morning. What do you bring me?“

„The latest findings from the Federation. We began to take a closer look a month ago, when the Navy hired more independent Pilots than usual in the course of their anti-Piracy operations. A week ago, a station of the House of Records was compromised. Yesterday it happened to the Garoun Investment Bank.“

„Conclusions?“

„I have no evidence yet, but my assumption would be, that someone found a trace of Project X and is now following the breadcrumbs.“

„Possible.“, she said. „Maybe even likely. That is what you get, when you work with amateurs. Anyhow. Investigate more. I want to know what they know.“

„Mam, I would like to reiterate, that we probably went too far with Project X.“

„I understand your concerns, but after all we did nothing. Maybe we contributed passively to someone`s attempt to maintain the balance.“

„The balance of power?“

„The balance of disorder in the Universe. To provide the exact amount of contempt and friction within the known world, without plunging it into chaos.“

Agent Ozinnen looked at his superior. He thought he understood, what she tried to say. But did he? Being vague, even with her employees, or maybe especially with them, was part of her character and also part of her job. This thing had been too big in his opinion. Maybe she tried to tell him, that it was risky but necessary.

„Anything else?“, she asked.

„No, Mam.“, he replied. He grabbed his documents, stood up and left the room.

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12.05.124 - Villore IV

“So, Colonel. What are the results?”, the President asked Lieutenant Colonel Matsuyama.

The two women sat all alone in a room. Immediately after the last meeting, the President had decided to make this whole affair a matter of state security. As of then, the Colonel and everyone involved in the investigation was only to report to her directly. She could see, how the Officer thought this to be a bit off the regulations.

“Madam President. The results so far confirm what we have assumed. We have discovered a broad network of accounts belonging to shell companies. Eventually we lost track of the cash flow. But we can say this. We were able to identify two of these companies as being formerly used by Sukuuvesta Corporation as well as Quafe. Yet, as far as we know, neither of these accounts were the origin of the payments.”

The President looked her in the eyes. “Your hypothesis?”

“Madam, in my view the most probable scenario is as follows.Should Quafe and Sukuuvesta be involved in this, and I do not assume that their shell companies would have been used without their consent, then they are not the authors of that operation, but rather middlemen with a vested interest in the results and implications of the operation, no matter whether successful or not.They agreed to direct funds to the Blood Raiders who, in turn, influenced the EoM to commit the terrorist acts of the years 122 and 123. I don`t know, whether these acts were within the agenda of the EoM anyway or the Blood Raiders convinced them that they would be. After all, it does not matter, since they were only tools. Because the instigators, that are beyond the EoM or Quafe, have goals, that have nothing in common with the interests of the organizations they used. The latter want, as the saying goes, to see the world burn. The authors of these acts probably represent the very specific interests of a small group of individuals.”

For a moment it was silent. Then Aguard stood up and walked a few steps toward a small window, where she stood with her hands behind her back. She had always wondered, who exactly was behind the assassination attempts. There are probably lots of groups in the Cluster who would have liked someone else to become President instead of her. And inside the Federation? Maybe some disgruntled Governors in the Periphery. Maybe a conglomeration of Hawks. Or maybe someone closer to the center of the Federation? Four targets. Wouldn`t that exclude Mentas Blaque? Blaque has been head of the SDII for a long time now and his belligerent stance was well known and in contrast to her own. On the other hand, it would be easy to spare him as target in order to generate exactly this impression. Whatever was behind all of this, it was something big and it would be better to not let it act freely. It was necessary to get to the bottom of it.

She turned around again.

“Good work, Colonel. Leave your documents here. You will receive new orders soon.”

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15.05.124 - Villore IV

President Aguard sat in her office, as Allen Chardin entered her room. He was her Advisor for a few years now, so it was logical to put him in charge of leading the Presidential Office. He came closer and put a thin folder with documents on her table.

„What is it?“, she asked.

„The personal file you asked for.“, he replied.

She had to think for a moment but then remembered, that she wanted to see the file of the Pilot, who made the initial find that led to Operation „Steadfast“. She began to flip through the pages, although there was not a lot to read. Then she giggled a bit.

„Everything fine?“, Chardin asked.

„A Volunteer Cadet. Of all people.“, the President said amused. She leaned back and looked at the window to her left. „Did I ever tell you, what I did in my Volunteer Year?“

„No, Mam.“

„You know, back in the days the Volunteer Year was not so well established and socially accepted as it is now. But I got a job in the office of the Mayor of our city. He was an outstanding and interesting man. Cerdy Moltrain. Ever heard of him?“

„No.“

„Almost nobody has. But he was a great politician. He knew how to treat and lead people. His priorities were always clear and he communicated them, so people understood his plans. People liked him and he was Mayor for maybe two decades.“

„I wonder why he did not make it further in the ranks than that, if he was so good.“

„Exactly because of that. He wanted to be decision-maker, but also not compromise his convictions. He knew, that going ahead would lead to a lot of infighting with rivals. Staying where he was, was the perfect compromise between the ability to shape things and remaining honest.“

Allen did not say anything. He had learned to just listen, when she told stories to eventually come to a point. When he thought that it was time to wrap things up, he just made a slightly quizzical face.

