Jade Imperium - Convocation, Pt. 1

punkey 2013-09-01 21:26:38
"Well, if we're gonna ask them, why don't we just ask them," Garrett says, and waves on the room's holodisplay to open connections to the Bashakra'i leaders. On the display, Brinai takes up one half in her quarters, an array of holodisks in front of her, and Bello covers the rest in his office at the intelligence offices on Atea. Garrett bows to them both. "Thanks for taking the connection. We're talking about what we can do to be conspicuously elsewhere when the US Army is making the biggest mistake in their history, and we realize that if we want to know what the Bashakra'i have cooking, or if you have any other ideas about targets, you'd be the ones to ask. We're looking for a target that will embarrass the Imperium - or Thrax specifically, if we can manage it - and remind the Imperium that we, at least, still know what we're doing."
"Hmm..." Brinai murmurs with a smirk. "Audacious. I know that Onas is focusing more on Wherren rescues and Boranai at the moment. Bello, what do you have going?"
"Nothing so suicidal," Bello replies. He sighs. "But do you have any specific criteria for a target?"
e of pi 2013-09-01 22:00:24
"Something we can hit without a lot of prep, given we don't have much time to pull this off," Luis says. "But still something sufficiently important. We were tossing around hijacking one of the more famous Needleships, or blowing one up or something." He shrugs. "Would you have any suggestions in that vein, or any alternatives that'd meet the criteria of something we can pull fast?"
punkey 2013-09-01 22:18:39
"Hmm." Bello's hand slides the window on his display to the side and blur through the virtual keyboard. "Thrax hasn't done much since taking the throne besides consolidate his power and make sure that the rest of the Imperium doesn't try to assassinate him in return - no small concern for him and something I expect his impending victory over the Narsai'i will cement, by the way. But when he was Speaker, he still represented his home planet of Kamda to the Court of Worlds. There's a wide array of projects that he championed there that could be targets, from public works to Turai installations. I believe he launched all four of the planet's Needleships, as well. Anything particular criteria you want - and might I recommend 'feasibility of survival' be one of them?" Brinai rolls her eyes at that.
e of pi 2013-09-01 22:37:45
Luis grins a bit at Bello's line. "That's certainly up there on our priorities. Maybe one of the Needleships? Get one that's near a Gate but away from the rest of the system defnses, and either blow it up or grab it entirely?" He looks around the table. "That make sense to anyone else?"
Gatac 2013-09-02 10:50:01
"Makes sense to me," Hugh adds. "It's connected to Thrax, but not close enough that he has the time to keep an eye on it right now. The hard part's going to be getting aboard. I don't know if they'll fall for a Manta insertion again." He furrows his brow. "Bello, are any of those Needleships being resupplied or refitted? It'd be easier to get aboard one either with a scheduled supply transfer or as technicians, I think."
punkey 2013-09-02 12:12:39
Bello furrows his brow. "One second." His fingers fly again, becoming almost a blur as he waggles and swipes and pokes and drags at the display. It's enough to make some of you subconsciously look around, as if he's waving frantically at you for some reason. His hectic motions calm down after a minute, and he smiles and nods. "Yes, there is one." He swipes one last time, and sends the copied document to the team's holodisplay, an activity log from some paid Gateway watcher. "The August Stalwart moved from its location over Kamda to Dantumi two months ago. Usually that location and that length of time of absence means the Needleship is being refitted in dock at the Needleship yards at the Dantumi'i moon." More documents are slid over. "And these transport logs scraped off of Imperial traffic by our Sheen AI on Hedion back that up. Engines, powerplant, targeting computers, and replacement weapons components have all been delivered, and these logs indicate the engineering staff that would be required for the refitting have already been moved out-system. That would suggest that either the refitting has been made low-priority, in which case a time-delayed explosive could be used to detonate the Needleship in dock, which would also damage the Needleship yards, or the refitting has been completed and only shakedown remains, in which case the ship could possibly be stolen."

