Charon's Opus ::
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Posted on Mon Dec 2nd, 2019 @ 5:29pm by Client The Narrator

Mission: The Forgotten Arm
Location: Somewhere past the Belt encounter to Saturn
Timeline: Eros Incident T-plus 3 hours

The first of the quarantine beacons began to go off.

These were the hard wired environmental filters, the ones ProtoGen couldn’t get to without blasting apart the rocky surface of Eros, or the old ones designed to be rock stupid and so had been forgotten about in refit cycles past. With their clogged filters now beginning to become breeding grounds for more of the organic matrix of the ProtoMolecule, Eros sang its lament to the stars.

The news hit Earth and Mars at nearly the same time due to their locations in the system compared to Eros. But there was a problem. Someone had blown up a water hauler between Saturn and Jupiter. The network put in place by the two super powers too keep fingers away from the button marked Interplanetary War went into full swing. The diplomats were on first name basis, the generals and admirals had been trained to avoid this day. Everything had been put into place to make sure nothing would happen.

And yet forces moved in the background. A dead diplomat here. Ghostly stealth ships haunting the black, nuking water haulers. A little blinking black box with a MCRN logistic’s code stamped on it. The people who should have had their hands on the wheel of state were distracted, looking at their opposite number across the solar system and thinking ‘They wouldn’t...would they?’.

So Eros was given the correct amount of time on the Senate floor of Mars, and the desk of the Secretary General of Earth: sandwiched in between fleet deployment orders and a growing contingent on both sides saying ‘first strike’.

Battleship groups began to mobilise. The MCRN Barkeith, a massive Donnager class battleship, had been burning with its fleet of cruisers and destroyers towards the Inner System since the Canterbury had gone up. Instead of flipping and burning as it passed the half way point between Jupiter and Mars, the flagship of the Martian Jupiter Fleet kept burning hard. Inner system fleet exercise, said the MCRN press release.

In response the UNN 3rd Fleet was mobilising around the two Truman class battleships Arthur C. Clarke and the Issac Newton. UNN Fleet doctrine was, in the event of the unthinkable, to stack the deck 2:1 against anything Mars threw down The Well towards Earth. And whilst it was broadcast as a routine fleet rotation out to the bread basket moons of Jupiter, no one bought the press release.

Earth and Mars were lining up their model ships, the older but more numerous blunt instruments of the United Nations Navy against the bleeding edge of the high frontier that was the Martian Congressional Republic Navy. The old guard VS the new growth.

Eros was looked at for five minutes by both sides, and considered of little strategic importance in the scope of all out war that was looming. A token effort, a few frigates or corvettes, nothing that would tip the balance if they weren’t thrown into the fight. But they were burning on courses that could be diverted to the front lines. Healers with hand guns ready to be thrown into the fray.

Jansen smiled at the holo plot projected in the OP’s level of the Amun-Ra class stealth ship Hathor. It really did look like toy ships being lined up to fight in the biggest school yard brawl of all time. When the higher ups at ProtoGen had told him they had a way to divert nearly all attention away from Eros Station, he’d thought maybe some sort of spoofed communication system. Some super bleeding edge Smart AI program able to mimic the responses of all the people slowly turning into blue snot all over the corridors of Eros Station.

“Damn...” Jansen grinned. “...and here’s me without my pop corn.”

“What was that Sir?” The OP’s tech said from his crash couch.

“Lamenting my lack of a fiddle,” Jansen said, turning on his heel in the pleasant 1 gee of the ships thrust gravity. “How’s our course to Taris Station?”

“Steady,” the tech responded. “Our flight path to Saturn is well outside the transit lanes for commercial traffic, and we’re well away from the patrol volumes for both the UNN and MCRN.”

“So we sneak by whilst the kings of old rattle their sabres one last time,” the man called Jansen nodded with a smile. “It’ll give us time to appreciate the fireworks. Now if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to the galley. I have a craving for pop corn.”

And as he left, he began to hum a little tune that always came to him at times like this.

‘I am the Grand High Executioner...’


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