2948-12-08 – Tales from the Service: Hope for the Lost Squadrons

Last week’s piece provoked a large number of messages from our audience, most of them hoping we would follow up when we could confirm that Horus was dead.

While this publication cannot do any more than any other in confirming the status of a prisoner in Navy custody, I can confirm after reaching out to the Maribel military security administration that Horus’s trial in late November lasted only two days, and he was sentenced to death. I see no reason to expect that the man is not currently dead.

Do be aware, dear readers, that Horus’s part in this war ended months ago, whatever his date of death. Ending his life might be just, but it will do nothing for the troops fighting on Margaux and the crews skirmishing with Incarnation ships throughout the Frontier.

This week, I have good news on another front. I am told by reliable sources within Admiral Zahariev’s staff that contact was briefly restored with Captain Samuel Bosch, commander of the ad-hoc formation known on the Datasphere as the Lost Squadrons – the assortment of ships cut off across the Sagittarius Gap when the Incarnation destroyed the Hypercomm relay chain and attacked the frontiers in force.

Nojus took a shuttle over to Admiral Zahariev’s flagship Triasta Asteria to discuss this news with the Fifth Fleet’s foremost expert in asymmetric warfare – the former pirate Bozsi Kirke-Moore. As always, the audio recording of this interview can be found on the Cosmic Background datasphere hub.

N.T.B. - Nojus Brand is a long-time explorer, datasphere personality, and wartime field reporter for Cosmic Background.  

C.S.D. - Colonel Carolina Durand is the Naval Intelligence attaché to Admiral Zahariev.   

B.K.M. - Captain Bozsi Kirke-Moore is a former pirate who has experience with asymmetric warfare in the Coreward Frontier, serving as an adviser to Admiral Zahariev. His rank is provisional, as he has never held it in Navy service prior to his recent appearance on the Fifth Fleet staff. 


[N.T.B.] – Good morning, Captain Kirke-Moore. Thanks for agreeing to talk about this development on short notice.

[B.K.M.] – No trouble at all, Mr. Brand. Reneer holds your outlet in high regard, and I understand that your company and your partner are friendly with the man of the hour.

[N.T.B.] – Yes, that’s correct. You were still in… retirement at the time, but Captain Bosch was quite the media darling during the New Rheims debacle and the Purge. Datasphere rumors suggest he was sent to Sagittarius by admirals who hoped he wouldn’t come back.

[B.K.M.] – I have read summaries of these events, both from civilian outlets and internal reports. Estimations of the man’s character vary quite widely, but I have gathered enough data to suggest I would very much like to meet him. Most fortunately, he seems eager to give me the chance.

[N.T.B.] – Let’s talk about that, then. How is it possible for a force like his to be operational behind enemy lines after all this time?

[C.S.D.] – You understand that we will not reveal anything we suspect will compromise operational security in answering your questions, Mr. Brand?

[B.K.M.] – Carolina, please, I am sure the man understands the limitations on what we say. He surely also understands that much of what we say here will be speculation, given how little data about the situation we still have.

[N.T.B.] – Yes, I understand.

[B.K.M.] – Now then. As mentioned in the report he sent with Martin Westland earlier this year, Bosch rounded up all the Confederated ships cut off in Sagittarius that he could find. While everyone thinks of the Lost Squadrons as the remains of the three cruiser-centered scouting and patrol squadrons Fifth Fleet sent out there, we think in intervening months he’s picked up civilian vessels; he would have had to do so, to keep his ships running.

[C.S.D.] – By our estimates, Bosch might have collected up to a hundred civilian Confederated Worlds chartered vessels. Since most of the big ships which made it to Sagittarius before the “Sagittarian” raids started were constructors and refinery ships sent ahead to prepare infrastructure for colonies, even if he has half that, simulations suggest these vessels can manufacture parts and materials to keep most of his warships flying. Battle damage is another matter entirely, so we must assume he has engaged in only limited combat.

[N.T.B.] – And he’s done that for a year with the Incarnation hunting him? Civilian factory ships are damnable pigs – too slow to outrun Incarnation warships.

[C.S.D.] – Under normal circumstances, yes. Bosch seems to have created abnormal circumstances.

