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Chapter 17 - The Advisor[]

FSS Kentares NR-001
Kentares- Class Corvette / Ram Ship
Sol Star System
Republic of the Sphere

[The following morning...]

"So, what were your impressions, Commander?" Commodore Palmer asked.

"It 'us a big fleet." she said carefully.  "A verrah BIG fleet. Ah would'na say et's a good fleet though."

"Hm?" replied the Commodore

"Ah'd say y'alls have a better one." Anh continued, "More pract'cal."

"You don't have that high an opinion of the Federated Suns Navy."

"Ayep...but 'least y'all have a doctrine." she enunciated carefully over breakfast.  "Thet war a nice Collection of antiques, Kind of th' Difference a'tween a museum collection and an arsenal. both gots guns, one gots guns meant t'be used, and fit t'be used."

This got a few chuckles from the gathered officers in the Mess.

"Can you clarify your point?"  Lieutenant Colonel Gracie asked.

"Aw'right.  Half of those battlewagons were running rich. There war rust around airlocks, meanin' the seals been bad for a while. They plated over gun-mounts they ain't repaired an' th' plating crew didn't match the coatings proper. There was scoring on the transit drive nozzles, an' the second McKenna class Battleship in the pass-by still had damage to the primary and secondary batteries that ain't got fixed since the prior owners had it-they tossed paint and coatings on, but if those doors will open, it's only by a miracle of finagle.  The Battlecruiser Invisible Truth's radiator fins were still damaged, with her targeting array bein' outright missing...and their formation discipline was crap."

"I admit I missed that part." Palmer said.  "What do you mean?"

"Interval was irregular. Some of the escort ships weren't holding position.  Ah've seed civilian convoys with better interval discipline. It warn't no battle formation, 'less their tactic is to let enemy forces through gaps in their line what ain't covered for some single combat action, in which case, why bring escorts at all?"

"I'll testify to the shoddy formation discipline." Lt. LaFayette spoke up, "Their pilots were flying as individuals, not tight wing-pairs or even Drac-style triples. Am I not the only aviator here wondering how those mixed formations are going to hold together in combat? Tail-numbers and unit markings have slow. Heavy fighters paired with a mix of light and mediums that have to throttle way down to let the big boys keep up."

Looks passed around the table as officers digested this.

"It's a nice collection, just not a fleet." Anh finally broke the silence.  "Ah would scale it up there with th' organization of the LCN prior to '43-an afterthought rushed into service by Landsman commanding officers, but they ain' gots a doctrine an' thet's apparent.  You all at least have gots a doctrine."

"The repair states were concerning." the Chief Engineer, Major Allbright, noted, "Those were some powerful ships..."

"But they ain' gots th' ability ta keep them running."

"Yeah, spares are an obvious problem."

Anh sipped her coffee, and quoted.  "If you can not afford to lose it, you can not afford to use it. The first time one of those Terran Battlewagons takes serious damage, will be the last time it's of any use to anyone, anyhow."

"Is it just me, or is she getting clearer?"  Lt. Nelson asked.

Anh laughed.

"They could be building new ones?" Nelson added, looking around, "I mean, the Republic has a population of over a trillion people..."

"They ain' gots belt industries." Anh said, "They hafta mine in the well, ship it to orbit, process it...without a belter community since Stone decided theirs was too...disruptive.  If'n they're building new ships, it's with both hands tied."  she placed her fork, "But...let's say they is-what does it look like to have new construction?"

"Titan or Galax." LaFayette said,  "The yards would be patterned after Titan, or Galax."

"Easy 'nough to see with a telescope then." she said, "jes gotta know where to look."

"Where would you look?"

"Not at Titan." she said, "If'n Stone wants it kept a secret, and close to home, he won't be using the old Titan yards. An' we coulda' seed it if it were Luna."

"Jovian moons maybe?"

"Makes sense. Decent materials, lots of interference for anything what relies on Lidar or radar." she said, "They could do like the Kowloonese did with Boojum an' Spider Moon. trouble bein', they'd need a population out thar an' they shut the Belts off when they suppressed the Metis."

"It's watch this hand." Palmer stated, "We saw exactly what Stone wanted you to see, McCoy."

"Ayeh.  I expect you're right." Anh mused, "Th' question beins why he wanted me to see' why he didn't feel it right to clue in his actual allies."

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