“…due respect, Admiral, but this problem is completely out of control. Since our fleet assets were concentrated along the Borderline, smuggling incidents in the quadrant have near-tripled, and those are just the ones we know about! They’re even turning up on the Protectorate worlds. Somehow, min Rathill and his crews are waltzing right through your fleet blockade as if it wasn’t there.
“I repeat: With the Defensive Department having reassigned so much of my regular force, I couldn’t deal with the routine level of smuggling without an effective fleet blockade. Now, with the smugglers turning it into a sodding crusade, I need more ships, I need more men, and I need them now, if the whole quadrant’s not to be irreversibly contaminated…”
– Republic communications intercept, received at Tarqil (Crimson Expanse)
From: Cmdr. Leda Estenv, Flight Administrator
To: Lt. Vínas Sarathos, Gunnery Department
By the voice and authority of Flight Commander Captain Filír Anaxianos, Officer Commanding Their Divine Majesties’ Cruiser Iron Dragon, Coreward Fleet, as certified by fleet regulation Nine Eleven Two, Subsection Four;
You are hereby relieved of all duty and authority in the Gunnery Department of Their Divine Majesties’ Cruiser Iron Dragon;
And you are to consider yourself confined to quarters until such time as this ship returns to a Fleet base, or other circumstances permit a court-martial to be empaneled to consider your actions in the recent action in the Ekritat System, Uulder Shore;
With regard to possible violations of Article Thirty-Two, to wit, that your operation of starship weapons systems during a combat action was willfully negligent and, in consequence of this, did cause collateral damage on a mass scale to an uninvolved civilian population.
Cmdr. Leda Estenv, Flight Administrator
P.S. I’ll do what I can for you, kid, but you screwed up bad. You hit a planet. Worse than that, you hit a protected planet. This is why you wait for the computer to give you a damn firing solution!
– from the internal messaging system, CS Iron Dragon
From: Atrianni Cheléä (HTT Group)
To: Releq Claves-ith-Lelad (First Lord of the Admiralty)
Security: EYES ONLY FERVENT SPAN
I am not aware of any projects currently relevant, but since according to the latest reports the Republican forward fleet is pushing into the Uulder Shore, is it possible they’re after the Spindle?
[Library insert: The Spindle is a tapered cylindrical object, discovered by the IES in the vicinity of an obscure dwarf star in the Uulder Shore constellation. It is approximately one-third of a million miles in length and 6,000 miles in diameter at its widest point. This Precursor artifact is constructed of exotic matter similar to that used in the construction of stargates’ Andracanth rams and is rotating at approximately 0.96 c. Space in the vicinity of the Spindle is heavily distorted, making study of the object both hazardous and difficult.]
The Spindle resembles some historical theoretical models for a frame-dragging closed time-like curve generator, although we have never determined its purpose or made functional use of it. While we are confident in the validity of the block universe theory, it may be that the Republic believes that they can make a temporal end-run around us if they can somehow use the Spindle in this way. If it is intending a CTC back-jump, this would explain why their forward fleet is operating so far from the primary battlespace, and its lack of a significant logistic train; its primary vessels would be required to live off the land at their destination when and thus must be configured appropriately.
Submitted for your consideration,