In Company With Our Brave Allies…

dWMS Karl Franz
Felo-Class Blitz Transport, DKS-Line
Falke Star System
deWulf Corporate Democracy

 

“I had no idea that they made ships this fast.” Vice Ship Commander Illescas looked at the ship readout on the cabin wall, showing what would have been a respectable speed for a transport or a gunboat. That it was being made by a destroyer, and it was sustainable, was at the very least mind boggling.

“They don’t, generally. The Tannenbaum Yards only built two of these ships, and there’s barely enough business to keep them in the black.” Ship Commander Forez chastised his executive officer, though he didn’t really fault him. The Felos were a result of designers gone mad, having gone too far in pursuit of a fast freighter, and then deciding to keep going to see what would happen if they went further still.

Forez turned back from the window, pouring himself a drink. “So did you meet anyone interesting at the briefing?”

“A gunboat commander named Varga. Pretty high rank for a Sintillan. Seemed to know his stuff. Took part in the last two battles of Elysium, and flew strike in the liberation of Dave’s World.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. Total gunboat jock, and not ignorant of the political ramifications of his position. He knows he’s cracking some ceilings with his growing rank. Kashnekov might be the Sintillan in charge of the strike groups, but it’s pretty clear that Varga’s the brains of the operation. You could tell how every decision of importance passed by Varga first. Assuming this assault carries through, his uniform’s going to get the broad stripes, mark my words. How about you?”

“PackHunter Markus Phelan. An older bluejacket in the service. Was one of the first fleet commanders, the only fleet commander really, back when the Sintillans and the deWulf were fighting. Seems he’s hit a bit of a roadblock in his career, but just as sharp as ever. My guess is that he’s hoping a successful offensive here will give his career an updraft.”

“But? I can hear a ‘but’ in there.”

“But he’s a good ship handler and squadron commander. Not as sharp for fleet command sadly; that’s a job for someone who’s got the big picture knack, and that’s just not Phelan. He flies by the wind in his teeth, and he’s good at it. But that’s not the kind of person you need in a fleet billet. There’s more than just charging into oncoming fire. It’s like running an orchestra. Everyone has to do their part at the right time; like my old instructor said to me. ‘There’s only three things you need to worry about when commanding a fleet engagement: acting too early, acting too early, and acting too early.’ That’s a lesson Phelan just can’t learn.”

The two officers looked at each other, Forez’s eyes glancing into his glass as he drank.

“So, do you think there’s any truth to this ‘conspiracy’?” Forez’s head didn’t look up from his drink.

“I don’t know.” Opined Illescas as he sat down on the couch facing the center of the room. “Rollen’s command team certainly seems to believe he knows what he’s doing. And he’s shown that he’s not afraid of criticism. Sure that gave his detractors some ammunition, but the rest of the navy… let’s be honest, pretty much the WHOLE navy probably thinks he could fly from Fenris to Falke just by flapping his arms. It’s not hero worship, but it’s something close.”

“Who was it we were having dinner with yesterday… Korman was it?”

“Junior PackMaster Korman. Slated to be in charge of the Bombardment Fleet. Yeah. That was an odd conversation, wasn’t it?”

“I can’t understand why Rollen would have someone so… not paranoid… twitchy, perhaps?”

“Concerned.”

“Okay, concerned, in charge of that much firepower.”

“You noticed that he was making a lot of oblique questions about our supply contractors and our procurement process too, huh?”

“Figure he was trying to suss out if any corporations had their hooks in us?”

“I doubt he was looking for places to invest his retirement funds.”

Forez took a seat opposite Illescas as the latter went to get his own drink. “And then there’s pulling both Felos onto this run. Even a regular passenger liner would have had the speed we needed. But instead he has us moving on a Felo. And for what, to shave a week of the transit times?”

“There’s something else going on here. I just don’t know what.”

Illescas looped back over to his couch, theatrically flopping down before picking up his tablet in his free hand. “So do you believe that Rollen’s running a conspiracy in his high command?”

“I’m not sure. Given the size of the command staff, it’s entirely possible we just haven’t met the right people. But I doubt it.” Forez looked past Illescas and out the armourplast window, watching as a pair of Rafftal-1A-class corporate destroyers ran herd on the little convoy. Both of the Felos were part of the convoy, carrying the command staffs of an entire fleet out to their warships, still a jump ahead of them and trying to open the distance.

The two officers didn’t speak for several minutes, both lost in their own thoughts, the only sound the low rumble of the drives as they drove the ship on her course.

“Do you know if the parts have arrived?” The change of topic was welcomed by them both.

“Yes Sir, they’re at the Egon Gruzelier Memorial Highport, and we’ve arranged some time with the…” Illescas flipped to another message on his tablet “The Olza, to have all of the sensor systems refitted onto our ships. Should be a quick job. We dock up to the repair ship, they cut out the hard patches and drop in the sensor systems. A few days to weld them in place and hook up the runs, and then the ship pulls away to do full-power tests while the next one docks up.”

Forez finished his drink, setting the empty glass into his lap. “So, no conspiracy?”

Illescas looked back, his own face pensive in thought “Nothing concrete. But there’s something here, even if we can’t identify exactly what it is.”

“Well, I’m sure we can at least provide a little information…”
—————————————————————————-
Felo-class DDf(FT) 30 HS / 9 TS
[3] S1HtQv×15Qa(Ice)(Ice)(Ice)(Ice)(Ice)(Ice)Qa [6/6]
Trg: 1 Def: 0 Cost: 353.5 / 53.1 SL 6 {SOLAR}
25 HTK S×1

Built as an experiment in ultra-high speed passenger service, the Felo proved to be utterly incapable of turning a profit on the usual routes. As a result, the production run was cut short after only two hulls, Felo and Feto. Still, they managed to eke out a slim profit running high priority cargos and passengers from system to system, as they had a sustained cruise 50% faster than the common freighter. The Felo found herself most often on the Fenris-Dave’s World run, and the Feto on the Fenris-Puerto Pollo route, but often enough the runs were losing money. Even so, the DKS-Line found it worthwhile to keep them in service, if only to claim that they had the fastest regular service routes in known space.

—————————————————————————-
Rafftal-1A-class DDf 30 HS / 9 TS
[3] S1×4A1×3HtLe(CC)LeYaQa(Ice)(Ice)(Ice)(Ice)(Ice)(Ice)Qa [6/6]
Trg: 1 Def: 0 Cost: 436.4 / 65.5 SL 6 {SOLAR}
20 HTK S×4 A×3 Le×2

Originally commissioned by Eisenmauer Bank, the Rafftal fast destroyers were intended to be high speed security interceptors for dealing with ships that tried to skip free of the bank’s loans. That required a ship that could fight, and be capable of running down freighters that had redlined their engines. While they proved exceptionally effective at this task, they still had shortcomings. Initially, they lacked a comprehensive sensor suite capable of identifying their quarry under combat conditions, and a powerful enough communications system to reliably tie into the local Datawings communications network. This was corrected in two short refits (the -1 and -A refits), at the cost of offloading a laser and the only PD mount. Given their usual quarry of unarmed freighters, this was judged an acceptable tradeoff.

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