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The Other War (Cover)

Chapter 16 - The Other War[]

05/03/3060 Mongoose Ghost Fleet, Circe IV

Claude anchored himself to the CIC deck plates and detached the basic toolkit attached to the CSS thigh pouch. “Mastodon. I am opening a video feed. If this type twenty-one mine is active I need to disarm it.”
Derek Regnar and Nina Tanaga were in a flurry recalling the light T-3 tugs and boarding party. Evan along with the other Mandrill Marines were still in the CIC and refused the recall. As Claude looked around the titanium sphere before him he saw the others waiting. “What are you doing? Leave! That's an order!

This mine might only destroy the ship. The Mastodon could still make it.”

“Claude, You don't know how to disarm a Nuclear Mine.”

Aff, but I have armed them. Get out!” The Marines lingered for a moment more before dropping their tools and jetting away on their thrusters. “How's that technical readout coming Derek?”

The Newt's voice came in even despite the potential threat, living in the unforgiving expanse of space gave one a certain elevated sense of true risk. “I found one but it dates back to the Star League. I cannot find any record of Mongoose having nuclear mines in their inventory.”

“Well they are just full of surprises then. There's no external sign that indicates whether it is armed or not. The ones I use have a blinking light. Blinking Red is dead. Steady Green is great.”

He turned off the gauntlet lights instead using the ones on his helmet to inspect the sphere just larger than a medicine ball. “Let's find this access panel.” He found and used the small screwdriver to remove the panel revealing a mess of circuit boards and small wires. “I'm in.”

There should be a panel that looks like this, a picture appeared in the lower right corner of his HUD. “You need to carefully remove it and desolder the wires. That should disengage the trigger sequence.”

“Aff, searching now.” Claude probed the circuit boards and found the target one gently lifting it and desoldering the wires to disable the centuries old Thermonuclear trigger. He breathed a sigh of relief with the circuit board floating in mid-air. “That wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be Derek.”

“You are lucky, it might be dead. We will secure the device and dispose of it later.”

Claude thought about that, “Derek can you reprogram the trigger?”

Nina Tanaga's voice came in over the radio, “What do you want? To put it in your room! No way! Let the Newts dispose of it.”

Joseph Kline joined in, “I think we should hear him out Nina. Why do you want a pet nuke, Claude?”

“It might be useful later.” He began cutting the steel cables that suspended the device in the middle of the compartment, “A surprise that no one expects us to possess. Can you recondition the mine Derek?” “I can't but we can certainly find someone in Newgrange City...Although Security obviously won't let you bring it aboard.

It will have to be done in a station or one of these Warship hulks when we are done. Preferably a disposable one. These devices can be touchy.”

“Mastodon Flight Ops, I request a shuttle to re-position this mine somewhere safer.” “En route to your nearest airlock Star Commander Goulet.” “Aff.”

Behemoth Cargo DropShip (Deep Space)

Behemoth Cargo DropShip

A month later Star Commander Claude Goulet was once more wearing his CSS and seated in a S-7C shuttle near the L4 point of Circe IV. The view-screen was dominated by the white egg shaped Behemoth dropship freighter NCS Wusong. A folded jump-capable Cagework (Space Drydock) station the NCS Roland Tusker was being pushed away from the Free Guilds Tramp Class JumpShip, FGS Croupierre by a trio of T-3 Tugs. Claude looked over to Derek Regnar with surprise.

Tramp Class Jump Ship (CG)

Tramp Class JumpShip, FGS Croupierre

“Derek, I had expected some support from Newgrange. but you didn't tell me the Wusong was coming. Isn't that one of the core habitat modules of Newgrange City?”

Aff, Star Commander. The Elders want the Painkiller operational so they sent a large contingent of workers to aid us in getting it jump capable when we are done with the smaller ships. We will honor the initial bargain we made with you. Your ships go first in the Yard. It will take us longer to prepare the Painkiller.”

The S-7C docked in one of the Behemoth's twenty four small craft bays. When the light turned green Superior Derek Regnar and Star Commander Claude Goulet exited into a busy dock surrounded by exoskeleton wearing Laborers and Techs, one of the large versions lifting a two ton cargo container. More were following him into the hull of an S-7C. Most of the small craft in this bay were of that type and Claude could see most were ready to launch. “How many people work here?”

“The Wusong can support sixteen hundred individuals with minimal imports. There are about nineteen on staff now but some will transfer to the Cagework once it is in position under my supervision. Between the Mastodon, Cagework, and Wusong there are about twenty one hundred individuals and forty eight small craft.

By my estimates we can get your three Warships jump capable and heading toward Newgrange by year end. Weapon outfitting, armor repairs, your requested adjustments, and final shakedowns will take most of next year. By the time the Muraca leaves the Painkiller should be ready to fill it.”

Claude and Derek walked through the corridors and found them mostly empty. Despite having a large crew contingent most of the crew were away working. They would return to the normal 12 hour spacer shift once they settled in. The walls were well decorated with murals and other pieces of art that gave it a feel much like any other Clan enclave block housing just one that was capable of surviving in space more with minimal imports.

Derek entered the Bridge of the Wusong and was to Claude's surprise saluted by the shorter black haired female Captain. The two men embraced for a moment and said something in Cantonese that Claude couldn't understand despite learning some during his time with the Newts.

“Star Commander, this is my cousin Captain Valley Regnar. Captain of the Wusong this year.”

“Just Val please. Pleasure to meet you Star Commander Goulet. We will be seeing a lot of each other for the next several months. Perhaps longer if you come to Newgrange City and oversee the operation. Welcome aboard. Derek will show you to your cabin after the tour.

Now Superior I have to get back to work. Thank you for the initial plans, the Comm's Room is all yours until the Cagework is deployed.”
“Thank you Captain.”

Derek and Claude continued their tour during which time he attempted to memorized the kilometers of corridors that cut throughout the ship. There were massive hydroponic gardens, fish tanks, relatively spacious cabins, well equipped infirmary, large rec area with multiple bays for racquet sports and handball both popular sports with Spacers, a Sauna/Spa/Bathhouse, and a massive galley that smelled of spiced vegetables and pan fried fish.

The two of them sat down to filling meal in a room that could seat four hundred. “This is an impressive ship. The Mastodon was the nicest accommodations I had ever been on.”

“Definitely helps the overcrowding when you are only using half the slots. Filling the rest with stuff salvaged from a Scientist's habitat definitely helped. They were weird but had some nice stuff.

It gets crowded and much louder when everyone is here but at least the air exchanges are top notch. The Elders want you to train our security team while you are here. There should be enough weapons salvaged from the Caretaker station.

The Cloud Cobras have extended Newgrange and the Tanite Worlds a great deal of freedom but with the Burrocks gone and Adders strengthening their hold on the Homeworlds they fear they will make some examples of the Dark Caste.

Newgrange City cannot escape its system but we think the Painkiller and our own forces will be enough to secure it against future aggression. You are building your Clan's future. We Mongooses intend to do the same.”

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