Conference Room Debriefing 24th Of April

[12:30] <@Minaplo> [Most of the bridge crew had been dismissed from the conference room- now only Kayoko, Franco and Violet remained, sitting around a long wood-and-glass table ringed by black leather chairs. A flat rectangular transparent surovite window looked out into space- and on the planet Sisu below.-
[12:30] <@Minaplo> [They'd just been given their orders from the Second Fleet: Find us that extra day.-
[12:34] <@Minaplo> ["Easier said than done." Said Franco, tapping a glass of vodka on the table absent-mindedly. "We lack heavy shipboard weaponry and the Sisu SDF isn't exactly generous with their materiel- not that they have much to begin with. I don't think it'll be easy to pull this off, Captain."]
[12:44] <Kayoko> "But not impossible," Kayoko replied distractedly. She didn't sit; she'd been pacing slow laps around the table since the orders came down. "Their planetary defense grid has an impact cannon emplacement over Arete. I put in a request to commandeer it when we entered orbit."
[12:45] <@Minaplo> ["That's something, at least." Said Franco, taking a mouthful of drink.-
[12:54] <@Minaplo> ["Yes." Said Violet, who had a glass of apple juice in his hand. He didn't take mouthfuls of it; rather, he simply dirac-ported some into his mouth every minute or so. "Salvage will be a priority. The enemy Transmatter weapons don't carry as much punch as our positron guns, but they pack enough. Spiro and I are working with Technical to try and refine some of their guns for our use."]
[12:55] <Kayoko> "Do you have a rough timeline for that?"
[13:00] <@Minaplo> ["Several hours, although I can't promise more than one weapon." Said Violet. "Transmatter crystals are not unknown to us, and the process is relatively quick, but we might end up burning through a few recovered guns to get it right first."]
[13:26] <Kayoko> "Any extra firepower is a plus," she said. Pace pace pace. "One day…"-
[13:26] <Kayoko> "Alright. Dirac jumping is our advantage," she said, her attention seeming to return to the room at large. She stopped pacing and stood behind her chair. "The minute we have the Impact Cannon loaded we'll need to begin harrying attacks - we want to cripple, not kill; We bait them into slowing down to protect their hobbled ships."-
[13:26] <Kayoko> "If they offer up a supply line, we hit that too. So long as they know we can strike at their throat every time they'll have to slow down and play it safe. It won't buy much time, but it might buy enough."
[13:28] <@Minaplo> ["Agreed." Said Violet. "Celestial way-travel is fraught with tiny irritations. Most nations don't think they're important: they're too short for others to exploit. But we can exploit every single one of those gaps."-
[13:28] <@Minaplo> ["There may be psychological advantages we can push as well. I don't know much about these new ones, but I can hazard some sociological guesses." His plumage rose about him and shimmered green.]
[13:49] <Kayoko> "Guesses are good. Really any sort of information is good," she said, looking momentarily put-out by the whole mess.
[13:49] <@Minaplo> [Violet's plumage crested upwards.-
[13:52] <@Minaplo> ["'Species Alpha', as we've codenamed them, are bipedal warm-blooded carnivorous mammalians. From our sample size, the average height was just over two metres, and the average weight was a hundred and thirty kilograms. They resemble pantheric felines as you know them, although as a general note from a seasoned traveller: you are going to have to get used to things looking like animals from Earth. You will find a species that wonders why you look like a household pet, so that's something you should learn to live with."-
[13:52] <@Minaplo> [Violet took a drink.-
[13:54] <@Minaplo> ["They are almost certainly Wildflowers." Said Violet. "Orchid species tend to be herbivorous or omnivorous. Carnivores, however, are almost always Wildflowers. I think there's one or two carnivorous Orchids, but I've forgotten what they're called."-
[13:56] <@Minaplo> ["This is a bad combination of traits." Said Violet. "I don't want to foster stereotypes, but Wildflowers do not benefit from the structured environments Orchids enjoy. They are almost always more fractious and violent than Orchids."-
[13:57] <@Minaplo> ["Furthermore, carnivorous societies are typically violent ones. This isn't an inherent trait, but simply because carnivorous lifestyles are less efficient than omnivorous ones: they're prone to fighting more over food and resources."]
[14:04] <Kayoko> "Ah. We'll get along, then."