[B.K.M.] – That is the essence of asymmetric warfare. Though we don’t have all the details, it is probable that he leaves the bulk of his force skulking in interstellar space while the most serviceable warships stage raids for materials and to damage soft Incarnation targets. Pirates have tried to build self-sufficient armadas capable of that sort of warfare for centuries, you know, but it is simply beyond the resources of mere outlaws. If Bosch has managed it even with civilians in train, he would have made an excellent pirate.

[N.T.B.] – If he has such a self-sufficient fleet, why can’t he run the Gap and get back here?

[B.K.M.] – I see from your expression that you ask this question for your auidence’s benefit, Mr. Brand. There are no raw materials in the Gap to collect, no metals to use to build spare parts and no organics to process into nutrient slurry. Even the phased matter density is low. It is one thing for the massed resources of his squadrons to outfit a small vessel like Terence Morey for the journey, but to stockpile the necessary materials to chance the crossing en masse would require Bosch to be far bolder in his raids and foraging than is wise.

[N.T.B.] – What about drive system maintenance? His ships’ Himura units can’t be in good shape after a year out of port.

[B.K.M.] – This depends on how often they’ve been used. Most likely some of the vessels involved will be unsuitable for Navy service now. Bosch’s flagship, Arrowhawk, is the only vessel we got technical readouts from in our recent contact, and it is in no state to make the Gap crossing without a complete field overhaul.

[N.T.B.] – So that’s it, then? They’re still stuck out there?

[B.K.M.] – For now, they remain stranded, but this will not persist for long, if plans now in motion continue on schedule. We have sent a message containing instructions for Captain Bosch, but cannot verify if he received it.

[C.S.D.] – Relieving the Lost Squadrons is a task not currently assigned to the Fifth Fleet, Mr. Brand. This headquarters continues to focus its forces on Margaux.

[N.T.B.] – The Fifth Fleet is the only formation currently fighting, Ms. Durand. If that’s not your task, it’s not going to get done, is it?

[B.K.M.] – You may print that sentiment in your text feed if you like, but I would not make any bets on that. I can however only speak for information Fifth Fleet has collected and analyzed; I cannot speculate as to decisions made outside Reneer’s command purview.

[N.T.B.] – Hypothetically, then, what would be needed to rescue the Lost Squadrons?

[B.K.M.] – Speaking entirely hypothetically, getting them home, ships and all, would require a full field depot being dispatched to the Sagittarius Frontier and set up there without Incarnation interference. Once the vessels of the Lost Squadrons have been serviced, those which are worth saving can be sent back here to Maribel for full dockyard overhauls, and those which are beyond any use can be stripped. There is no way this effort can be done in secret; this depot would attract Incarnation attention, and as a result a fleet sufficient to protect it would be required. For such long range operations, that fleet would need to be mainly of heavy cruisers and smaller warships; most Confederated battleships don’t have the star drive reliability figures needed to cross the Gap.

[C.S.D.] – We ran a few simulations. Fifth Fleet’s cruiser units could do it, but those ships are needed for another run at Margaux and will not be spared to help Bosch.

[N.T.B.] – All that for a rescue operation? What happens to that depot once the Lost Squadrons are rescued?

[B.K.M.] – It would be difficult to see such an outpost being temporary. If held, it would disrupt Incarnation plans for further offensive operations into the Coreward Frontier. Even a few light cruiser squadrons operating on that side of the Gap could bring the flow of new ships and supplies to their fleet on this side to a halt, if those squadrons were led by those of the right inclinations. Whatever the Incarnation’s plans for further offensives, if the Squadrons are relieved, I cannot see how they ignore the threat to their rear area.

[N.T.B.] – It’s a shame then that it’s all hypothetical.

[B.K.M.] – Yes, it is, but I suspect even if Fifth Fleet cannot rescue the Lost Squadrons, I will be shaking hands with Captain Samuel Bosch not too long from now, and you will be interviewing him for one of your vidcast specials.

[N.T.B.] – I sure as all hells hope so. Thank you for your time, Captain Kirke-Moore, Colonel Durand.

[B.K.M.] – No trouble at all, Mr. Brand.