Garrett claps his hands and laughs. "Sounds perfect! Is it still in dock?"
Bello nods. "As far as I know."
Gatac 2013-09-02 12:16:03
"So we bring Luis and as much boom as we can carry," Hugh says. "Cover both bases. I'd prefer it intact in our hands, but hell, I'll settle for fireworks."
e of pi 2013-09-02 14:12:33
Luis nods. "Seems like a possibility. One holdup though: I can't fly a Needleship. Yisai might be able to teach me some of it, though, at least enough to get by."
threadbare 2013-09-04 02:33:30
Hunter thinks for a second. "Hmn. Are there any Sheen with capital-ship piloting experience, or could at least fake their way through a jillion sims faster than any of us could?"
punkey 2013-09-04 12:45:04
"None that could be inserted with you without setting off a general alarm in the system with such short notice," Bello replies. "The Turai are very paranoid - and reasonably so - about their fortress system."
Both Arketta and Ngawai have looked nervous since the fact that the Needleship in question is in the Dantumi system was mentioned, and now Arketta speaks up. "Er, yes. That was what I wanted to ask - how are we going to get clearance to enter the system without being lit up by the Khala'bat?" she asks.
Garrett leans forward. "What's the Khala'bat?"
"The Mayum Sileud Khala'bat is the defense system for Dantumi," Arketta replies. "It is...very good at what it does."
"And it's not just for the Gateways - it covers the whole damn system," Ngawai adds. "Dantumi is not just another system, it is entirely given over to the Turai. If the Akwhela's Eye is like the 'Pentagon', then Dantumi is like 'Andrews Air Force Base'. I was allowed entrance to the system just once to pick up a contract on a Turai that thought the Banner would protect him, and the Khala'bat watched my ship every meter of the way." She looks over to Hunter. "It means 'Unyielding Scarlet Shield'," she explains, and then shivers. "The accelerators almost seemed alive."
Luis raises an eyebrow. "Yikes. That might be a challenge."
"Well, what exactly is it?" Garrett asks.
"The Khala'bat is a network of accelerator-equipped sensor stations, armed drones, and listening platforms spread throughout the system," Arketta explains. "They're all connected together - the drones keep an eye on the ships and people and check out anything suspicious, and if they don't like what they see, it will instantly alarm the entire system and the platforms will try to shoot you down. Turns the entire system into a deathtrap."
"So, we just need correct authentication codes and clearance to be in the system, then?" Garrett asks.
Arketta shakes her head. "No, it's smarter than that. It knows what you are supposed to be doing, and if you look suspicious, it will investigate. We will have to be very careful to disguise what we are doing as legitimate work, or have someone be constantly hacking the sensor network - if that can be done. Otherwise, alarms, accelerator fire, explosions, very bad things start to happen."
e of pi 2013-09-04 13:00:20
Luis nods. "Okay, so we either can crack the system and keep it cracked in a way they don't notice, given two days' notice, or we have to come up with a way to hijack a Needleship that looks like legitimate repair or yard activities."
punkey 2013-09-04 13:02:32
"That's not so bad," Garrett says. "I was thinking we just walk the Needleship out the front door, anyway. It's a shakedown run. Now we just need to convince the Khala'bat of that, too."
e of pi 2013-09-04 13:04:54
"Sounds about right," Luis says. "I was thinking something like that. Of course, this assumes it's ready to roll. We need to either know that it is, or go in with a plan to blow it and get out in our back pockets. Stage a reactor accident?"
Gatac 2013-09-04 13:11:05
"About getting it out of system, if it is operational - do you think they'd seriously light up and destroy one of their own needleships if we jacked it?" Hugh asks, then grimaces. "Well, I guess if they get to kill us in the process, they just might. So, what are our human factors? Who's authorized to alter ship launch schedules? Do we have a line on a work crew we could replace? Could be a case of 'when all you have is a hammer' from Mr. Blinking VCR, but right now I'm thinking it might be easier to hack the people than to hack the system."
skullandscythe 2013-09-04 15:32:06
"The dockmaster's the one we talk to about launching," Zaef says. "If we can convince him or her that the ship's ready to test and we need to let her out of docking to give her a proper shakedown, then we shouldn't have any problems with the sensor platforms."
punkey 2013-09-04 23:21:35
"And as for getting in system," Garrett says as he turns to Bello, "do we have the name and any old work order auth codes for the Samal of the August Stalwart's engineering team?"
Bello nods. "We have his name and enough auth codes to attempt a basic decryption. It's no guarantee, but..."
"Then we can spoof a work order from him that gets us onto the ship with the Khala'bat and the dockmaster," Garrett says. "I think that maybe having a specific order for a shakedown might be a bit much. Put it in there as a possibility if it all checks out, we just lie and say it's good to go - and bring a few bottles of booze?"
Gatac 2013-09-05 14:00:38
"Okay, that sounds good to me," Hugh says with a nod. "What about our identities? Whipping up the paperwork is one part, not being so damn recognizable is a whole different kettle of fish. We can't all waltz in there in full Turai carapace, but I don't see us hiding our faces effectively otherwise."
punkey 2013-09-05 15:05:34
"Well..." Garrett looks at Ngawai and smirks. "Ngawai's obsession with serials came in handy on this one."
"Brinai, we'd like to borrow some equipment from your holoserial production units," Ngawai says with a smirk. "Some prosthesis and makeup."
threadbare 2013-09-06 02:06:57
Hunter blinks, raises an eyebrow, and attempts to give the entire room the side-eye.

"I'm starting to realize what Brinai means about your tendency for hare-brained schemes. How do we know what the system will consider 'suspicious?' Or rather, how do we know there isn't an algorithm that says 'elevate suspicion on any groups of two females, 6 human males and one wherren?' I know you all also have a tendency to successfully execute hare-brained schemes, but I just want to make sure we're not painting ourselves into a mass-accelerator-monitored corner."
Gatac 2013-09-06 12:30:29
Hugh smirks at that. "Well, for starters, Ngawai can't come with us, so if there is such an algorithm," he says, obviously having never heard the word 'algorithm', "it won't twig on us. As for suspicious, you're a Marine, you've been to a Navy base, I assume? How often do you think the civilian contractors doing their jobs get grilled on suspicion of being terrorists? Security's a game of statistics, so the system will be designed to be good enough at catching threats without impeding actual work. They check your ID at the gate and your orders at the docks, if it looks good you fly through. I don't think we need to worry about that too much."