[14:05] <@Minaplo> [Franco snorted.-
[15:03] <@Minaplo> ["Not necessarily." Said Violet seriously. "From what I've seen, you Twiceborn have no real taste for warfare, not like some of the things I've seen."-
[15:03] <@Minaplo> [Violet's feathers faded to a brittle white for a split second before rebounding to green.-
[15:05] <@Minaplo> ["Regardless, all of this isn't that remarkable- except for one thing." Said Violet. He tapped a little console built into the table; a hologram of a transmatter crystal appeared before him.-
[15:06] <@Minaplo> ["Transmatter is rare." He said. "But it occurs more commonly on Wildflower homeworlds than anywhere else. We think it's something to do with whatever accident originally seeded a Wildflower species."-
[15:07] <@Minaplo> ["Consider for a moment your human past. Imagine if, during the Industrial Revolution, instead of digging up pieces of coal, you dug up these crystals? A single one of this size could output enough power in an hour to light a billion light bulbs."]
[15:17] <Kayoko> "Removing most of the barriers that initially tempered our exponential growth," she nodded.
[15:19] <@Minaplo> ["Yes." Said Violet. "If you could harness it, you could achieve incredible technological development in a short period of time."-
[15:19] <@Minaplo> ["… Many planets that have transmatter deposits are littered with the ruins of dead civilizations, though."]
[15:27] <Kayoko> "… Yeah, I figured. A fancy energy source like that? I doubt it was hard to weaponise."
[15:27] <@Minaplo> ["It's very easily weaponised, yes." Said Violet.-
[15:28] <@Minaplo> ["So we have a meat-eating species that's probably violent, predatorial and territorial, but managed to not be so bad that they wiped themselves out?" Said Franco. "A dangerous combination."]
[15:36] <Kayoko> "On paper," she shrugged. "That could be a very misleading picture."-
[15:36] <Kayoko> "There are two questions I'm more interested in. The first: They hailed Frontier Station with an apparently sincere request for trade, so what were they carrying to trade with? That tells us something about what they value and what they're valued for - clearly they have enough experience with other species to be willing to hail an unknown station."-
[15:36] <Kayoko> "The second: Do we have a clearer translation of what they were chanting about before they were intending to blow themselves up?"
[15:57] <@Minaplo> ["We had a look at their cargo manifests. We damaged a lot of stuff, but from what we can gather, they were carrying…" Franco picked up a datapad. "Transmatter, ammunition, weapons, foods, tools, that kind of thing… Nothing here that really counts as what I'd call a trade good."-
[15:58] <@Minaplo> ["Except the Transmatter." Said Violet. "Exporting Transmatter… A lucrative business- and a rare one. Most interstellar nations that possess transmatter deposits prefer to stockpile them for military and domestic use."-
[16:00] <@Minaplo> ["A nation willing to export Transmatter could practically name its price throughout much of the galaxy." Said Violet. "I wonder what they wanted from Frontier Gate? It isn't as though Frontier Gate had much on hand either."-
[16:00] <@Minaplo> [Violet took a drink.-
[16:00] <@Minaplo> ["As for their chant?" Said Violet. "I went over it a few times- the audio quality was very poor, but I believe I have an accurate translation."-
[16:01] <@Minaplo> ["'We accept our deaths, the end of the great struggle. Those who follow us down the 'shrine paths', scatter our ashes on the great burnt plains.'"]
[16:04] <Kayoko> "Well alright… that does seem bad, Franco, I'll grant you that," she said, frowning.
[16:05] <@Minaplo> ["Violent, disciplined and religious." Said Franco. "Look at us. Rolling snake eyes today, ma'am."]
[16:25] <Kayoko> "Over and over," she muttered.-
[16:25] <Kayoko> "A different angle, then," she said, talking a little faster now as her pacing began again. "The Alpha's cruiser comes out of the Way in the middle of nowhere, right next to the gate. No immediate sign of hostilities, and they're apparently comfortable enough to hail us over audio. You could argue it was a trap, but if so it was one that gained them no actual advantage."-
[16:25] <Kayoko> "Frontier Gate opens communication - this time with video - and that kicks things off. Why?" The questions were hurled at the room at large rather than one specific person, and her eyes were shut. "Did they recognize us somehow? Did we breach protocol just by seeing them?"-
[16:26] <Kayoko> "… but that still leaves the fleet, which would've entered the Way at least a day ago. It was already headed here before the initial point of contact," she said suddenly. She fell silent.-
[16:26] <Kayoko> "None of this makes a lick of sense," she said, eyes snapping back open.
