2946-10-22 – Editor’s Loudspeaker: New Rheims Fallout, Supplemental Report

Sylja Nisi-Bonn’s committee in Congress released an expanded report earlier today which reflects her staff gaining access to the records of the Navy’s research projects, secret and otherwise. I found it sufficiently interesting to summarize here, but I encourage our readers to locate and look it up themselves.

According to this report, Block A50, the project which resulted in a rogue prototype and the destruction of New Rheims was run by one Colonel Papke, of whom I can find no public news record or profile on the Centauran datasphere. The project was initiated in 2931 with two ships otherwise fit only for surplus: a light cruiser and a frigate whose hull numbers I cannot find.

The objective was at first to produce a full-scale warship which could be operated at full capability, including combat, with only the bridge and command deck crews. Repair and maintenance automation were the focus of the project until early 2940, at which point it seems that there was a change in focus, and the project began to experiment with a fully automated design with, at first, only a lone crew member – the commander. Later, even this onboard control measure was made optional; the ships were configured for full autonomy. It was these 2942 changes which began to violate the Treaty of Scherer, and it seems the Block A50 staff were aware of the illegality of their efforts, and increased their secrecy.

The vessel which caused the catastrophe at New Rheims was evidently the project’s cruiser prototype, which suffered some sort of technical fault while being moved under its own power to the Navy’s Cajetan evaluation range, charged its star drive, and disappeared. This was four days before it appeared off New Rheims, for its ultimately fatal confrontation with a Naval Survey Auxiliary training unit and Samuel Bosch’s patrol squadron. For four days, large portions of the Navy hierarchy knew that they had lost a fully-armed, AI-controlled warship, and no attempt to raise the alarm was made.

It was to prevent exactly this sort of accident for which the automation provisions of the Treaty of Scherer were drafted; as such, Colonel Papke and anyone else who can be linked to the project’s later phase could legitimately be called war criminals, if this were not a peacetime incident.

The Treaty has, until now, largely had no effect on the Navy; the ability of well-trained human personnel to repeatedly change the terms of engagement in order to fool the most optimally configured automated weapon has been a universally acknowledged fact at least since the Corona Wars of the 26th century. Early 2942 would be shortly after the end of the Brushfire War; I can only conclude that the actions of the automated flotilla of Cold Refuge (who obviously are not signatories to the treaty) during the final battles of that conflict might have suggested to some military minds that fully automated warships had a place in the Navy’s line of battle.

I did some independent research on the Navy’s interactions with the Cold Refuge flotilla, and discovered a familiar name – Samuel Bosch. Evidently, Bosch, who served in the Brushfire War, wrote a very favorable report on the military usefulness of the Cold Refuge flotilla, and recommended research into adopting some of their methods in Navy service. He did acknowledge the limitations of the Treaty, of course; his recommendations were carefully written to fall within treaty restrictions.

I now wonder whether my analysis on the fourteenth (Editor’s Loudspeaker: New Rheims Fallout, Events in Yaxkin City) regarding Bosch’s role in the whole scandal was not accurate; it’s likely his report was part of the reason for the change in focus for the Block A50 effort.