Chapter Two- A Sign of Things To Come
VADM Shannon Forakker was a prodigy.
Then-Citizen Commander Warner Caslet had referred to her as a 'Tac-Witch', and Tom Theisman had recognized her abilities and placed her to run Bolthole, the one-time secret massive shipyard of the Former People's Republic. Promoted from Commander rapidly to Flag Rank, Shannon took to her job with an enthusiasm that was almost frightening. To most who saw her working at her new post, it seemed that she was personally going to close the technology gap between the Republic and Haven. For decades, Haven had been trying to match quality with quantity.
Shannon, however, believed in matching quality for quality. Of course, the War had been over for five years, but Shannon had taken it as a personal challenge to make the navy of the Republic the best it could possibly be. She felt she owed it to all the countless people who had been sacrificed on the altar of the People's Republic and State Security.
One of her brainchild projects was the Oracle, a recon platform with more sensors than a recon starship. The Manticoran Reconnaissance Drones were quite impressive, and had been used during the war to great effect. Shannon had decided she needed to make something that evened the playing field.
The Oracle was the size of three troop transports, and would fill one boat bay of a heavy cruiser. It had propulsion in the form of impeller as well as thrusters. It did have gravitics, but the systems were about ten years behind what the Manticorans had already implemented. The Oracle carried sensors of all types, just like most starships. However, the main intelligence focus of the platform was designed to take the data from all sensors and combine it into one feed. This gave a real time image with more than just the standard gravitics readings. This gave images with data on mass, acceleration, composition, visual appearance and even managed some predicting ability, giving best probabilities of actions based on accrued data.
It was a nasty surprise, and both Shannon and Tom had been wondering how it would stand up to the Salamander. Of course, now it was getting a live fire test.
Shannon looked at the terminal in front of her and gave several commands. It was tied into the Oracle network, the six platforms that had been sent into Grayson space just as the Haven Fleet had arrived for the conference and war games. They were her ringer for the various scenarios, but now they were going to be the first eyes on the scene. Punching up the data feeds, she sent the tactical upload to the holotank in the conference room.
"Admiral Harrington, with your permission, I would like to tie the Oracle Network into our tactical net."
"Oracle Network? Did someone decide to cheat, Shannon?"
"Yes ma'am, you taught me pretty well on that matter."
Nimitz laughed and made a sign comment that half the room caught, stating 'Yes, she can be taught.'
" I am getting data on our contact. If I may?"
"By all means." Honor typed a text message authorizing the linking of the Haven and Alliance tactical networks. At this moment, all were on the same side. After sending the message back to her flagship, Honor nodded for Shannon to continue.
"The data is showing up now. We had a massive gravitic surge at these coordinates. Nothing definitive was detected other than that by the gravitics. The other sensor systems gave us this picture."
The holotank showed a real-time image of the location in space, a swirling mass of blue-white energy opening and releasing several small objects.
"Oracle is detecting three larger objects, between sixty and one thousand meters long, and approximately twenty smaller objects, approximately ten meters long. They are grouped in a tight formation and seem to be moving at greater speed than our thrusters would on objects that size, and they display no impeller signatures, hence why the gravitics lost contact."
"How can they move that fast without impellers?"
"Unknown. Oracle cannot match this with anything in the Alliance, the Republic, the League, or any of the known independents."
"Wow, you have been busy."
"A girl needs a hobby, Chief Warrant Officer Harkness. Still, they are changing course and headed towards Grayson, on an intercept for the CA squadrons we had set up for the wargame."
"Well, get them to signal the approaching objects. They may respond to hail… what the hell was that!?!" Tom Theisman, usually a man of infinite calm and poise, was shocked when he saw the gravitics flare again. The original contact flared and the blue-white maelstrom surged again, disgorging scores of much smaller contacts, and one massive contact nearly fouteen hundred meters long, looking like a six pointed starfish.
Scotty Tremaine looked at the display, looked at the Republican Admiral and simply said, "Seconded."
GNS Andreas Venizelos
"Targets on plot, Commodore. We are receiving new data from the Republican Oracle Network. Of course, we have no information on what the Oracle Network is, but Admiral Harrington authorized it, and we are getting seriously detailed data from it."
"Must explain how they saw us in the game. Still, let's see what they have for us."
The Tactical plot on the Flag Bridge was taken up by the detailed scans of the three large objects surrounded by the twenty smaller ones.
"Can you get me a tight shot of one of the larger objects, give us an idea of exactly what it is?"
"Affirmative, sir." Xander worked the controls and a detailed picture of one of the larger objects was thrown up on the secondary display.
A close up of the larger ship revealed it was some manner of military vessel, unknown class, corresponding to nothing in the visual recognition manual attached to the tactical computers.
"Wow, whoever designed this sensor package is quite the tech head. I mean, I can even make out those markings on the ship's hull…"
Xander frowned looking at his terminal's close up display of the unknown ship, which was repeated on the larger secondary display. "The language is nothing I have seen here, might be something from home, not sure…" His voice trailed off and he heard something to the effect of 'Oh SHIT!' echoing from the back of the compartment.
All eyes turned, some lingering, some briefly and returned to their jobs, but all took a glance at GSMC 2nd LT Jon O'Neill. He was looking rather pale and staring straight at the symbols on the ship.
In his head, Jon was screaming, 'What the hell is something written in freaking Ancient doing in this universe?'