Looking back since I wrote my previous entry, I don't think I would ever imagine that the situation in the Galaxy would shift so cardinally.
Or maybe I did imagine that and have forgotten about it.
So... first things first? Deep Space Motherflakking Seventeen. The first stronghold of the Mankind on the way of Great Doms' conquest, and hopefully the first nail in said conquest's coffin. Something to get humans to finally man the flak up, stand side by side, hold the flakking line and throw these invading aliens back from whatever galaxy they came. Simple, right?
Unfortunately, some human arseholes disagreed. Even I didn't expect the sabotage attempt; even though we worked around it and managed to get the station running. What followed was a number of supplying operations to upgrade the station. Quite soon the first operations that used DS17 as staging base took place. I still have fond memories as we discussed Operation Podstava and Operation Countercharge together with other pilots. And of course, the operations themselves. While Operation Countercharge was a pretty simple military action (at least in context, it involved several battleships, a repair ship and a lot of fighters), Operation Podstava was not just an attack, but also a counter-intelligence action.
I spent two months on DS17, analyzing data and managing reports. There was something going down in Sirius, apparently the dream of united defense against the Great Doms some people had was in vain. For someone who has no dreams and hopes like myself, this was no surprise. But the events have only barely touched Inner Core.
Another sabotage attempt wasn't one either. The EMP device that went off and severely damaged station's systems was recovered and it was confirmed to be of human origin. It was placed outside so it could have been anyone who left an entire bunch of Paralyzer missile warheads tied into an IED. However, as a certain evil prince once said, it was merely a setback, soon the station was running again.
Then finally, I was granted a leave. The DS17 almost became like a home for me, but there is nothing like a true home. So I ended up back where I have started.
Sure, there are planets that are essentially paradise worlds. There are planets covered with resorts and dedicated to living with style. There are planets that at least don't have a giant hole in it made to extract the planet's very core.
But these planets aren't my home.
In the end I returned back to my old flat. At least my parents took care of it. Strangely, as it turned out I got too used to live in Stranger's cargo bay.
And I felt so tired. And unneeded as well. Flyagin apparently got the situation with the saboteurs contained. The rest was up to people who do actual fighting and who actually set things right. I am not one of such people, I just fly whereever I'm told to, look around and report what I saw.
However, pretty soon, I got another message from Flyagin telling me to arrive to Coalition HQ.
-How's life, Ajay? - my CO asked as I entered.
-I thought you know - I replied. - What's the matter?
-There is one thing you might be interested - Flyagin said. - The sabotage attempts might have had a precedent. I have been arranging this matter with the government of Liberty. Your mission is to arrive to Planet Manhattan and acquire all information you can find in open access about Operation Far Reach and Operation Rising Sun.
Right. The point was, Deep Space 17 wasn't the first time the mankind tried to establish a foothold in the Inner Core sector.
Couple of years ago, the Silver Arrows clan tried to deploy a base on Planet Pichon on Ryssk System. The two operations Flyagin mentioned were related to sweeping the area of Great Doms to ensure the safety of the construction and clearing the LZ, respectively. However, in the middle of Operation Firefall, Silver Arrows just disappeared, as SA Fleet Admiral Forlon left elsewhere to found another clan later - The Steel Hearts.
I had good relationship with Silver Arrows in general and with Forlon in particular, and was saddened to hear of the clan's disappearance - and hopeful that maybe we'll see some of those pilots resurfacing again. Just too many people I knew decided to simply leave their ships in the hangars for the foreseeable future and retire from space.
Sometimes I think that might be an option for me too. Even considering that Intelligence opens only one way for retirement; I knew what I was signing for when I hit 18. I knew that just agreeing to work for the Intelligence was a sacrifice, that essentially since that moment I will be living on borrowed time.
It was just a coincidence that I had been given that offer. Well, that, and a flak ton of archive work as me and Flyagin spent a number of days trying to recover the events of Coalition Exodus.
Of course, that child prodigy that has become my CO got a Major rank for that as I got booked as "junior agent". I never asked why he has hit such a high rank in such a young age, but I suspect it to be a combination of familial connections, actual brilliance and actual hard work. Or also taking credit for the work of a certain junior reconnaissance pilot.
To be honest I wouldn't mind if he did. My current position as it is leaves me with just enough personal freedom that I need in order to entertain myself with wandering around the Galaxy.
-In the meantime I will check out if we have something in our archives - Flyagin continued. - I am sure we should have at least something.
I decided to reached Manhattan by going through Transdimensional Rift in Yakutsk, then Omicron Gamma. The automated message from Starforge was the only thing that greeted me, claiming the system to be open for passage. It used to be closed for some time by decision of Mr. Focks so I expected a demand to turn back and leave the system ASAP, but instead I sighed with relief. I disabled my weapons as asked by the message, engaged Shtora-17 and headed to the Omicron Theta.