„I digress.“, she said as she looked at him. „She reminds me a bit of him in doing the best job, even if it is difficult. I think she deserves a reward. According to these reports, she wants to join the Navy. Then we will give her what she wants immediately.“

„After half a year as Volunteer Cadet? Uncommon.“

„But not unheard of. I think we owe her something. And, quite frankly, we do not risk anything. What is the worst that can happen? Maybe she realizes, that the Navy is not what she envisioned it to be and leaves again. So let`s do this.“

„Yes, Mam.“

“Besides that, we should also think about that Colonel Matsuyama.”

“Have you read my report on her?”

“I did. She and her husband surely have a colorful past. More importantly she seems to belong to the breed of people with no affiliation to whatever political camp. I think she would be a good choice to lead INCA.”

“Then I hope for her, that you get a second Term, because a new President might think different about her, especially if she has no backing in politics.”

“Maybe. But we still have time and so she has time too to produce results and, maybe, find some friends.”

“That is like throwing a duckling into a pool with sharks.”

The President laughed shortly, but became serious again immediately. “Well said. But this is serious and we can have no regards for that. She will have to deal with it. Prepare everything, Allen.”

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18.05.124 – Jel VIII-20

Another day at the morning briefing. The recent weeks had been pretty calm. Daiko had focused on her normal duties, made some new friends, participated in some courses concerning usage of the capacitor system as well as general engineering. Right now she listened to the daily report by Captain Delores, but as it seemed, nothing of importance was happening at the moment.

„The last thing for today is, that as of the 23rd the Firewalls for all ship computers will receive an update. Combat ships will get prioritized and I expect, that all Pilots report execution until the 25th. So…let me see…yes…there is one more thing…ATTENTION! HO!“

All present personnel immediately stood in attention, although some had a questioning expression on their face.

„Volunteer Cadet Kobayashi. Step forward.“

„Yes, Mam.“, Daiko answered and approached the Officer.

„Cadet Kobayashi. Are you willing to enlist as Officer in the Federation Navy?“

„Yes, Mam.“, she said and wondered, what was happening here.

„Very good, for here is a letter from Navy Headquarter.“, Delores explained and unfolded a piece of paper. „For outstanding performance during her service, that represents the values and traditions of the Federation Navy, I hereby promote Volunteer Cadet Daiko Kobayashi to the rank of Navy Second Lieutenant. This promotion will become effective immediately after enlistment. Signed. Admiral F. G. Lyman, G1, Federation Navy. Cadet, raise your right hand.“

Daiko did as she was told.

„Daiko Kobayashi. Do you swear to faithfully serve the Federation and to protect its Constitution and the Rights of its Citizens against all enemies, domestic or foreign, and that you will obey all orders from the President of the Federation and all superior Officers?“

„I swear.“

„Then I welcome you aboard the Navy, Lieutenant. Congratulations.“

Delores shook her hand and a moment later she was surrounded by everyone else, who offered congratulations, handshakes and hugs. Daiko herself hardly knew what had happened to her and was a bit overwhelmed. On the other hand, it also felt good to suddenly receive so much appreciation. And, after all, this was what she wanted. It took some moments, but then she smiled and a tear of joy was running down her cheek.

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19.05.124 - Villore IV

Lieutenant Colonel Matsuyama packed her things. That was not correct. Colonel Matsuyama. Since yesterday. She had been surprised about that. Even more so about the cause for this promotion. She and a small group of other Officers were to be moved to a newly establishd Department for the Investigation into Counterconstitutional Activities. Or INCA for short.

The name was rather vague, but the sole purpose was to gather information about the people behind the Activities of 122 and 123. This was not more and not less than a Manhunt. Whoever they were, whatever their plans are, they are now deemed Enemies of the State. There would be no due process and no public trials for them. They would either remain in the shadows or get found and then disappear into eternal darkness.

This was not legal according to the moral principles or the Constitution of the Federation, that they were supposed to protect. But maybe, sometimes, it was better to ignore the Constitution in order to preserve it. To wipe something under the rug, because making things public would erode the confidence into the institutions even more.

She was 45 years old. She had seen quite a bit. But she had the feeling, as if the most important, or maybe the most shady part of her Career was still ahead of her.


Jel VIII-20

“Doghouse, here Mastiff Three.”

“Doghouse here.”

“Mastiff Three requests permission to undock for Patrol Duty.”

“Mastiff Three, you have permission to undock. Proceed to Gate Bravo.”

“Gate Bravo confirmed.”

Daiko left the Hangar in her Tristan and proceeded to Gate Bravo, as she was ordered to. As she was flying through the station, she had to recall the events of the recent months again. Leaving her home planet, her basic training, her arrival in Jel, the encounters with random outlaws, the action in Verge Vendor. Without any doubt she had experienced more in that short period of time than in her whole life before.She wondered, whether that would remain so.

“Mastiff Three. You have passed Gate Bravo and permission for Warp. Good luck, Lieutenant.”

“Thanks, Doghouse.”

Second Lieutenant. She had achieved what she wanted. Now she had to make something out of it. She plotted a course and a moment later she entered the warp tunnel. Her future had begun.

THE END

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