[16:27] <@Minaplo> ["If they were hoping to lure us into a false sense of security, why attack now?" Said Franco.-
[16:28] <@Minaplo> ["I have some suspicions." Said Violet. "But with your leave, Captain, I would prefer to discuss it with Ensign Spiro and my family, and review the data between ourselves first."-
[16:31] <@Minaplo> ["As for the fleet…" Violet shook his head.-
[16:33] <@Minaplo> ["Even warlike nations rarely decide to drop a small battlefleet on someone's doorstep as a first contact technique. In my experience, this would all make sense if the fleet were arriving later, where the first ship had a chance to send an all-clear or request for reinforcements. The fact that the lead ship arrived, then was followed by a fleet so quickly- it doesn't make sense. Why send a lone ship at all?"]
[16:42] <Kayoko> "Exactly. It's a baffling way to wage war, which makes me wonder whether that was even their intent."
[16:45] <@Minaplo> ["Could've been a Way hiccup." Said Franco. "Maybe this ship missed a storm that left the others delayed for a few hours."-
[16:46] <@Minaplo> ["If I were the captain of a single vessel out of a fleet of two dozen or so, and a Way-hiccup deposited me on the doorstep of an enemy I intended to attack without warning or provocation, I would not attack them as they did, no matter how ugly I thought the unknown species was."-
[16:46] <@Minaplo> [Said Violet.-
[16:47] <@Minaplo> ["Which is not to say I find humans ugly. You are all a very handsome people." Added Violet.]
[16:51] <Kayoko> "That's always lovely to hear, Violet," she said brightly.-
[16:51] <Kayoko> "I do agree, though. I can't see the chain of logic that would lead any disciplined army to attack this way."
[17:08] <@Minaplo> [Violet's plumage waved a bright pink.-
[17:09] <@Minaplo> ["You know what? I think I'm going to go over these things again." Said Franco, holding up the datapad. "I'll start searching their cruiser for anything we might've missed on the first sweep. There's something we're overlooking here, and it's driving me mad."]
[17:12] <Kayoko> "Right there with you," she agreed. "If you deal with the cargo, I'll see what I can get out of our friends in the brig. Would you care to help with that, Violet?"
[17:14] <@Minaplo> ["Yes. May I bring Spiro along, Captain?" Said Violet. "This would be her first real first contact- it'd be a good learning experience."]
[17:20] * Kayoko looked thoughtful. "… I'll trust your judgement on that one. I haven't had much time with her, but so long as she's not going to be in the way I've got no problem with it."-
[17:20] <Kayoko> "We'll have to have a discussion about that stunt of hers with the engine some other day, though."
[17:21] <@Minaplo> ["It was a hell of a stunt." Said Franco, unable to disguise his admiration.-
[17:23] <@Minaplo> ["Yes…" Said Violet, clucking quietly. "Risky stunts are the province of the young- and Spiro is young and has a great deal to prove."-
[17:23] <@Minaplo> ["Still. Results are results."]
[17:29] <Kayoko> "It worked," she agreed, "And we have more data because of it, so I won't be complaining this time. Not loudly, at least."-
[17:29] <Kayoko> "The Ensign's clearly very bright, which means I'm certain she's not going to make a habit of disobeying my orders in a combat situation, right Attache?"
[17:35] <@Minaplo> ["I'll do what I can." Said Violet. "But ultimately, my authority extends only as far as her respect for my experience and age."-
[17:35] <@Minaplo> [Violet tilted his head back and tipped his glass upside down. The juice fell into a dirac portal. A moment later, he swallowed and lowered his head.-
[17:37] <@Minaplo> ["She's an Awkward Dancer, educated in human institutions her whole life. You might have more success with her, considering that shared background."]
[17:48] <Kayoko> "Mm. I'll keep that in mind," she said, stretching both arms above her head. "I just want to give her a quiet nudge, it doesn't much matter how I do it."-
[17:48] <Kayoko> "Well, I'm going to go check the bridge and see where we're at in regards to the Impact Cannon. I'll meet you and Spiro at the brig in half an hour?" she asked, straightening up. "Commander, if you happen upon anything useful let me know immediately."
[17:49] <@Minaplo> ["Yes, ma'am." Said Franco, getting up out of his chair and downing the rest of his vodka.]
[17:50] <Kayoko> "Wonderful," she said, already heading for the door. "Dismissed."

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