Last time I heard, Corsairs still have a pike for my head in the capital of Planet Crete after what happened the first time I ventured through this system, in my old Lagg. I wondered if Revan managed to do something about it, then reminded myself that there was no reason she'd care of some Inner Core dwelling weirdo. And even if there was she apparently had better matters to care about. I thought about raising Starforge and asking anyone if they saw her recently, but decided against it. It was already a bad tone of me to enter this system while most of Republic Alliance were MIA, so it was only fair of me to keep my interference to minimum, pass this system as fast as possible and avoid bloodshed the aforementioned empty pike called Corsairs for.
That also was the reason why I chose th fly through Omicron Theta, since its jumphole was closer. The rest of my way laid through Omicron Alpha, Tau worlds and Leeds.
Outcasts were no kinder to me than Corsairs, and I was feeling especially merciful so I passed Outcast controlled systems without fighting as well. Shtora-17 was quite handy for flying through these systems without my killcount rising like tidal wave.
The way Leeds-Manchester-Magellan-New York was much calmer.
So here I was in an archive building, going through all open access files SA saw fit to place into Liberty archives and sending them off to Flyagin as I was permitted.
-Operation Rising Sun was a success - I said to my CO as we had a voice connection running the entire time. - They deployed some kind of automated station on the planet surface soon after the LZ was clear after a prolonged planetary bombardment and usage of WMDs. Operation Firefall was targeting the enemy fleets in this area. While Far Reach was the real deal about building a base around a specific model of reactor...
-CNS K-795 was dispatched to keep the pressure on the Great Doms - Flyagin added. - They did not interfere with SA themselves.
-However, the operation was just... canceled - I said. - I expect sabotage or political pressure... ah-ha. The major Sirius houses stopped funding the project and withdrew all actives. Phaeton Class Neutrinic Acceleration Fusion Reactor was apparently scrapped for material... Motherflakkers.
-The automated station on Pichon and around... I have just sent its frequency to Strakhov. He claims his comms operator caught a signal on this exact frequency in Venn system. Head in there ASAP.
Arriving to Omega 3 and from there to Inner Core and Venn was not a trouble.
-Ajay, the Baneblade is now in Sirius, but Strakhov has uploaded the signal patterns - Flyagin said. - Search for it.
-I think I'm picking it up - I said. - I am going to use Repair Buoy transponders to triangulate its location... Gotcha! I am moving out.
I headed to the signal location.
-It appears to be moving, Canteen - I noted. Eventually I found out what it was.
-It is a Dom'Razak mothership, Canteen - I notified my CO and took a sip of tea with one hand while maneuvering my ship with another. - It appears that eventually after the operation on colonizing the planet stopped, Warriors and Dom'Razak reclaimed the planet and looted whatever was left.
-I think it is going to return to its home galaxy with the prize in its hold - Flyagin said. - The Baneblade won't reach Venn in time... Ajay, what are you doing?
-Something very, very stupid - I said as I turned off cruise, maneuvered into mothership's lower hemisphere and opened fire. - Imma wreck this motherflakker, Canteen. I am trying to destabilize its reactor or engines, but I will need to dismantle the shields and hull casing over that area first.
Mothership opened fire and I maneuvered out.
-I could have gone for vents, but they are reinforced, so I will have to blast through the core casing itself - I continued. - On its destruction I will shove a Nova-Stormshadow pair right into there. But my guns won't be able to break through this motherflakker's armor platings straight away.
Cruisers came closer as I flew a bit away, out of their field of fire.
-What I'm hoping for is impact and heat deformation - I continued, opening fire at the mothership again. - Weakening the hull for the possibility or a torpedo pair to get through.
-You seem to have already done this.
-More than once - I confirmed and made another strafing run. Eventually sensors detected what I hoped for and I went for the actual part, hitting the torpedo launch command.
As soon as my sensors noticed the sudden heat and radiation spike, all my doubts about installing a Storm Shadow torpedo launcher went poof.
-I'm picking up something, I think it's automated transmitter. I'm tractoring it in.
-Do that and return to Deep Space 17. You can start the analysis in there.
-Bingo, Canteen - I said, dismantling the automated sensor station. - There is a data core and it is intact!
-It might be encrypted - my CO said over the video feed. - But I take it you know the person who might decrypt it?
I nodded. Yes, I might need to pay visits to Freeport 1 and Libra Tower...
Well, I've been aching to write something, anything, for several months. So here it is.
I've been thinking about DS17 and of the past operation Far Reach, which was going on as SA_Scorpion planned, but then SA activity just disappeared, so you have an outsider's look on it. In case I offended anyone with this, I assure that this was not my intention. I liked the idea of Operation Far Reach and was sad that it didn't really get anywhere.
Unfortunately I hold no hope for that operation resurfacing, so I scavenged its plot.