“-I will transmit from Varangian, Flagship of the 3Gleise Free Forces.”
“How many times are you going to listen to that, sir?”
Such an informal question, being directed to one of the Commodore's of the King’s Own, would normally not be tolerated. But these were hardly normal times, and who, if not the senior staff officer, could ask it?
Commodore 2Hilna Lin regarded the person of her senior. “Until it makes bloody sense. Until I believe it.”
Captain 4Charl Itawa smiled one of hir enegmatic smiles, “We don’t have that kind of time, sir.”
Hilna sighed. It was true; according to conventions of war, the constellation of destroyers had but one local sol to leave port or be detained for the duration. They might make it...by leaving 40% of their forces.
As if s/he read her mind, Charl said, “Vonday did say ‘with our weapons or without’.”
Hilna snorted. “It’ll be with weapons, I assure you. I’m damned if I leave a single destroyer behind. It’s the collier and dromedary that look likely to stay.”
“They were never meant to join us if PREISTHOLE went into effect. They were fine aresenal ships; we’ll get the cargo and crew off loaded before we reach the treaty deadline.”
Hinal scowled and kicked off her deck, vectoring for the cabinate behind in her dining room. The compartment for formal meals was now taken over by tablets and flimsys velcroed to every surface. The flag pantry was now used mainly for heating rations and endless liters of coffee. Such was a ship at war. 2Hilna prefered it this way.
“PREISTHOLE. Move the King’s Own out into space so they won’t be caught in a coup. Brilliant strategy.” Hilna’s sarcasm was obvious as she poured a liquor into two wingcups. “Might’ve worked better if the King’s Own still had any capital ships. What of the two crusier constellations?”
Charl consulted hir files. S/he eschewed tablets in favor of reading the data directly. “The Fighting Third is trailing and nadir to the homeworlds, so they’re cut off from us. DESCON III and VI may be able to rendezvous with Them, but they’re out in the black with AdStar all round.”
“And the First? Queen Anna’s Cruisers?”
“Last reported position was caught between the Spinward StarGate Flotilla and advancing forces from AdStar at Xibalba. We don’t have an official report - “
“And we won’t.” Hilna tossed off her drink in a single practiced sip and carefully vectored the second wingcup to Charl. S/he caught it but did not drink.
“So, no cruisers, and maybe two DesCons besides mine on this side of the front. And Varangian.”
“It’s not all bad,” Charl countered. “There’s actually a major defence contractor out this way. Cavalier Arms.”
“The Starfighter manufactuer?” Hilna floated back to her table, giving Charl a look of considerable interest.
“The same. My datasearch shows that CA opened an operation in the unclaimed Librans. Headed by a fork of the old lady herself. With Royal support.”
The Commodore finally smiled. “His Majesty seems to think of everything, doesn’t he?”
“Well, when you’re in the fourth century of your reign, I suppose you learn to spot trouble far off.”
“Speaking of, we’d better be heading off soon. Have all Flights prep for a burn to the spinward StarGates.”
“Indeed. Vonday is Prime now.” 2Hilna chuckled without humor. “Besides, he’s the only one who seems to have a damned cruisier anymore.”