dark future - Wrought in Ash

The Training Mission
what does Charlie Foxtrot mean?

You are serving under Captain Onin Mweng on the GC Enforcement CSV-303 Perceval Class Surveillance Corvette “Coltrane” and are winding down from a 30 week training cruise.

Perhaps as new graduates of the GC Naval Intelligence Academy at Terralyn Station in the C1 system. Or maybe you’ve been attached to the training op by prestige in another branch.

The past 7 months have been spent learning the ins and outs of serving on board a highly advanced signal intelligence gathering ship. You’ve spent weeks at a time flitting between orbital data routers, collecting backscatter from needle transmissions, sipping signal off computing clouds, listening in on secure Industrial board meeting comms, reading private correspondence and pirating pay per view sporting events and the latest media releases.

Awed, you may have participated in Ultrablack QuEnt array training ops. Tagging in and outbound router packet drones darting between star systems and hacking their dataload as they slip away at speeds greater than light.

You might have been surprised as the QuEnt operators slaved orbital defense control of a colony 15 light minutes distant to your own weapons console without being detected at the same time issuing completely authentic orders directly from the a commandants personal terminal (in his pocket) informing the local SDF that a surprise training op was beginning.

Your impression while shooting down incoming training drones was that if anything, the response was even faster than if you had been sitting in a hardened bunker as a weaps operator.

Then again, you might have been guarding a door, monitoring plasma temperatures of a reactor core or cooking in the mess ignorant of all of the above.

The last week has been spent purging datastores, performing clean code installs, wiping any trace of the training op from the shipboard logs, personal devices on board, and generally erasing any evidence of massive security breach perpetuated on an otherwise seemingly secure society.

The Coltrane is a special boat and the crew feel extremely privileged to have served on her, even as they scrub bulkheads with anti-fungals as her spiral back into core space brings all closer to home, a long liberty and eventually the next assignment.

As the Coltrane nears the Core boundary envelope, without warning a flash packet drone is detected by Bowman Field scan about 45 seconds before it translates into optical range. It broadcasts an IFF critical priority code, the general alarm is sounded and the crew wakes as if from a dream. A short time later Captain Mweng shares the message with the crew:

FLASH-FLASH-FLASH-FLASH-FLASH-FLASH-FLASH-FLASH-FLASH

AUTHENTICATION

[#l#o#t#s#o#f#f#a#n#c#y#d#a#t#a#c#r#y#p#t#o#h#e#r#e#]

GC Enforcement Intelligence Command to Executive CSV-303 “Coltrane”

<<< Priority ONE Directive >>>

Abort Current Operations
Immediately Proceed with Best Possible Speed [d#a#t#a#s#q#u#i#r#t]

Secure Shipboard Operations Mission Profile:
<<< COUNTRY STROLL >>>
<<< COMBAT IN EFFECT >>>

Rendezvous with GCEP PTC-02 “Hard Time” for Personnel Transfer

Take aboard Materiel and CPC – 7th Heavy Assault Platoon
No Marine Detachment Available

Further Directives to Follow
FLASH-FLASH-FLASH-FLASH-FLASH-FLASH-FLASH-FLASH-FLASH

The Coltrane immediately begins burning towards the coordinates at maximum speed while the crew scrambles to prep for combat readiness. Weapons are brought forth from magazines, launch systems are tested, and QuEnt arrays are plunged towards absolute zero.

Nervous security personnel tote assault weaponry and freshly minted officers and crew now awkwardly wear sidearms. Ident scans are required to move between compartments. Ominous looking defense emplacements thrum sub-sonically as they weigh the measure and manner of any who pass by.

Rumors fly. Where are we going? Why is a training crew being deployed on a combat mission? Why are we taking aboard Penal Corps? What does “Country Stroll” mean? Why are there no Marines available? Some are rattled but everyone focuses on doing their jobs and the 9 day burn passes quickly.

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